But I was just floored tonight by this interview with Ingmar Bergman, late in his life. It was from Swedish television, so these are just the subtitles. But still...Literature, I think, strives for this kind of truth, this kind of open-hearted disclosure. He has just been asked how he feels about death, and this is how he answers...
We had an agreement, we even used to joke about it...
I would die first.
Ingrid would sit with me and hold my hand. Ingrid would be the last person I saw. She was going to take over everything on Fåro and everything was to go on as before.
And then this happened...Probably the cruelest thing to befall me in my life and which has crippled me. Ingrid suddenly died.
Not suddenly, it took a year.
To go on living now is for me so utterly irrelevant. I try...I try to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. I try to keep my life in order. I keep set hours. I get up at six in the morning. I work methodically until noon. Then there's the theatre. I try to maintain a strict order.
To me...To me life itself is a heavy burden. That I'm never going to see Ingrid again...is to me deeply distressing. It's a dreadful thought.
You see, I really felt that Ingrid was still there. I had an uninterrupted conversation going on with her. She wasn't altogether gone, she was still near.
But then my notions of life and death as existence and non-existence clashed violently. That means I'll never again see Ingrid.
Then Erland [Josephson] and I had a good conversation about it, which meant an awful lot to me.
Erland asked: "What are your thoughts on the matter?" I said: "I'm very doubtful at the moment...But I think I'll see Ingrid again." Because I do believe in other realities, I always have. I think I'll meet Ingrid again. And Erland wisely replied: "So affirm that belief."
And that's what I've been doing. I'm not actually afraid of dying.
Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman in Saraband, Bergman's last film