The devil is the pitiful god

by Patrick Călinescu
translation from Romanian by: A C Clarke & Stela Cucu [MTTLC student]
click aici pentru versiunea română


Today I am completely free. Tomorrow I will see what the first thing to chain me will be.

But, still, let me rejoice at the time that I have been given to live unimpeded by any restraint whatsoever.


And how could I not know – I know far too well – that this cherished freedom hasn’t given me much to crush under foot or within my soul, but here I am, living it to the full extent of its limitations.


And since I’ve already mentioned my feet and my soul, I shall go back to the time when, with no trace of a living soul left within me, I was dragging my two feet, unpolished through walking, along the modest length of the street where my house was.


I was strolling, with the sun following each and every movement of my head, when suddenly, a man with a rather narrow waist and heavy jowls, jumped out of nowhere as I was drowsily walking along. My immediate impression was that he was shaped like an hourglass nipped at the waist and elongated at both extremities like a kind of deformed puppet with no arms and no legs.


I looked at him stupidly and then I turned my eyes towards a closer examination of his whole appearance. I admit I did not notice anything else about him.


He seemed in a hurry, but not to move forward and cross the imaginary dotted line of my walk. Intentionally or not, he had already begun to realise that he had broken into it without compunction. Actually, he seemed in a hurry to unburden himself of what he had to tell me so that he also could obtain his freedom, with all its limitations. He too had been promised that he would be completely free today. But first he had to tell me what he had been instructed to.


Moving closer, he grabbed me by the hand, looked into my eyes fixedly and ordered me to never forget the truth that he was about to tell me. It seemed as if he wanted to add that I was being entrusted with something which would have inevitable results, which I subsequently had to avoid interpreting in any way, but he didn’t say anything more. He stopped looking at me the moment he started telling me what he had been instructed to.


Although in a hurry, he said:


Stranger, I know you have always been free. It’s easy to see that you were born free and that you were born from freedom itself.


Stranger, stop pretending that you are living it to the full extent of its limitations. Such freedom can neither be given to you nor taken from you!


Stranger, you must know that you can’t fool anybody anymore!


Stranger, the whole world has found out that you are the freedom which I live only for today unimpeded by any restraint whatsoever.

Stranger, you must come to know the world as it is, and not how it appears in exchange for another day, another day, year after year. You must stop deluding yourself into believing that others were born free and that they were born from freedom itself. It’s an illusion and I can’t understand how you can entertain it when practically speaking you are the only one who has managed to comprehend the fundamental difference between an atheist and someone without religion. And only you, innately free and born from freedom itself,  can be without religion. Only you have the power within you to be without religion, without being an atheist.


Stranger, you are the believer par excellence. You and nobody else has managed to perfectly understand the mysterious bond between true faith and absolute freedom. You and nobody else has carried out God’s first command: Believe without subjugating yourself to me!


Stranger, you have a truly divine nature. You are free and freedom itself is at the centre of your entire being. You have managed, like nobody else, to truly be without religion, without being an atheist. You believe in God Almighty without submitting yourself to Him in any way.


Stranger, I know what the freedom that you embody means. I learnt it from the way that your eyes looked with lingering wonder into mine. God Himself has chosen to tell you and nobody else that you are perfectly right in how you have understood the true essence of the freedom that you embody.


Stranger, I thank thee that I learned it by seeing it through your very eyes;  May God set you free!


But Stranger, the man continued before restoring the dotted line of my walk to its initial unbroken state, I must warn you that if you want God to set you free at any price, you must forsake the god of human religions, who knows nothing else than the everlasting chaining of the man who believes in him. Because he, the cunning subjugator, is the devil incarnate: the pitiful god.

The devil is the pitiful god

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