Like a room

Clarisse was staring out the window. But now her gaze sharpened; she was focusing on something specific out there, for support. She felt as if her thoughts had strayed outside and had only just returned. This sense of being like a room, with the sense of the door just having shut, was nothing new to her. On and off she had days, even weeks, when everything around her was brighter and lighter than usual, as though it would take hardly any effort to slip out of herself and go traipsing about the world unencumbered; then again there were the bad times, when she felt imprisoned, and though these usually passed quickly, she dreaded them like a punishment, because everything closed in on her and was so sad. Just now she was aware of a sober, lucid peacefulness, and it worried her a little bit; she was not sure what it was that she had wanted just a while ago, and this sense of leaden clarity and quiet control was often a prelude to the time of punishment. She pulled herself together with the feeling that if she could keep this conversation going with conviction, she would be back on safe ground.

– Musil, The Man Without Qualities (tr. Pike)

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