Monday, April 10, 2006

Insignificant confessions

Professor Rutkowski on the main rules for dealing with the police (pp. 198, 200 - 204) taken from How to Quiet a Vampire; English translation copyright © 2005 by Northwestern University Press; translated from the Serbian: Stephen M. Dickey and Bogdan Rakić. Originally published in Serbian – Kako upokojiti vampira, © 1977 by Borislav Pekić.

(…) Do what you want, just don’t ever admit to anything. Remember: nothing has such a thoroughly and irreparably disorganizing effect as the first insignificant confession. (…)

And so, (…) [Y]ou reach the comforting conviction that the small confessions you make are not only not harmful but also quite useful. To be sure, they distract the police from the main topic. (Never mind that you don’t have one, or that you have nothing to hide. From the moment you make any kind of minor confession at all, you’ll think you’re protecting some great secret. This is fatal, because the moment will come when you’ll really have to have one.) You’ll be deceiving yourself, my friend: they won’t be distracted by them. No one can ever distract the police from anything.

In the meantime, you’re enjoying yourself. Of course, as much as you can, looking straight into the glare of the electric reflector lamp and sitting on the hard chair they’ve been seating you for a week already. You comfort yourself that you’ve thought out your little trick well. You’ve told them about some unimportant acquaintance who is innocent and who will surely get himself off the hook. These trivial acts of meanness were only part of your tactics. After all, this higher goal requires one thing or another to be sacrificed. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You can’t make baklava without crushing nuts. Of course, it’s always someone else’s nuts you’re crushing. That ought to be logical. It’s always more tempting to reveal someone else’s secrets than you own. Other people’s secrets somehow always seem to be less important,

And so, my friend, you can accomplish all that. The one thing you can’t do is to distract the police from their main goal. You can’t count on them forgetting that you’re a filthy spy (…). You quickly realize that your “minor sacrificial confession” aren’t nearly as small as you’d hoped, that they’re anything but minor. That they are, dear friend, entire hecatombs – a hundred bulls for the police feast. And that sleeping with a German milliner, especially if the adultery takes place on our territory and not in Bahrain, costs you more than buying all the whores in the local bordello.

Because the police, my friend, aren’t hungry for your pawns, bishops, or rooks! They don’t give a shit about your Queen, which you’re always trying to offer them! Chess is played for the King. You’ve been protecting it with your psychological castlings in vain, you’ve been avoiding any move that would expose it in vain, your King will end up unprotected sooner or later. And in the meantime, you’ve been playing your clever little tricks and combinations, mercilessly throwing away the minor pieces of your minor confessions, which were the only thing that could protect your King.

Minor confessions can save you from major confessions only if you don’t make them – not even the least, most inconsequential confession! None at all! Because now, you see, now you have no protection at all. The police agent correctly concludes that, since you didn’t try too hard to defend your Queen, you won’t worry too much about her royal spouse either. The deadly, checkmate question will be repeated at regular intervals and will always demand your surrender with the same persistence.

There won’t be any more pawns to place out in front. You won’t be able to say again that you slept with Lilly Schwartzkopf. That pawn has already been taken, my friend. Its loss has already been registered in the Protocol. And you’re suddenly aware of the significance of the pawn that you sacrificed so offhandedly. You realize you shouldn’t have betrayed your loyal spouse and slept with the milliner, not at any price. (…) And if you cared so much for easy women, you could have found them in Bahrain – those wouldn’t have been spies, at last. The minor confessions were therefore anything but minor. BECAUSE, MY FRIEND, THERE ARE NO MINOR CONFESSIONS. Every confession is a major one. Every pawn is important.

Does the realization of your fatal mistake stop you? Have you decided not to give up even one more secret? Especially the ones you don’t have? Well, my dear, naïve friend, you’ve confessed to being a spy, do you really think you won’t HAVE TO PROVE IT, TOO? (…)

(…) The police still want you to turn in your King. And he, of course, is no longer protecting your Secret. You gave away your Secret long ago. Your King is now only a bunch of names. Names and names only. Because the police don’t need you. What the hell do they need you for? They’ve already got you. It’s the others that they need, always the others. (…)

So your clever trick has failed, your twofold trick – to have saved face a little in your own eyes, and have told the police everything anyway. Everyone will cope with the dichotomy in his own way. You, for example, will see the futility of any further resistance and give up. You’ll pull down the flag. (Sign the Transcript, please. Thank you.)

You want to return to your basement as soon as possible, to that shrunken world of imagination. Nothing matters to you in your suicidal crisis. Since you’re already dead, you vent your hatred on those who are still alive. You betray your wife, son, brother, mother, your friends. You throw unknown people on the altar of your self-torment – you are God in that virtual world of crime whose lightning strikes haphazardly, at random. (…)

(…) Every confession is major. (…) So don’t say a thing. (…) Give only your name and address. Hilmar Wagner, Kutcherstrasse 17. Hilmar Wagner, Kutcherstrasse 17. Did you do it? - Hilmar Wagner, Kutcherstrasse 17. Did you? Hilmar Wagner, Kutcherstrasse 17. … You can also request to see your attorney. (Though this isn’t to be recommended; occasionally they arrest the attorney as well.) I want to see my attorney. Hilmar Wagner, Kutcherstrasse 17. Did you do it? I want to see my attorney. Hilmar Wagner … It doesn’t matter at all that you won’t get to see him. (In the meantime, as I said, he’s been arrested, too.) You don’t request to see him so that you can actually see him. You don’t want him – if you saw him, you’d have to talk to him. And talking is confessing. All you do is say the formula. Amen to that. (…)

No comments: