Uit: Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir
“But now, suddenly, I wanted to be not Puck, or even Mickey Rooney. I wanted to be the identical twin boys who played the prince and the pauper. I wanted to be myself, twice. I do not dare speculate upon what the school of Vienna — I refer, of course, to the Riding School — would make of this. But I don’t think that my response to the film was unusual, particularly if one were the actors’ age and so could easily identify with the notion of the two as really one and that one oneself, or with the general proposition that a palpable duplicate of oneself would be the ideal companion.
A current pejorative adjective is narcissistic. Generally, a narcissist is anyone better looking than you are, but lately the adjective is often applied to those “liberals” who prefer to improve the lives of others rather than exploit them. Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the highest altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for our vast freedom not only to conform but to consume.
The childhood desire to be a twin does not seem to me to be narcissistic in the vulgar Freudian sense. After all, one is oneself; and the other other. It is the sort of likeness that makes for wholeness, and is it not that search for likeness, that desire and pursuit of the whole — as Plato has Aristophanes remark — that is the basis of all love? As no one has ever actually found wholeness in another human being, no matter of what sex, the twin is the closest that one can ever come toward wholeness with another; and, dare one invoke biology and the origin of our species, there is always, back of us mammals, doomed to die once we have procreated, our sexless ancestor the amoeba, which never dies as it does not reproduce sexually but merely — serenely? — breaks in two and identically replicates.
Anyway, I thought Billy and Bobby Mauch were cute as a pair of bug’s ears, and I wished I were either one of them, one of them, mind you. I certainly did not want to be two of me, as one seemed more than enough to go around even in a “famous” family. Yet doubleness has always fascinated me, as mirrors do, as filmed images do.
The plot is pure Shakespeare. It is also impure Samuel Clemens — or is he by now entirely Mark Twain? Certainly, he was obsessed by twins, and by the likeness of one to the other. But then what does his pen name mean? if it does not mean two or twain or twin? I often wonder what I might have become if Warner Brothers had filmed not The Prince and the Pauper but that blackest of American “twin” fables, Pudd’nhead Wilson.”
Je blijft daar beneden op de bodem, het water houdt je vast
je geeft nooit op, dan redt de man zichzelf, duikt
gewoon op, schenkt zichzelf het leven, noemt
jij kunt het niet, jouw water, de zuigkracht in jou, zij
bestormen je borst, de marteling, alle zielen,
de buurman, ze sneden de huid van zijn lichaam,
je bedekt je oren
hij was het niet, niets kon hij doen, zijn ogen strak
je was nog nooit zo dicht bij de aarde, je smeekt, snel,
niemand kan dat verdragen, je hebt dat niet
je gaat de weg alleen, zijn zwijgen, jouw stem, de
dood, de hoop vervliegt, geen hand, de gebeden,
koud, geen Te Deum, je helm omgedraaid,
we hebben niets gezien, het water neemt de doden op,
je blijft, je gaat vast niet dood, de slagbomen, dicht, hier
is geen rechtbank, de rozen, zwart,
wij, de graven, stevig gesloten.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen