The atomic torture we love so is locked up inside us with our pride

The things he was telling me kept squirting against the stumps of his teeth under the impulsion of a tongue, no movement of which escaped me. In a number of spots the edges of his tongue were bruised and bleeding.

This kind of meticulous observation was a habit, you might say a hobby, of mine. When you stop to examine the way in which words are formed and uttered, our sentences are hard put to it to survive the disaster of their slobbery origins. The mechanical effort of conversation is nastier and more complicated than defecation. That corolla of bloated flesh, the mouth, which screws itself up to whistle, which sucks in breath, contorts itself, discharges all manner of viscous sounds across a fetid barrier of decaying teeth — how revolting! Yet that is what we are adjured to sublimate into an ideal. It’s not easy. Since we are nothing but packages of tepid, half-rotted viscera, we shall always have trouble with sentiment. Being in love is nothing, it’s sticking together that’s difficult. Feces on the other hand make no attempt to endure or to grow. On this score we are for more unfortunate than shit; our frenzy to persist in our present state — that’s the unconscionable torture.

Unquestionably we worship nothing more divine than our smell. All our misery comes from wanting at all costs to go on being Tom, Dick, or Harry, year in year out. This body of ours, this disguise put on by common jumping molecules, is in constant revolt against the abominable farce of having to endure. Our molecules, the dears, want to get lost in the universe as fast as they can! It makes them miserable to be nothing but “us,” the jerks of infinity. We’d burst if we had the courage, day after day we come very close to it. The atomic torture we love so is locked up inside us with our pride.

— Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s