An excerpt from the novel THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER OF COURAGE (by Ivan Slamnig, 1972) A.K.A. BOLJA POLOVICA HRABROSTI - an unofficial rendition into English
You know, it would be a good idea that this professor, i.e. you, take over first-year German as well. He was trying to get my attention. Alright. Can I go now then? Just a moment. I have to run something by Vikica. That was his wife. He muted the microphone by covering it whole with his hand, I could barely hear a thing. How much would it take you to arrive in Brestovje? Well, an hour and a half, I'd say, that's for sure. Merely going to another town! We'll hold the dinner until you arrive, then. You can sleep over in our house, Vikica says it's not a problem, besides, we'll be able to go through all of our plans. Yes, one more thing, you will be a appointed a classmaster for one class, but that is a separately paid duty, of course. Go on, buddy, I'm so happy for you. In the first store I bought some pajamas and a toothbrush. I was then cheerily on my way to Brestovje. The road still wasn't dark, I turned on the headlights just so I wouldn't forget to do it later. There wasn't much traffic. I'll write a letter to Anamatilda. I started coming up with ways of formulating it. It could go like this, for instance: "Dear miss! Our last conversation about the latest sequel to your story has proved to be tremendously interesting. I kept pondering about the whole problem afterwards, which led me to conclude that the crisis indeed existed, and in three categories to be sure, just the way you theorized. (come to think of it, four categories would have been better, my old gal, but there's no need to wrap your head around this elusive problem) "and this hindered the mere notion of specifying the problem, and it hardly offered any viable solutions to it, since we have constantly been leaping from one moral category to another without even noticing it. Living, breathing people can have all sorts of things happen to them, and Ana happened to fall in love with that Ferdo. The way she sees it, you did a good job describing her and I congratulate you for that. There is, in actual fact, no room for moral ponderings in my review, and that is why I urge you to consider your story sucessfully finished." And then, to top it all: "Send my warm regards to Zita and Anita. Yours truly etc."
The landscape along which the purplish road crept was replete with light and shadow, which was so characteristic of the Dutch landscape painters. And then there was that feeling od depth inside a landscape, depicting a mill which was never in fact observed by the painter's eye, but was solely described to him in aesthetic terms. I childishly made jokes at my own expense to pass the time. I talked gibberish as if I were in the presence of women. Saved! A sensible retreat – the significant other of Courage. The idea was incredibly clever, that has to be acknowledged, because if our existence is subject to repetition, i.e. if man is an eternal being, then everybody around him is an eternal being. If that is so, one must ask oneself is it possible to have a crush in one person, and than fall for another, or to put it differently, isn't the second person first, isn't the third person second, in the grand scheme of things, and what will the fourth person think of this, becuase all of them are here, whether it be in this or that heaven, hell or purgatory. They will all sharpen their teeth at you and demand their rights. But, where does that leave you, you are not able to arrive at any solution whatsoever if everything happens in continuo, and besides, even if there is no such thing as collective rembemberance, this still leaves us with the option to subsume everyhing under a single denominator of things that used to exist. (which, of course, includes everything that exists right now, and I'm only mentioning this because the Croatian language knows no such thing as Present Perfect). Of course, one could opt for eternal and never-ending loneliness, a person is only equipped with those clips which hold everyone else, while at the same time grasping for other people's clips, and there are no special dichotomous relationships there, at least if we take the matter seriously. But here swoops in the prospect of constant change, which is twistedly envisaged and basically brings to view a faceless slimey ideal, with mankind expanding beyond reason as if mobilizing an army of living beings. Eveything else is a scam.
It was in this short interval of lucidity that I saw through the scam. I was so shaken up by it that I broke in cold sweat. If only I could come up with a beverage I could endulge in at this moment! The problem didn't consist in arriving at verdicts, moral evaluations are not what is at hand here, descriptions of feelings are. A feeling can be regarded as a moral problem, but this isn't what feelings are about ("He who commits adultery in his heart" is still applicable to societies in which adultery gets legally punished, i.e. where people are oppressed by rule of law. When a dead person is at stake, then even legal persecution leaves the picture, and one is left with a pure sensation which can emerge like a tick of some kind, and then a writer puts his pen to paper and that's that). This is where my aunt tricked me. She's trying to make her own statement of love, that's the thing. To be quite frank, she sees me as nothing more than human meat, but I started regarding her as a woman, too, she put on special clothes for me, she blossomed like a late flower (...)