Wednesday, September 22, 2004

This morning our boat left the
Orchid bank and went out through
The tall reeds. Tonight we will
Anchor under mulberries
And elms. You and me, all day
Together, gathering rushes.
Now it is evening, and see,
We have gathered just one stalk.
Anonymous, “This Morning Our Boat Left”

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I sat there on the dead horse, with my head leaning against its erected leg, which jutted towards the sky, and I fingered the little manes that horses have round their hooves … and a goods train rolled past on the line, whistling merrily. The wagons veiled and unveiled me in a steady rhythm, and I began to shake, and the saliva gushed in my mouth, because the beginning of all this was at Uncle Noneman’s, in Karlín, in Prague. I was sleeping there at Masha’s uncle’s place; they put me up in the studio on a couch, and covered me with a blanket, and then on top of that with the cloth on which was a painting of Prague, with an aeroplane flying above it, in which customers used to have themselves photographed as pilots and observers; whole groups of people used to get into the photograph in this aeroplane, for a lark. Then, in the night, when it was all quiet at the Nonemans’, Masha came and crept in under this cloth with the aeroplane, and stroked me and pressed herself against me. And I caressed her, too, and I was man enough until it came to the point of being a man, but then all at once I wilted, and it was all up with everything. Masha tried pinching me, but I’d gone quite dead, as though I were paralysed in all my extremities … and after an hour Masha crept out again from under the cloth, and went away into the little room, to her aunt …

And in the morning I couldn’t even look at her, I sat completely crushed. Customers started coming, and they stood behind that cloth beneath which I’d gone through such an awful experience in the night. One of them would get up on a chair, and another on a step-ladder, and Uncle Noneman would give each of them a bottle or a funnel to hold, and then he’d creep under the cloth that shrouded his camera, and raise his hand and give them the signal, like someone conducting music, and then duck out again from under the cloth, and after five minutes he brought the photograph, because he had a large notice over the doorway: finished in five minutes.

They kept coming all the morning, until two German soldiers came, and just when one of them had climbed on the chair and the other on the step-ladder, and Mr Noneman had arranged the cloth with the aeroplane and the panorama of Prague in front of them, there was a thunderous crash, and a great wind surged through the studio and swept away the cloth with the aeroplane, and those two soldiers fell down, and Uncle Noneman, who was just burrowing under his cloth, fell down, too, but that was the least of it. A moment later came a tremendous gust of wind, and I saw the whole wall of the studio roll away, and the gust carried off Uncle and those two soldiers, and blew in Auntie and Masha from the other room, and even though they were flying through the air, at the same time they were trying to hold down their skirts, but they couldn’t manage it, and their hair was blown fluttering all ways, curtaining the whole of the sky for me, and down we all went, and sailing lilke tossed balls we dropped slowly on to the grass outside … and the last thing that wind blew after us was the board on which was the notice : finished in five minutes

Along the main street several people went running, then there was a long silence, and then the sirens began to wail, and a number of ambulances passed, and then came a lot of torn and draggled people, laughing and laughing like crazy men; they dropped on their backs on the grass, lay on their backs and shook with laughter … and only then did this fellow come along, and turn and point in the direction of Vysoĉany, and say : A terrible raid, folks! And when he looked down at the grass, at that big notice, he repeated with quite another meaning what was written on it : finished in five minutes
Bohumil Hrabal, Closely Watched Trains

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Krazy Kat standing before the mesa in the heart of Tusayan

George Herriman, Krazy Kat

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The story went thus:—There were two friends, one of these two friends was money borrower, he had no other work than to borrow and he was feeding on any money that he was borrowing. One day, he borrowed £1 from his friend. After a year his friend who lent him the money, asked him to refund the £1 to him, but the borrower said that he would not pay the £1 and said that he had never paid any debit since he was borrowing money and since he was born. When his friend who lent him the £1 heard so from him, he said nothing, but went back to his house quietly. One day, the lender heard information that there was a debit-collector who was bold enough to collect debits from anybody whatsoever. Then he (lender) went to the debit-collector and told him that somebody owed him £1 since a year, but he refused to pay it back; after the debit-collector heard so, then both of them went to the house of the borrower. When he had showed the house of the borrower to the collector, he went back to his home.

When the debit-collector asked for the £1 which he (borrower) had borrowed from his friend since a year, the debitor (borrower) replied that he never paid any of his debits since he was born, then the debit-collector said that he never failed to collect debits from any debitor since he had begun the work. The collector said furthermore that to collect debits about was his profession and he was living on it. But after the debitor heard so from the collector, he also said that his profession was to owe debts and he was living only on debits. In conclusion, both of them started to fight but, as they were fighting fiercely, a man who was passing that way at that time saw them and he came nearer; he stood behind them looking at them, because he was very interested in this fight and he did not part them. But when these two fellows had fought fiercely for one hour, the debitor who owed the £1 pulled out a jack-knife from his pocket and stabbed himself at the belly, so he fell down and died there. But when the debit-collector saw that the debitor died, he thought within himself that he had never failed to collect any debit from any debitor in the world since he had started the work and he (collector) said that if he could not collect the £1 from him (debitor) in this world, he (collector) would collect it in heaven. So he (collector) also pulled out a jack-knife from his pocket and stabbed himself as well, and he fell down and died there.

As the man who stood by and looking at them was very, very interested in that fight, he said that he wanted to see the end of the fight, so he jumped up and fell down at the same spot and died there as well so as to witness the end of the fight in heaven. So when the above statement was given in the court, I was asked to point out who was guilty, either the debit-collector, debitor, the man who stood by looking at them when fighting, or the lender?

But first of all, I was about to tell the court that the man who stood by them looking at them was guilty, because he should have asked about the matter and parted them, but when I remembered that the debitor and collector were doing their work on which both of them were living, then I could not blame the man who stood looking at them and again I could not blame the collector, because he was doing his work and also the debitor himself because he was struggling for what he was living on. But the whole people in the court insisted me to point out who was guilty among them all. Of course when I thought it over for two hours, then I adjourned the judgement for a year, and the court closed for that day.
Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Dead’s Town