Saturday, November 27, 2004

from Italo Calvino

At the bar there were fishermen, customs agents, day laborers. Over all their voices rang out the voice of one elderly man in the uniform of a prison guard, who was boasting drunkenly through the sea of chatter. "And every Wednesday the perfumed young lady slips me a hundred-crown note to leave her alone with the convict. And by Thursday the hundred crowns are already gone in so much beer. And when the visiting hour is over, the young lady comes out with the stink of jail in her elegant clothes; and the prisoner goes back to his cell with the lady's perfume in his jailbird's suit. And I'm left with the smell of beer. Life is nothing but trading smells."

"Life and also death you might say," interjected another drunk, whose profession, as I learned at once, was a gravedigger. "With the smell of beer I try to get the smell of death off me. And only the smell of death will get the smell of beer off you, like all the drinkers whose grave I have to dig."

I took this dialogue as a warning to be on guard: the world is falling apart and tries to lure me into its disintegration.


Blogger negronius said...

The trading of smells is a wonderful thing. It is life disintegrating. But isn't that the purpose of life anyway: the turning of experience, the essence of scent?

10:11 PM  

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