The Epic of Gilgamesh was written over 5,000 years ago. It is regarded as the first great work of literature. My interest today is not in the usual emphasis, that is placed, on the examination of the nature of friendship, the treatment of the duties of kings foreshadowing ‘mirrors for princes’ in the Epic. Today, I am preoccupied with the motif of journeys in literature. This theme is most explicit in Homer’s Odyssey and in Aeneas’ Aeneid.
The extraordinary blending of muted trumpet and muted trombone with clarinet gave richness and depth to the colouring, and sometimes a human voiced trombone, would be added, in the most anguished and wailing tone, I suppose of wet, indescribable indigo.
There are vestiges of Victorian Lagos in Sefi Atta’s novels. Vestiges in the sense that these aspects of Victorian Lagos are quiescent and invisible, somewhat like the appendix, that is until inflamed. In The Bead Collector we have Regina Hernandes and Eugenia Hernandes both Aguda, Lagos Brazilian Catholics. Our heroine, Remi Lawal’s visit to Eugenia’s house is…
An imaginary being, an ancient text by al-Jahiz and translated by Miguel Asin Palacios and related to us by Borges and sent onwards on its journey by me. An accumulation of preposterous imaginings over space and time, an accretion some might say but no less alive for that and infused with vitality in the retelling.
‘…In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province’
Always to be attentive to the mundane and ordinary and to question what silence and style are denoting. It is the attentiveness, that initially is exhausting, that eventually comes to be automatic and constantly switched on.
Reading Alejandra Pizarnick (1936-1972) is like standing by the drystone wall leading towards Hardcastle Craggs from Hebden Bridge in the darkening evening, just before Crimsworth Terrace. And looking up the valley, a valley draped in mist, a subdued greyness like a gauze hanging there with the surreal shadows of the hills, just about visible. And then, looking at oneself, a dense pith of darkness, there and not there, again just barely visible. That is what her poetry is like, all mist and shadows, slippery yet sharp as a knife edge, grazing against the sky, sometimes brushing the sky and at other times kissing it.
This brings me to the recent act of terrorism enacted by the Nigerian State, when it deliberately murdered, in cold blood, its own citizens who were protesting peacefully and duly, against police brutality. As if this act was not gross enough, the purported President, demonstrated both by his delayed response and his tone-deaf speech, that he and his other accomplices, were no more than an occupying force: detached, alien in spirit, and without moral compass.
I have to say, very clearly at the outset, that I am very afraid indeed. In fact, I am terrified at the prospect of what will happen in the United States, in the aftermath of the November elections. I am even more full of fright since Donald Trump’s failure to affirm, like any other leader…
In Philip K Dick’s (1928-1982) Beyond Lies the Wub, we have a particular paradigm of lying, of deception. The Wub is described as “a huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds”. And, it was dirty and “flies buzzed about its flank”. Nonetheless, its physical appearance distracted from its intelligent ploy which was to replicate itself…