A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

The Elephant's Journey & My Black Raleigh
Wednesday, August 21, 2013




During our daily, evening neighborhood walk I told Rosemary I might buy a bicycle to see if it would improve the waning flexibility of my knees. She asked me when the last time I had cycled was, and in truth I could not remember. I added that cycling was something that you only had to learn once and that I would instantly adjust.

This maxim about cycling does not apply to other things I have learned. If I happen to attempt to print a photograph in someone else’s darkroom I will fumble in the dark as nothing will be were it is supposed to be.

A few weeks ago when I was snapping pictures of Yuliya the Dominatrix in my Malibu with two Nikons and one Pentax. I was having trouble navigating what is supposed to be easy which is the removal of the lens from the body. With the Nikon you remove it in one direction with the Pentax in the other. In the distant past I used Pentaxes and then I retired them for the Nikons. Now with the advent of my newly purchased Fuji X-E1 it would seem that I counter digital ignorance and confusion with an attempt to reconcile all the machines of my past.

But there is one chore that I learned once. It was hard the first time. This is the reading of any novel by José Saramago either in English or in my preferred translation from the Portuguese to the Spanish.

The first novel of Saramago’s that I ever read was The History of the Siege of Lisbon. The first chapter consists of a six-page paragraph with minimal punctuation and is a conversation between two men.



After reading that, the next chapter was like finally knowing how to ride a bicycle. It was effortless. That novel was the last novel of Saramago’s that I  read in English. Now that I do not buy books and depend on the excellent Vancouver Public Library I tackled The Elephant’s Journey in English. Within a couple of sentences I was zooming down in my black Raleigh of old with an exhilaration that felt brand new. Reading Saramago is unlike anything or anybody else. Here is a sample that I marveled at:

The dawn was a foggy one, but despite a mist almost as thick as soup made solely of boiled potatoes, no one had got lost, everyone had found their way to the church just as the guests to whom the villagers had given shelter had found their way back to the encampment earlier. The whole village was there, from the tiniest babe-in-arms to the oldest man still capable of walking, thanks to the aid of a stick that functioned as his third leg. Fortunately he didn’t have as many legs as a centipede, for centipedes when they get old, require an enormous number of sticks, a fact that tips the scales in favour of the human species, who need only one, except the very gravest of cases, when the aforementioned sticks change their name and become crutches. Of these, thanks to the divine providence that watches over us all, there were none in the village.
The Elephant's Journey
José Saramago
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

Tonight I finished The Elephant’s Journey. I felt that closing the book was like sadly putting away that black Raleigh of my youth. Perhaps a new bicycle might in some way temper the loss of knowing that I have read the last Saramago novel and that he is not alive to write another. 

José Saramago



     

Previous Posts
A Timex, A Fake Rolex, Viveca Lindfors & Rachel Ca...

Handel, Haydn, Ginsburg - I Wept In The Vortex

Over Fifty At Eight Hundred & Thirty Two Hundred

Jennifer Landels - Espadachina

Jeff Gin At Leo's & My Fuji X-E1 Digital Camera

Variation On The Same

Judy Graves

Das Rheingold - Wagner - Two Sopranos & Cousin Joh...

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

Romance



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9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17