Instead of committing suicide, people go to work. All their lives long, as long as their existence allows for this constantly recurring process, so Roithamer. The death of my uncle, so Roithamer, surprised even Hoeller, for Hoeller, like myself, had always been of the opinion that a man like my uncle, who kept coming back to the subject of suicide in conversation, because of the very fact that he keeps coming back to it and talks of it almost constantly, will not commit suicide, but he did commit suicide, the atmosphere in Hoeller's house at the time was totally conditioned by the surprise of my uncle's suicide, he'd thrown himself down the cheese-factory's air shaft in Stocket; the whole Hoeller house, even Hoeller's garret, I think, so Roithamer, this whole simple house with its complicated conditions, or vice versa, complicated house with its simple conditions, so Roithamer, lay as if under the pall of my uncle's suicide. The moment I set foot in Hoeller's house, that's to say, the moment I clapped eyes on the huge black stuffed bird hanging on the wall of the vestibule, it was clear to me that the whole Hoeller house was under the pall of my uncle's suicide.
Then I remembered my last meeting with my uncle from Stocket, so Roithamer, and I asked myself whether there was anything about the man, on that last encounter, that might have given me a hint of his subsequent suicide, observing him first at the forest's edge, with his rubber boots, short, frayed old jacket, so Roithamer, the hazel walking stick he'd whittled himself, the black hat on his head, and probably, considering his immobility, he'd had a wooden leg for years, also in view of my sudden presence, he was preoccupied with a so-called philosophical subject, I said to myself as I walked toward him, time had fashioned him into a so-called nature man, because everything in him and about him was predisposed that way, not a comic figure such as we see very often, everything about him said: I can no longer escape from nature; as I walked toward him, probably he didn't even notice that I was coming toward him because everything seemed to indicate that he never noticed me, he was so preoccupied with his philosophical subject, that philosophical subject which had to do with nature. When he spoke, it was only by indirection, he'd always been my philosopher, it was on his account that I always came down to Stocket from Altensam, the idea of thinking came to me in my first hesitant, then determined encounters with this man who'd always been my highest authority, my philosopher who had taught me to think, most unobtrusively, at first, but from the first with a decided firmness that endured. I'm no philosopher, he'd always said. He had a preference for old clothes, early rising, and washing in cold water. He placed Novalis above everything. Nature, not yet polluted by human beings, hence his early rising. A minimal breakfast, thick socks his sister had knitted from raw, untreated wool, and one of Novalis's ideas. Time was to him only a means toward the constant study of time. Must I be with another person? he always answered: no, I need be with no other person. This question and this answer of his do more to explain his character than mine, so Roithamer. We admire a man like my uncle, who killed himself because he could no longer endure the unhappiness of mankind, as he wrote on the slip of paper they found in his coat pocket, dated by him on the day he threw himself down the air shaft of the cheese factory, because he's ahead of us in having the capacity to commit suicide, not only to talk about committing suicide but to commit suicide in fact, so Roithamer. It's always those upon whom we'd hung our hopes, so Roithamer, who kill themselves, those whose talent and personality we loved and whose presence was the most pleasing and most familiar to us, so Roithamer.