Genius or Insanity?:

Signs of Schizophrenia in Nijinsky’s Choreography 1912-1913


Vaslav Nijinsky, famed star of Diagilev’s Ballet Russes, is credited with the creation of three of the most unusual ballets in the history of dance. L’Aprés-Midi d’un Faune, Jeux, and Le Sacre du Printemps all involve a highly unique choreography, and were the subjects of various scandals during their perfomances in 1912 and 1913. Today, he is heralded as a genius. But this famous and celebrated dancer and choreographer was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1919, at the age of 30. His diary, kept in early 1919, clearly exhibits the signs of thought disorder associated with schizophrenia. But given the nature of the disease and its gradual onset, it is reasonable to assume that he was schizophrenic before 1919. Is it, however, reasonable to assume that he was suffering from schizophrenia as early as 1912 or 1913? Did the disordered thought processes associated with the disease interfere with his ballets, or were they in any way responsible for the unusual nature of his choreography? If this is the case, should Nijinsky’s choreography be heralded as the work of a genius, or studied as that of a madman? In order to determine whether or not Vaslav Nijinsky was, in fact, insane during the creations of L’Aprés-Midi d’un Faune, Jeux, and Le Sacre du Printemps, we must first examine the effects of the disease itself, as well as its repercussions in the creative work of the insane.

Schizophrenia: signs and symptoms

In 1896, the psychiatrist Kraepelin announced an important discovery: most of the patients in asylums suffered from the same disorder, characterized by a number of common symptoms. Kraepelin named this disorder dementia praecox, or a demetia of adolescence, because of its onset during adolescence. The term schizophrenia later replaced this misnomer: coined by the psychiatrist Dr. Bleuler in 1911, it is derived from the Greek scixw + frhn: i.e. split or cleft mind. However,

The literal translation "split personality" has caused its own problems, because some people have interpreted the split as a split into two parts. In fact, the "split" in schizophrenia was never intended to mean a split in two, but a split into broken pieces. "Shattered" would be a better translation. In schizophrenia the sense of self is disrupted, and disconnected from the senses. What results is usually a withdrawn person who has bizarre belief systems (but not a fixed delusion, rather one that itself is fractured and changes unpredictably).

The major signs of schizophrenia have been categorized by McKenna as abnormal ideas and perceptions, formal thought disorder, motor, volitional and behavioural disorder, and emotional disorders.

Foremost among abnormality of perception and ideas is the delusion, and foremost among delusions is that of paranoia. To a schizophrenic, the world around him is filled with symbol and meaning, and most of this meaning revolves around the patient himself. Simple actions, such as a car passing him on the street, can be interpreted as part of a grand, paranoid scheme in which the entire world is persecuting him. Common as well is the delusion of grandeur, often tainted with the religious, in which the patient believes himself to be driven by a divine motive, or may even be God himself. These delusions are usually repetitive and intrusive, and are usually reinforced by auditory hallucinations. However, although he sees symbols and symbolism everywhere, the schizophrenic is consistently unable to describe or explain these symbols to the sane man with any regularity or coherence.

One of the most peculiar and disconcerting symptoms of schizophrenia, however, is that of formal thought disorder. Schizophrenic speech reflects this thought disorder, which "refers to disturbances in the form of thinking – that is, its structure, organization, and coherence – which manifest themselves as a loss of intelligibility of speech". Kraeplin identified this as stemming from a derailment of thought, while Bleuler states that it was loosening of association which was at fault. In any case, schizophrenic speech exhibits several bizarre characteristics, including the invention of new words, alogia, lack of associations, and the ‘word salad’ effect of general incoherence.

The schizophrenic also exhibits bizarre and disorderly movement patterns, ranging from a repetition of uniform but purposeless motions to complete catatonia. But simpler disorders of movement are evident; the patient may adopt new mannerisms associated with everyday activities, sit in extreme, statuesque postures, walk in twisting, extravagant, or stooped movements, or simply stop an action right in mid-sequence. At some catatonic moments, they seem impossible of motion, while at other times they cannot sit still, but rub their hands, rock backwards and forwards, or fidget incessantly. The schizophrenic’s movements appear abnormal and even grotesque precisely because of their repetitiveness, purposelessness, and general twisted or stilted quality. Generally, however, schizophrenics appear to conceive of motion in flat, static terms.

A final crucial symptom of schizophrenia is evidenced by inappropriate emotions. Particularly important is the symptom of flat affect:

"… the subtleties of an individual’s emotional state are constantly being signaled to others, largely unconsciously, by facial expression… It is this that becomes diminished, lost, or altered in schizophrenia. When mild, the effect is noticeable, if intangible: there is… ‘something queer, cold, rigid, and petrified…’ When more marked, a definite lack of responsiveness to emotive topics can be pinpointed: the patient may discuss unpleasant and even horrific experiences casually and matter-of-factly."

Because of this flattening of affect, patients appear unresponsive or simply withdrawn, and usually retreat from social situations; in less pronounced cases, patients appear aloof or disinterested. In general, however, schizophrenics have difficulties with all facets of interpersonal relationships, whether in simple conversation or in a long term commitment to a marriage partner, because of a loss of ability to communicate effectively in speech and in affect – problems only compounded by the factor of delusion.

Evidence for Nijinsky’s Schizophrenia pre-1919

Nijinsky was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 1919. This should not prove too surprising, considering that his brother was also a schizophrenic, which would allow him a 10% chance of developing the disease. But one does not become schizophrenic overnight: the onset of the disease is slow, and thus his descent into his illness must have begun much earlier. Most schizophrenics are only officially diagnosed after the behaviour has become significantly outrageous or dangerous: many have lived with the milder, accumulating symptoms beforehand. In Nijinsky’s case, his behaviour in several incidents became erratic enough to convince Romola that he was insane as early as 1917 or 1918. It is also known that the symptoms of schizophrenia which involve the "excess or distortion of normal functions" may "fluctuate over time". With these facts in mind, it is interesting to wonder when exactly the first signs of schizophrenia in Nijinsky were in evidence.

It is entirely possible that Nijinsky may have begun his descent into schizophrenia far earlier than imagined. First of all, Schizophrenia usually comes on in the teenage years or early twenties. Although Dr. Castillo explains the latency of Nijinksy’s illness as due to his dependant relationship on Diagilev, it may simply be that Nijinsky’s situation disguised the symptoms of his oncoming illness. He was sheltered significantly by Diagilev, and did not have to face much of reality within the fantasy world of the theatre. He was also a quiet man and did not talk much; thus the revealing of his possible thought disorders proved unlikely.

There is some significant evidence in Nijinsky’s behaviour that he may have been slightly schizophrenic as early as 1913. This evidence is almost entirely summarized by Hilda Munnings’ observations of the dancer when she joined the company in 1913:

"In appearance Nijinksy was himself like a faun – a wild creature who had been trapped by society and was always ill at ease. When addressed, he turned his head furtively, looking as if he might suddenly butt you in the stomach. He moved on the balls of his feet, and his nervous energy found an outlet in fidgeting: when he sat down he twisted his fingers or played with his shoes. He hardly spoke to anyone, and seemed to exist on a different plane. Before dancing he was even more withdrawn, like a bewitched soul. … Even though he was always surrounded by people, [he] seemed always to be alone; he was incapable of mixing in any way.

This quotation alone provides strong evidence for a suspicion of schizophrenia: reticence, inability to communicate with others, illness at ease, a persecution anxiety, and excessive fidgeting. Munning’s observation that "he seemed to exist on a different plane" may be more correct than she realized at the time.

If Nijinsky’s schizophrenic symptoms had been present, if only mildly, in 1913, could this have been perceived in his work? More specifically, can we detect elements of schizophrenia in Nijinsky’s choreography of his three ballets in 1912-13? In order to do so, we must examine the ways in which schizophrenic symptoms are expressed creatively.

Schizophrenia and Creativity

With such a dissociation of elements, clearly disorganized thought patterns, and lack of communicative tools or needs, many schizophrenics find it impossible to be creative. They lack the congruity and linear qualities of thought which tie the creative act together, as well as the mental capacity to conceive of a task and to carry it through to completion. However, some schizophrenics do manage to create; in fact, modern studies have given convincing evidence that "among artists disorders of the schizophrenic spectrum and psychopaties were most common… a surprising but clear association between the creative gift and the risk of schizophrenia…" In his study of the art of the insane, MacGregor identifies several schizophrenic artists, some of which had never painted before, but suddenly asked for paints and paper, while others were acclaimed artists before they became insane. As for the former, ‘Richard Nisbett, Mariner’ constantly drew maps "covered with writing, rich in schizophrenic word play, with the various land masses chaotically dispersed, but carefully labeled and painted". The latter cases may have had more tools with which to express themselves: Paul-Max Simon records that a patient who had been trained as a draftsman drew in a style "characterized by an absolute correctness of execution, offering to the eye a markedly harmonious effect", but one who had had no previous training "could not manage to trace the dreams which presented themselves to his imagination". As artists descend into insanity, their subject matter may become more odd and fantastic, oftentimes relating to the patient’s delusional systems, and the patient may come to believe that he is a divine instrument.

What characteristics distinguish the art of the insane? The Italian psychiatrist Lambroso was probably the first to offer categories identifying psychotic art; a few of his thirteen features of the art of the insane include originality in form and material, overall uselessness, repetition and uniformity of images, minuteness of detail, general absurdity and eccentricity, atavism or primitivism, obscenity and sexuality, and extreme symbolism. Many of these categories remain undisputed today. It is clear that much schizophrenic art incorporates atavistic or childlike qualities, and the overwhelming use of symbols and allegories, sometimes decipherable only to the patient himself, cannot be ignored. Similarly obvious is the often blatant sexual imagery that is often associated with psychotic art. Paul-Max Simon also noted a direct relationship between the formal problems of speech later associated with schizophrenia, and the art of the insane: "In the same way that among these patients disorders of speech are at times extremely evident, the combinations of lines in their drawings can often be extremely complicated, or the colors which they use to illuminate their pictures can be absolutely untrue to nature." Patients may place themselves at the centre of their creation, congruent with their persecution fantasies, and much in the way of representation becomes static, iconographic, and frozen. They will also commonly cover every square inch of their paper with drawings, writings, or scribbles, and will often fill in an amount of detail that make their pictures surreal and absurdist. Symmetry and perspective are not usually in evidence; as many are so focussed on filling every space on the page, they do not care for these types of congruency. It is also important to note the fear of three-dimensionality which schizophrenic patients exhibit in art-therapy.

The Italian Silvano Arieti summarized schizophrenic creativity in the 1960’s in an interesting hypothesis. According to Preti, Arieti believes that "though processes typical of schizophrenic patients can favour the development of unusual mental associations which can, in turn, be inspiring to the creatively gifted individual, above all in the artistic field. Arieti supports his hypothesis in many ways, indicating the extraordinary talent of schizophrenic patients in coining new words, and giving many examples of the artistic production of patients confined in Asylums in the first half of this century. The works of these artists are often very odd and disquieting, but although unusual they do not posses the requisite of being ‘socially enjoyable’, which is essential if a product is to be judged as creative." Thus, the formal qualities of schizophrenic art, as well as its reception by the ‘normal’ viewer, can often be directly associated with the many and bizarre symptoms of the disease.

Evidence for Nijinsky’s Schizophrenic Tendencies in 1912-1913

Nijinksy’s three works, Prélude d’Après Midi d’un Faune, Jeux, and Sacre du Printemps, were all choreographed in the period of 1912-1913. Historically, he has been celebrated for his creation of a new art form in place of classical ballet; his choreography is distinctly unusual, even bizarre, and breaks easily through the previously conceived limits of the world of dance. If, however, Nijinsky was already suffering from mild schizophrenia in 1913, then we should be able to detect elements of schizophrenic art in this unique choreography. Indeed, in the light of the above summaries of the art of the schizophrenic, an analysis of Nijinsky’s creations indicates that the possibility of schizophrenic influences in these three ballets is unusually high.


Most striking of all in Nijinsky’s ballets is the new visual language, which combined new shapes, asymmetrical poses, and awkward, pigeon-toed steps in an effort to be totally centered on raw emotion in dance and music. Stiff and angular, his dancers were often compared to paintings on an ancient Greek urn. Movement seemed rather to be a jerky connection of uncomfortable postures, described as "epileptic fits" by one observer, and no easy symbols (such as pantomime or conventionalized steps) were provided for the audience to grasp. Arms and feet are twisted, contorted, placed into abstract positions, and a critic complained about Nijinsky’s "turning those exquisite ballerinas … into stiff and awkward puppets" In Jeux, the dancers were said to "move with the angularity of clockwork figures. Everything is at an angle. The only thing with a curve in it is the lost ball." Above all, however, was the lack of flow; instead of one movement proceeding naturally to the next, Nijinsky’s choreography demands its dancers to make instant and dramatic changes in posture and direction, resulting in halting, disconnected tableaux. In all these respects, Nijinsky’s choreography can be seen to be shattered, unpredictable, and lacking flow or unity: in essence, a "word salad" of strange figures and postures, comparable to the fragmented art common of schizophrenics.

Also unusual in terms of choreography are the elements of the formal motion itself. The dancers in Prélude, especially, are seen in two dimensions: hips square to the audience, head in profile, toes twisted to the side, the women dance in a line, flattened against the stage. Asymmetry is also fundamental to the overall design of Sacre, as are circular motions, movements, and spacings. The overall quality of the dances is surprisingly abstract: as one writer described Jeux as "[not] to be about sport and triangular love-making, [but] in reality … abstract, concerned neither with sporting movements nor human feelings, an essay in formal design." These elements of two dimensionality in three dimensions, asymmetry, and abstraction are all qualities shared in schizophrenic art.


The influence of the primitive on Nijinsky is extremely clear in Sacre du Printemps: the entire ballet is set in pagan Russia, and surrounds the sacrifice of a virgin to the sun god. Even in Faune, the movement is said to capture the style of a Grecian urn. Nijinsky rejects the forms, vocabulary, and movements of classical ballet, moving back in time through dance in an attempt to portray real, raw emotion. In an American interview, Nijinsky was said to have shunned the conventionally beautiful desired in classical ballets, confessing: "my own inclinations are ‘primitive’". It is true that, today, we do not consider this regression from the classical language into a primitive one as necessarily a sign of psychosis:

"[In the early 20th century] Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Derain, and many others were convinced of the need to reject the traditional notion of beauty. They were drawn to primitive art precisely because it came from a different conception of the beautiful and of the purpose of art. Within aesthetics the possibility that other, radically different, ideas about what is beautiful might exist was now finding acceptance … In this revolutionary atmosphere, the art of untrained amateurs, children, savages, and the insane suddenly emerged as profoundly beautiful expressions of the human image-making impulse…"

Although Nijinsky worked in this period, it is nonetheless important to note that atavism is considered a sign of schizophrenic art.


It is interesting that Nijinsky on the whole rejects the symbols and cues usually preferred in classical ballet. In his creation of a new dance vocabulary, it is significant that, although the dancers knew that something new was required of them, they could not understand his demands. This may have led to the legendary tension at Nijinsky’s rehearsals. It is also important that "the significance of the choreography of Jeux, which was highly free and original, went unnoticed at its first performance. Both Karsavina and Ludmilla Schollar … had also found it difficult to grasp the significance of what Vaslav wa attempting. The highly intelligent Karsavina later confessed that she was confused by the fact that Nijinksy could not explain the significance of the movements he asked her to make, but simply wanted her to parrot them." Although Nijinksy may have considered his own choreography highly symbolic, as may be expressed in his repetitive use of geometric and circular floor patterns, this was not a set of symbols accessible to his audience or to his dancers.


It may be a bit uncanny for most viewers of Faune or the reconstructed Sacre that the dancers’ faces are flat and expressionless. This is because, according to Nijinksy’s new choreography, only the body speaks. An interesting story is told of Bewick’s rehearsal for the part of the sixth Nymph in Prélude d’Après-Midi d’un Faune:

"When towards the end, [Bewick] had to come on alone to confront the Faun, then walk off with hands raised, she put on a frightened expression. Nijinksy reprimanded her, asking, ‘Why do you make that face?’ She replied, ‘I thought I was meant to be frightened.’ He said, ‘Never mind what you thought. Do no more than I tell you. It is all in the choreography.’"

In spite of the historians’ claims that Nijinsky did not allowed the face to express emotion in order to let the body speak, this flatness of affect is clearly related to one of the primary signals of schizophrenia.


Another important and unique aspect of Nijinsky’s choreography is his incredible attention to detail. Sacre was indeed a challenging work musically, but a full 120 rehearsals were required before Nijinsky was satisfied with the dancers. "Nijinksy would allow no latitude in the interpretation of his choreography; every movement had to be exact, precisely as he set it." Nijinsky himself declared "Choreography should be precise", and set about giving individual dancers exacting instructions, often demonstrating the moves himself and requiring their exact reproduction. This was not common practice at the time, and reportedly frustrated the dancers to no end. However, this tendency may have been not a product of Nijinsky’s personal perfectionism, but rather related to the same minuteness and exactness of detail found in the schizophrenic’s creative products.


By all accounts, sexuality and eroticism plays a definite role in Nijinsky’s ballets. The sexual tension in Prélude, between the faun and the nymph, and the "highly charged sexuality" in Jeux’s love triangle, were noted by the audience and critics of the Nijinsky’s time. The action in Sacre is called a "series of ogasmic dances"; the men in Sacre are described as in "sexual panic" before executing a "stylized rape"; and the last twitch of the virgin on the ground has been called "the orgasm of the god". A critic for Le Figaro wasted no words in describing the true essence of Après-Midi thus:

"We are shown a lecherous faun, whose movements are filthy and bestial in their eroticism, and whose gestures are as crude as they are indecent… Decent people will never accept such animal realism."

Finally, there is the controversial ending of the Prélude, in which the faun lowers himself slowly onto the nymph’s veil and "consummates his union with it, taut on the ground, by a convulsive jerk. We are to imagine that this is his first sexual experience." By all accounts, the exact nature of Nijinsky’s final movement as the Faun are uncertain. It is clear that the movement is a "stylized orgasm", but Nijinsky may, in the first performance, have slid his hands under his body in this last moment, giving the impression of masturbation. In any case, the sexual associations were made brutally and indecently clear, as they usually are in schizophrenic art. Persecution

The virgin in Sacre du Printemps is chosen because she alone stumbles and falls in a group of women performing identical steps. The women then crowd around her, circling her and threatening her with violent motions. Essentially, the entire second act is centred around this virgin, at centre stage in the centre of the inscribed circles. She then is forced to dance to her death, forced to jump and leap repetitively until she is so exhausted that she collapses.

I do not consider it too farfetched to relate the story of this virgin sacrifice to Nijinsky himself. Remember that Nijinsky was the dancer famed for his fabulous leaps, which awed and amazed the public. His last performance, in 1919 in which he attempted to "dance the war", bears a striking resemblance to that last dance of the virgin in Sacre:

"The public sat breathlessly horrified and so strangely fascinated. They seemed to be petrified… And he was dancing, dancing on. Whirling through space, taking his audience away with him to war, to destruction, facing suffering and horror, struggling … to escape the inevitable end. It was the dance for life against death."

"Then, Nijinksy danced a number in the aerial style expected of him [i.e. his famous leaps and jumps], and at the end of it placed his hands on his heart and said, ‘The little horse is tired.’"

Essentially, Nijinsky danced himself to exhaustion in the same way that the virgin does in the ballet, surrounded and persecuted by a heartless audience. It is impossible to know whether or not Nijinsky did identify with the virgin sacrifice, consciously or unconsciously. In any case, his paranoia is in full swing by 1919, and I would suggest that early traces of this core schizophrenic symptom can be seen in the Sacre du Printemps.

Audience Response

A final, important clue as to the sanity of the creator is that of audience response. We have seen Arieti insist that ‘social enjoyability’ is a crucial distinguishing factor in insane art, and many other psychiatrists have insisted that schizophrenic art is not useful. According to Dr. Vertesi, a critical sign of schizophrenia is the acute discomfort experienced by the interviewer; whereas manic depressives may make one feel uplifted and excited, there is something in the underlying thought process of a schizophrenic that makes the sane person highly uncomfortable. The audience reactions during the opening performances of Après-Midi d’un Faune and Sacre du Printemps clearly indicate that the audience was put considerably ill at ease. Many insisted that Nijinksy was making fun of them, or laughing at their expense, and others simply hooted for "un docteur, deux dentistes!" Many young artists, however banded together and praised his works. And in Nijinsky’s case, it can be argued that the end result was so ingeniously new that it was not understandable to the majority of his audience. However, the movements could also be seen as so far removed from understandability as to be psychotic.

Creativity, Genius, and Insanity

Was Nijinsky’s insanity responsible for the creation of Sacre and Prélude? Or was it simply the sign of complete genius? Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell. The links between insanity and genius have been examined several times over the centuries, beginning with Aristotle. Lambroso believed sincerely that all men of genius were necessarily men of insanity, and attempted to prove it not only through a comparison of art but also linking physical characteristics such as left-handedness or dwarfish stature. It has been argued as well that geniuses may hold a substantial number of personality traits in common with schizophrenics, and are more likely to be related to someone with a mental disorder, if they are not so afflicted themselves. And Ludwig has also presented that mental disturbances average at about 72% among artistic professions.

It seems that there may be a link between schizophrenia or schizophrenic tendencies and those associated with creative geniuses. This should not be so surprising in light of Mednick’s definition of creativity: that "the creative thinking process.. [is] the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specified requirements or are in some way useful". Therefore, it should hardly be surprising that schizophrenia can play such a large role in what is deemed ‘creative’. The disturbed thought processes characteristic of a mild schizophrenic may combine previously unassociated concepts in a way which is ‘useful’ enough to be considered ‘creative’. In any case, the creation of something as entirely new as Nijinsky’s dance may, at this stage, be considered equally an indication of genius and of insanity.


Given a study of the symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as the characteristics of creativity in schizophrenics, it is entirely likely that Nijinksy may have begun his descent into insanity as early as 1912. Certainly, elements can be seen in his work that relate surprisingly well to characteristics identified with psychotic art. It may in fact be that Nijinsky’s Prélude D’Après- Midi d’un Faune, Jeux, and Le Sacre du Printemps were the products of a deranged mind.

Eighty years later, however, we have a perspective on Nijinsky’s work that his contemporaries lacked. We now know that, insane or not, Nijinksy’s new movement vocabulary had a significant impact on the dance world:

"By breaking up movement, by returning to the simplicity of gesture, Nijinksy has restored expressiveness to dancing. All the angularities and awkwardness of this choreography keep the feeling in… Nijinsky makes the body itself speak. It only moves as a whole, as one block, and its speech is expressed in sudden bounds with open arms and legs, or in sideways runs with bent knees and with the head lying on one shoulder … he is no longer obliged to run one gesture into another or to consider their relationship with those which follow…"

It was Nijinsky’s ability to create an entirely new concept of dance, whether due to his schizophrenia or his genius, which has inspired generations of dancers since. As the inheritors of a dance world dramatically influenced by dance innovators such as the Denishawn company and Martha Graham, we must recognize Nijinsky’s genius and/or insanity as responsible for the changed conceptions, possibilities, and perceptions of dance in the twentieth century.


Appendix A: Examples of Schizophrenic Formal Disorder

Derailment of Speech:

Interviewer: (Tells the donkey and the salt story and asks patient to tell it in his own words.)

Patient: A donkey was carrying salt and he went through a river, and he decided to go for a swim. And his salt started dissolving off him into the water, and it did, it left him hanging there, so he crawled out on the other side and became a mastodon… It gets unfrozen, it’s up in the Arctic right now; it’s a block of ice, the block of ice gets planted … You can see they’re like, they’re almost like a pattern with a flower; they start from the middle and it’s like a submerged ice cube that’s frozen into the soil afterwards.

(Rochester and Martin, 1979, in McKenna, 13)

Incoherence and Neologisms:

Interviewer: (Asks patient to interpret the proverb ‘don’t change horses in mid-stream’.)

Patient: That’s wish-bell double vision. Like walking across a person’s eye and reflecting personality. It works on you like dying and going into the spiritual world but landing in the vella world.

(Harrow and Quinlan, 1985, in McKenna, 13)

Grandiose Delusions, Repetition, and Derailment:

"To Man,

I cannot call you by name because you cannot be called by your name. I am not writing to you quickly because I don’t want you to think that I am nervous. I am not a nervous man. I am able to write calmly. I like writing. I do not like writing fine phrases. I never learned to write fine phrases. I want to write down thoughts. I need thought. I am not afraid of you. I know you hate me. I love you as a human being. I do not want to work with you. I want to tell you one thing… I am not dead. I am alive. Within me lives God. I live in God, God lives in me…I have not called you friend, because I know that you are my enemy. I am not your enemy. An enemy is not God. God is not an enemy. Enemies seek death. I seek life. I have love. You have spite. I am not a predatory beast. You area predatory beast. Predatory beasts do not like people. I like people. Doestoevsky liked people. I am not an idiot. I am a human being. I am an idiot. Doestoevsky is an idiot. You thought I was stupid. I thought you were stupid. We thought we were stupid. I don’t want to decline. I don’t like declensions… I was God. I am God within yourself…

You are mine. I am God.

You have forgotten that God is.

I have forgotten that God is.

You are within me, and I am within you.

You are mine, and I am yours.

You are the one who wants death.

You are the one who loves death.

I love love love…

You are a vmuzhay I am a vmuzhay

We are vmuzhai, you are vmuzhai

You are a woodpecker, I am not a woodpecker,

You knock and I knock

Your knock is your knock, but mine is a knock

Knock-knock, knock, in a knock there is a knock…

…You are a spiteful man, but I am a lullabyer. Rockabye, bye, bye, bye. Sleep in peace, rockabye, bye. Bye. Bye. Bye.

(Letter to Diaghilev, 1919. The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, 254-261)



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