It doesn’t take much to steer a person’s life, his poetry and aspirations out of the path he has been following for years, be it in a spiral or in a rapid run!

The smallest thing is enough to cause a change in his heart, a sudden impression decides his fate. Neither age nor world experience protect him from this, the passionate is just as much under the rule of a dark power as the serene. And so I could go on for a long time in this instructive tone, with which I only want to force myself to be calm, and fill many pages with similar platitudes, also abundantly citing examples from old and new history: life and world remained as they are , unpredictable, confused, in spite of their eternal repetitions and their innate nothingness, for who just lives and looks at the world, a wondrous riddle. It is not for nothing that I turned fifty – I know that nothing has happened to me that has not happened to thousands of people before me, and as a doctor I am also able to understand nine tenths of all processes in the human body and thus also in its soul to be able to explain better than the majority of my fellow creatures: but for once we’re all stuck on a sandbank.

If you stay in the same apartment for a decade in a big capital, undisturbed and undisturbed, in my eyes you are a mortal especially fortunate. I was such a lucky one. But not entirely without my own merit, I add. My host was a rare character: he hated dogs, pianos, and small children. Mercilessly he closed all who were burdened with these three things, from his paradise. Of course, he too knew how to turn a blind eye and an ear. The main thing was that you never heard a dog barking improperly here, never heard children scream, and never heard the piano clink at midnight. Equality of attitudes brought us together: I was a fanatic of silence like him. I was welcomed as a tenant, a pride of the Hague, without children and skittles, without pianinos and poodles, but wealthy, a man well-known in the city. Our relationship grew to an intimate one: he on the first, I on the second floor, we vied to surpass the other in silence. My boots often creaked, and my servant, who is irascible, had the bad habit, when he was wrong, to throw the doors shut with a crash. Certainly intolerable disturbances – fortunately my friend and host kept my balance. He was a great politician and club member, of course a progressive party, with a strong and fierce dislike of the Social Democrats, and when he returned from the inn twice a week at the twelfth hour, either the clouds that were gathering on his Jupiter forehead were released , in a thunderstorm against his wife, or the serene sunshine of the political sky, which he brought home, poured over his people in anecdotes and Homeric laughter. So we were mutually even in this relationship. In addition, I always gave him my vote as elector in the first class in the elections to the state parliament, and every third year I silently accepted an increase in my rent. What is the human! In order not to be disturbed from his comfort, in front of the ghost of housing shortage, he denies his conservative principles and votes for a bourgeois progressive man.

So I sat in peace in my quiet home. And I can say that every evening I returned there with pleasure, from the struggle with illness and death, as well as from society. Here I had peace and I wasn’t bored with my books, engravings and photographs. Now, after entering my fiftieth year, I wanted the first twice and I believed I had said goodbye for a long time. I began studying medicine with great hopes; I wanted to be a pioneer, an explorer in this field. To fathom the secret of life, to descend into the dark depths of becoming and passing away, appealed to me. But my life was very different from what I expected. Accidents robbed me of my fatherly fortune, I stood there poor, only rich in worries, since several younger siblings expected me to support and raise them. Instead of being able to retire to the study, to the laboratory, I had to throw myself into the market. A poor doctor’s wild hunt for patients … well, I succeeded in doing it through my earnings. In twenty-five years I had become a sought-after doctor in the capital. The sick praised me for calm and firmness; my colleagues called me an authority on all heart ailments. The poor man had made me rich. I honored and loved money after having once learned in the most painful way what it means to be poor. My practice, as well as my determined will to make a fortune, had cut all my scientific plans as if with a sharp knife. The youth who had presumed to enter the illustrious company of Hippocrates and Galen, Harvey’s and Boerhave’s, and the man who was busy day and night with his sick had very different faces. They were alike in only one point; even the man still indulged in the ambitious dreams of his youth at rare moments. The more secure my position became, the more my fortune grew, the more vividly the dream returned. Perhaps the old man accomplished what the young man suspected. It is possible that unconscious tension, fatigue and physical suffering that arose contributed to my decision and, as it were, formed the solid but inconspicuous tissue that then ran through the vanity and pride with colorful threads, enough: I gave my practice, with minor ones Exceptions, on my fiftieth birthday and began to go to the real work of my life. I wanted to see how close one can get to the mystery of human existence through incessant research, experience and experimentation.

How far i got …

One evening, under a heavy, cloudy October sky, I returned home from our medical association. Nothing important had been negotiated, nothing funny or sad had been told. One cannot open the front door more indifferently than I did, and climb the stairs to his apartment. Everything inside was in its usual order. The lamps were on, there was a cozy warmth in all the rooms, no unpleasant letter had arrived. As always, my night drink was ready, next to it were the evening papers, two or three medical magazines. I sat in my chair and picked up a newspaper. But what is that? I cannot read. A sharp, sustained noise interrupts and harasses me. I look up – opposite to me still and rigid, brightly lit by the traffic lights, hangs a marble replica of the famous Rondanin medusa; I listen: behind this is the cause of the noise: a clock that ticks, tock, moves its pendulum with uninterrupted regularity. who will be bothered by a clock – and I try my newspaper reading again. But it doesn’t work, there is something so ruthless and booming about this pendulum swing – and now, as it cannot be otherwise, it is no longer just the noise that hinders me. My thoughts are scattered. The wall is thin that separates me from my neighbors here. Until that evening I never noticed that all those who had lived next to me up to now did not use this room very much: with all of them it was the so-called parlor, which was seldom opened for family celebrations. Tick, tock – tick, tock: it continues next door. It seems to me as if an invisible hand gives me just as many soft blows that make my nerves twitch as the pendulum vibrates. It occurs to me that I have had new neighbors – or rather a new neighbor … I forgot the name, I just remember that it was supposed to be an actress in one of the second theaters in our city … A great or a little artist, if you like , pretty or ugly, virtuous or brittle, a Magdalene or a Messalina, if only she had given her cursed watch another place! The unbearable noise confuses and annoys me more and more. Such ladies, who offer no guarantee of silence and civil prosperity at all, to be taken into a quiet house! It is irresponsible of the host. Of course, at times I should have objected to the new tenant … and so, angry at the clock, against the neighbor, outraged by the landlord’s ruthlessness, dissatisfied with myself, I look for my camp. My bedroom faces the garden, a long way from the unfortunate room, but the sharp tickling sounded in my ears for a long time.

The next morning I made inquiries. The Lady’s name is Elsa Themar and, as my servant assures you, she should be young, blond and beautiful. She plays the teenage lovers in the municipal theater at the east end of our city, in the French comedies that are the order of the day there. My host, who likes to highlight the educated man in front of me, smiled a little mockingly when I explained to him that I had neither heard the name of this famous artist nor anything of her talents. This is how these scholars are now, the twisted corner of his mouth seemed to say; Stiff, ossified, mindless – they don’t go to the theater, they know nothing about Sardou’s “Fernande” and Dumas’ “Monsieur Alphonse”. In fact, I knew nothing about it and only learned from him that Fraulein Elsa Themar played excellently in these plays – much better than the ladies at the court theater. Basically, all of this was extremely indifferent to me, I was not concerned with the young lady or her art, but only with her watch. But to get to this one, I had to get to know the owner. Dogs and pianos were included in the contract – but everyone has a clock, and it is ridiculous to want to complain about the sound of a clock. Doubly ridiculous on the part of a doctor – or should I reveal that this sound made an eerie impression on me? So I had to first make up my mind to tolerate. The most varied plans, however, to free myself from this enemy, thwarted my brain. Because it was as if with this tick-tack a power hostile to me had entered my life. I was able to choose another one of the rooms in my apartment as a study: but give up a ten year habit, make such a remodeling in the middle of autumn! I could write to the lady and ask her to put her watch on the other wall or in another room, but a mocking, easy-going comedian would have one An occasion to make fun of an old man’s nervousness! If I had someone suggest buying the watch on some pretext? The simplest of all, which at the same time appealed most to natural indolence, was to try to get used to that annoying noise. You endure the rustling of the waves, the clatter of a mill, you learn to endure pain to such a degree that we seem to be missing something when it suddenly subsides, why not the pendulum beating of a pendulum clock?

Sometimes I succeeded; the noise that came up from the street drowned out the chime of the clock; immersed in my studies, I ignored it for a while. Soon enough, however, the noise made itself audible again. With the disturbance my annoyance grew stronger; it swelled into a fierce hatred of the innocent thing that caused it. I transferred my enmity from the object to the owner. Although I still had not seen her, had no serious complaint about her, I hated this Elsa and looked for an opportunity to repay her for the evil she had done to me with her watch.

She lived quietly and moved in. The visits she received made no noise; sometimes she came home late at night when I was still awake at my work, but she was always alone. She studied her roles in a back room so that I couldn’t even complain about her declamations. It was so coincidental that we had never met on the stairs or in the hallway. Only our names stared at each other on brass plates on the doorbell doors. Elsa Themar – Gotthold Advertise. Suddenly, as it rose, one day the sound ceased. I couldn’t believe my ears, only the clock stopped. This day she touched hers Don’t pendulum, not the next, not the third. However, as I heard from my servant soon afterwards, it had happened without magic. The young woman’s servant had taken his help with the beating of the carpets, and he had taken the opportunity to tell her about my annoyance and anger over the clock. That had worked, Fraulein Elsa Themar as an educated young lady, who appreciated the scientific studies of a scholar and knew how to endure his whims, had assigned her watch a place in the next room – we, her maid had told my servant, understand our studies and like to be good neighbors.

I confess that this feature of kind-hearted friendliness surprised me and changed my mind towards the lady. That evening I went out to the city theater to see her and her play. In a French comedy she had to play the role of a young, guilty, very amiable and very repentant woman. In the opinion of the public, she did an excellent job, for she was repeatedly showered with applause. I could only make up my mind to clap once and then; to me their game seemed too fleeting and too exaggerated. All the finer transitions were missing, the colors were brightly applied. In the more excited scenes, however, a strong natural passion broke through the artificial and conventional of the whole performance, connected with the melodious organ and the beautiful appearance of the lady, who promised better things for the future in her youth. In her youth – she might be about twenty-five years old, a slender figure with lively eyes, rich blond hair, a strong, large and elegantly cut face, as if made for the theater and lamplight – she was apparently only at the beginning of her career. Certain small offenses even made me suspect that they were suddenly without thorough Preparation went on stage from different living conditions and happier circumstances. During the play, and even more lively when I was back home by my fireplace, where I was not bothered by the swing of the pendulum, I spun out a whole novel about Miss Themar, only to call myself to order with the words: “Stupid things!”

It is not for nothing that I am used to giving an account of all strong impressions, whether suddenly or slowly, and to follow them to their first causes. So I brooded over the impression the young girl made on me, the sympathy I felt for her. It was certainly not her game, for it made me feel uncomfortable or left me cold; beauty might turn young men’s heads, but it did nothing to mine. It is the voice, I finally said to myself, this soft and yet powerful, melodious voice that fascinates me. Out of this voice I invent a story for myself – have I heard it before in my life and now my fantasy confuses and unconsciously composes the past and present into one another. The image of that incident was so firmly impressed on me that now, with such a faint and fleeting nudge, it appears to me again as something I have just experienced. Yet there are years, important, decisive years and events between those days and the present hour. It is more than likely that the little actress never touched the circles where my memory leads me. Since I have heard the sound of this voice before, from the mouth of a woman who lived in abundance and in a respected position, I make up a story for myself how – ridiculous! how to become an actress. But at least I can see the emergence and growth of superstitious ideas based on my own example crucial years and events between those days and the present hour. It is more than likely that the little actress never touched the circles where my memory leads me. Since I have heard the sound of this voice before, from the mouth of a woman who lived in abundance and in a respected position, I make up a story for myself how – ridiculous! how to become an actress. But at least I can see the emergence and growth of superstitious ideas based on my own example crucial years and events between those days and the present hour. It is more than likely that the little actress never touched the circles where my memory leads me. Since I have heard the sound of this voice before, from the mouth of a woman who lived in abundance and in a respected position, I make up a story for myself how – ridiculous! how to become an actress. But at least I can see the emergence and growth of superstitious ideas based on my own example From the mouth of a woman who lived in abundance and in a respected position, I invent a story for myself how – ridiculous! how to become an actress. But at least I can see the emergence and growth of superstitious ideas based on my own example From the mouth of a woman who lived in abundance and in a respected position, I invent a story for myself how – ridiculous! how to become an actress. But at least I can see the emergence and growth of superstitious ideas based on my own example and try out opinions. An insignificant sensory stimulus, the pendulum beating of a clock, arouses a physical discomfort that grows into fear. This blow, I tell myself against my will and my better judgment, will be fatal for you, and as if this unconscious impulse had been a certain anticipation of future events, a series of coincidences now follows this first impression, which my thoughts at once Hold on to the chosen direction, strengthen the first loose threads of the fabric and pull me more and more into the circle of an alien existence.

A car rolled through the quiet, silent street; he stopped in front of our house. Happy laughter rang up to me, saying goodbye, then the front door was unlocked, while the car was moving away again, my neighbor climbed the stairs with a light step. She must be in the happiest of moods, for I heard her sing a funny aria in the next room. Just a few bars, she might think of the house rules or the neighbor, whom she didn’t want to disturb in his scholarly studies. She fell silent, but I heard the rustle of her silk dress, the back and forth of a woman getting ready for sleep. How foolish I was! While I am thinking of a tragic story of broken living conditions, of an unhappy theater career, the heroine of my romantic poetry had dinner with good friends and emptied the champagne glass. It had apparently never occurred to her that she was a very mediocre actress and that she could not survive on the stage in front of more severe eyes. She was satisfied with herself and her loose, and when she dreamed now, she only dreamed of roses and laurels, perhaps even of Danae’s laburnum. Then there was a scream in the next room: a scream of the greatest fear that escapes us when we unexpectedly come too close to an abyss she only dreamed of roses and laurels, perhaps even of Danae’s laburnum. Then there was a scream in the next room: a scream of the greatest fear that escapes us when we unexpectedly come too close to an abyss she only dreamed of roses and laurels, perhaps even of Danae’s laburnum. Then there was a scream in the next room: a scream of the greatest fear that escapes us when we unexpectedly come too close to an abyss have stepped or suddenly a horror arises before us. I jumped up and involuntarily took a few steps towards the door, seized with pity and concern, in the instinctive feeling of the doctor to help a sufferer. But my movement must have been heard by my neighbor. In the next instant everything about her was quiet and silent. I put my ear to the thin wall, I listened – in vain, she may have withdrawn to another room where she was safe from any eavesdropper. Whenever I liked, I could rack my brains over the scream of a comedian and set my gray hair to fathom the secret of a beautiful soul. The feeling of shame stirred up in me, and I picked up my crochet again and tried my best, to follow his primordial germ and protoplasm through all changes up to man. Strangely enough, my neighbor’s face constantly aped me: sometimes a laughing, exuberant, sometimes a tear-streaked, horrified face. But it wasn’t witchcraft, I had seen both faces on her in the comedy.

The next day she asked me to come over to her by letter; she took advantage of the friendliness of the neighbor and the help of the doctor. It would have been hard to refuse a request that could justifiably have been granted. Yet seldom have I taken a step with greater reluctance than that from my door to theirs. There was something inside me that warned me not to cross the short space that separated our apartments. I am unable to say whether there was anything strange or theatrical in her behavior when she received me, as I had never had anything to do with comedians before. She looked like a lady, in a simple, modest suit, her language as well as her movements were, compared to the ones they showed on stage last night, not only more natural, but also more pleasant and restrained. As yesterday, the magic of her voice captivated me again. Just much more powerful; under the heavy and strong push of a pathetic declamation, the quietly veiled voice had been completely lost from the stage. But even if I heard the melodious sound of this voice: in no way did the young woman’s face remind me of that unforgettable face, of that woman whose voice once sounded like hers to me. Once again she apologized for disturbing me, but she was very suffering and had no confidence in the theater doctor. She believed she had a heart defect and wanted to hear from everyone that I am the best doctor for diseases of the heart. At first it was only clear to me that she suffered from an overly violent heartbeat, which a great deal of excitement made worse. After a sleepless night, rest was her first need. Since she didn’t have to play that day, she could live entirely by herself. I prescribed her a light sleeping pill and tried as hard as I could to talk her out of the belief that she would have a heart attack. It did not take a keen eye to sense a psychological cause behind the physical discomfort. I remembered the scream they uttered that night. But I was careful not to hint at it with a word, worrying about adding to their excitement. The consideration for myself may have played a role. That would be a nice story

“I should lie down, Herr Doctor?” She began suddenly, with a certain hesitant tone when I was about to leave, “but I don’t dare. The restlessness, the fear will attack me again. ”

“Rest assured, the remedy will work. You get excited unnecessarily. There will be no dreams and no ghosts for you. ‘I had escaped the word with a smile, without thinking anything unusual. I was all the more surprised when she took it up with passionate haste. “Oh, you don’t know what I am suffering,” she cried, and took my hand as if she wanted to hold on to me, “am suffering from the invisible forces. Horrific images crowd up to me – the strike of the clock «…

Right, next door it was ticking, the noise that had become so eerie to me in the first few days after the young lady moved into these rooms. The case became more and more strange to me; were we both related at least in terms of this hideous watch?

She had not noticed my astonished look and continued, preoccupied exclusively with her thoughts and experiences, with nervous vehemence: “The hour strikes when a hated figure approaches me, threatening, demanding its rights. Sometimes I don’t know whether it is only the play of my excited imagination that conjures it up, whether it is reality. What is reality anyway? The terrible images leave me alone for a while, but it’s a deceptive peace, unexpectedly they stand before me again. ”

Was it the beautiful girl’s visible fear, the touching request for help, which spoke as eloquently from her eyes as from the tone of her voice, or the strange problem under which conditions dream images, imaginations an apparent reality and corporeality To be able to preserve our senses, which fascinated me – enough, I stayed and began to ask, half as a doctor, half as a confessor. So far my will had been changed by chance in a few minutes.

“But this unexpected,” I said in response to her last utterance, “cannot happen without an external impulse. Your imagination must receive a stimulus, an impression from outside, which brings that half-vanished series of ideas back to the fore and gives the individual again solid forms and bright colors. Just remember exactly what happened to you last night. I want to help your memory. Since we are neighbors and only a thin wall separates us, I heard you enter your room in a cheerful mood during the night. ”