Storm's Journal

In or Out?  --the Raven

--| IN AND OUT |--- 

How did I get here? 
I said, apparently alound, for the question was immediately answered. 

You came through the door, replied an odd, rather harsh voice.

I looked behind, then all about me, but saw no human shape. 
The terror that madness might be at hand laid hold upon me: must I
henceforth place no condence either in my senses or my consciousness The
same instant I knew it was the raven that had spoken, for he stood looking
up at me with an air of waiting. The sun was not shining, yet the bird
seemed to cast a shadow, and the shadow seemed part of himself.
I did not come through the door, I rejoined.

I saw you come through it! saw you with my own ancient eyes! asserted the
raven, positively but not disrespectfully.

I never saw any door! I persisted.

Of course not! he returned; all the doors you had yet seenand you havent
seen manywere doors in; here you came upon a door out! The strange thing
to you, he went on thoughtfully, will be, that the more doors you go out
of, the farther you get in!

Oblige me by telling me where I am.

That is impossible. You know nothing about whereness. The only way to come
to know where you are is to begin to make yourself at home.

How am I to begin that where everything is so strange?

By doing something.


Anything; and the sooner you begin the better! for until you are at home,
you will nd it as difficult to get out as it is to get in.

I have, unfortunately, found it too easy to get in; once out I shall not try again!

You have stumbled in, and may, possibly, stumble out again. 
Whether you have got in unfortunately remains to be seen.

No one can say he is himself, until first he knows that he is, and then
what himself is. in fact, nobody is himself, and himself is
nobody....home, as you may or may not know, is the only place where you
can go out and into. there are places you can go into, and places you can
go out of; but the one place, if you do but nd it, where you may go out
and in both, is home.

What right have you to treat me so, Mr. Raven? i said with deep offence. 
Am I, or am I not, a free agent? 

A man is as free as he chooses to make himself, 
never an atom freer, answered the raven. 

You have no right to make me do things against my will!

When you have a will, you will find that no one can. 

You wrong me in the very essence of my individuality! I persisted. 

If you were an individual i could not, therefore now I do not. 
You are but beginning to become an individual. 

All about me was a pine forest, in which my eyes were already 
searching deep, in the hope of discovering an unaccountable glimmer, 
and so nding my way home. but, alas! how could i any longer call 
that house home, where every door, every window opening into 
Out, and even the garden I could not keep inside! 

I suppose I looked discomted.

Perhaps it may comfort you, said the raven, to be told that 
you have not yet left your house, neither has your house left you. 
At the same time it cannot contain you, or you inhabit it! 

I do not understand you, i replied. Where am I? 

In the region of the seven dimensions, he answered, 
with a curious noise in his throat, and a utter of his tail. 
You had better follow me carefully now for a moment, 
lest you should hurt some one! 

There is nobody to hurt but yourself, Mr. Raven! 
I confess I should rather like to hurt you! 

That you see nobody is where the danger lies. 
But you see that large tree to your left, about thirty yards away? 
of course i do: why should I not? I answered testily. 

Ten minutes ago you did not see it, and now you 
do not know where it stands! 

I do. 

Where do you think it stands? 

Why there, where you know it is! 

Where is there? 

You bother me with your silly questions! I cried. 
I am growing tired of you! 

That tree stands on the hearth of your kitchen, 
and grows nearly straight up its chimney, he said... 

Then, if I walk to the other side of that tree, 
I shall walk through the kitchen fire? 

Certainly. You would first, however, 
walk through the lady at the piano in the breakfast room. 
That rosebush is close by her. You would give her a terrible start! 

...if you could but hear the music! those great long heads 
of wild hyacinth are inside the piano, among the strings of it, 
and give that peculiar sweetness to her playing! pardon me: 
I forgot your deafness! 

Two objects, I said, cannot exist in the same place at the same time!

Can they not? I did not know! I remember now they do teach that with you.
it is a great mistake -- one of the greatest ever made!

I am librarian here as well.
but you have just told me you were sexton here!

so I am. it is much the same profession. except you are a true sexton,
books are but dead bodies to you, and a library nothing but a catacomb!

upon occasion, said the sexton at length, it is more convenient to put
ones bird-self in front. every one, as you ought to know, has a beast-self
 and a bird-self, and a stupid sh-self, ay, and a creeping serpent-self
too  which it takes a deal of crushing to kill! in truth he has also a
tree-self and a crystal self, and I dont know how many selves more  all to
get into harmony. you can tell what sort a man is by his creature that
comes oftenest to the front.

sleep is too fine a thing to be earned, said the sexton, 
it must be given and accepted, for it is a necessity.

a wild-looking little black cat jumped on his knee as he spoke. he patted
it as one pats a child to make it go to sleep: he seemed to me patting
down the sod upon a grave - patting it lovingly, with an inward lullaby.

In this house, no one wakes of himself.


Because no one anywhere ever wakes of himself. you can wake yourself no
more than you can make yourself.

then perhaps you or mrs. raven would kindly call me! I said, still nowise
understanding, but feeling afresh that vague foreboding.

we cannot.

how dare I then go to sleep? I cried.

if you would have the rest of this house, you must not trouble yourself
about waking. you must go to sleep heartily, altogether and outright.

(George MacDonald, Phantastes, 1857) 

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