The Fall Transformation Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
My friends hadn’t changed. […] But I was aware only of the dissonances and disorder that filled me; I felt vulnerable and open to public accusation. In my eyes my fellows ceased to be the respectful public to which I was accustomed. The circle of which I was the center broke and they lined up in a row as on the judge’s bench. In short, the moment I grasped that there was something to judge in me, I realized that there was in them an irresistible vocation for judgment. Yes, they were there as before, but they were laughing. […] every one I encountered was looking at me with a hidden smile (4.7).
And here’s that increased awareness we were just talking about. Jean-Baptiste gets what’s going on – he admits that those around him don’t change at all, rather his perception of them is what changes.
No one, ever again, would know the truth on this point, since the only one to know it was precisely the dead man sleeping on his secret. That absolute murder of a truth used to make me dizzy. Today, let me interject, it would cause me, instead, subtle joys (4.21).
So how does increased awareness change Jean-Baptiste’s opinion of truth? Well, when Jean-Baptiste becomes aware of man’s "fundamental duplicity," his opinion of "truth" shifts. He decides that truth is boring. We actually have to use lies to get at what’s real. (He says all this later in the text.) In that case, forget the truth.
You are wrong, cher, the boat is going at top speed. But the Zuider Zee is a dead sea, or almost. With its flat shores, lost in the fog, there’s no saying where it begins or ends. So we are steaming along without any landmark; we can’t gauge our speed. We are making progress and yet nothing is changing. It’s not navigation but dreaming (5.1).
Jean-Baptiste’s comments on the surroundings in Amsterdam aren’t accidental; they’re actually fairly charged with meaning. We can apply his comments on your literal movement to the way that, metaphorically, he’s moving you through his confession.