A Report For An Academy
Gentlemen from the Academy!
You do me the honor of requesting that I submit a report to the Academy on my monkey life.
With this in mind, I am unfortunately unable to comply with the request. Almost five years separate me from monkeyism, a time, briefly measured by the calendar, but endlessly long but galloping through, as I did, accompanied at times by excellent people, advice, applause and orchestral music, but basically alone, because all the accompaniment held to stay in the picture, far in front of the barrier. This achievement would have been impossible if I had been stubborn about mineOrigin to which the memories of the youth want to hold onto. It was precisely the renunciation of any attachment that was the top priority that I had set myself; I, free monkey, submitted to this yoke. As a result, however, my memories became more and more closed to me. If my return, if people would have wanted, was initially released for me through the whole gate that heaven forms over the earth, it was made at the same time as my development whipped forwardalways lower and narrower; I felt more comfortable and more enclosed in the human world; the storm that blew after me from my past subsided; today it's just a draft that cools my heels; and the hole in the distance through which it comes, and through which I once came, has become so small that, if at all the strength and will would suffice to run back there, I would have to peel the skin off myself in order to to get through. Frankly speaking, as much as I like to choose images for these things, frankly speaking: Your apeism, gentlemen, as long as you have something of this kind behind you, cannot be further from you than mine. But everyone who walks here on earth is tickled on the heel: the little chimpanzee like the big Achilles.
In the most limited sense, however, I might be able to answer your request, and I actually do it with great pleasure. The first thing I learned was: give the handshake; A handshake shows openness; Now, today, when I am at the height of my career, I would like to add the frankness of that first handshake. It will not teach the academy anything fundamentally new and will fall far short of what has been asked of me and what, with the best will in the world, I cannot say - after all, it is supposed to show the guideline on which a monkey who has been toHas penetrated the human world and has established itself there. But I would certainly not be able to say even the insignificant thing that follows if I were not completely sure of myself and my position on all the great variety stages of the civilized world had not been consolidated to the point of unshakability:
I'm from the Gold Coast. I have to rely on reports from others about how I was captured. A hunting expedition from the Hagenbeck company - by the way , I've already emptied many a good bottle of red wine with the guide - was lying in the bushes on the banks when I ran to water in the midst of a pack. One shot; I was the only one who was hit; i got two shots.
One in the cheek; it was easy; but left a large, shaved red scar that gave me the disgusting, utterly inaccurate name , Red Peter, invented by a monkey, as if I only differed from the recently creaked, well-known, trained monkey animal Peter by the red one Spot on the cheek. Incidentally.
The second shot hit me below the hip. It was heavy, it was his fault that I still limp a little today. Recently I read in an essay by one of the ten thousand greyhounds that the newspapers talk about me: my ape nature has not yet been completely suppressed; Proof of this is that when visitors come, I prefer to take off my pants to show the entry point of that shot. Every little finger of his writing hand should be slammed off the guy one by one. I, I can take off my pants, in front of whom I please; you will find nothing there but a well-groomed fur and the scar after a - let us choose a certain word for a certain purpose, but not to be misunderstood - the scar after a wicked oneShot. Everything is evident; there is nothing to hide; when it comes to the truth, every great-minded person throws off the finest of manners. If, on the other hand, that clerk were to take off his pants when visitors came, it would certainly have a different reputation, and I want to take it as a sign of reason that he does not do it. But then he may stay away from me with his tenderness!
After those shots I woke up - and this is where my own memory gradually begins - in a cage in the intermediate deck of the Hagenbeck steamer. It wasn't a four-walled lattice cage; rather, only three walls were tied to a box; so the box formed the fourth wall. The whole thing was too low to stand upright and too narrow to sit down. So I crouched with bent knees that trembled forever, and because I probably didn't want to see anyone at first and always wanted to be in the dark , I turned to the box while the bars cut into my flesh at the back. In the very early days it was believed that such custody of wild animals was advantageous, and today, based on my experience, I cannot deny that this is actually the case in the human sense.
But I didn't think about that at the time. For the first time in my life I was without a way out; at least it couldn't go straight ahead; straight ahead in front of me was the box, board firmly attached to board. It is true that there was a continuous gap between the boards, which when I first discovered it I greeted with the blissful howl of ignorance, but this gap was nowhere near even enough for a tail to stick through and could not be widened with all my monkey power.
I was said to have made unusually little noise, as I was later told, from which it was concluded that either I would soon have to cease or that, if I manage to survive the first critical period, I would be very capable of dressage. I survived that time. Dull sobs, painful searching for fleas, wearily licking a coconut, pounding the wall of the box with my skull, banging my tongue when someone came close - those were the first occupations in my new life. In all of this, however, there is only one feeling: no way out. Of course I can only trace what I felt like an ape at that time with human words and as a result record it, but even if I can no longer reach the old ape truth, at least it is in the direction of my description, there is no doubt about that.
I had had so many ways out up to now and now none. I was stuck. Had I been nailed, my freedom of movement would not have diminished. Why this? Scratch the flesh between your toes, you won't find the reason. Push yourself against the bar at the back until it almost divides you in two, you won't find the reason. I had no way out, but I had to find it, because I couldn't live without it. Always on this box wall - I would inevitably have died. But monkeys belong on the box wall at Hagenbeck - well, that's how I stopped being monkeys. A clear, beautiful train of thought that I must have hatched with my stomach somehow, because monkeys think with their guts.
I am afraid that you will not understand exactly what I mean by the way out. I use the word in its most ordinary and fullest sense. I am deliberately not saying freedom. I don't mean that great feeling of freedom on all sides. As a monkey, I may have known it and I have met people who long for it. As for me, however, I did not ask for freedom then or now. By the way: with freedom one cheats too often among people.And just as freedom is one of the most sublime feelings, so too is the corresponding deception one of the most sublime. Before I appeared in the variety shows, I often saw some artist couple working on trapezoids up on the ceiling. They swung, they rocked, they jumped, they floated into each other's arms, one carried the other by the hair with the bit. "That too is human freedom," I thought, "an autocratic movement." You derision of sacred nature! No building would stand up to the laughter of apeism at the sight.
No, I didn't want freedom. Only one way out; right, left, wherever; I made no other demands; the way out should even be a delusion; the demand was small, the deception would not be greater. Get on, get on! Just don't stand still with your arms raised, pressed against the wall of a box.
Today I see clearly: I could never have escaped without the greatest inner peace. And in fact, perhaps I owe everything that I have become to the calm that overcame me after the first few days there in the ship. But I probably owed the rest of the time to the people on the ship.
They are good people, in spite of everything. I still fondly remember the sound of her heavy footsteps, which echoed back then in my half-sleep. They used to take everything extremely slowly . If someone wanted to rub his eyes, he would raise his hand like a hanging weight. Their jokes were crude but heartfelt. Her laugh was always mixed with a dangerous-sounding but insignificant cough. They always had something in their mouths to spit out and they didn't care where they spit it out to. They always complained that my fleas jumped over to them; but they were never seriously angry with me because of that; they just knew that in my furFleas thrive and that fleas are jumpers; they resigned themselves to that. Sometimes when they were off duty some would sit in a semicircle around me; hardly spoke, just cooed to each other; smoked pipes, stretched out on boxes; hit their knees as soon as I made the slightest movement; and every now and then someone took a stick and tickled me where it was comfortable for me. Should I be invited to take a trip on this ship today, I would certainly refuse the invitation, but it is just as certain that it is not just ugly memories that I could indulge in there on the tween deck.
The calm that I acquired in the company of these people prevented me from attempting to escape. Seen from today it seems to me as if I had at least suspected that I would have to find a way out if I wanted to live, but that this way out could not be reached by fleeing. I no longer know whether it was possible to escape, but I believe it; a monkey should always be able to escape. With my teeth today I have to be careful when cracking nuts, but back then I should have succeeded in biting the door lock in the course of time. I did not do it. What would have been gained with it? As soon as my head was stuck out, I would have been caught again and locked in an even worse cage; or I would have myselfto be able to flee unnoticed to other animals, for example to the giant snakes across from me and breathed me out in their hugs; or I would have even managed to steal myself to the deck and jump overboard, then I would have rocked for a while on the ocean and would have drowned. Acts of desperation. I did not calculate very humanely, but under the influence of my surroundings I behaved as if I had calculated.
I didn't do the math, but I watched calmly. I saw these people walking up and down, always the same faces, the same movements, often it seemed to me as if it were just one. So this person or people went unmolested. A lofty goal dawned on me. Nobody promised me that if I became like them the bars would be opened. Such promises for seemingly impossible fulfillments are not made. But if you redeem the fulfillments, appearretrospectively also the promises exactly where you previously looked for them in vain. Now there was nothing in these people in themselves that attracted me very much. Had I been a supporter of the freedom I mentioned, I would certainly have preferred the ocean to the way out, which appeared to me in the gloomy eyes of these people. In any case, however, I observed them long before I thought of such things; indeed, the accumulated observations first urged me in a certain direction.
It was so easy to imitate people. I was able to spit in the first few days. We then spat in each other's faces; the only difference was that afterwards I licked my face, she not hers. I soon smoked the pipe like an old man; when I also put my thumb into the bowl of the pipe, the whole tween deck cheered; only for a long time I did not understand the difference between the empty and the stopped pipe.
Most of the trouble was with the liquor bottle. The smell tormented me; I forced myself with all my might; but weeks passed before I overcame myself. Strangely enough, people took these internal struggles more seriously than anything else in me. I don't distinguish people in my memory either, but there was someone who kept coming back, alone or with comrades, by day, by night, at the most varied of hours; stood in front of me with the bottleand gave me lessons. He didn't understand me, he wanted to solve the riddle of my being. He slowly uncorked the bottle and then looked at me to see if I understood; I confess I always watched him with wild, rash attention; No human teacher will find such a student on the whole earth; when the bottle was uncorked he raised it to his mouth; I look after him up to my throat; he nods, satisfiedwith me, and put the bottle to his lips; I, enraptured by gradual knowledge, scrape myself lengthways and breadths where it meets; he is happy, puts the bottle on and takes a sip; I, impatient and desperate to emulate him, defile myself in my cage, which again gives him great satisfaction; and now, stretching the bottle far away and swinging it up again, he drinks it, leaning back in an exaggeratedly instructive way, empty it in one gulp. I, exhausted with too much desire, can no longer follow and hang weakly on the bars while he ends the theoretical lesson by stroking his stomach and grinning.
Only now does the practical exercise begin. Am I not already too exhausted by the theoretical? Well, too exhausted. That is part of my destiny. Still, I reach for the bottle that has been handed out as best I can; uncork it trembling; with success, new forces gradually appear; I lift the bottle, almost indistinguishable from the original; put it on and - and throw it with disgust, with disgust, in spite of the fact that it is empty and only the smell fills it, throw it on the ground with disgust. To the sorrow of my teacher, to the greater sorrow of myself; I reconcile neither him nor myself by not forgetting to stroke my stomach excellently and grinning at the same time, even after throwing the bottle away.
All too often this was the only way the lessons went. And to the honor of my teacher: he was not angry with me; Sometimes he would hold the burning pipe to my skin until it started to glow somewhere where I could hardly reach, but then he put it out himself again with his huge, good hand; he wasn't angry with me, he saw that we were fighting on the same side against ape nature and that I had the harder part.
What a victory then for him as for me when I was in front of a large audience one evening - maybe there was a party, a gramophone was playing, an officer was raging between the people - when I, just unobserved, one in front of my cage that evening accidentally grabbed a bottle of liquor that had been left standing there, with increasing attention from society, uncorked it, put it to my mouth and without hesitation, without puckering, as a drinker from the compartment, with round eyes, sloshing throat, reallyand really drank empty; no longer threw down the bottle as a desperate man, but as an artist; forgot to stroke the stomach; on the other hand, because I couldn't help it, because I was pressed for it, because my senses roared, exclaimed "Hello!" in a nutshell, broke out in human noises, with this call jumped into the community of people and their echo: "Listen, he speaks Felt like a kiss all over my sweaty body.
I repeat: I was not tempted to imitate people; I imitated because I was looking for a way out, for no other reason. Also, little was done with that victory. The voice failed me again immediately; did not come about for months; the aversion to the schnapps bottle was even stronger. But my direction was given to me once and for all.
When I was handed over to the first trainer in Hamburg, I soon recognized the two options that were open to me: zoological garden or vaudeville. I didn't hesitate. I said to myself: do all you can to get into the vaudeville; this is the way out; Zoological garden is just a new lattice cage; if you come into it, you are lost.
And I learned, gentlemen. Oh, you learn when you have to; one learns when one wants a way out; one learns ruthlessly. One supervises oneself with a whip; one tears oneself to pieces at the slightest resistance. The monkey nature raced out of me and away, rolling over itself, so that my first teacher himself became almost monkey from it and soon had to give up teaching and be taken to a sanatorium. Fortunately, he came out again soon.
But I used up many teachers, even several teachers at the same time. When I was more confident of my abilities, the public followed my progress, my future began to shine, I took on teachers myself , had them seated in five consecutive rooms, and learned from all of them at the same time by continuously jumping from one room to another.
These advances! This penetration of the rays of knowledge from all sides into the awakening brain! I do not deny: it made me happy. But I also admit: I did not overestimate it, not even then, how much less now. Through an effort that has not been repeated on earth, I have achieved the average education of a European. Perhaps that wouldn't be anything in itself, but it is something insofar as it helped me out of the cage and gave me this special way out, this human way out. There is an excellent German saying: hit the bushes; I did that, I hit the bushes. I had no other way, always provided that freedom was not to be chosen.
If I look at my development and your previous goal, I neither complain nor am I satisfied. With my hands in my trouser pockets, the wine bottle on the table, I'm half lying, half sitting in the rocking chair and looking out the window. If there is a visitor, I will receive him as it is due. My impresario is sitting in the anteroom; I ring the bell, he comes and hears what I have to say. In the evening there is almost always a performance, and I hardly have any more successes that can be increased. I get by from banquets late at night scientific societies, home from cozy get-togethers, a little half-trained chimpanzee awaits me and I enjoy it with her like a monkey. I don't want to see her during the day; for she has in view the madness of the confused, trained animal; Only I know that and I can't stand it.
All in all, I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. Don't say it wasn't worth the effort. Besides, I don't want anyone's judgment, I just want to spread knowledge, I just report, I only reported to you, gentlemen from the Academy.