By Frederick Karinthy
S T U P I D I T Y
I LIKE the little rabbit as soon as they put it down in the kitchen; its silly little head, timid eyes and smooth, soft fur.
I feel the characteristic, protective and affectionate emotion which young lovers know so well if they have had to do with small and kittenish women.
I donít want anything of you, you timid, white little rabbit, I just want to stroke your white fur, cautiously backwards so that you will like it.
I want to take you into my lap and caress your little head so that you will be calmed and feel happy in safety.
This I feel, warmly and selflessly, absorbed in this protective, good-hearted emotion. I reach for the little white rabbit to stroke it.
But the little rabbit, terrified little beast, flattens in horror and runs from under my hand, hiding underneath the kitchen cupboard.
You silly little bunny, I tell it, shaking my head, what a nice, silly, timid little rabbit you are. Now you think that I want to hurt you,
catch you, grasp you greedily, kill you, eat you, because I am the stronger. But do understand that there is no question of anything like that.
Of course I am stronger than you and I could do all that, but thatís just the point. I donít want to, donít you see?
On the contrary, I want to be pleasant and kind, I want to stroke you, I want to forget myself, my rights, desires, lusts. I want to calm your racing little heart and to make you feel well in your whole graceful, charming, fragile, timid little being,
I am pondering like this, in a sort of sentimental mood and I prod the little rabbit with a poker so that it shall come out from under the kitchen cupboard so that I can stroke it.
At first the little rabbit shrinks from the poker, its nostrils tremble nervously, in terror, then it jumps quickly and scuttles across the kitchen, making for a corner.
I follow it and I squat down cautiously. Look here, I tell it,
you are really stupid. See, you are trembling even more than before. Of course this is understandable with your biased and narrow little brain which whispers to you that the obstinacy with which I follow you masks the greed of preying animalsóyou are unable to understand the well-developed moral sense and altruism of the strong.
Now I really have to catch you, I must caress youóI cannot leave you with the feeling you have towards me, which turns me into a bloodthirsty tiger. I must prove to you how wrong you are; prove that I donít want to catch you in order to break your neckóI just want to stroke you, unselfishly,
I want to make your life pleasant without expecting any gratitude or return.
I stretch out my band cautiously and my fingers are already on its neck when it frees itself with a desperate jerk, and with a choking squeak rushes to the stove, hiding there with straddling legs, panting in mortal terror.
I swallow and I feel the blood rushing to my bead. Well, this is real stupidity! What shall I do now? Give it up? But then it will think that it was right, that I really wanted to eat or kill it and now, worn-out, have given up my intentionsótemporarily.
I lie down in front of the stove and look at it.
There it huddles, shivering; unspeakable fear glitters in its black eyes when they meet mine.
Now I am really angry.
You ass, I tell it bitterly, donít you believe in anything fine and pleasant?
Donít you want to believe me that there is harmony in the world . . . you, you nasty little rabbit, deep, moving emotions which the soul feels at the sight of weakness, poverty, helplessness? Blast your thick skull, Iíll prove it to you whatever happens!
Now I try to catch it suddenly, in a rage, I pant and flush, my tongue feels thick, I stumble and fall, follow it on all fours under-
neath the table, behind the tub.
I hit my head on the doorpost, my coat is torn, I gnash my teeth and once I catch its ears, but it frees itself panting, loudly screaming, bites me and hides in the shed behind the woodpile.
It is there now and I have to scatter the whole pile of wood to find it.
But Iíll do it, yes, I will, even if I die in the attempt.
Iíll take down all the logs, Iíll catch it by its ears and swing it round in the air, and perhaps Iíll smack its head, that stupid, stubborn, foolish head which does not want to understand that I only wanted to stroke its fur. . . .
SOURCE: Karinthy, Frederick [Frigyes]. Bunny [translator unknown], Lilliput, vol. 6, no. 6, issue no. 36, June 1940, pp. 553-555.
See also another translation: I Am Fond of Animals (Szeretem az Šllatot), translated by IstvŠn Farkas.
Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English
Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto
Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Alireteje / Offsite:
Frigyes Karinthy @ Ĝirafo
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