Monologue of The Young Narcissus

The Mind and The Heart

God, why do you make me suffer? Why have you sent me that gift, Goldmund, to tempt me and then just to take it away? Although my mind is strong, the flesh is weak and full of desire. I flagellate my body, I spent hours in prayer and do penance and still I cannot rid myself of this strong yearning for Goldmund.

Goldmund has furthered me like nobody else ever has and never will. None of my teachers, none of the brothers, not even the wise and amiable Abbot Daniel could give me, what he ignited in me. Goldmund brought me love. Before I met Goldmund, love was just an abstract concept, an intellectual idea, frequently discussed in Greek mythology and Latin verses.

As a young scholar I studied Plato’s Symposium and was delighted about the various speeches on love and their elegant and skilled rhetoric. Yet, only after I met Goldmund could I really appreciate the deepness of this brilliant dialogue. Especially, the part, where Alcibiades tempts Socrates reminds me of my relationship with Goldmund. How I wish I were more like Socrates, who mastered to withstand the strongest temptations and spent the night with Alcibiades laying beside him just like his father or elder brother.

Now, I also understand the suffering of Alcibiades, the torment of his soul, the gaping wound; I have experienced all of it! My poor heart was torn apart, when Goldmund left Mariabronn, although my mind knew it was the best - for both of us. My heart would plead with my mind, begging it to ask him to stay. Yet, the mind won over the heart, reasoning that if Goldmund were to stay, we would find a tragic end.

But then isn’t it that only with the heart one sees rightly? Why don’t I live out my feelings, show my emotions? When Goldmund intends to caress me, I vehemently reject it, although inside I am dying for his touch, his closeness. The day Goldmund said goodbye, he embraced me and I knew that he wanted to kiss me, but he withheld himself and just stroked my hands instead. Oh dear God, how would I have loved to hug him, kiss him, hold him tight to my heart. But I am no dreamer, I am a man of duty, a servant, a soldier of religion, the church, and the mind.

It is now four months and three days since Goldmund left, winter has come, the chestnut tree in front of the cloister entrance has lost its leaves and fruits and is standing bare … Goldmund loved this exotic Mediterranean tree, more than any of the native trees. Goldmund must have found an accomplice in this conspicuous outsider with its beautiful treetop; like Goldmund, it did not belong to Mariabronn but, nevertheless, it enriched the life of the cloister’s inhabitants.

Now besides the memory, the only concrete thing left of Goldmund is his beloved horse, Bless. Ah, that reminds me, I have to go and see that the brother porter feeds her enough hay …



Hell Is Other People

Narcissus: What is hell? Abbot Daniel believes that Christ will return on judgment day to separate the saved from the damned and to consign them either to an eternity in heaven or hell. The great painting in the entrance hall of Mariabronn, I believe from this Dutch painter, Jan van Eyck, represents the Last Judgment so well. Heaven with the throne of Christ above and hell below where everything is murky, turbulent, and chaotic, and the damned plunge hysterically into the horrors of hell.

Dante describes the inferno with his descent through the nine concentric circles of hell. On the entrance gate to hell it reads: "Abandon every hope, you who enter here." Loud cries can be heard and the internal storm never stops and torments the sinners.

However, Jean-Paul Sartre pictures hell without fire, brimstones, and torture chambers. In his play No Exit hell is only other people.

The thought of living endlessly sends a shiver down my spine. Never to be able to close my eyes, to escape reality for just one second, scares me to death. And then that absolute boredom -nothing to read, no books, no scholarly work and study- even worse, nothing new to learn, just a repetition of old thoughts and memories. Horrifying! But then even worse, if I imagine sharing a living room with two incessantly loquacious women leading trivial conversation. Poor Garcin, how he must have suffered enduring the jealous chatter of Estelle and Inez. Garcin rightly pointed out that he had been much better of sharing a room with two men - as men know how to be quiet. So is hell really other people?

Probably! Of course, depending on the people selected, but the pre-selection certainly takes into consideration the weak and vulnerable points of the participants. If I were to share the room with Goldmund, would that he heaven or hell. It is difficult to say. On the one hand, it would be heaven and I would be so pleased with his company and our stimulating conversations, but on the other hand I would be constantly tempted by my weak flesh to take it a step further. Also seeing Goldmund for ever and ever, and being confined to a tiny room, wouldn’t that be too excessive? Moderation is the golden path to happiness as Abbot Daniel always says.

And my poor, handsome Goldmund, being imprisoned in this fashion, would be just like a beautiful bird captured in a golden cage. Certainly, the bird would stop singing in captivation, but he could not die, could not be relieved from his perpetual pain..

Moreover, after a while we would run out of topics to discuss, terribly bore each other, and go on each other’s nerves. Or worse, start hating each other. No, no … I could take anything, I could endure the worst torture chamber, but I could not face Goldmund hating me.

But then, as a servant of God, shouldn’t I ascend through purgatory to the glorious heights of heaven? But what about Goldmund? He committed every sin possible -theft, betrayal, murder. Maybe my personal hell will be watching Goldmund in the chambers of the abyss -may they be a torture cabinet or a second empire drawing room- and see my dearest friend suffer. Oh dear God, spare me of this faith!