"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.."- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Journal of Happiness

Rhapsody in Blue – A Great Honour

BBC Radio 4
After 2 months of waiting here is the episode where I had the honour of sharing my story too. My contribution is dedicated to my beloved father, Ioan Galasiu and to Gershwin’s beloved Rhapsody in Blue. Many thanks BBC Radio 4. bbc Adela Galasiu, 2014

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (6)


What does it have to do with that fact that I broke it or not? It has. Something tells me strongly that it has.
Persistent, but in the background. I understand too well – better and better as the
long confrontation goes forward with bandaged gloves – that now will be taken the decision, that from now all will be triggered. And the devilish thing is that no matter how I toss and turn I still remain trapped. Wether the path of truth or the fog of slipping  in futility, I am still lost, I will still have to admit it. Just that I am more tempted by and it seams more mercyful on the path of oblivion, the path of confusion, where all are equal, and nonsensical and lack importance.

I’m lost!
Lost? Ah! No. Look as from the depths of Panteleimon and Cluceresa – the
slum and the village – suddenly dawns another thought, a third solution.
Ah! no, not the humility of giving in comes from the devil. Around me there’s not fog, in me no delirium: I am in full reality, what I see is true. Panteleimon and Clucereasa whisper to me: – just like great scholl colleagues that whisper the answer precisely: why get caught by phantasmagoria? Come take your senses. Yes, she is. Yes, all is true. To be calm and cynical and skilful. Repeat after me : skilful. Yes, it exists, there is an unthinkable third solution. Your duty this very moment is to be in a vulgar way calm , skilful, careless. Be a peasant, you little jew. Be as coming out of the slum. Old Sickness, who was robbed by the maid; Old  Feud that was to be deceived by the neighbor; Old John that is not mislead by his wife; Uncle Pandele that tangles the whole world. I am not on the Venusberg and this is not the Valpurgia night.  I am in a Security Investigation office, on the Plevnei road (needless, putting me dark glasses, you drove me round and round in the barracks yard of Malmaison), and this is T., who passed on their side … Why? How is that? No way! Why, I don’t know and do not care. And as for the impossibility, well look, it’s possible. Let me not be scholastic, oil freezes, whatever Aristotle says.

The glass? Of course I did it. Of course I broke it. (An awkward gesture and how
ashamed I felt. Ah, shards bring luck only in German.) But my only duty now is to be calm, smart and stubborn. Tough. Headstrong. Crabby. Laconic. Miffed.
The third solution: Not to recognize that I broke it, nor to let myself caught in dizziness.
Nor the stupidity of fear, neither the spell of dizziness. But something else: the lie. The peaceful and skilful lie.
This remains for me, that’s the third way; to be clever peasant and
cunning gossiper. Calm and Steadfast. At their height. Hers and theirs. Not above.  I don’t remember, point and end of story. And I do not know. And I am quiet. And speechless. I do not admit. I do not give up. I don’t know, sir. I do not remember anything. Like a stupid goat. Neither in bed, nor under the bed. Neither the carriage nor in the cart. Like the beans on Easter day. Like old Lache at the fair: does not negociate any dime; like old Simache in court: he does not allow others to block him. Like old Gruia at the bargain: no , no and again no.

– to be continued


translation: memyselfandela, 2012

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (5)


After all I don’t even know  well if I broke it or not. Made out of crystal, thick. If I admit that I broke it, I’m telling the truth (the objective truth) and, once I spoke the truth, I must carry on and admit it all and so that Nego spoke like an enemy (That’s the whole purpose of this nightly meeting for investigation, in which she defends me so suspiciously careful, she hands me so friendly the rescue pole; for her, worthy of the highest grade  for memorising and unable to forget any detail, she’s jumping over ranks when it comes to me and my words from then, she forgets them or quotes only parts of them and answers : “Who told them? I can’t remember. Someone, someone of those present, I only know that they were pronounced … ”  This ” were “impersonal and neutral, as in logistics and in structuralism, oh how it is accomplice to me and how it demeans me.)

So, talking, I go into clarity and truth and there is no recess where I may cringe, I walk in the light zone, the hidden things dissapear instantly. Or, if I do not remember, if I psychologically make the gesture of detente and relaxation, I lose myself in the smoke of confusion, I lose myself in the loss of memory , I surrender to the sweet delirious of evanescence and then I admit again, I admit because now all is the same for me, because all is grey and the same , because nothing has meaning and precision. I enter the world of new novel and literature without characters: of IT , and of THEY and of the OTHERS, where SELF and HIMSELF perish, merge into the undifferentiated crowd. Personality (what’s that?) sprinkles finely crumble, passes all through the sieve.
Whatever I do, I’m lost.

You are lost, you are lost, rocks me softly  the tender rocker of fatigue and failure, of disgust, of wonder, of grateful friendship.(She just does all that she can do. She wants to help me. In the crystal facets sparkle the candles on the festive table.)
I am lost also because this was supposed to be my fate – that, not other. Am I not  a soiled guy, a loser, an old man in his concessions and yieldings, in shameful weddings, in grotesque sorrows, in pulses of envy, in bloody pride, in cravings always awake, sated but never met lofty and full, always crippled, is it not my rightful place among filth, among lukewarm, this restful toilet of renunciation and obedience, of confirmation of truth, is it really not the logical end of a long foul? What for to deceive myself on the far roads of pride and dignity? Inaccessible. The path is crossed forever.

– to be continued


translation: memyselfandela, 2012

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (4)

I could swear that I don’t remember – in complete good faith, although
I realize that this is how things have happened, as she repeated them – a glass of
crystal, beautiful – with the precision of a computer memory, with the fidelity of tape, with the hypocrite shyness  of the nerd student who knows too well the lesson.
I look at her – it is her, but like in a dream, she does unexpected things, speaks diferently, and, synchronous with her, also the world is different, it’s surreal. Look, this is surrealism: objects – the same, know another ordinance, have another purpose. So we can say it can also be like this. Now, yes,the kettle is a woman, the stove is an elephant … Max Ernst, Dali, Duchamp … But even Munch’s Scream, I want to scream, to wake up from the nightmare, to get back to our old ancestral land, good and gentle, where, obedient,  things are what we know they are responding to the mission that we attribute to them since forever … I wish to get out of this restless  city of Delvaux, of this field of Tanguy, with members split, soft and reunited by strange affinities, after other sorts of mating than those settled for us … Here, on Earth. Here cannot be the earth. That’s not her. This Dostoyevsky and expressionist setting cannot be real… I’m wrong, I get higher, I consider myself higher, I certainly imagine this delirious scene for the sake of a role that I would not like to play…

– to be continued


translation: memyselfandela, 2012

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (3)


All three solutions are clear and unmistakable. Others  to come out of a limit situation, of an imprisonment universe, from the nets of a Kafkaesque process, from a game type domino, from a maze or a room of investigation,  from fear and panic, from any mousetrap, from any phenomenal nightmare I do not know. Only these three. But either one is good, sufficient and redemptive.
Please note: Solzhenitsyn, Zinoviev, Churchill, Bukovsky. Consensual death, assumed, expected, caused; the indifference and insolence; the courage accompanied by a fierce joy. You are free to choose. But you ought to realize that – worldly, humanly speaking – another way to face the circle of iron – that is a good part also made out of chalk (see the state of siege of Camus: the foundation of
dictatorship is a fantasy: the fear) – is very doubtful that you will find.

You will protest, perhaps, considering that the solutions presuppose a form of life equivalent to death or worse than death or  involving the risk of physical death at any time. That is right. Do you wonder? Because you have not read Igor Safarevici yet, because you have not learned yet that the totalitarianism is not that much the clotting of an economical ,  social or biological theory, but the manifestation of an attraction for death. And the secret to those who do not find themselves inside the totalitarian abbys is simple: they love life, not death. “But the death, who Alone has defeated? The ONE that has stepped on it with death. ” Niculescu Nicolue *

* It is unnecessary, we believe, to explain the reason of adopting this pseudonym. We remind you that the text was intended for a circulation more or less limited. It is also unnecessary to insist on the intrinsic relationship between the N. Steinhardt’s two testaments. The word was for him only an expression for acting.


No way I had pencil and paper in jail. It would be so insincere to try to argue that the “Journal” was held chronologically; it was written apres coup, under the impression of some fresh and vivid memories. Since I could not insert the time, I think it is allowed that I present it skipped, just as, this time in real way, the images , the remembering, the thoughts have visited me, in that flood of impressions that we like to call conscience. The effect, of course, beats into artificial, is a risk that I must accept.

I believe, Lord, help
my unbelief.
Mark 9, 24

January 1960

– A glass? I broke no glass. . . I do not remember. . .
This is my answer. . . and really I do not remember. Or I did break it?
in August, on my and her birthday? Or I did not we break it? I do not know. Yes, I do. Of course I broke it. In August, in the evening, at supper, The doors towards the terrace doors wide open. But at the same time also I don’t seam to remember. I do and I don’t remember. Everything in this surreal and subtle setting, carefully devised, that urges me to take refuge in confusion and to lose myself in confusion: and her warm and compassionate looks in the eyes,  and their skilful and charming looks in the eyes.
The slide of consent is smoothly taking place before me; all I need to do si to let myself slide.

– to be continued


translation: memyselfandela, 2012

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (2)

Part 1

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (1)

The third solution: the one of Churchill and Bukovsky Vladimir

It summarizes: in the presence of tyranny, oppression, misery, misfortune, plagues, banes, dangers not only that you don’t give up, but on the contrary you get of them a mad desire to live and fight.
In March 1939, Churchill tells Martha Bibescu: “There will be war. Dust and powder will remain out of the British Empire. Death waiting for us all. And I feel that I rejuvenate with twenty years. ”

The more all goes wrong , the more immense the hardships are, the more you are more hit, more under siege or under attacks, the more you cannot see anymore no glimpse of any probabilistic reliable and rational hope, the more gray, darkness and viscosity are increased, bloated and curled round more inextricably, the more the danger defies you more directly, the more eager you are of fight and you know an (increasing) sense of inexplicable and overwhelming euphoria.
You are bombarded from all sides by forces endlessly stronger than yours: you fight. They defeat you: you defy them. You are lost: you attack. (That is what Churchill said in 1940). Laugh, sharpen your teeth and your knife, you get younger.  And the happiness tickels you, the unspoken happiness that you hit too, even endlesly less. Not only that you don’t lose hope, that you don’t declare yourself defeated and slain, but you also fully taste the joy of resistance, of refusal and you feel an overwhelming feeling, a demented glee.

This solution, of course, requires exceptional strength of character, a military conception of life, a formidable moral vigor of body, a will of stainless steel housing and an adamantine spiritual health. It probably involves also  a sporting spirit: to love the battle itself –  the fight – more than the success.
It’s also rewarding and absolute, because it is based on a paradox: as they hit you and make you more harm and you,  produce you increasingly suffering from lack of fairness and corner you in places without escape, you rejoice even more. you strengthen yourself, you become younger!

With Churchill’s solution identifies himself also Vladimir Bukovsky . Bukovsky says that when he received the first call at the KGB he could not close an eye all night. Natural thing, the reader of his book of memories could say,  could not be more natural, uncertainty, fear, excitement. but Bukovski continues: I could not sleep for excitement. I could not wait for the day to come to be in front of them, to tell them what I think of them and get into them like a tank. A more extraordinary words  I don’t believe anyone has said , nor written in this world. And I imagine – I don’t pretend it is as I say, not at all, I just wonder , i cannot help but wonder – if not maybe in this universe, with all it’s clusters of galaxies comprising each thousand or millions of galaxies each with billion suns and at least several billion planets around these suns, if lest all areas, distances and areas measured in light years these, parsecs and zillion thousand miles, all this gathering of matter, planets, comets, satellites, pulsars, quasars, black holes, cosmic dust, meteors, what ever might still be, all ages, all aeons, all time and all space- time continuous , and all Newtonian or relativistic astrophysics may have emerged and exist only so that these words of Bukowski could be expressed.

– to be continued.


translation : memyselfandela, 2012

The Journal of Happiness, Nicolae Steinhardt (1)


About Nicolae Steinhardt
Nicu-Aureliu Steinhardt was a literary critic, journalist and writer. He was born in 1912 in Bucharest, in the family of an engineer named Oscar-Saia Steinhardt. His father belonged to an old Jewish family that was established in Romania in the 18th century.

He studied at Spiru Haret High School, then he graduated the Faculty of Law of the University of Bucharest. He passed his PhD thesis in law in 1936, in Bucharest also. He practiced as a lawyer until shortly after WWII (he will be excluded from the bar in 1947) and published various articles in several cultural magazines of the time. In the years 1934 and 1935 he participated to the meetings of the Sburătorul literary circle.

In 1959 he was involved in the trial of the Noica – Dinu Pillat “batch” (by which he refused to testify against the defendants), and this is why he was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. On 15th of March 1960 Steinhardt, serving time at Jilava prison, was baptized Orthodox Christian by priest Mina Dobzeu, who was his cell mate.

He was out of prison after the amnesty of political prisoners in 1964. He resumed his articles in journals, and he published several books of literary criticism and essays. In 1978 and in 1979-1980 he undertook two visits to Western Europe. In August 1980 Steinhardt became monk at Rohia Monastery. After Steinhardt’s death, the cell where he lived located in the building called “Poet’s House”, was organized as a museum.

The best known book of Steinhardt’s is the “Journal of Happiness”. The manuscript of the book was confiscated by Securitate (Security – the secret police agency of the Communist regime) in 1972, being returned only after three years. Although some passages were published in the books published during his lifetime, the first complete edition of the Journal appeared posthumously in 1991, at Dacia Publishing House in Cluj Napoca.


For me and for many other Christians from Romania, this book is a story of grace. It is the story of a man who finds God in the deepest darkest place of his life and who abandons himself to God’s will. It is an impressive lesson given to many Christians by a man born in another religion. I feel, as a Romanian myself, that this could be a story that many should read and ponder. This is dedicated to all those passing through their own suffering and many could understand how God is always present in all, but ESPECIALLY in our darkest hour.
It is said that God chooses to whom to reveal Himself, but also that gold can be only purified by fire, and it’s the same with the human character that can only be purified and sharpened by suffering, fight, resistance. I personally think that God chose Nicolae and kept him for his unique gifts of wisdom, intelligence, faith and honour demonstrated in a place where most people loose all faith. God has not many chosen souls, but Nicolae Steinhardt is certainly one.




Political Testament

In order to exit from a world of isolation – and it does not necessarily need to be camp, a prison or another form of incarceration; theory applies to any type of product of totalitarianism – there is the solution (mystical) of faith. About this I will not talk below, for it is the result of grace that is essentially selective.
The three solutions we refer here are strictly secular, have practical character and they seem accessible to everyone.

Solution one: the one of Solzhenitsyn
In the First Circle, Alexander Isaievici mentions it briefly, returning to it in the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago. It is, for anyone stepping over the threshold of Security or other analog investigation body, to tell yourself decisively: in this moment I really die. It is allowed to speak to himself in order to find consolation: “such a pitty of my youth” or ” such a pitty of my old age, my wife, my children, me, my talent, my goods, my lover, the wines that I will not drink anymore, the books that I will not read anymore, the walks i will not make anymore, the music I will not listen to anymore, and so on.” But something is certain and irreparable: from now on I am a dead man.
If he thinks this way, unflinching, the man is saved. There is nothing they can do to him.
There’s no longer  anything to be threatened, blackmailed, deceived, duped with. Since he considers himself dead nothing scares him anymore, nothing hoodwinks him, nothing instigates him. There’s nothing – because he does not hope anymore, because he is out of the world – he can crave for, nothing he can keep or regain, nothing to sell his soul , peace or honour for. There’s no more curency in which the price of his betrayel to be payed.
But it is required , of course, that the decision to be firm, final. You declare yourself dead, you consented to receive death, you abolish all hope. You can regret like Mrs. d’Houdetot, you can regret, but this moral and by anticipation suicide does not fail. The risk surrender, of consenting to the denounce, of a fantastic recognition is completely destroyed.

Solution two: the one of  Alexander Zinoviev

It is the one found by one of the characters in the book Empty Hights.
The character is a young man, presented by the allegorical nickname the Rattler. The solution is the full inadaptation to the system. The Rattler has no fixed home, no valid documents, is usually not employed; he is a tramp, a parasite, a nobody and a vagabond. He lives from a day to another out of what other give him, out of what happens to be found, God knows out of what. He is dressed in rags. He works occasionally, sometimes, when and if he has a chance for it. He spends most of his time in prisons and working camps, he sleeps wherever he can. He wanders. For nothing in the world he would enter the system, not even in the worthless, worst or most despickable job. Not even for guarding the pigs , so he is not following the example given by the character of a novel written by Arthur Schnitzler: that one, obsessed by the fear of responsability, ends up as swineherd keeper. No, the Rattler was designed (in existentialist style) once and for all stray dog, scabies sick goat, beggar buddhist monk , mad man , or crazy in (for) freedom.

Such a man, found in the margins of society, is also immune: even on his
hence there’s no pressure to make,they have nothing to take away from him, nor to give him. they can anytime put him in prison, harass him, show him contempt, mock him: but he escapes them. Once and for all he has consented to live life by the perpetual example and pattern seekers of a night shelter. Out of poverty, distrust, frivolity  he has made a quiet a creed; it is similar to a wild animal, a beast in a bad condition, of a robber-off. Stendhal’s E Ferrante Palia.  Matei Calinescu’s E Zacharias Lichter. It’s a laical “iurodivîi” (fool for Christ), a never bored traveler(and Wotan descended on this earth, what name has he? Der Wanderer), a wandering Jew.
And with a free mouth he speaks unexhausted, gives voice to the most dangerous
anecdotes, does not know what respect is, takes all up, sais  what comes into his mind, speaks truths that others cannot even dare to whisper. He is the child in Andersen’s story of the naked King. He is King Lear’s jester. It’s the wolf in the fable – also very bold – of La Fontaine: he has no idea what a collar is. He is free, free, free.

– to be continued.


Translation: memyselfandela, 2012