Eugène Ionesco, Marilynne Robinson, Luisa Valenzuela, Louis Verbeeck, William Cowper
Uit: Victims of Duty
“MADELEINE: Well, my dear, you know, the law is necessary,and what’s necessary and indispensable is good, and everything ’s that good is nice. And it really is very nice indeed to be a good, law-abiding citizen and do one ’s duty and have a clear conscience!...
CHOUBERT: Yes, Madeleine. When one really thinks about it,you’re right. There is something to be said for the law.
MADELEINE: Of course there is.
CHOUBERT: Yes, yes. Renunciation has one important advantage: it’s political and mystical at the same time. It bears fruit on two levels.
MADELEINE: So you can kill two birds with one stone.
CHOUBERT: That’s what ’s so interesting about it.
MADELEINE: You see!
CHOUBERT: Besides, if I remember rightly from my historylessons, this system of government, the ‘detachment system’,has already been tried before, three centuries ago, and five centuries ago, nineteen centuries ago, too, and again last year...
MADELEINE: Nothing new under the sun!
CHOUBERT:...successfully too, on whole populations, in capital cities and in the countryside, [He gets up.] on nations, on nations like ours!
MADELEINE: Sit down.
CHOUBERT sits down again.
CHOUBERT: [sitting] Only, it’s true, it does demand the sacrifice of some of our creature comforts. It’s still rather a nuisance.
MADELEINE: Oh, not necessarily! ...Sacrifice isn’t always so difficult. There’s sacrifice and sacrifice. Even if it is a bit of a nuisance right at the start, getting rid of some of our habits, once we’re rid of them, were rid of them, and you never really give them another thought!”
Eugène Ionesco (26 november 1912 – 28 maart 1994)
David Sinaiko (Choubert) en Felicia Benefield (Madeleine) in een uitvoering in San Francisco, 2008
“One spring my grandfather quit his subterraneous house, walked to the railroad, and took a train west. He told the ticket agent that he wanted to go to the mountains, and the man arranged to have him put off here, which may not have been a malign joke, or a joke at all, since there are mountains, uncountable mountains, and where there are not mountains there are hills. The terrain on which the town itself is built is relatively level, having once belonged to the lake. It seems there was a time when the dimensions of things modified themselves, leaving a number of puzzling margins, as between the mountains as they must have been and the mountains as they are now, or between the lake as it once was and the lake as it is now. Sometimes in the spring the old lake will return. One will open a cellar door to wading boots floating tallowy soles up and planks and buckets bumping at the threshold, the stairway gone from sight after the second step. The earth will brim, the soil will become mud and then silty water, and the grass will stand in chill water to its tips. Our house was at the edge of town on a little hill, so we rarely had more than a black pool in our cellar, with a few skeletal insects skidding around on it. A narrow pond would form in the orchard, water clear as air covering grass and black leaves and fallen branches, all around it black leaves and drenched grass and fallen branches, and on it, slight as an image in an eye, sky, clouds, trees, our hovering faces and our cold hands.
My grandfather had a job with the railroad by the time he reached his stop. It seems he was befriended by a conductor of more than ordinary influence. The job was not an especially good one. He was a watchman, or perhaps a signalman. At any rate, he went to work at nightfall and walked around until dawn, carrying a lamp.“
Marilynne Robinson (Sandpoint, 26 november 1943)
Uit:The Censors (Vertaald door Frank Thomas Smith)
„Little by little there were days when his work so absorbed him that the noble mission that brought him to the Bureau became momentarily blurred. Days of crossing out long paragraphs with red ink, of tossing many letters into the Condemned Basket. Days of horror at the subtle and scheming ways people found to transmit subversive messages. Days of intuition so sharp that behind a simple "the weather is unsettled" or "prices are sky high", he detected the vacillating hand of someone whose secret intention was to overthrow the Government.
So much zeal brought him rapid promotion. We don't know if it made him very happy. In Section B the amount of letters which reached him daily was minimal--very few cleared the previous hurdles--but as compensation he had to read them often, put them under the magnifying glass, look for microdots with the electronic microscope and so tune his sense of smell that upon returning home at night he was exhausted. He barely managed to heat up some soup, eat some fruit and fall asleep with the satisfaction of having complied with his duty. Only his Sainted Mother worried about him, and tried without success to guide him back onto the right path. She'd say, although it wasn't necessarily true: Lola called, says she's with the girls in the café, that they miss you, are expecting you. But Juan didn't want to have anything to do with nonessentials: any distractions could cause him to lose the astuteness of his senses and he needed them alert, sharp, attentive, tuned, in order to be the perfect censor and detect deceit. His was a true patriotic labor. Self-denying and sublime."
Luisa Valenzuela (Buenos Aires, 26 november 1938)
Mijn hart geraakt nooit uitgeschreven,
omdat ik duizend dingen ken,
die ik nog gaarne zou beleven,
eer ik een passé simple ben.
Ik wou nog een keer ongeschoren
doorheen de stad gaan met mijn hond,
vier boterbloemen rond mijn oren
en met een klaproos in mijn mond.
Des avonds met verliefde reutels
zong ik voor jou een liefdeslied
met zestien kruisen aan de sleutels
gelijk je dat maar zelden ziet.
Ik zing van oorlog en van vrede,
van liefde, tjeka en van dood,
misschien van Frederik van Eeden
en desnoods van Piet Hein zijn vloot.
Ik weet: jij zult me niet begrijpen.
Dat is normaal voor mensen die
de katten in het donker knijpen.
Ik knijp alleen maar wat ik zie.
Ik zou nog één keer willen vissen
naar een gestreepte zeemeermin.
Er is zoveel dat ik moet missen
en ’t water staat al aan mijn kin.
Louis Verbeeck (Tessenderlo, 26 november 1932)
Afflictions Sanctified by the Word
Oh how I love Thy holy Word,
Thy gracious covenant, O Lord!
It guides me in the peaceful way;
I think upon it all the day.
What are the mines of shining wealth,
The strength of youth, the bloom of health!
What are all joys compared with those
Thine everlasting Word bestows!
Long unafflicted, undismay'd,
In pleasure's path secure I stray'd;
Thou mad'st me feel thy chast'ning rod,
And straight I turned unto my God.
What though it pierced my fainting heart,
I bless'd Thine hand that caused the smart:
It taught my tears awhile to flow,
But saved me from eternal woe.
Oh! hadst Thou left me unchastised,
Thy precepts I had still despised;
And still the snare in secret laid
Had my unwary feet betray'd.
I love Thee, therefore, O my God,
And breathe towards Thy dear abode;
Where, in Thy presence fully blest,
Thy chosen saints for ever rest.
William Cowper (26 november 1731 – 25 april 1800)
Portret door William Blake (1790–1810)
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 26e november ook mijn blog van 26 november 2011.