Translated by Tatiana Rudyak

Every one of us is out of their mind. It is normal.

When Moscow, where I was born, is bombing Kyiv, where my father was born, how can one not be out of one’s mind? Freud would write volumes about us.

When a man whose hand I once shaked becomes a murderer and a war criminal, and then gets blown to pieces in a car rigged with explosives, how can one stay in their right mind? In the mind where you constantly need to keep thousands of corpses of Ukrainian civilians. In the mind that needs to adjust to saving those displaced, those forced to stray in the safe but boundlessly alien foreign lands. In the mind that is counting how many of those who managed to get out of the war zone decided to come back to their country, under the Russian bombs, just because that country is their own.

How do you stay in your right mind when so much unthinkable and absurd cruelty goes on every day, and any effort to understand why people are being killed, daily, is stomped by the blazing senselessness of this endeavor? They kill just because they can, no purpose, no mercy. When you look at a bandit maddened by getting away with anything, proudly pointing at corpses of people he had sent to die, yelling about ammunition, how do you not fall into madness?

It is normal, being out of your mind. It is just important to remember that every one of us is crazy.

There is a term in the theory of literature, an unreliable narrator. Like Gogol’s Poprischin in the “Diary of the Madman”—when he talks about dogs exchanging letters, or proclaims himself the King of Spain, and the madhouse nurses, the Spanish delegation—the reader should not trust him, but instead should try to guess what is going on in reality that Poprischin cannot encompass.

We need to remember that, today, every one of us is an unreliable narrator. What we say about the world, people, life, history, or cruelty is unreliable. We are just out of our minds.

And, obviously, those of us who are perfectly calm, for whom it’s business as usual—those are out of their minds a bit more than most. It’s OK, it is also normal.

In a psychotic state, we create worlds around us, where people we know and people we don’t are just pawns and chips, just a deck of cards. We know exactly what they think and how they feel. How they pay for what they say, and what they earn from other people’s griefs. We, out of our minds, don’t have the time to examine our worldview, perform the reality check, ask living people control questions: what do you feel? what do you mean? what did you do, and what didn’t you?

We wallow in our delusions, tirelessly shouting the results of our insights into the world. Each of us is being exposed to radiation coming out of the power sockets: good people, even better people, illuminati, spies and scouts, each one of us has it abundantly clear. And we cannot stay silent, we have to throw our final truth into the face of the indifferent world. But the real truth is clearer: we are just out of our minds.

The mind is towering over us, rocky and unreachable. We went out of it and lost the path, we cannot find our way back.

Every time we want to denounce, expose, curse, explain everything very simply, we should do well to remember—with all we have left, on our last fumes—to remember that we are out of our minds, in the world that’s out of its mind, that’s twisted all its joints.

Yes, that is the sure way to numbness and despair. Only salvation lies in labor and in helping those worse off than you.

Speaking for oneself is painful and impossible. Everyone is wailing inside. That is normal. The very strongest are just not letting the wailing out; kudos to them.

It is horribly tempting to speak in someone else’s name. To imagine them: insulted, humiliated, suffering, murdered, robbed, bleeding. To imagine what they would be thinking: it’s not important how it is in reality, we know better what they should be thinking. This is our delusion, we know it inside out. And speak, speak in their name, pulling them on like a puppet doll. To pull the stagnated tongue out of the numbed mouth and speak it, for the love of God, Montresor, for all that’s good, against all that’s bad.

Thousands of them, invisible and unalterably grateful, are standing behind every speaker, silently applauding every nipping word, every banter, every turn of the screw.

It’s not us, it’s them who are lashing out at the imagined fiends. It’s not us, it’s them who are giving out labels left and right. It’s not us, it’s them who are crying for blood. It’s not us, it’s them who hate, hate, hate.

“If I were Whatshisname,” we say to ourselves, or, better yet, to every bleary featureless face around, “if I were Whatshisname, I would never have said/reproached/asked/refused/loved/approved/cried. But they? How could they, shame on them, disgraceful shit!”