Columbia Library columns (v.33(1983Nov-1984May))

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  v.33,no.3(1984:May): Page 21  



Tagebuchblatter eines Totgeborenen:
Diary Leaves of a Stillborn

OTTO RANK

TRANSLATED BY GRETL WOLFEL COX
AND E. JAMES LIEBERMAN

What is left:

A few wise principles at best,
that hardly matter to the rest;
but of fortune not a trace
survives the torment of this race.

Begun in late autumn, no matter where and w hen.

2 November [1904? 1

I HAVE done with life. When? It was never different, as long
as I can remember. These notes are not the confessions of
one who is tired of living and wants to salve his conscience
by confessing and then turn his back on life, but the woeful tale
of a stillborn who one day awakened to realize his state and to
give himself, and those who wish to know, enlightenment and an
accounting.

What motivated the following record of deliberations, images
and events was a driving need to capture those friendly and liber¬
ating scenes which appeared occasionally during the painful time
of waking, so there would not always be doubt as to their actual
experience. For there is indeed a state of mind in which this is a
common occurrence and in such cases one can only use the art of
writing—if one cannot express one's experience in any other way
—in order to conjure disconcerting spirits into concrete form.

This is no easy task. For mostly one is forced to renew experi¬
ences in connection with a mood and to regard them with emotion
  v.33,no.3(1984:May): Page 21