Alberto Moravia’s The Woman of Rome offers an almost dispassionate first-person account of a woman who consciously turns to prostitution to find herself. A distant sound in the city or the creaking of some furniture in the room gave me the ludicrous and almost delirious awareness of my existence. I said to myself, “Here I am and I might be elsewhere. I might exist a thousand years ago or in a thousand year’s time. I might be black or old, blonde or short.” I thought how I had come out of endless night and would go on into another endless darkness, and that my brief passing was marked only by absurd and trivial actions. I then understood that my anguish was caused, not by what I was doing, but more profoundly by the bare fact of being alive, which was neither good nor evil but only painful and without meaning.
How strange to find these words uplifting.