Acedia

by Pierce Nahigyan

The curtain covers were fine white silk. The curtains could be drawn back and the covers closed over the window to let in the sunlight. White light, warm light, glimpsed in the thin silk sheet as a pale column. It was a good place to meditate. So Marc opened the window, and pulled the curtain covers, and sat in the light, posture erect, hands clasped over his knees.

The busy sounds of Shibuya entered the hotel room. The hotel room was crisp and neat, sparsely furnished, lots of right angles, the way he liked. The Shibuya sounds met the right angles and the freshly vacuumed carpet and swirled like a gathering stormfront. And he, in its eye, drew into himself.

Long had he served the Takahashi-kai, on the surface an awkward gaijin not worth a second glance, and inside, their tool to wield in the dark places. He meditated now on the business he would carry out in two hours’ time, the sheathe and the knife. His mind became the sheathe for the will that would animate his muscles. This solid flesh in the moment was given over to a higher power, an unthinking one, a place he came to in his meditations.

Ennui is an existential complaint, he thought, sometimes a French one. It is a type of boredom arising from wasted talent or no excitement at all. Ennui is a suspicion that can be deferred by entertainment. Ennui is the mask of acedia. All men held in their hearts, like a thorn in the skin of the arterial wall, a fear that no material act matters, no imprint will outlast this lifetime. Acedia is the unbeliever’s capitulation. The Takahashi-kai had baptized him in fire, so that no sloth ever entered his bones, no day was without its lightning, no hour ever challenged his devotion to that greater salvation. He chose gokudo, the ultimate path. He was his talent, and never wasted, spiritually pure. A deadly living thing.

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