Scene 2: Me-God

(Kirilov and Shatovís dwelling. In the center of the room, Kirilov is doing his exercises.)

Kirilov: One, two, three, four.. . One, two, three, four . . . One, two, three, four...

(Maurice enters.)

Maurice: Am I disturbing you?

Kirilov: You are not disturbing me, but I still have one exercise to do. Allow me. I walk a great deal, up and down, and I drink tea until dawn.

Maurice: Do you go to bed at dawn?

Kirilov: Always. I have for a long time. At night I reflect.

Maurice: All night long?

Kirilov: Yes, it is essential. You see, I am concerned with the reasons why men donít dare kill themselves.

Maurice: Donít dare? In your opinion, there are not enough suicides?

Kirilov: Normally, there ought to be many more.

Maurice: And what, in your opinion, keeps people from killing themselves?

Kirilov: The pain. Those who kill themselves through madness or despair donít think of the pain. But those who kill themselves through reason obviously think of it.

Maurice: What, are there people who kill themselves through reason?

Kirilov: Many. Were it not for the pain and prejudice, there would be many more, a very large number, probably all men.

Maurice: What?

Kirilov: But the idea that they will suffer keeps them from killing themselves. Even when one knows there is no pain, the idea remains. Just imagine a stone as big as a house falling on you. You wouldnít have time to feel anything, to suffer at all. Well, even so, men are afraid and hesitate. It is interesting.

Maurice: There must be another reason.

Kirilov: Yes... The other world.

Maurice: You mean punishment.

Kirilov: No, the other world. People think there is a reason for going on living.

Maurice: And there isnít any?

Kirilov: No, there is none, and thatís why we are free. It is a matter of indifference whether we live or die.

Maurice: How can you say that so calmly?

Kirilov: I donít like getting into disputes, and I never laugh.

Maurice: Man is afraid of death because he likes life, because life is good, thatís all.

Kirilov: But thatís cowardice, just cowardice! Life isnít good. And the other world does not exist! God is simply a ghost conjured up by death and suffering. In order to be free, it is essential to overcome pain and terror, it is essential to kill oneself. Then there will no longer be any God, and man will at last be free. Then history will be divided into two parts: from the ape to the destruction of God, and from the destruction of God . . .

Maurice: To the ape.

Kirilov: To the divinity of man. The man who dares to kill himself is God. No one had ever thought of that. But I have.

Maurice: There have been millions of suicides.

Kirilov: Never for that reason. Always from fear. Never to kill fear. The man who kills himself to kill fear will at that moment become God.

Maurice: Iím afraid he wonít have time.

Kirilov: I am sorry that you seem to be laughing.

Maurice: Forgive me, I wasnít laughing. But it is all so strange.

Kirilov: Why strange? The strange thing is that people can live without thinking of that. I canít think of anything else. All my life I have thought of nothing else. All my life I have been tormented by God.