A new year of faculty, the third... Brigitte, who so seriously involved in her studies in the humanities, is now clearly disenchanted, especially that to repeat a year is never exciting. And then, even if she does not follow Mark in his stories of a mystical key to philosophy, she is still forced to admit that what she learns has no common thread, that it goes around the bush without never finding the point. It seems that every philosopher has started the quest in his own way, often relevant and intelligent, each starting from a different way of seeing the world, to get closer to each other as they go along. Then, approaching the solution (the awareness, the Beauty of the universe) they all evade it, and invent any piece of stuff to stay in the conventional. For instance Freud with his death instinct.
In addition the programs have been modified, which makes that she has almost everything relearn! But there is something else that Brigitte does not realize: her nerves are now tired. Nothing irreversible yet, but imperceptibly the intellectual effort costs her more and more, the awakening became pasty, her mood more sullen and irritable. Brigitte, without yet being really aware, is tired of her disappointing studies, late nights, deficient and devitalized food which is still her diet in the university restaurant... And especially to live on the edge of this abnormal society, without the approval of her fellows, between cold indifference and dull hostility.
She finds Roger, for his last year. He too is tired, he hopes to still hold on. He had to spend the summer alone in town, revising. He was not so lucky this time, as Brigitte was. Fortunately his student room is now in a better place, with less noise. Brigitte will see him from time to time, for long discussions, about ecology and other recipes to remake the world. But he still does not want to participate in Brigitte's group. In her situation, finally, she understands him.
Brigitte, her, is determined to invest in it. Only limit: no more than ten o'clock in the evening. Enough is enough! This still leaves a lot of possibilities. Staffing the local, for example, and it is exciting because they receive a lot of unknown people seeking to understand what is ecology. But what pleases her the most are the visits and the trainings.
She does not dare to approach Marc too openly, because of his spiritual things. But in the same time she expects a lot from him, for the relaxation. She realizes that her experience with the flower goes way beyond the simple muscle relaxation, that it touches the consciousness. There is something important here to dig up.
So she keeps an eye on what Marc offers, and does not miss an opportunity to get closer to his activities. Once, she even misses a French lesson. Here is Brigitte who makes Tai Chi, the inevitable and besides very recommendable Chinese gymnastics. Here she does do-in, which was initially presented to her as an erotic massage, but is actually a healing technique derived from acupuncture. Marc never fails to invite her. Fortunately, he does not impose a minimum fee for the sessions. Brigitte only has a strictly calculated budget, and such expenses would not go unnoticed from her parents.
Here is Brigitte who does Hatha Yoga, and finds it very pleasant. This beautiful discipline also goes beyond the simple pleasure of relaxation and body work. No doubt, Brigitte thought, those who, so many centuries ago, invented these exercises, were conscious. In a Yoga posture, the whole body is relaxed; only the muscles responsible for maintaining the posture work. There is both relaxation and activity. These two who seem so antagonistic to the Western mentality are here fraternally united. An moreover with an astonishing facility: it is enough to no longer seek to oppose them. Let go... Do, let go, let it do... Marc talks about the Buddhist concept of Non-Action, which we quickly understand in the wrong way if we never experienced this internal state proper to the Yoga postures. Non-action is in fact the right action, stripped of all feverishness, all grasping, all useless or misplaced sentimentality. Action which serves only what it must serve, which is no longer a pretext, a screen, an entertainment. Do just what has to be done.
How to communicate, to explain such notions, inaccessible to the intellectual analysis, other than by giving them to experience, to live? Ordinary language seems very poor to express these realities of another order. Only these millennial practices have this power. You have to live it, or else to keep silent. It does not work if one seeks to analyse, to apprehend, all no more if one waits for some parapsychological or religious phenomenon to take place.
All of Brigitte's experiments are not pleasant, far from it. During a new visit to an organic farm, where farmers also talk about raising their children in a new way, she naturally expects to find a flower house and nice kids with wonderful notebooks. In fact this whole visit, despite a radiant Sun, is a caricature of the first. The yard is dirty, the house without any research, the children are real thugs of six and eight years. Their notebooks show only gloomy scribbles nervously traced with hasty lines. The sheep bleat sadly while meeting their lambs, as if to say, «Phew, they are not gone to the slaughterhouse today.» These poor animals are housed in a metal sheet shed, half-industrial zone, half-shanty town, of which these farmers seem very proud: they built it themselves, with a massive use of «We assume ourselves» and «We are realistic».
She hesitates on making her idea: they are ecologists. They probably have their reasons. You have to be «tolerant», to see in everyone the good side. Brigitte has known for a long time that preconceived ideas are often to be reviewed, in the light of her successive consciousness taking. But that day the grass-snake is a bit too big to swallow: Should we give up poetry to build an ecological society? Should we give up kindness and accept the mockery of these brutal kids, who must be separated from a small visitor of their age?
Around a snack copiously sprinkled with «organic» low grade red wine, in the large farm room with beams blackened by smoke, she tries to understand, and she asks a few questions. Marc and Yolande watch without a word.
«What I would like is a society of trust, especially for small children. I had an odd feeling now to see this girl crying, she was so happy to find friends!
- Yes of course! But that's life! She must learn to defend herself! That she asserts her personality!» (The little girl looks at the farmer with her big eyes... What can such words mean for her?)
«What do you mean? The other time we criticized the school of former times which was running with the cudgel, saying it made neurotics and perverts, and now, we say that the beating by these kids do good to her!
- He must be able to express his vitality, my kid!
- Oh? Why would he do it this way? Are there no more harmonious ones?
- Listen, my kid outside of class time he is free to express himself and do as he wants! Besides, I do not have time to pamper him, with the animals, the crops, the market... So he has to assume himself!
- That's right, Brigitte, do not look for the little details. I find them very alive these children» echoes Eric, from the ecologists group. Brigitte suddenly realizes that several members of the group are throwing disapproving glances at her, or do sweet eyes to the farmer.
Brigitte, her cheeks burning, does not dare to raise her voice anymore... Obviously, if these children are left to themselves all day long, it is not surprising if they are uncheckable... The mud of the farms, as «natural» as it may be, does not do more good to derelict children than the tar of the cities. Lax education is no better than authoritarianism. Maybe it is even worse.
A little later the discussion goes back on wine. A little bit could pass, despite the visceral disgust of Brigitte for this drug. But there, as a snack, it is not a little! In addition this guy is unbearably proselyte, he serves everybody, without asking, and in front of the refusal of Brigitte, he insists angrily: «But taste, miss, this wine will not hurt you, it is organic.
- But it contains alcohol, still!
- Yes, but natural alcohol, which is non-toxic.»
How not to be flabbergasted with such enormities? Brigitte still dares to stammer:
«Aah? What is the difference between natural and artificial alcohol?
- Brigitte! ease it a little! cuts Monique.
- You have to be realistic, people are not ready to live like monks, so we do what people ask for, if we want to make a living.
- Brigitte! Eric cuts again, for no reason, because Brigitte said nothing.
- So we make organic wine, which allows to sell it at much higher price. And we also make organic meat, it's in great demand.
- But ...
- Brigitte! Look, it's very interesting to see these economic realities!
- You should taste it, it's very good»
Brigitte now feels very uncomfortable with this sudden and incomprehensible aggressiveness, she would like to be elsewhere, to withdraw from this biased discussion of which she does not understand the purpose, which she does not seek. But the bloke presses and continues:
«Me, you see, it bothers me to see people like that who know everything, who judge everything, who want to make ecology a boring trip, a new catechism!
- But I...
- Listen, Brigitte, it's very interesting to know his human experience as a farmer!» (The farmer, or rather the agricultural company, starts to get upset for good, becomes surly:)
⚠ «We have a heck of a work for you in the city to have good products, impeccable, and in return we are criticized, attacked! You vegetarians are always aggressive, it does no good to you, your skimpy diets full of deprivations and repressed desires of wine or tobacco! Priests you are! Me, if you want to know, sometimes I kill the lambs myself, I have blood on my hands, that's ecology!» (The little girl makes a nauseated pout... that of course nobody notices, not even her parents)
This time Brigitte abandons, too much stunned to be angry... This guy is crazy? she wonders. Why this tirade against vegetarians? What did they do? How does they relate to her? She is not, and has never claimed to be. Why boasting of killing lambs? Brigitte feels that even if you have to go through it to eat meat, there is really no reason to show this sinister act as a feat...
«Brigitte, do not be angry like that, human relations are not always easy, and we must understand the producers, they do a thankless job, when we do nothing in the city...
-Nothing? And my studies, then? She says with a dead voice.
-Listen Brigitte, do not start again!»
Brigitte no longer has the courage to say anything now. Even her friend Monique has entered this incomprehensible game of massacre. Besides, her laughter has become vulgar, under the effect of a glass of wine, of which she is not accustomed, and also false, forced: she knows well somewhere in herself that she is wrong. Paradox of this drug which obscures the will while leaving the conscience speaking... in vain.
On the way back, in the little car, Brigitte feels her mouth twisting, as when little child she was about to cry. She does not answer to Monique who takes witnesses of the others: «Yes, Brigitte she has a little argument with Noël. But it's nothing, it's for unimportant things. We must not focus too much on details. Noël is a nice, very nice guy, who knows how to play the guitar, he is firmly against nuclear power: he wants to save his life.» And the others look at Brigitte sympathetically. Eric goes out: «You must not let yourself be overwhelmed by your relationship problems! See how we have fun together! See how we are a united group!»
«My problems, thinks Brigitte, here is this story again! But it is a global conspiracy!» In reality Brigitte is overwhelmed again by this heavy sensation of poignant solitude, total incommunicability, dialogue of the deaf. «It is now with these ecologists as it was at that tennis club!» She thinks. What annoys her the most, is not so much the opinion which was thrown at her, but the way her «friends» did it, by presenting her disagreement as an aggression, and even as a psychological disorder... inexcusable twist of the thought, violation of the most intimate human dignity, deliberate dishonesty... Inescapable proof of their complete disregard for consciousness.
Ah, why each of her progress on the path of understanding life must be paid by the loss of her friends, by a growing distance from her fellows? How the lights of the city look false and sad to her... How these neons and artificial pleasures hardly hide the evil and darkness of the human consciousness...
In spite of the evidence, alone against all her «friends», Brigitte experienced that evening the throes of an unbearable doubt: and if it was her who was completely mistaken? For several days she tortured her brain with this intolerable suspicion. Whose who never sought the truth can not understand through which suffering Brigitte went, after so many others. What if her «sense of truth» was skewed? Even if this sense was only an illusion? What if her «friends» were right? But then, why would they not clearly explain where and how she was wrong, instead of keeping into the vague and the general, into «her problems» without ever specifying which ones?
This attitude, as aggressive as it had been, did not started this day, and Brigitte now remembers the many evasive silences in their discussions, which she had «avoided noticing», or imputed on their busy schedule. It was finally, well beyond all the analyses, the inability of her «friends» to clearly justify their attitude, their constant loopholes and defaulting, which helped Brigitte to recover a little, to regain confidence in her own judgement.
Brigitte remained mortified for a long time, from this painful and incomprehensible incident. But she also realized, much later, that she actually won a solid victory that night. An inner victory, discreet, but sure, despite her apparent humiliation. She had managed to stand in her way, in truth, despite the group's refusal to follow her, to accept her standing in the truth. She had not succumbed to the temptation to agree with the group, in order to be recognized and accepted. Noël, alone with his non-toxic alcohol, would appear only for what he was, an arrogant fool, a green boozer (now suffering from a organi-hic cirrhosis). But with all of Brigitte's «friends» behind him, he appeared «normal», «in the society». And he thus becomes the instrument of a redoubtable force of repression, as we all have a vital need for the approval of others to be ourselves, to be happy. To live without the support of our fellows produces a feeling of loneliness, which weighs on all, and which sometimes entails the horror of a torture, as the alarming number of suicides is there to remind us. And it is even worse if we are «accepted» for what we refuse to be, and refused for what we really are, for our soul! As with those who talk to us of «insertion», but only at the level of employment, without accepting what we are as a human being. Ah, how tempting it is to abdicate, to submit, to find smiles, hypocritical smiles certainly, but we so badly need them! Oh, how hard it is to learn to follow one's own path despite the opposing winds! Brigitte, at that time, suffered a lot, but it is often the price to pay to find the only true freedom: the freedom of being what our soul chose to be. The freedom of the spirit.
To make matters worse for Brigitte's existential doubts, she now has in the faculty an infect teacher who, for some obscure and unmentionable reason, started to dislike her from the first practical sessions. This is very serious for her: useless to rely on such a jerk to explain her something she missed, as it is supposed to be done in practical work. Worse, he systematically puts her bad marks, often very unjustified. When it is justified, he smiles like a kid! Brigitte realizes with horror that she has no way of defending herself against these vile practices, which seem quite common in high school and college. Roger had the same problem the previous year. Who to complain to? Her parents cannot judge. The administration is hiding behind the crooked professor. And how could other teachers criticize a colleague, without risking to be criticized in their turn? Seeing her comrades who also complain, a good part of the notes must be biased, sometimes several points in less, or... in more.
The crooked professor is a haughty little fellow always in a tie and black suit, very penetrated by the importance of his function. The students, francs as always, called him the adjutant. Once, a few days after the incident of the biological drunkards, the short teacher arrives at the level of Brigitte's table and gives her her copy, slashed as usual with large red strikes and vengeful comments: «gibberish» «verbiage» «Unrealistic». Brigitte, however, only very discreetly alluded to her ideas about life. This case begins to annoy her, because she would like to be noted and corrected on her school work, not on her personality!
«Mademoiselle, you often use the words «idealistic» or «idealism». Can you give me the exact definition?
- But of course, it is when we wish a better world and better people, that we aspire to great values such as Peace, understanding among peoples, Beauty, Happiness... For example about the war, we wish its disappearance, about money, that the respect of people passes before business, to...
- Utopia! That's all the idiocies you can find in your third year of faculty? That's the definition of your concierge that you give me there. You never heard of philosophical idealism? What does Hegel says about this?
- Well, he uses this word in a very particular sense. Must not be confused. For him, nothing exists in itself, everything that we see in the universe is the emanation of our thought. And for everyone to see the same thing in the same place, there must be a lot of telepathy, in my opinion.
- No, miss, telepathy is a belief. Do not talk about these things. This is idealism: the universe does not exist in itself. It is us who project it by our thought. It has nothing to do with whether he's good or not. Let no one come to talk me about idealistic youth! The word idealism must be used in its correct sense and...»
Brigitte is stunned by such pedantry. To deny all the aspirations of mankind under the pretext that the word that everyone understands also means, very inappropriately, an absurd and obviously stupid theory, known only to specialists in philosophicalous nitpicking! This reminds her of the newspeak of the novel «1984», for sure.
In the evening, back home, Brigitte checks on her pocket dictionary and finds... exactly the same blunder! Worse: «Ideal: which exists only in the imagination. Ideal beauty. Supreme perfection which exists only in the imagination» Only in imagination! But how these people are grasping on their filth! To see, she looks at realism: «a tendency to represent nature with its real appearance, with all what it can have of ugly and vulgar» So they really say: the beautiful is imaginary, and the real ugly. Even more grotesque: «to realize one's fortune, to convert it into cash» To exchange a concrete good, usable, (house, food) against a convention! (Money). As for the current meaning, so important... it is even not mentioned.
After that, wonder why language is so often a source of illusions, that it so commonly distorts the description of subtle realities, when people use the same words with totally different meanings, distorting each other's thoughts. In good faith...
Brigitte is boiling inside, and she turns around in her room like a lion in a cage. we need... It would be needed... To send all these pedants for a stay in a country at war, like. Or in a Third-World favela. In a way to become idealistic, just a little bit. If the meanings have been confused, it is indeed by vice: they absolutely needed that beauty and good would be relegated to the imaginary, to leave the free field here to the ugly and the bad! To avoid falling into these traps, it is better to stick to the meaning given by the people, the most common, who describes as idealist a supporter of Good, Perfection. Brigitte's caretaker is probably not smart, between her smelly fry and her braying TV, but the little people like her finally have more human value than those stale idiots who use their intelligence to sow confusion.
In any case, from now on Brigitte will use the words that everyone understands. She will speak French. There will always be many more simple people than pedant professors.
The following Sunday, she tells this ridiculous incident to her concierge, precisely. this also is an excellent and very welcome way to reconcile, to erase the past, without either of them needing to refer to it.
«The definition of the concierge! Who he thinks he is this guy! If it's just for saying that he went to school, he lost his time! If people go to Paris, they all see the Eiffel Tower, even those who don't know it! It's proof that it exists! In reality, not in his head of this guy! These are theories, these stories, just good to confuse the youth. Better teach young people how to remove war and pollution, isn't it?
- Ah, you're an idealist, you, at least, this is good!» And they both laugh heartily.
The following days, Brigitte, still deeply indignant, inquires around. In any way she examines this story, there had been cheating on the meaning of the word. And she finds many other cases... Almost all the important concepts, in fact, are expressed only with trapped words, warped, of which we must interminably specify in which exact meaning we used them, because the person to whom it is addressed can take them in a different sense, or with connotations that you have not put at all, innuendos that you did not even imagined. So if you talk about an «ideal» as a goal to achieve, even a goal quite possible and within reach, it does not take long for some to reply, unavoidable mechanical conditioned reflex, that you run after a dream, and take it as a pretext to fight you... We would need an unified language, valid for everybody. But evil spirits would at once pervert or defile its words. Here again, true communication is the privilege of consciousness alone.
For a while, somewhat mortified, Brigitte no longer attend her ecologists group. She is alone in her little home, where insidiously she feels uncomfortable. She does not see Roger so often, as this year he is in a remote area of the campus. One evening, eager for a little warmth, a touch of complicity, she goes back to see her friend. About her misadventure with the organic drunkards, he tells her: «I was somewhat expecting this. These ecologists are very good, very useful to humanity, but them too are a specialized movement. They are very strong for nature, economy, but for other areas they also find their limits. Take them as they are if you want to do a good job with them. But, aside from ecology, expect nothing more from them than you would expect from anyone else.
«I have a friend who had to join an anti-alcoholic league, to get out of alcoholism. As he was the only Black, he requested me to accompany him to a few meetings, to feel more comfortable, more accepted. Ah, these guys from the league, you would never make them accept a single drop of wine! Pure, incorruptible, even more inflexible than the anti-nuclear plants militants. You would tell them this story of organic wine, they would scream. They did a great job, by the way, to help alcoholics. Many were doing well, and my friend, if he does not drink anymore, it is thanks to them. It was really a wonderful help. But out of the problems of alcohol, it was useless to talk with them about anything else. No music, no conscience, no ecology! They watched anything on the TV in their premises, and there even were some who smoked in their meetings! Your ecologists group is the same: ecology is their entire universe, they invest deeply and sincerely, but for anything else they just don't know.
- Not all of them are like that, still. Some are interested in education, consciousness, health...
- Well, of course, ecology is among the today movements the one which is the most open to many things. But they are not COMPLETELY open to EVERYTHING. They are not essentially open to consciousness, they are not automatically sensitive to Harmony or Poetry. I somewhat had this intuition, that they do not vibrate with certain things.
- Ah! This is why you did not wanted to come...
- Yes, that's why. But how could I tell you?
«Maybe one day they will be open to more things. That would be nice, anyway. Perhaps one day there will be another larger movement which will encompass ecology, consciousness, and other things about which we have no idea yet.
- I would like to know what.
- I do not know, but it probably will not have a name or a party. If consciousness really wakes up, completely, remove all boundaries instead of only repainting them or transporting them a little further, then many things which seem impossible to us today will become natural and simple. There will be no more specialized movements, but groups, which of course will each continue to do a particular job, but the people in each group will be open and supportive of the work of the other groups, instead of being each in his clan like now. If, for example, in a group they realize that alcohol is bad, then the other groups will remove all the alcohol, without even having to ask them. Same for the nuclear power, for everything.
As we still need to live, Brigitte, hunted down in her very room by the cold emptiness of loneliness, returns to the ecology group. Against every expectation, she is warmly welcomed, with great demonstrations of camaraderie. Monique again does her warm laugh, Eric is silently busy sorting papers. Nobody, neither her attackers nor their accomplices, makes any reference to what happened the other day. She would like to talk about it, to clarify it, but she does not dare. Are they playing a game, or did they really forgot this incident? Unless they simply did not paid any importance to it, as a normal thing in their lives, that they could even not imagine that Brigitte might have been troubled. But Brigitte's heart kept a wound. If she returns to the group, it is more by civic sense, or from craving for human warmth, than by real attraction.
Marc is there, who is not saying anything either. Curiously, Brigitte is unable to remember if, during the incident, he was silent or if he too was looking at her with a mocking or condescending air. No doubt she had not paid attention, all to her misfortune. Oh, how these sordid discussions do not allow for consciousness! Ok, she lets go, and will not speak here of the consciousness, but about some consciousness. Which is still much more interesting than nothing at all!
Tonight, as usual, they are talking about the various militant actions in progress. As Brigitte, busy, will not be able to take part in all, she leaves the discussion before the end, and goes into the next room, to read the recent reviews.
«You have been brave, but your sacrifice was in vain.» What does Marc mean with this pleasantly theatrical phrase?
«Anyway you can come to my courses without fear, everything is vegetarian, organic, without alcohol and without tobacco.» Ah! He was talking about the other day. At least one who understands her! He is not the only one either, as in the room, others, busy preparing posters, are joking: «We refuse to pay the TVA (French VAT).
- Tabac, Viande, Alcool (Tobacco, Meat, Alcohol) ou Taxe sur la Vie Authentique (Tax on Authentic Life). If one of these three legal hard drugs is there, no more authentic life.
- TVA: three quarters of the Social Security budget. If they run out of money, they don't need to go far to find why: they only have to tax these three drugs to pay for their damage! Or, better, ban them, like all the others.
- I don't understand Monique quite well, because at the foundation of the group buying thing, everyone agreed that there would be no meat and no wine; now Noël comes along with his organic wine and organic meat, and everybody approves! It's the new fashioned scam!»
Brigitte is relieved to see that not all the ecologists fell in these gross traps!
«I shall have to drop the university restaurant, because there is meat at every meal!
Marc answers: This is the best you have to do, because in any case if you want to continue your spiritual work, you will have to get rid of all what is intoxicating your body and mind!
- My spiritual work? What spiritual work?
- You are doing Yoga, don't you?
- Yoga, it's a kind of soft gymnastics, right? What is there spiritual? I do not see angels or ectoplasms.
- You can do Yoga or relaxation as a kind of physical exercise, and this is fine. Most of the people who come to our sessions come especially in this mindset. But we can go further, and this is why from time to time we offer exercises like the relaxation with the flower...
- Oh! It was suuuper cool, this relaxation! I redid it many times during the holidays in the countryside!
- Did you get there easily?
- Yes, very easy, except at times when the parasitic thoughts invade everything, when we are angry for example.
- Ah! This is what I thought. You should come to the meditation sessions. You do it naturally, without learning. This is a good luck, because many people need years.
- Meditation! But I do not...
- Meditation, THIS IS WHAT YOU DO, for example with the flower, without knowing what it is. This is what you call consciousness.
- ...! ! ! !
- You should not see religion or sects in spirituality: meditation is this very open state of consciousness to which the relaxation of body and mind can lead you. If you want.
- But how do you explain that I get there when I was never interested in spiritual things?
- Usually with the word «spiritual» we imagines religious things, rituals, beliefs, extraordinary phenomena. I understand that believing in things you do not know, that you do not see...
- which do not exist
- ...I understand that it bothers you. But it, the state of consciousness, it exists, as you have seen, and you can enter in it whenever you want...
- Not always!
- ...or almost. Whether you have this gift or not, it does not come from your beliefs. Moreover, superficial believers in official religions often find it more difficult to achieve this. It depends on your past lives, your karma.
- And another stuff, past lives! Why not the later lives?
- Ah ah! Okay, you're right, later lives are more important, but it's even harder to remember, jokes Marc, with his good laugh.
- And karma, what is this thing?
- It is all of your possibilities or your handicaps that you have for your experiences in this life.
- The genes?
- No, totally unrelated. Karma is above the genes, it determines them, even.
- But it's physically impossible to...
- Ah I shall explain it another time, miss the adept, it is late, I am heading to bed.» He laughs gently, leaving Brigitte perplexed. After the Mother Grand and her finger of God, it is Mark with meditation. It is a bit confusing to see a God who does not exist to all the time play tricks on her. Still Brigitte cannot accept this arbitrariness of a supreme being with a capricious and impenetrable will. For her, above all, only the matter exists: the spirits, the other universes of the astral, the soul itself seem to her only pure inventions. She cannot accept all this jumble of contradictory beliefs of the religions: if there is contradiction, it is well that there is error somewhere, right? For her, everything is simple: consciousness allows her to be aware of the beauty of the universe, to be happy of the harmonious moments spent in nature or in the company of friends, or by sharing a useful activity. The only problems are the evil which spoils everything and the death which puts an intolerable end to it.
* * *
It would be rather tedious to tell Brigitte's whole year. She does important things with her group, and derives of it a great pleasure, despite the disputes which happen again several times. She continues to attend the evenings and weekends organized by Marc and Yolande, and also derives great benefits of them, even if she avoids discussions about spirituality. This work little by little awakens in her the inner riches which were sleeping.
About studies, Brigitte more and more loses her footing, but she does not care now. She is probably not the first serious and sincere student to be disgusted by a petty teacher who falsifies the notes. In more, these studies now seem useless: everything she learns with the ecologists and with Marc is the level above... Even if it is not yet an organized body of knowledge. So Brigitte no longer updates her notes, just attending classes. She even allows herself to skip the ones of lesser interest. The only course in which she takes part seriously is the one of Daniel, a teacher also always in black suit and tie, but quite friendly and lively. Chance for Brigitte, which will be very useful later, Daniel is a fan of Popper, the famous epistemologist of science, whom he never fails to explain the principles. Brigitte surprises herself wishing that Daniel gives her better notes, to compensate those of the other, but he does not confuse companionship and cronyism. He keeps his dignity as a teacher.
Brigitte's health is deteriorating too. Despite the advice of Marc and Monique, she finds nothing better than to continue to eat at the university restaurant, having little courage to cook for herself. This place seems now sinister and sad, especially the dark winter evenings, but she clings to the illusion of human warmth and light, within this brightly lit building in the night of the campus. All these discussions, all these evenings between comrades, of which nothing remains now! All this agitation, all these words which have built nothing! Her depression is now reflecting in Brigitte's mood, and she becomes sensitive and unpleasant, to the point that she builds a bad reputation in the ecologists group.
Why isn't she following Roger's advice? Instead of taking her friends as they are (besides the ecologists never pretended to be perfect, nor to represent a complete thought or ideal) she becomes demanding, seeking everywhere contradictions and defects. Needless to say, she always finds some! But if it is shunned, it is not always because she found organic wine under the leaflets. She is caught between her poignant desire for warm relations, light, and her horror of all that is wrong. In any situation, Brigitte, in her clumsy quest for perfection, always stumbles on the details which do not match... When it is not details, but real and serious problems, as for the organic wine and some others of the same brand, then Brigitte experiences real dramas which undermine her even more: But how this world is rotten! But how all these people are ugly! Even here, even with these people who yet represent the elite of humanity, everything goes wrong!
By force, even Monique is angry with Brigitte. Even worse, Marc is now a little distant. But what is the meaning of this absurd life which shows us the best and continually frustrates us of it?
Brigitte is so thirsty for light that she does not dare to switch off the lamp of her room in the evening... Even the artificial neon lights of the city seem to her less unpleasant than the intolerable darkness where she is struggling... Brigitte resumes thinking about the other planets, the extraterrestrials, and hoping a lot of them: that they come to seek her, or at least to contact her, to comfort her in some way or another, so that stops this intolerable anguish of being alone, without knowing why, in this dark, painful and confusing world!
It must be said that Brigitte has updated her knowledge on the subject: she read all of Roger's books on extraterrestrials and UFOs. She had seen «Encounters of the Third Kind» which was for her a meeting of the first order. That the extraterrestrials come to visit Earth aboard prodigious ships now seems obvious to her, and also that they are good and benevolent, even if the proofs are very rare! Such dazzling beauty makes the world in which she struggles even darker and more disappointing.
She often dreams of power lines, dark sky and other unpleasant symbols: fires from which emanate dark smoke of rubber or kerosene. Curiously these dreams alternate with others, very beautiful, charming landscapes or flower houses. But they are reached by a fragile and unstable staircase, where the deadly fall threatens. If these dreams become more frequent, in the same time they become commonplace, and lose their impact. The same goes for the dream of the ice planet, which comes back two or three times. It is less precise, less surprising, but the presences become stronger, while remaining elusive. Once she hears clearly a strange and very beautiful voice, very high pitched, but manly, as warm and deep as a bass voice. This voice speaks to her, gives her very beautiful words, which are like a balm on her heart. Everything is simple and perfect, very powerful, and, curiously, very personal, like love... Unfortunately when she wakes up... She is totally unable to remember a single word!
The end of the school year sees further debacle. Needless to say, she does not have her DEUG. Mostly by the fault of the little crooked teacher, but also for not really doing it. This is very embarrassing, because she no longer has the opportunity to continue in the faculty.
Needless to say either that her father does not appreciate. He is prettily aware that Brigitte spent, especially towards the end, more time in the ecologist's place than in teaching. He imputes on this the failure of his daughter. He says nothing, but at home Brigitte feels the atmosphere tense, stormy. She even senses violent exchanges between her parents, of which she does not get the content, save of course that it is about her. Worse: this year she does not receive the invitation to go to her Mother Grand! Hard for her! To stay in town the whole summer! Certainly the intervention of her father...
She would at least expect Roger's solace: but now, he has his license and at once he is gone, without asking for his reminder, for his native island, the Sun, the pineapples and his tender Rita. What can a graduate in science do in Guadeloupe? Roger never told about this, but apparently this was not a problem for him.
Even ecologists disperse during the summer months. Marc and Yolande have long sessions, but she can not ask them to offer her accommodation for two weeks! Because for Brigitte the drama is there: no more studies, no more money. At most, his father agrees to pay the rent of her room, the time she finds a job.
Brigitte leaves the student world and enters the working world in the worst conditions, her who dreaded this moment so much... Small jobs, unemployment, misery... And loneliness. This radiant summer is for her a black period, where she drags her sadness from a vegetable conditioning job (Fifteen days, or rather fifteen nights) to a distribution of idiot flyers to people who do not care (three weeks) not to mention a day here and there, where she gets fired right away, unable to sustain the inhuman pace she is requested. What a vexation, what strangeness especially! How consciousness and meditation seem far away! Her spirit still imbued with the sharp marxism of her old faculty friends discovers the «horror of the working class», which is in fact the daily lot of the mass of people. «It is not ecological, to work in a factory», she tells herself, in a workshop where she is requested to clean up suspicious cans. She is rather relieved to learn that she is not selected for this position.
Curiously, the «négrier» (slaver, in French), as the interim agent is called in proletarian language, seems to take Brigitte in sympathy, and he finally gets her a job as a packer on a chain, which he describes as «quiet». All day long, in the rhythmic metallic throb of the machines, Brigitte puts bottles into cardboard boxes. Still happy, it is not wine! At least she is sitting, and the work does not start too soon. (She has trouble getting up!) Despite all these vexations, Brigitte devotes her remaining vitality to desperately cling to this position. She has no choice anyway.
She is obliged to stop the university restaurant: she cannot buy tickets anymore, and only the most distant restaurant remains open. Anyway the empty campus and its joyous (and superficial) animation now seems to her intolerably sad.
Also she makes herself to eat. Fortunately, she has a vegetarian recipe book and prepares her meals, albeit with difficulty, because the work makes her tired a lot. For lunch, she keeps cold dishes in a bag, to avoid the canteen, full of bad grease and womanising. She clings desperately to the relaxation exercises, but it becomes very difficult, because the least untimely noise disturbs her, and makes her angry. Needless to say, moments of total silence are rare in the city...
She escaped misery, begging, and finds herself with enough money to afford some fantasies, like to taste exotic fruits. It is true that a salary, even a minimum, largely allows a single person to live! But her situation is not good: she will not be able to keep up with it for a long time, and in any case it is precarious work: the normal jobholder is sick, and will probably come back in three months, at most four.
Here is September again, and the members of the ecology group are back. Brigitte feels paralysed at the thought of returning. She feels her situation as a philosophical failure. She who criticized so much the «idiots who think only at work», she is a turn riveted to a chain. She who criticized organic food producers for wanting to trade, to earn money from it, instead of participating in an economic support network outside of the money system, she is now in this money system up to the neck. This is not a figure of speech: often the stacks of cardboard hide her completely, in her corner. Brigitte is mortified, upset, humiliated. She has become... like everyone else! It could certainly not happen anything more unpleasant to her.
Surprise: as she does not appear in the group, Monique comes to visit her in her room! A very kind Monique, who seems to have totally forgotten that two months ago she called Brigitte hysterical. The conversation does not really start: Brigitte does not play the game. She is, as we have seen, humiliated. All the same she explains her situation: Monique sympathises, but she also tries to play down: «But we're all here! The world right now is like that, so it's useless to bang your head on the walls. I do work at the bank, and José does computer science, and Pierre sells clothes. Everyone has been there! Of course for an idealist, it's hard, but you have to work in the world as it is! It's just a shame that you do not have a job related to your studies!» These attempts to comfort Brigitte without really sharing her Sensitivity only have a superficial effect. It is even more vexation for her, to feel pulled by the feelings, while once again the true questions are being eluded. Finally she says goodbye to Monique, but without thinking to come back to the group.
Brigitte does not dare to extrapolate, from the ecologists group, what it must be elsewhere. She has some samples, at work, which do not reassure her: grotesque or obscene remarks, ubiquitous smoking plague, conversations without purpose or direction, of a sad stupidity.
The only advantage in her situation is that she has money. Poor consolation! She does not dare to spend it and save for her uncertain future. The person she replaces is still sick and even has complications, which delays the deadline. Strange to speculate on the health of others! What a distorted world! Brigitte lives this half life until the beginning of winter, without any reason to hope. On the contrary, from the fatigue of her work, she impoverishes her health. Her food is now largely organic and practically vegetarian, but awkwardly balanced: too much grain and cheese, not enough fruits. She does not get of it as much as expectable, and in more the toxins of all these years of meat are still poisoning her.
Her dreams are often sinister, full of dark smoke. She still does not dare to go back to the ecologists group, with whom she thinks she definitely broke. But she sees nothing else to replace it. She is torturing herself again with her false hopes of beautiful galactic ships which come to free her from this incoherent series of useless days. She arrives at the moment when the idea of ending emerges in her head. First slowly, like a discreet fantasy, then openly. She fights back, but after all, if nobody comes looking for her, it is probably that there is actually nobody. Then why to torture herself waiting? She feels herself to be the plaything of a monstrous machination, that matter plays on consciousness. So she refuses to be unnecessarily a victim of it: in any case matter will always win, since the consciousness totally depends on the good will of matter to maintain the subtle and oh so delicate nervous arrangements which are indispensable to this consciousness.
Even if Brigitte fights hard, these disastrous thoughts come to be tempting: the nervous breakdown does not so easily let go its prey. To Brigitte, everything seems cold and black, wherever she goes, especially in this season: she arrives at work well before daylight, and comes out at nightfall. What is the point of living without seeing the sun? The sadness is poignant when, on leaving the workshop, she just sees a vague violet glow, like a last hope which vanishes, on the background of a sky which looks so dark, so sinister, when we are dazzled by the lights of the city...
Coming home from work, she avoids noisy avenues and passes a small street which overlooks the railway line, behind the station. There is nobody, and just a few small street lamps struggle to dispel the darkness. Only a barrier separates her from high voltage electrical installations. Perched on iron trusses, strange machines with black silhouettes seem to be waiting for her... Climb, just jump and catch the big greenish copper braid, and everything is finished, cleanly. No more vain professors, no more fake plonkish ecologists, and above all, no more of this filthy darkness which seems to stick everywhere... She hesitates, stake of a furious fight between the desire to end it and the desire to live, to hope nevertheless. Saying «just to see if it is possible», she raises one leg, puts her foot on the railing, stays for a moment, takes support on her hands to lift the other foot...
Stupefied, she turns, resting her feet quickly on the ground, terribly confused to be surprised in such a posture, which meaning is all too obvious!
The stranger who stares at her seems as embarrassed as she is. No doubt he had watched her behaviour for a while, because she did not heard him approaching. In the faint light of a distant street lamp, he seems to her a very ordinary man, about fifty, quite tall, dressed in a putty coloured overcoat, with a thick brown satchel of official or accountant. His face is in the shadows, and she will not even see him, because he turns his back to the lamp. No doubt he was returning from his work, like her, by this shortcut. Quite the kind she would have quickly diagnosed: «He is a type completely in the old society!»
The sickle blades of the circuit breakers, gnawed by the electric fire, suddenly seem her like demons horns... Who mercilessly sneer at her indecision: «So you do not want to come with us anymore?!» These fearsome apparatuses, monstrous productions of the rationalistist neurosis, this weak electric humming... That they are suddenly sinister and gloomy! For a moment, in her mind, the entrance of a tunnel of absolute darkness appears, an abominable abyss: death... without the stranger, she would be... irreparable would she accomplish, which trap did she escape...
«I... Mademoiselle, stammers the stranger, trembling with emotion, I do not think that would have solved your problem, do you know...»
They stay a moment like this, without knowing what to say. In the face of death, everyone is equal, nobody cheats, we have to talk about the real things. The superficial roles, age, gender, nationality are abolished. They look at each other as two conscious and totally open humans, and understand each other. The warmth of his soul. Is he a believer or a materialist? Even that does not matter.
Then, as Brigitte, dumb with stage fright, tries two steps to disappear, the stranger, suddenly inspired, opens his bag, rummages a little, and finds a book with a black cover, and hands it to Brigitte, who can not avoid to take it. «Here, you may see a solution. In any case, I tell you, nothing is better than life, whatever the difficulties.» Then he goes away, still trembling.
Strangely enough at this season, a cricket rustles in some clumps of grass, at the top of the bricks slope still warm from the sun of the day. On the other side of the little street, is a row of gardens and small houses. From a golden window arrive children laughters and puffs of a voluptuous vanilla scent. The stars seem to suddenly appear and wave, friendly as if to say, «You forgot us?»
Brigitte goes back to life, since death did not wanted her.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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