Monday, 3 July 2017

...of compulsion

His voice grew louder, and he was again addressing people who were not there. Here in Johannesburg it is the mines, he said, everything is the mines. These high buildings, this wonderful City Hall, this beautiful Parktown with its beautiful houses, all this is built with the gold from the mines. This wonderful hospital for Europeans, the biggest hospital south of the Equator, it is built with the gold from the mines.
There was a change in voice, it became louder like the voice of a bull or a lion. Go to our hospital, he said, and see our people lying on the floors. They lie so close you cannot step over them. But it is they who dig the gold. For three shillings a day. We come from the Transkei, and from Basutoland, and from Bechuanaland, and from Swaziland, and from Zululand. And from Ndotsheni also. We live in the compounds, we must leave our wives and families behind. And when the new gold is found, it is not we who will get more for our labour. It is the white man’s shares that will rise, you will read it in all the papers. They go mad when new gold is found. They bring more of us to live in the compounds, to dig under the ground for three shillings a day. They do not think, here is a chance to pay more for our labour. They only think, here is a chance to build a bigger house and buy a bigger car. It is important to find gold, they say, for all South Africa is built on the mines.
He growled, and his voice grew deep, it was like thunder that was rolling. But it was not built on the mines, he said, it is built on our backs, on our sweat, on our labour. Every factory, every theatre, every beautiful house, they are all built by us. And what does a chief know about that? But here in Johannesburg they know.
He stopped, and was silent. And his visitors were silent also, for there was something in this voice that compelled one to be silent. And Stephen Kumalo sat silent, for this was a new brother that he saw.

[Cry, the Beloved Country, Paton, A.]

...of suffering

With trembling hands she took the tin and opened it. She emptied it out over the table, some old and dirty notes, and a flood of silver and copper.
- Count it, he said.
She counted it laboriously, turning over the notes and the coins to make sure what they were.
- Twelve pounds, five shillings, and seven pence.
- I shall take, he said, I shall take eight pounds, and the shillings and pence.
- Take it all, Stephen. There may be doctors, hospitals, other troubles. Take it all. And take the Post Office Book - there is ten pounds in it - you must take that also.
- I have been saving that for your stove, he said.
- That cannot be helped, she said. And that other money, though we saved it for St Chad’s, I had meant it for your new black clothes, and a new black hat, and new white collars.
- That cannot be helped either. Let me see, I shall go…
- Tomorrow, she said. From Carisbrooke.
- I shall write to the Bishop now, and tell him I do not know how long I shall be gone.
He rose heavily to his feet, and went and stood before her. I am sorry I hurt you, he said. I shall go and pray in the church.
He went out of the door, and she watched him through the little window, walking slowly to the door of the church. Then she sat down at his table, and put her head on it, and was silent, with the patient suffering of black women, with the suffering of oxen, with the suffering of any that are mute.

[Cry, the Beloved Country, Paton, A.]

...of a conversation-stopper

‘I read your book,’ Juliana said. ‘In fact I finished it this evening. How did you know all that, about the other world you wrote about?’
Hawthorne said nothing; he rubbed his knuckle against his upper lip, staring past her and frowning.
‘Did you use the oracle?’ Juliana said.
Hawthorne glanced at her.
‘I don’t want you to kid or joke,’ Juliana said. ‘Tell me without making something witty out of it.’
Chewing his lip, Hawthorne gazed down at the floor; he wrapped his arms about himself, rocked back and forth on his heels. The others in the room near by had become silent, and Juliana noticed that their manner had changed. They were not happy, now, because of what she had said. But she did not try to take it back or disguise it; she did not pretend. It was too important. And she had come too far and done too much to accept anything less than the truth from him.
‘That’s - a hard question to answer,’ Abendsen said finally.
‘No it isn’t,’ Juliana said.
Now everyone in the room had become silent; they all watched Juliana standing with Caroline and Hawthorne Abendsen.

[The Man in the High Castle, Dick, P. K.]

...of a silencer

General Tedeki started to speak. But then a tremendous clatter at the office door; he ceased. The door swung open.
Two burly white men appeared, both armed with pistols equipped with silencers. They made out Mr Baynes.
‘Da ist er,’ one said. They started for Mr Baynes.
At his desk, Mr Tagomi pointed his Colt ’44 ancient collector’s item and compressed the trigger. One of the S.D. men fell to the floor. The other whipped his silencer-equipped gun towards Mr Tagomi and returned fire. Mr Tagomi heard no report, saw only a tiny wisp of smoke from the gun, heard the whistle of a slug passing near. With record-eclipsing speed he fanned the hammer of the single action Colt, firing it again and again.

[The Man in the High Castle, Dick, P. K.]

...of social awkwardness

Robert Childan felt his face flush, and he bent over his new drink to conceal himself from the eyes of his host. What a dreadful beginning he had made. In a foolish and loud manner he had argued politics; he had been rude in his disagreeing, and only the adroit tact of his host had sufficed to save the evening. How much I have to learn, Childan thought. They’re so graceful and polite. And I - the white barbarian. It is true.
For a time he contented himself with sipping his drink and keeping on his face an artificial expression of enjoyment. I must follow their leads entirely, he told himself. Agree always.
Yet in a panic he thought, My wits scrambled by the drink. And fatigue and nervousness. Can I do it? I will never be invited back anyhow; it is already too late. He felt despair.
Betty, having returned from the kitchen, had once more seated herself on the carpet. How attractive, Robert Childan thought again. The slender body. Their figures are so superior; not fat, not bulbous. No bra or girdle needed. I must conceal my longing; that at all costs. And yet now and then he let himself steal a glance at her. Lovely dark colours of her skin, hair, and eyes. We are half-baked compared to them. Allowed out of the kiln before we were fully done. The old aboriginal myth; the truth, there.
I must divert my thoughts. Find social item, anything. His eyes strayed about, seeking some topic. The silence resigned heavily, making his tension sizzle. Unbearbable. What the hell to say? Something safe. His eyes made out a book on a low black teak cabinet.

[The Man in the High Castle, Dick, P. K.]

...of the Tao

His hand opened the tissue paper, showing them the gift. Bit of ivory carved a century ago by by whalers from New England. Tiny ornamented art object, called a scrimshaw. Their faces illuminated with knowledge of the scrimshaws which the old sailors had made in their spare time. No single thing could have summed up old U.S. culture more. Silence.
‘Thank you,’ Paul said.
Robert Childan bowed.
There was peace, then, for a moment, in his heart. This offering, this - as the I Ching put it - libation. It had done what needed to be done. Some of the anxiety and oppression which he had felt lately began to lift from him.
From Ray Calvin he had received restitution for the Colt ’44, plus many written assurances of no second recurrence. And yet it had not eased his heart. Only now, in this unrelated situation, had he for a moment lost the sense that things were in the constant process of going askew. The wabi around him, radiations of harmony… that is it, he decided. The proportion. Balance. They are so close to the Tao, these two young Japanese. That is why I reacted to them before. I sensed the Tao through them. Saw a glimpse of it myself.
What would it be like, he wondered, to really know the Tao? The Tao is that which first lets in the light, then the dark. Occasions the interplay of the two primal forces so that there is always renewal. It is that which keeps it all from wearing down. The universe will never be extinguished because just when the darkness seems to have smothered all, to be truly transcendant, the new seeds of light are reborn in the very depths. That is the Way. When the seed falls, it falls into the earth, into the soil. And beneath, out of sight, it comes to life.

[The Man in the High Castle, Dick, P. K.]

...of a caveman

Back in the cave Janet’s made a nice fire.
“So what did numbnuts want?” she says. “Are you fired?”
I shake my head no.
“Is he in love with you?” she says. “Does he want to go out with you?”
I shake my head no.
“Is he in love with me?” she says. “Does he want to go out with me? Am I fired?”
I do not shake my head no.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute, go back,” she says. “I’m fired?”
I shake my head no.
“But I’m in the shit?” she says. “I’m somewhat in the shit?”
I shrug.
“Will you freaking talk to me?” she says. “This is important. Don’t be a dick for once,”
I don’t consider myself a dick and I do not appreciate being called a dick, in the cave, in English, and the truth is, if she would try a little harder not to talk in the cave, she would not be so much in the shit.

[Pastoralia, Saunders, G.]

...of love in the USA

They came silently, and stayed, and left silently, and silently new cars took their place. It was like an automobile show, except it wasn’t lit, so you didn’t get much benefit. I did manage to see something, though, because I secretly crept past some of the cars. In each car, there was a man and a girl getting all tangled up. My father drank gin, and remarked: ‘Love in the USA.’ And there was me thinking they were trying to kill each other. One time an older man got out of his car, but without wanting to go swimming. He just switched off the headlights of his car.

[Child of All Nations, Keun, I.]

...of nuns

One last time I ran along the beach, further and further. The spidery crabs danced over the sand, the sun shone, the sand glowed. I saw a giant tortoise lying at the water’s edge, stinking, and I saw loads of dead fish.
A dark silent mass was approaching the tideline, and I recognised the nuns from St Paul’s Hospital, and they got undressed to bathe in private. I was astonished, because I had always thought nuns only consisted of wimples and robes.

[Child of All Nations, Keun, I.]

...of a spell

My mother sat bolt upright; I could only see her back, which was like a wall of pink silk. Sometimes a little light flickered into our room, the telephone kept purring next door. Down on the street, a man was whistling a tune. My mother trembled: ‘Did you hear that? Did you hear hat whistling? That was the Horst Wessel Song that someone was whistling in the street - here in Amsterdam.’
I don’t know the song she means, but I wonder why it would make my mother so frightened and sad. I couldn’t find her face any more, it was so far away. Then in my mind I changed my mother into a tree, because a tree is calm, a tree is unafraid. A tree doesn’t get hungry, or cry. It doesn’t laugh, it doesn’t talk. I turned her into a tree so that she would stop trembling. After that, I was able to sleep.

[Child of All Nations, Keun, I.]

…of émigrés

‘There,’ says my father. He locks us into the room. ‘Now either she’ll bring masses of food, or else she’ll be back with the police.’
Then we stand there in silence and look at each other. All of a sudden my father looks terribly pale and tired. He sits my mother down on the bed, and then he falls down. His head is on her knees. My mother lays both her hands on his hair.
There is silence. The room is small, cold, ugly, with no carpet. On the brown floor are some squeezed-out tubes of paint - blue, green, red. On a tiny wobbly table is a bunch of roses, and everything smells of dust and cellars. Under the roses there are seven little booklets. Hey, those are passports; we’ve got seven passports!

[Child of All Nations, Keun, I.]