“Good morrow to thee, brother prisoner.”
— Kahlil Gibran, “The Two Cages”
Another stop during this more diverse literary journey I decided to embark on this year. I chose the highly acclaimed prose of Kahlil Gibran, a man to whose land I’m connected through blood – half Lebanese, half Italian; nothing to do with my innocuous obsession with Russian and Japanese literature, but well, who can control those things anyway?
Before I immerse myself in the depths of the universe Gibran created in The Prophet, I decided to get acquainted with his writing and views by reading another book not as widely known. I chose The Madman because I found it somewhat amusing that it wasn’t the first time I read a madman’s words:
Diary of a Madman (to read soon)
I won’t expand on the cliché of a madman’s words being more truthful and reasonable than the speech of any other human being considered sane by ordinary standards. I will just say that this collection includes a variety of profound and intriguing parables that constitute a faithful portrait of humanity. The following is one of my favorites.
The Seven SelvesIn the stillest hour of the night, as I lay half asleep, my seven selves sat together and thus conversed in whisper:First Self: Here, in this madman, I have dwelt all these years, with naught to do but renew his pain by day and recreate his sorrow by night. I can bear my fate no longer, and now I rebel.Second Self: Yours is a better lot than mine, brother, for it is given to me to be this madman’s joyous self. I laugh his laughter and sing his happy hours, and with thrice winged feet I dance his brighter thoughts. It is I that would rebel against my weary existence.Third Self: And what of me, the love-ridden self, the flaming brand of wild passion and fantastic desires? It is I the love-sick self who would rebel against this madman.Fourth Self: I, amongst you all, am the most miserable, for naught was given me but odious hatred and destructive loathing. It is I, the tempest-like self, the one born in the black caves of Hell, who would protest against serving this madman.Fifth Self: Nay, it is I, the thinking self, the fanciful self, the self of hunger and thirst, the one doomed to wander without rest in search of unknown things and things not yet created; it is I, not you, who would rebel.Sixth Self: And I, the working self, the pitiful labourer, who, with patient hands, and longing eyes, fashion the days into images and give the formless elements new and eternal forms—it is I, the solitary one, who would rebel against this restless madman.Seventh Self: How strange that you all would rebel against this man, because each and every one of you has a preordained fate to fulfil. Ah! could I but be like one of you, a self with a determined lot! But I have none, I am the do-nothing self, the one who sits in the dumb, empty nowhere and nowhen, while you are busy re-creating life. Is it you or I, neighbours, who should rebel?When the seventh self thus spake the other six selves looked with pity upon him but said nothing more; and as the night grew deeper one after the other went to sleep enfolded with a new and happy submission.But the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things.
* Photo credit: Book cover via Goodreads.