Night thoughts, November 1926
READERS who claim me for their favourite writer often say that I express the truth. This is excessive praise induced, no doubt, by their very partiality. It is true that I do not seek to deceive, but neither do I try to recount all that is within me. What I express is merely a few odds and ends, just enough to hand in to the printer. It is true that I often try to dissect other people, but I apply the scalpel even more frequently to myself, and with far less pity. When I lift only a corner of the veil, sensitive spirits quail. What if I were to reveal myself entirely, exactly as I am?
It occurs to me from time to time to use this method to drive people away, so that those who even then did not abandon me, "snakes and odious monsters'(1) though they might be, would show themselves to be my friends, true friends after all. And if even they left me in the lurch, then too bad, I'd walk alone. But for the time being I refrain from putting this idea into practice, partly because I lack the courage to do so, and partly because I want to go on living in this society. But there is another reason, too, which I have mentioned several times: it gives me a certain satisfaction to create for as long as I can a feeling of unease among our "respectable and right-thinking' fellow-citizens. This is why I shall continue to gird myself with a few pieces of armour and stand before them, disturbing their orderly world with my presence, until I become tired of the whole business and take off this armour.
(1) In the original: "Xiao, snakes and revenants'. Xiao was an unplcasant mythical bird whose repellent attributes included devouring its own mother.
To serve as a guide to others is all the more difficult for me, since I myself do not know which path to follow. There is certainly no lack of "masters' and "guides' in China, but I am not among them and they do not inspire my confidence. …