Gheorghe Schwartz

 


 

 

 

(Romania)

 

 

The Schwartzian Paranoia

(fragments from the novel The Schwartzian Paranoia, Clusium Publishing House, 1999)

 

 

“All learning arises out of the relationships that people develop with each other”. (Euripides, Andromach)

 

The Essence

Feeling his life to be directionless, and unable to make sense of so much that was happening around him, Gough set out to find the essence of things.

He retreated to the heart of a dense old forest to lead the life of a hermit.

For 25 years he lived rough, sleeping under bushes and living on roots while all the time meditating on everything around him.

Twenty five years of profound meditation led him to the belief that he had discovered the essence of things. He had become a wise man.

Finally, to save anybody else from having to give up 25 years of their life in order to reach the same conclusion, Gough decided to return to return amongst his peers and offer them the benefit of his deeply profound thoughts: he revealed to them the essence of things.

But before he even managed to finish what he had to say, Finch, a freckled and foolish apprentice stable boy, retorted:

‘That’s not right. It’s completely the other way round.’

Gough became pensive, then replied:

You may be right.”

 

‘‘When two persons are doing the same thing, it’s not the same thing.”
(Syrus, Seneca, Epistles)


The Lesson of Political Economy

Mister Gough was sitting, for half an hour now, watching Finch catch fish. It was truly delightful to see the man, well beyond his first youth, unshaven and in ragged clothes, and yet so distinguished in his actions. You could see with the naked eye that Finch was a pro. Indeed, in the half hour, Mr. Gough had seen Finch catch three beautiful fish, three gorgeous specimens. A little bit farther away, several amateur fishermen were trying in vain to extract fish from a sea that seemed to have no living things in store for them.

But, to Mr. Gough’s surprise, after having caught the third and most beautiful fish – and how easily did the fish catch on to Finch’s hook, to the utter despair of the other fishermen –, the pro collected his gear, retreated into the shade of an old tree, and lay down to sleep. In a matter of seconds, he was fast asleep.

‘Now this is why,’ thought Gough, ‘the poor are so wretched. Were he not so lazy, he would keep up the good work and in a few months his condition would improve considerably.’ Troubled by such thoughts, Mr. Gough got really upset. Finally, unable to control his temper, he headed towards the tree under which the great fisherman was sleeping and coughed several times. Finch woke up.

‘Listen,’ Mr. Gough said kindly to the unfortunate fellow. ‘I want to enlighten your mind.’

‘Enlighten it.’

‘Look,’ said Mr. Gough, encouraged by the fisherman’s admirable willingness to listen. (Some people are full of good will. Unfortunately, in most cases, there is nobody around to enlighten them…) ‘Look, you’ve caught three fish. Three, right? Now can you tell me why you’ve stopped working?’

‘Well, what else should I do?’

‘Catch more fish.’

‘Why?’

‘What do you mean “why”’?! To eat them.’

‘But three is all my wife and I need. We may even have to throw one out, I’m afraid.’

‘Why throw it out?! You could sell it!’

‘I could? What for?’

‘To buy a better fishing rod.’

Finch scratched his head.

‘Well,’ he admitted, ‘I could do that. But a good fishing rod is more expensive than a fish.’

‘You see? That’s why I’m telling you to keep working! You’re a fisherman? Yes, you are! What should you do? Catch fish. That’s why you are a fisherman. Had you worked for another hour, with the fish you’d have caught you could’ve bought a better fishing rod.’

‘Really? Well … But why do I need a better fishing rod?’

‘With a better rod you would catch much more fish. Mind you, with the same effort.’

‘Obviously,’ said Finch. ‘But why should I catch more fish?’

‘To buy a better fishing rod. As good as the first.’

‘Another one? What for?’

‘To catch even more fish. With two good fishing rods, a fisherman like yourself could catch … ohohoho!’

‘I’d manage, I’m not saying I wouldn’t. But why should I catch much more fish?’

‘To sell it. Don’t you see, man, with the money you’d get, in a short while you could buy yourself a boat.’

‘Weeell, if I had a boat, I’d go with it empty and come back with it full.’

‘You see? You got it. You could catch so much fish that in a few months you could buy yourself a small ship.’

‘Really? Well yes, I could,’ admitted Finch and scratched his head again. A previously unknown enthusiasm seemed to have seized him. But the wave passed as suddenly as it had come. ‘And what would I do with a small ship?’

‘With a small ship? If you had a small ship, you could hire some fishermen – good, hardworking fellows – to go fishing for you.’

‘Why’d they go fishing for me?’

‘Because you’d have money.’

‘Is that so? And what would I be doing with the money?’

‘Don’t you see?’ Such obvious lack of understanding of the principles of political economy irritated Mr. Gough. ‘They’d be fishing for you, and you could lie down and sleep.’

‘Really?’, asked Finch for the last time. ‘But please, what am I doing now?’ With this, he lay back in the shade of the old gnarled tree, placed his ragged hat upon his unshaven face and in a few second he was snoring.

 

‘What is it that two persons who are in agreement can’t accomplish?’ – (Somadeva, Kath., 5, 12)


The telephones

He – Gough – knew that She existed and, more importantly, he knew where he could find her. It looked like nothing could prevent their happiness. He only had to call her up. So he dialled her number.

In the meantime – as it often happens between two persons who are in love – She was also thinking of Him. She wanted so much to talk to him! She settled down comfortably by the phone, on a soft pillow placed directly on the floor, and got deliciously ready for a long and enjoyable conversation … She dialled his number.

But, as they were so eager to talk to each other, they picked up the receivers simultaneously; as a consequence, the line that was supposed to connect them was always busy.

Neither of them replaced the receiver, but each kept dialling the number of the dearly loved. But since the only answer they received was that blasted ‘busy’ tone, the initial annoyance gradually turned into jealousy, then into resentment: when your only wish is to hear the other one’s beloved voice, why is S/He talking to God only knows who?

They both tried for hours to talk to each other; but since they did not manage, their passion died, and they both replaced the receiver at the same moment.

Now they could have talked to each other as long as they wished …

One day years later, He dialled the wrong number and it was She who answered:

‘I think you got the wrong number,’ She said without recognizing His voice.

‘I’m so sorry,’ He said, without recognizing Hers.

 

‘Therefore, he who binds for life should search whether the hearts agree! Illusion is short-lived, repentance is long-lasting.’ – (Schiller, Lied, 8, 4)

The Wedding

At his son’s wedding, Dr. Gough and all those present witnessed a strange incident:

‘Edgar Gough,’ asked the priest, ‘Do you take …?’

‘I am Edgar Gough,’ interrupted the bridegroom’s blissful voice.

‘Edgar Gough, do you take …’ the priest wanted to continue.

‘I am Edgar Gough,’ the bridegroom repeated in the same high-pitched voice.

At this stage of the event, a moment of utter silence set in. Some people in the audience whispered eagerly, ‘Edgar Gough, do you take … to be you lawful …,’ but Edgar Gough kept repeating, in a whispered but high-pitched voice, ‘I am Edgar Gough.’

‘You know, in such a crucial moment, I find it important to mention who I am, because otherwise someone else might pretend to be me and get married in my place.’ 

‘But my son, I’ve known you since you were a young boy …’

‘I’ve changed a lot since then.’

‘Well, but your parents are here, your relatives …’

‘Well, yes. Let’s admit that things are OK as far as I’m concerned. But I’m not so sure about you? Who are you?’

‘I’m the priest who is about to marry you, Edgar Gough.’

‘What’s your name? You know, it’s important to have everything out in the open. Before it’s too late.’

‘I am Father Henry Krupa.’

‘Henry …,’ Edgar Gough repeated the name thoughtfully. ‘Aunty, is it advisable to be married by a priest called Henry?’

‘I was married by Father George Krupa. He died in 1914.’

‘Well, in that case Henry is much better,’ Edgar Gough quickly agreed. ‘Henry … Henry …’

‘I got this name from my father,’ the priest heard himself say proudly.

‘What about the other?’

‘What other?”

‘Well, you were saying that you are also called Krupa. Am I wrong? Father, if you find this issue painful, we can discuss it in private. Come on, children, go out and take a walk in the village cemetery.’

Left alone in the church, Father Krupa felt suddenly embarrassed. For a while, there was silence.

‘There should be no silence between us,’ Edgar Gough finally pleaded. 

‘Do you find that something is not as it should be?’ asked the priest.

‘Let’s not rush to conclusions! Let’s not rush to conclusions!’

‘Then?’

‘The truth is it’s written on no one’s forehead what he is and to what purpose he is what he is.’

‘The entire town knows me!’

‘But I do not! Besides, I don’t know the baker either, or the butcher, nor do I know my milkmaid. But I believe them because they say the same thing: that the entire town knows them… Well, fine, why should my wedding day be any different? Now what’s the matter with you, why do you feel ashamed?’

‘You behaved badly! You shouldn’t have turned them out. To send your bride to the cemetery on her wedding day …’

‘We all end up there,’ sighed Edgar Gough.

‘There are many people in the cemetery,’ said the Godfather, who was coming back in the church with the others.

‘They are waiting for the priest, to serve at a funeral,’ the bridegroom’s father said.

‘It’s getting cold, winter is drawing near,’ spoke a third voice.

‘Let’s hurry,’ said Edgar Gough.

The rest of the ceremony went on without further incidents.

 

‘To live, let live … Listen, see and keep quiet.’ – (Baltasar Gracián)

Little Girls Born Pregnant

An extraordinary event, which occurred at the University Clinical Hospital, triggered great excitement among specialists, and long articles with screamer titles were published on the front pages of most serious newspapers.

The grad student Gudrun Zettelmeyer-Stoicikov had given birth, after only five months of pregnancy, to a healthy baby girl of 9’23’’. The young mother, aged merely 13, had been considered a prodigy even before this extraordinary event: similarly sensational had been her performance of speaking 8 different language before the age of 3, or the fact that she had graduated with honours from high school at the age of 11 ½.  An eminent student of History of Gastronomy of the Faculty of Theoretical and Practical Nutrition, Gudrun Zettelmeyer-Stoicikov had been working on her final paper until the day before her delivery – an event which caught her by surprise as she was only in the fifth months of pregnancy: she had hoped that, before the baby came, she would not only graduate, but also complete her Ph.D. But things precipitated: the baby was born sooner than expected – thanks Goodness, it was in good health! Since the person under discussion was Gudrun Zettelmeyer-Stoicikov, who accomplished everything sooner than everyone else, things would have been considered to be within the limits of the normal.

But in her case, you hardly got over one reason for astonishment than another, no less astounding, event occurred. In this specific case, the intriguing thing was that Aristotela-Phythagoreia Zettelmeyer-Stoicikov – that was the name the baby was given – was discovered to be already pregnant the moment she was born. Which, no matter how we might view things, was an absolute record. A commission of eight specialists, gathered from all the corners of the world, submitted the young Aristotela-Phythagoreia to all kind of tests, only to conclude that there was no doubt regarding the pregnancy. Thus, at the age of 14, Gudrun became the proud grandmother of a boy child.  

Research revealed that Aristotela-Phythagoreia had been inseminated genetically – perhaps a consequence of her mother’s extensive knowledge of the world of books.

Aristotela-Phythagoreia gave birth to a little boy of 6’80’’, who was baptized Mucius Cornelius Gough. He proved to be an absolutely normal child. In the nursery school, Mucius got intimate with Poyy Zeppelin, who at the age of 6 months begat Estera Evanghelina, already 7 months pregnant. In a matter of days, the latter gave birth to Cornelia Gracha who, while still in her mother’s womb, gave birth to Amalia Arabella, who in her turn begat three generations: Judith, Rachel and Rebecca.

It was concluded that these genetic mutations were not genetic mutations at all, but rather an effect of the totally inadequate diet typical in our days. This was scientifically – and irrefutably – demonstrated by Gudrun Zettelmeyer-Stoicikov herself, in her PhD. thesis and her subsequent studies, for which she was awarded two consecutive Nobel Prizes.

By the time she was 20, Gudrun was already great-great-great-great-grandmother. Without the exceptional theoretical and practical contribution of her research, the situation would have gotten out of control.

Unfortunately, ‘what the cat begets eat mice!’ Amalia-Arabella – who, according to some voices, was Gudrun’s great-granddaughter by the (undocumented) involvement in the matter of Mucius Cornelius Gough –; unfortunately, Amalia-Arabella also manifested precocious interest in the History of Gastronomy (she was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Theoretical and Practical Nutrition at the age of 6). In one of her outstanding scientific papers, she refuted Gudrun’s theory, proving that faulty nutrition cannot lead to the birth of pregnant little girls.

In the following three years, another 27,654 pregnant female babies were born. The rate of those cases kept increasing, and who knows how the situation would have ended had Socrata-Platona not demonstrated irrefutably that such cases were practically impossible. Nobody managed to reject Socrata-Platona’s theory, and after that no more pregnant little girls were born.

 

‘Hardness ever / Of hardiness is mother’ – (Shakespeare, Cymbeline, 3, 6)

 

The Cavity

Gough wiped his moustache with a napkin. Then he rose to his feet and left the restaurant. Bits of food had stuck in his dental cavity and his tongue kept drifting irritatingly towards it.

In the tram, Gough began fiddling at the tooth with a toothpick

But the wood, being too thin, gave way under the pressure.

He picked up a newspaper, but his tongue kept rambling automatically in the direction of his food-filled cavity.

Hiding behind the folds of his broadsheet newspaper Gough tried with his nail.

To his surprise, his finger gained easy access to the cavity.

After that, he thrust in his whole hand, followed by his arm right up to his elbow.

The morsel of meat was lodged still deeper, so that Mr. Gough thrust in his other arm as well, until he was leaning precariously over his cavity* …

But as luck would have it, it was at that very moment that the driver slammed on the brakes, causing the tram to jolt.

Gough lost his balance and fell headlong into his cavity. In there, the smell was so heavy and the space so narrow, that he felt as though he were riding in an overcrowded tram through the city’s polluted streets. Owing to the direction of his fall – head first – he could feel his blood draining downwards to his brain. Towards evening, he began to feel hungry and most of all thirsty. Darkness surrounded him in all directions, because he had closed his mouth after the fall. So, he did not know whether it was day or night, he did not know whether it was a week or a month since he had fallen captive to his cavity. He started yelling … until they finally heard him.

First they tried to set him free by using a toothpick, but they only managed to prick him horribly. They couldn’t pull out his tooth either, because it had begun to suppurate. All the while the situation did not improve, and Gough’s life was in danger. But then, nobody could take on the legal responsibility of extracting Gough from his own tooth. To do so, a written declaration from Mr. Gough himself would be required – which of course he was unable to give.

Gough decided to rely solely on his own resources. With tremendous effort, he managed to crawl up the steep walls of dentine. But then, the unexpected barged in on the scene. His freed legs tickled the palate of his mouth, and Gough hiccoughed. The torrent of air yanked him out of his cavity and he swallowed himself. He slid through narrow and larger tracts ending up in his stomach.

Here the space was somewhat wider and he could move more freely. With the help of powerful loudspeakers, the International Society of the Red Cross provided him with a perfect map of the insides of a normal person. The question, though, was whether Mr. Gough could be considered normal or not. Anyway, he decided to do nothing and simply wait for self-elimination. With the help of those same loudspeakers, the International Society of the Red Cross warned him that he should hurry: digestion would soon set in. The Security Council of the U.N.O. was called upon, and N.A.T.O. specialists showed interest in the case. The Helsinki Committee voiced their protest against the violation of human rights.

Gough had no time left to follow the natural route. With his penknife, his nails and teeth, he started carving a way out through the points where the map indicated that the stomach walls are thinnest. But he was unable to advance fast enough, and his strength was failing. When he finally managed to pierce his stomach, terrible weakness overwhelmed Gough and he passed out.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………

At the hospital, the doctor on duty entered on the death certificate the diagnosis ‘perforated stomach.’

 

* His parents had urged him repeatedly to stay at home, in the country-side, where the air is fresher, to take long walks and not to trust to those crazy means of transport. But Gough did not listen to them and got on the tram that triggered the dreadful events that followed. He didn’t even have the time to imagine what it would have been like had he remained at home, listening to the sonorous murmur of forest springs and the folkloric bleating of sheep.

 

‘Hazard plays an important part in every event, or rather, it represents the very essence of each and every human undertaking.’ – (Demosthenes, Olynthiae, 2, 22)

The Address

‘Gough read again the address scribbled in his notebook then stopped a passer-bye.

‘Excuse me, please, could you tell me how to get to Mozart Street?’

‘Mozart Street? Walk straight ahead and at the corner …’

‘Thanks!’

‘At the opposite corner turn right, then walk two blocks … no, let me see … three blocks, then turn left…’

‘You mean, I cross the street, turn right at the first corner, then walk three blocks …’

‘No, man! You don’t get it … Oh, God, how can I make him understand?’

‘But I understand perfectly well.’

‘No, you don’t!’

Finch had raised his voice and an elderly gentleman with an elegant briefcase under his arm stopped by their side.

‘What seems to be the problem?’

‘As a matter of fact,’ Finch asked Gough, ‘what business do you have on Beethoven Street?’

‘He wants to go to Beethoven Street? Why does he want to do that?’ asked a fat lady in a shrill and rather vulgar voice.

‘Because … But I was looking for Mozart Street.’

‘Why?’

‘Because … I like music,’ Gough tried to joke.

‘You should try Tom Jones Street,’ urged a freckled young boy.

 ‘Get out of here, you cheeky brat! There’s no such thing as Tom Jones Street. The youngsters of today! I wonder why their teachers get paid,’ lamented the distinguished gentleman, the one with the briefcase under his arm.

‘Let’s get things straight,’ said the sergeant authoritatively. ‘Where do you want to go?’

‘To Mozart Street.’

‘He’s lying! Ask him, constable, if he knows at least where Mozart Street is!’

‘Where is Mozart Street?’

‘Well, that was the subject of my question … I was just asking …’

‘I’m the one to ask questions here! So you are saying you want to go to a place you know nothing about?’ 

‘Oh, how often our steps take us towards a future we know nothing about!’ the counsel for the defence interfered.

‘I object,’ called out the prosecutor.

In the back of the room, a lady in the audience explained to her neighbour:

‘He is an Austrian-Hungarian spy!’

‘But Austria-Hungary no longer exists!’

‘So what? Are you trying to teach me how things go?’

‘He’s a descendent of Nero’s,’ the other one decided after mature inner debate.

‘How about the train that was looted?’ asked the representative of the media. ‘Why don’t you also charge him for the stolen money?’ 

‘There’s something fishy about this Mozart Street,’ the judge had to admit.

(An angry protest was published in LYRE, the magazine of the music school. At the performance that night for ‘Figaro’s Wedding’, three ushers and a singer were severely beaten up.)

‘Let’s sum things up,’ the judge suggested.

In articles with screamer titles, newspapers worldwide complained about the ‘Alarming Escalation of Ocean Pollution.’

So nothing could be done to save Gough from a death sentence.

Before the execution, a high official came to the prisoner’s cell promising him total pardon and even some substantial reward; all Gough had to do was to disclose the names of the leaders of the network of economic spies.

The first traces of doubt regarding Gough’s guilt came into view two years later. Step by step, the entire case was unveiled. There was uproar in the media, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced a movie. A religious sect declared Gough a martyr. The conservatory, which now flaunted Gough’s name, introduced a scholarship dedicated to the study of their patron’s life.

Several decades later, it was discovered that that specific Gough was a direct descendent of Mozart. A Norwegian scientist managed to demonstrate even more: Gough had been Mozart’s grandson. After some more decades, irrefutable evidence was unearthed attesting the fact that Gough had been the great Amadeus’ illegitimate son. Then they finally put the dot on the i: Gough had been Mozart himself and, on that unfortunate afternoon, he was merely trying to get home. And who had Mozart been? Unclear. An insignificant detail.

One day, looking at the address scribbled in his notebook, Mozart stopped Finch:

‘Excuse me, please, could you tell me how to get to Gough Street?’

‘Let me see …,’ said Finch scratching his head in a rather strange – transcendental, one might say – way …

 

 

Translated into English by Adriana Vizental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GHEORGHE SCHWARTZ (George Joseph Schwartz) was born on 16 September 1945 in Lugoj. In 1968 he graduated from the University "Babes-Bolyai” University in Cluj, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Department defectology Romanian language and literature, secondary language. Does teaching degree, doctorate in philosophy, was Dean, school Director, Editor of culture magazine, head of decentralized institution of the state (Inspectorate for Culture), a television Director, Diplomat (in Hungary and Germany, 1991-1993), Professor and Dean of the University "Aurel Vlaicu" of Arad and Director of the European Institute of UAV (Aurel Vlaicu University).

 

Published in numerous prestigious publications in the country and abroad. He is a member of the Writers Union of Romania, member of its Board from 1900 to present, member of the PEN Club, etc. Romanian Center.

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