O narrador conta-nos a sua história, focando-se sobre o período em que conheceu e estudou com Wertheimer e Glenn Gould (o pianista real) no curso superior de música em Salzburgo. Dá conta do antes e do depois, de quem ele e Wertheimer eram e foram depois de conhecer o génio do piano. Assim, o narrador desiste de um dia para o outro do piano, e Wertheimer simplesmente termina com a sua vida. Ao longo das 150 páginas, Thomas Bernhard dedica-se a desconstruir, em repetição e com amplas contradições, numa espécie de fluxo de consciência mas perfeitamente linearizada, o porquê do sucedido. Fá-lo seguindo uma lógica de culpa, todos desde a escola de música, aos professores, à família, pais e irmã, amigos, a Áustria, Salzburgo, Viena e seus cidadãos, todos tiveram culpa. Tanto Wertheimer como o narrador, são apresentados como puros misantropos, que acreditam que o mundo conspirou contra eles.
Chegados ao final, podemos questionar: que é feito da suposta alta sensibilidade do artista, como é que essa não lhe permitiu ver através da mediocridade da culpa? Essa sensibilidade serve apenas para sentir o seu próprio umbigo? Afinal que sensibilidade artística é essa? Diga-se que não me surpreende, olhando para muitas comunidades de artistas jovens, e outras menos jovens, ainda hoje, é exatamente este discurso de Bernhard que continuo a ver, e por isso não admira que ao resto da sociedade não reste outra opção que seja ignorar.
Porque melancolia é muito diferente de misantropia, e é preciso aprender a lidar com a diferença. Desse modo deixo excertos do discurso inaugural proferido por David Foster Wallace, para os alunos de artes do Kenyon College, EUA, a 21 de maio de 2005, entretanto publicado como “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” (texto completo inglês e português), que ilustra bem o caminho de aprendizagem do Ser.
This is Water, David Foster Wallace, 21 maio de 2005
"Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of.
it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotised by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master".
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home (..) remember there's no food at home (..) of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to manoeuvre your junky cart (..) now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.
The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.
But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. (..) If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. (..) The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.
This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't."
Não é a primeira vez que cito este texto de DFW, em 2013 trouxe-o aqui porque tinha sido alvo de um belíssimo trabalho de ilustração audiovisual.