Litost is an untranslatable Czech word referring to a deep-rooted heartache caused by the awareness of the misery afflicting people’s lives and the world as a whole. Author Milan Kundera – the main theorist of this concept – identified two possible outcomes as a consequence of it: violence against the self, and violence against the other. I have chosen to reflect on both these responses as well as on a hypothetical third one: the possibility to deal with and exorcise litost in a “positive” way, by making art. Act One – Destruction – dramatises the first possible reaction to litost: violence against the self.
Lost in Litost, Lust for Litost
By Chiara Scoglio
Act I: Destruction
A embodies a universal character that may be both a man and a woman. Consequently, both male and female actors may interpret the role according to the vision of each production and with the due changes to the script. The actor interpreting A is welcome to experiment with the script (while always remaining faithful to its core) by ad-libbing to it, etc. As a matter of fact, I do not wish for them to feel in any way constrained by the linguistic specificity of the text, which is meant – instead – to be owned, channelled and really lived.
The stage can either be left in total darkness except for A or present some elements (for example props, etc.) suggesting the nature of the context in which the scene takes place.
On the verge of committing suicide by jumping off of a building, A delivers their final inner monologue.
A. did i look like that too a second ago so small so little so insignificant yeah it does put things in perspective i mean standing up here i mean wow look at that guy so small everyone ants ants ants everywhere running where are they going i wonder who are they meeting what are they feeling can they see me wow i bet not i must look just as small i i i
invisible finally peace quiet freedom breathe breathe breathe i can feel it the air the wind the clouds up my nose finally alone clean quiet free exhale it’s like a weight off my chest finally it feels good kind of but then life is not here it’s down there ants ants ants cars cars cars people running life fast pain love i can’t i i i can’t anymore i wanna stay here forever but can’t i the weight is back inhale exhale inhale exhale i i i close eyes white white white void sun clouds wind sky blue nose breathe free exhale exhale exhale breathe breathe breathe finally yes right this is it the real freedom the real happiness the only one yeah yeah yeah finally if only i could shut my mind and just FUCKING ENJOY IT JESUS CHRIST I WANNA SCREAM SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU’RE THE REASON FOR THIS IT’S YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR FUCK’S SAKE AND JUST FUCKING ENJOY THE FUCKING SUN ON YOUR FACE AAAAAHAHHHHHHGGGGHHH SHUT UP okay that’s better okay okay okay hush now look at the sky it’s so big it’s so blinding fucking sun okay maybe not now okay now fucking focus ugh the sky the sky is pretty is blue but it’s that weird colour that i never really got i mean it’s light blue almost white because the sun is in the way and the clouds and it just looks dirty and toxic and fake but sometimes it can be pretty i remember that i love the pretty sky especially sunrises yeah i love sunrises i hope maybe i’ll still NO NOT NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP focus on the sky a plane so many planes so many planes in the sky every moment which means so many people flying in the sky every moment crazy like flying donkeys like wow i wish i could fly you know just to just to just to take a break from the ants every now and then and breathe like now i’m like flying right now yeah cool okay okay so like i’m here and i’m doing this because like why would i go back down there in that shithole that shit place i hate i fucking hate jesus christ if i hate it and people i have fucking nothing so i i i am gonna stay here ‘cuz fuck it FUCK OFF FUCK MY LIFE GOD AAAAAHHHHAAHHHAGGGGGGHHHHH UGH GOD GOD GOD WHY I CAN’T WHY OH MY OH MY UUUUUGGGGHHHHH AAAAAAHHHHHHGGGHGHGHHH JESUS okay fucking focus now jesus christ you fucking useless piece of shit ugh my god i can’t wait for it i can’t wait for the damn fucking endless silence so SHUT IT UP SHUT THE FUCK UP ALRIGHT OKAY further i need to further a step further yeah like wow oh god breathe it’s okay it’s okay
breathe chill it’s okay the vertigo ugh how do how ugh how i don’t fucking ugh okay so i’m here breathe i’m here just a little just further a little bit yeah like this the wind is so the wind strong i’ve got to the wind blowing away me away i’m flying away i’m i’m here it just it push just a little push a little push and easy that’s it do it do it c’mon not yet not yet calm down calm down i’m sure i’m sure i i okay so i i am gonna do it now it’s just make sure i i no i cannot i can’t the ants the everything the mess it’s all just a mess fucking mess i i i don’t i can’t the pain is everywhere the pain i can’t go back I can’t no point the pain no point the pain is breathe the pain is AAAAAHHHHHHAAAAGGGGHHHGGHGH I UGH WHY WHY THE FUCK IS IT SO HARD IT’S LIKE FUCKING NEEDLES IN MY BRAIN ALL THE TIME ALL THE TIME NEEDLES PAIN BRAIN I ONLY FEEL THAT THAT’S ALL I FEEL THE WHOLE TIME I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE I STOP END FOREVER ENDLESS PAIN END IT
ALL I CAN’T GO BACK TO ANTS PEOPLE MONSTERS MEAN MONSTERS THEY DON’T KNOW THEY DON’T SEE DON’T FEEL IT BUT I DO I FEEL TOO MUCH I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE I WANNA END IT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE UGH AAAAAGGGGHHHGGGAAAHH
DDDDOOOAAAHHHGGGHH I I I AH OH MAN OH MAN I OH MAN THE WAY WE TREAT EACH OTHER I SEE IT EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME IT’S IN THE PEOPLE THE ANTS THE HATE THE MEAN PEOPLE MEAN TO EACH OTHER ALWAYS ALL THE TIME NO HARMONY NO NOTHING NO IT’S EVERYWHERE I CAN’T ESCAPE FROM IT I CAN’T NO MATTER WHAT NO MATTER WHERE I AM GO NO MATTER IT’S THERE ALWAYS HIDING CREEPING IN LIFE BONES HEART DEAD EVERYWHERE NO ESCAPE EVER EVEN WHEN YOU THINK YOU GOT IT YOU FREE NO YOU’RE NOT YOU NEVER NEVER FREE YOU NEVER IT’S THERE ALL THE TIME IT’S ALWAYS THERE AND OH OH MAN OH EVEN UP HERE IT’S NOT IT’S THE SAME THE SAME SAME I FEEL IT I SEE IT DOWN THERE I’LL ALWAYS DO IT’S ALWAYS GONNA HIT ME EVERYWHERE THE TRAGEDY THE THE THE TRAGEDY OF THE WORLD THE TRAGEDY OF OUR LIVES NO HAPPY ENDING NO ESCAPE NO NOTHING
ONLY TRAGEDY ENDLESS FOREVER TRAGEDY i wanna i wanna stop stop this please stop it i it’s everywhere in the way in the in how the way you treat them the different the disabled the ill the wrong the scum in everything everything is shit people are so ugh mean even the people you love no escape no safety even the ones you love they’re there and they want to ugh i they want to fuck you up ‘cuz they mean and selfish and rude and hateful always no safety no safety no exception no reality no kindness no good no nothing only fucking up even who you love even that mother father even that it’s fucking fucking PARALYSING FUCKING PARALYSING TRAGEDY EVERY FUCKING EVERYWHERE FUCKING EVERYWHERE I JUST I SUFFOCATING I END IT IT ALL END IT AAAAAAHHHHHHHDHDDDHHHHHGGGGHGHHHHH AAAAHH JUST DO IT NOW FUCKING DO IT NOW NOW DO IIIITTTTTT DO ITDOITDOIT AAAHAHHHGGGHGHHHHH I I I OPEN I YOU EYES OPEN YOUR EYES NOW DON’T NOW NOT WEAK PUSSY FUCKING LIVE NOW
NOW AT LEAST LIVE IT MOMENT NOW OPEN FUCKING EYES NOW WHAT I WHAT I NOW C’MON I I JESUS CHRIST
The Smith’s Asleep starts playing softly in the background.
A. oh man oh man i flying i’m flying i’m free i could cry but oh man oh shit i i i i kill i kill me i wanna kill me i can’t i what have i what i calm i oh it’s fresh and free and numb numbness numbness yeah numb and the sky is the air is fresh on my face i see the ants the ants are there i’m how long how long i wonder how long do i before before i oh oh man oh i i feel still and expanding weird no words speechless maybe air mouth i breathless now i when when is it when i oh i i can’t won’t but i even you even to you even i can’t stand can’t stand it ugh i if only i can’t think anymore think think anymore numb numbness blur can i i sleep forever sleep no pain no nothing anymore look the ants the ants are they do they can they see me can they understand no they can’t they won’t i will be another one oh fuck off fuck off FUCK OFF I I HATE I YOU I HATE YOU FOREVER FUCKING HELL LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT WHAT YOU FUCKING DID LOOK AT LOOK AT WAIT wait look at what it’s me it’s them it’s me not them it’s me i did it i’m doing it i i i it’s just me i am i’m killing i’m killing i’ve killed myself it’s happened it’s happening happened already done gone fuck end but my mum i how can my mum i but pain pain pain every fucking where this is it am i dead am i dead already am i when is it when is it when happens when i wonder hit the ground that’s when when i hit it hit the ground so close and so far so close when c’mon hurry the fuck up i wanna end it when maybe dead already maybe dead already maybe always been i i i maybe maybe i died when i was born years ago time ago on that roof always been dead always been dead with these thoughts the angel of death i am it’s end it’s death always been it’s not when hit way before way hit no before always been always been maybe this is life this is it maybe after life it’ll be life maybe how to know i wish i knew i c’mon end it just why is IT SO HARD LONG ENDLESS END IT JUST FUCKING FUCKING END THE FUCK END IT END IT END IT AHAAAHHHHHAHAHHHHGGGGGHHHHAHAAAAAHHHGGGGGHHH PLEASE I DEAD ALREADY HAVE BEEN DEAD FOR SO LONG THIS IS JUST IT THE TIME WHEN THEY ANTS WILL KNOW AND FUCKING BE INSULTS SHIT WEAK PUSSY MEAN NO MEANING NO NOTHING JUST EASY EASY EASIER THEY DO NOT KNOW THEY DO NOT FUCKING KNOW ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHINGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHAAAAAHAHAHAAAAAAAHHHH HHHH THAT’S IT THAT’S IT THAT’S WHAT I AM GONNA BE BUT FUCK OFF I WON’T BE HERE THERE ANYMORE IT’S YOU YOU YOU DEAL WITH YOUR SHIT YOUR FUCKING SHIT I CHOSE I CHOSE TO BE FREE FROM IT FROM YOUR SHIT FROM THE PAIN FROM EVERYTHING I AM FREE FOREVER FREE THIS IS IT THIS IS IT THIS IS WHAT THIS
TRAGEDY IS THIS IS WHAT THIS TRAGEDY THAT’S LIFE LOOKS LIKE IT LOOKS LIKE ME LIKE FUCKING ME JUMPING JUMPING OFF OF A FUCKING BUILDING A SKYSCRAPER A MASSIVE FUCKING PIECE OF CONCRETE AND GLASS AND SHIT AND IT’S SO BIG YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE ME THEY DON’T KNOW THEY DON’T IT’S ME THE ANT BIGGER THE BIGGER CLOSER I CAN SEE THEY CAN CAN THEY I DON’T KNOW
THE THE ANTS IT’S ME THAT’S ME THE TRAGEDY OF THE ANT THE TRAGEDY THAT’S WHAT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE YOU FUCKING HATRED AND PAIN AND MEAN AND HELL AND MONSTERS THIS IS WHAT WE ALL LOOK LIKE THIS IS IT OUR TRAGEDY THE WORLD TRAGEDY THE LIFE THE TRAGEDY OF THE WORLD THE TRAGEDY OF THE LIFE OF ANTS THIS IS LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT STARE AT IT STARE AT YOUR OWN FUCKING ACT YOUR OWN FUCKING AH MY AH MY AH IT’S THERE IT’S THERE IT’S THERE THE GROUND OH MAN IT’S THERE THE FUCKING CONCRETE REAL FUCKING FUCKING GROUND YEAH IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DEAD ALWAYS BEEN ALWAYS NOT BEFORE NOT NOW NOT A SECOND AGO ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS
BUT MAYBE BUT YES NO BUT MAY
The Smiths’ Asleep stops playing.