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Meantime, so-called reality, with which I now had in fact completely fallen out, was at great pains to make fun of my dream and to shatter it again and again. Almost every day I was led under guard into extremely uncongenial chambers where amid many papers unsympathetic men sat and questioned me, refused to believe me, barked at me, threatened me now like a three-year-old child and now like a hardened criminal. One doesn't need to be accused in order to become acquainted with this remarkable and truly hellish business of courts, papers, and ordinances. Of all the hells that men have so strangely had to create for themselves, this has always seemed to me the most hellish. An you need to do is to plan to move or to marry, to request a passport or a certificate of citizenship, and you find yourself at once in the midst of this hell, you have to spend bitter hours in the airless space of this paper world, you are questioned by bored yet hurried, disgruntled men, snapped at, you are met by disbelief for the simplest, truest statement, you are treated now like a schoolchild, now like a criminal. Well, everyone knows this. I should long since have been smothered and desiccated in this paper hell if it had not been that my paints constantly comforted and revived me and my picture, my beautiful little landscape, gave me renewed air and life.

 

It was in front of this picture in my cell that I was standing one day when the guards came hurrying up once more with their tedious summons and tried to tear me away from my happy activity.