The Diaries of Arnon Grunberg (9)

“Hey Arnon, what are you reading this time?”
She asked it with such kind sincerity, that he knew he was going to finish the book this time.

He was, he thought at least, now present here for almost five years, a lustrum, time for celebration, but more so for reflection perhaps. He was however, to say the least, as well uncertain of his time and place that he filled in it. The question of the meaning of being, his very presence, and here especially, of all places, was in question itself, not only by him self, yet until recently very much not certain to be answered. The ontology of being, that was certainly the question.

Sure, sure, there were more practical concerns, but certainly none more urgent. Like there was the question what to eat tonight, how the weekend had been, how he was doing, if he would like anything with my coffee, what was up, what the weather was going to be today and what to wear, etcetera, atcetera. All deeply relevant, sure, but honestly my friends, all trivial, no need to beat around the bush. For all we know, the only knowledge that is not in doubt it the question of being. The essence of our being is first and foremost, a question of being itself, a quest for the ontic value of our presence.

Today was a beautiful day, the winter had appeared to have been thrusted from the stage a few times already, but each time it had turned with a vengeful and moist, eastern wind on us again. More than once this temporary jostle with spring had caused Arnon to suffer from another sinus infection that left a weary sore lingering around in his head. Nature too was not accustomed to the inconsistent temperatures, and many winterdays choked the budding blossoms to fall off. But today, spring had finally revealed itself. Arnon wore a hundred percent wool and laine pair of trousers by Club Monaco, one he recently had bought at Broadway, a withered black t-shirt with a facial silhouette of Putin above the text ‘vshyo putyom,’ meaning ‘we go together’ and navy blue asics tiger sneakers, which he mainly loved for their cheap simplicity. He had gone into town around eight in the morning, ordering a large, black coffee with two sugars, no bag. He was doing fine just like the Bangladeshi coffee vendor, although a little out of breath from running up the stairs, which quite right, was normal with the subway laying so deep here, but since he looked quite young still, and the Bangladeshi vendor worked hard however, they were both going to have a nice day.

He had started reading Heigegger’s Sein und Zeit, mainly because his life had gotten clogged with trite encounters, like life does. He had become unable to resist a boredom so existential that it had to be real and his only escape was a complete abstraction from reality, he was past the simple remedy of a Cartesian doubt, of a shallow negation of the facts, he would have to grasp deep into the muddy pool of thought this time. But the pool was muddy indeed, and he only understood half of what my eyes were absorbing, being easily distracted. The first fifty pages were going to be like this, he realized this, starting in an estranging language again, even though the language of his far forefathers, and having to repolish his presence to his German self. But here lies too the answer to both the ontological question for the meaning of being and the ontic pendant of boredom that dominated Arnon’s being. He was not present here, but could only imagine he was.

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