A Man Asleep (The Man Who Sleeps), by Georges Perec (if he had finished College)

A Man Asleep (The Man Who Sleeps), by Georges Perec

After your futile attempt to be indifferent to the world and the world indifferent to you, you have completed your sociology studies at the university. You’re nearly 30 years old. You work without time to wander aimlessly around the city, but the mirror in your room still shows the scars on your face and the ashtray is still on the edge of your table, full of cigarettes. You try to remain detached from the course of days and hours, as before, still in your attic. You had no dreams back then, and you have none now; you know very well that you would never have realized them. Your indifference has given way to another feeling.

You hate. You hate without violence, without aggressiveness, without specific reason. People cramming onto buses under the scorching sun, looking for a seat, those waiting for the last night bus of the day, people crowding onto the subway during rush hour, sweating hours of work or lack of punctuality. You don’t hate anyone in particular, no one more than the others, but you hate the uniform mass that accompanies you everywhere, with their different yet always the same faces that you always forget.

The elderly who have been through everything, the children who know nothing, the young who think they know everything, the adults who think out loud. The rich, the poor, the middle class, the upper bourgeoisie; each one of your peers. You don’t know any of them, but you know what’s necessary; you have the impression, at least, that by the way they treat you in line at any supermarket, in parks or squares, none of them has any regard for you, it’s all reciprocal.

Tribute to A Man Asleep and The Man Who Sleeps, a book/film written in the second person

The Man Who Sleeps, film

You say every day that you don’t hate them for a reason superior to another, that it’s a matter of impossible indifference, because that’s what you would like to feel for all those people around you, who look at you, judge you, and reproach your lack of initiative, education, or life experience; in short, your lack of ambition, your inability to be made of the material that modern society is demanding.

You spend hours and days in your room, lying on your faithful narrow bench (that attempt of bed), wishing not to leave except to enter empty cinemas and watch another movie just like the previous one, but reality is always stronger than you, your indifference turned into hatred is increasingly resembling boredom with what life has to offer, with what you have to offer to life. You have forgotten your friends, they have forgotten you too, despite them, because of them. You don’t follow anyone’s advice, you don’t want to hear anyone recommending, saying it’s good to maintain friendships just in case. You’re not drawn to interest as a motive, it’s not part of your way of being. You don’t want contacts that would favor your entry into the world of work, you don’t want to compete against anyone for anything, because you don’t aspire to anything.

You hate those who get, you hate those who give. Those who forgive but don’t forget, those who forget without more. The sane and the insane, the outsiders and the natives. To God, theoretically guilty of your inexplicable and insignificant existence, to the Country and the King, also to the Republic. To the reactionary bar-goers, to the sofa-bound revolutionaries, to everyone without exception. And to the indifferent, like you.

“You are alone, and by being alone, you never need to look at the time, you never need to count the minutes. You never need to feverishly open your mail, you never need to continue to be disappointed if you only find in it a pamphlet inviting you to acquire, for the modest sum of seventy-seven francs, the treasures of Western art or a dessert set with your initials engraved. You need to forget about waiting, undertaking, succeeding, persevering. You just let it happen, and that almost seems easy for you.”

– Georges Perec. A Man Asleep. David R. Godine Publisher. 978-1567924586.

I read and rated A Man Asleep ★★★★★ on June 20, 2015.

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