by William Styron
Someday I will understand Auschwitz. This was a brave statement but innocently absurd. No one will ever understand Auschwitz. What I might have set down with more accuracy would have been: Someday I will write about Sophie’s life and death, and thereby help demonstrate how absolute evil is never extinguished from the world. Auschwitz itself remains inexplicable. The most profound statement yet made about Auschwitz was not a statement at all, but a response.
The query: “At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?”
And the answer: “Where was man?”
Let your love flow out on all living things. These words at a certain level have the quality of a strapping homily. Nonetheless, they are remarkably beautiful, strung together in their honest lump like English syllables, and as I see them now on the ledger’s page, the page itself the hue of a dried daffodil and oxidized slowly by time into near-transparency, my eyes are arrested by the furious underlining — scratch scratch scratch, lacerations — as if the suffering Stingo whom I once inhabited, or who once inhabited me, learning at firsthand and for the first time in his grown-up life about death, and pain, and loss, and the appalling enigma of human existence, was trying physically to excavate from that paper the only remaining — perhaps the only bearable — truth. Let your love flow out on all living things.
It was, of course, the memory of Sophie and Nathan’s long-ago plunge that set loose this flood, but it was also a letting go of rage and sorrow for the many others who during these past months had battered at my mind and now demanded my mourning: Sophie and Nathan, yes, but also Jan and Eva — Eva with her one-eyed mis — and Eddie Farrell, and Bobby Weed, and my young black savior Artiste, and Maria Hunt, and Nat Turner, and Wanda Muck-Horch von Kretschmann, who were but a few of the beaten and butchered and betrayed and martyred children of the earth. I did not weep for the six million Jews or the two million Poles or the one million Serbs or the five million Russians — I was unprepared to weep for all humanity — but I did weep for these others who in one way or another had become dear to me, and my sobs made an unashamed racket across the abandoned beach; then I had no more tears to shed, and I lowered myself to the sand on legs that suddenly seemed strangely frail and rickety for a man of twenty-two.
unfortunately I have to abandon this one right now, finals are approaching and I haven't done quite as much as I should have, I'll definitely catch up later.
Ironic and witty