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[372.59 KiB] Against This Age books by Maxwell Bodenheim

Against This Age
Title:Against This Age
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He knew that he was dead because his fingers had forgotten the art of touching and were trying to regain their ability. They were no longer able to separate different textures and surfaces, and everything held to them a preposterous smoothness that suggested an urbane, impenetrable sophistry. With a methodical despair they gripped one object after another, disputing the integrity of their condition, and when at last they capitulated he accepted the verity of his death. So far he had not sought to use his eyes or ears—he had existed only as a limited intensity of thought and emotion that directed his hands in a fight for variations in feeling. Now he discovered his sight, and in that moment avalanches of metaphors and similes—the detailed disguises and comparisons with which two eyes arbitrarily brand a comforting distinctness upon a mystery—rushed from his head and arranged themselves to form a world. This was a reversal of life, since in life the human eye detects and reflects the objects around it, as all good scientists will testify, and does not first project these objects and afterwards reflect them. But this man, being dead, found that his eyes had thrown myriads of determinations upon a shapeless mass and changed it to an equal number of still and animated forms. The desires within his eyes were continually altering the objects around them, so that a tree became shifting plausibilities of design and a red rose was merely an obedient chameleon. Of course, this could never have happened in life, since in life different shapes hold a fixed contour, appearance, and meaning, but this man was fortunate enough to be dead, so his eyes meddled incorrigibly with the shapes and colors which they imagined that they had made.
He sat in a room constructed by himself, and after he had become conscious of the result he saw that it was a hotel-room located in Detroit, Michigan. He examined the furniture, walls, and floor, and they were to him the firmness of his imagination divided into forms that sheltered the different needs within him. If he had still been alive he would have accepted the reality of shapes made by the majority-imaginations of other men, regardless of whether they pleased him or not, but death had given him a more audacious vigor and the room in which he was sitting did not resemble to his eyes the same chamber in which he had once reclined during his living hours. He knew that the power of his desire had returned him to a hotel-room in Detroit, Michigan, and had disarranged everything except its location and exact position. The floor was an incandescent white and suggested a proudly prostrate expanse—it did not have the supine appearance that pine and oak floors hold to the eyes of life. The furniture had lost its guise of being too economically pinned down by curves and angles, and its lines were more relaxed and disordered. The chairs were comfortable without relinquishing an aesthetic sincerity of line—a semblance scarcely ever held by chairs that figure in life—and the top of the table was not flat but depressed and elevated in different places, since the imagination of this dead man had dared to become more unobstructed. The bed had an air of counseling as well as supporting, and its posters were high and curved in above the center of a gently sloping bowl that formed the bottom. Also, the walls of the room stood with a lighter erectness in place of the rooted, martinet aspect that walls present to living eyes, while the ceiling gave an impression of cloth that could be easily flung aside and had not been spread by a passion for flat concealment.