Brod discovered 613 sadnesses, each perfectly unique, each a singular emotion, no more similar to any other sadness than to anger, ecstasy, guilt, or frustration. Mirror sadness. Sadness of Domesticated Birds. Sadness of Being Sad in Front of One’s Parent. Humor Sadness. Sadness of Love Without Release.
She was like a drowning person, flailing, reaching for anything that might save her. Her life was an urgent, desperate struggle to justify her life. She learned impossibly difficult songs on her violin, songs outside of what she thought she could know, and would each time come crying to Yankel, I have learned to play this one too! It’s so terrible! I must write something that not even I can play! She spent evenings with the art books Yankel had bought for her in Lutsk, and each morning sulked over breakfast, They were good and fine, but not beautiful. Not, not if I’m being honest with myself. They are only the best of what exists. She spent an afternoon staring at their front door.
Waiting for someone? Yankel asked.
What color is this?
He stood very close to the door, letting the end of his nose touch the peephole. He licked the wood and joked, It certainly tastes like red.
Yes, it is red, isn’t it?
She buried her head in her hands. But couldn’t it just be a bit more red?
Brod’s life was a slow realization that the world was not for her, and that for whatever reason, she would never be happy and honest at the same time. She felt as if she were brimming, always producing and hoarding more love inside her. But there was no release. Table, ivory elephant charm, rainbow, onion, hairdo, mollusk, Shabbos, violence, cuticle, melodrama, ditch, honey, doily… None of it moved her. She addressed her world honestly, searching for something deserving of the volumes of love she knew she had within her, but to each she would have to say, I don’t love you. Bark-brown fence post: I don’t love you. Poem too long: I don’t love you. Lunch in a bowl: I don’t love you. Physics, the idea of you, the laws of you: I don’t love you. Nothing felt like anything more than what it actually was. Everything was just a thing, mired in its thingness.
(ran out of new books, so i started again with the old ones)