Friday, July 23, 2021

Doors ... and the Great Wall of China

Door is an insidious thing… I have thought about it time and again.

It is only for the possible – or what is more, the positive – existence of a door that one keeps on looking around a walled area… If there were no doors, walls could utterly maintain and stand by the significance of the impasse, to wit the constraint, evermore. Still, if so, every wall could be a decisively negative certitude and knew well what to do confronting everyone…

If there were no doors, each wall could, without a hitch, resound with the inscription suspended by Dante at the entrance to hell; but, regrettably, one has to confess that doors have deprived them of so impeccable and sheer a sense.
More than that, a door is a full-blooded parasite.

Its personality is totally subject to that of wall; still one should suspect this point, in that though only walls can justify the existence of doors, they cannot sustain the finality and their arrant emphaticness I referred to before, in the presence of doors. But, there would not be after all anything more useless and ludicrous than a door if there were no walls. However I do not know a thing about painting, I can easily paint such a door:

What is more ludicrous than a door that – separate and independent from a wall – tries to have a personality?

Yet, a door that is not constructed in any wall has the astounding potentiality of provoking thought…

I have given my mind to such a door; and sometimes it has made my mind think about borders and passageways of borders, with no change in its form necessarily.

Actually, a free-standing door that can be nothing, is a good passageway for thinking, through which one can find way to many realms.
The necessity of walls is felt soon by observing a door. I ask if we sense accordingly the necessity of doors by observing a wall.

I do not suppose so. It may be so, but not that much to me, at least. I find walls more logical than doors, and believe that doors are vacuous hopes: they repudiate the character of walls when opened, and their ((own's)) when closed.

A wall is simply not more than an obstruction if there is no door in it; but nothing betrays its own entity as a door that bears a heavy lock… Maybe that is the reason why we cherish Roman and Greek castles more than old fortresses, and maybe that is the reason why we feel relieved and restful by recalling those sumptuous and colonnaded castles; and feel dubious and anxious by remembering those stealthy citadels; maybe... I do not know...

One more point: the uncertainty that makes us to construct walls…

The lofty walls before which we feel a dire need for doors…

And the doors which should be secure and specifically invulnerable, and have heavy locks...

As though life would be impossible but among walls and doors, but among this hurly-burly, this ambivalence, this opening, closing, and reopening:

Building a wall,
Constructing a door in it,
Closing the door!

Is it not a laughingstock? Why, yes. On the whole, it is hilarious.
The Great Wall of China has been a matter of discussion at times – and each time with a different outlook. It is said that the Great Wall of China was founded to fortify the country against the invading northern tribes.

It was an interesting point, having had one third of a Chinese generation victimized; let us say, a whole generation… because the graveness of such a matter is not weighed through the number of its victims.

The truth is that what immolated an innumerable group of people was not the main surmise of the theory i.e. the possible invasion.

It cannot be said that only the general principles of this theory are modified here; the blind spot of the theory is that the constructors of the wall (not indeed their commanders) did not construct a door in that wall! As a result, the main catastrophe they wanted to ward off beforehand by wall-constructing, changed readily and came forth more unsparingly in the same form and structure they had walled! Ah! And this is, I think, the destiny of all those who overlook the importance of doors. The northern did not invade but the southern did not find any door to escape through.

I would like to confess that I was ungrateful to doors in the beginning of this discourse.
In the history we human beings make, nothing is more remedial to us than a door to escape through.

Doors are essential; even a door constructed in no wall…

In this world – of no validity – we live in, doors are more requisite than everything else, even the Great Wall of China…

Ahmad Shamlou (12 December 1925 – 23 July 2000)
Tr. by Mohammad

Beers & Books – Elio Vittorini


Elio Vittorini (23 Juli 1908 - 12 Februar 1966)

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Beers & Books CVI – George Sand

"Simplicity is the essence
of the great, the true, the beautiful in art."

George Sand (1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Beers & Books CV – Assija Djebar

Les Nuits de Strasbourg, 1997
"My father was a nobleman
when he spoke his mother tongue,
and a worker from the lowest class
when he went over into French."

“Writing in a foreign language
has brought me to the cries of the women
silently rebelling in my youth,
to my own true origins.”

Assija Djebar (30 June 1936 – 6 February 2015)

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Beers & Books CII – Ernesto Sabato

Just as the office worker dreams
of murdering his hated boss
and so is saved from really murdering him,
so it is with the author;
with his great dreams
he helps his readers to survive,
to avoid their worst intentions.
And society, without realizing it
respects and even exalts him,
albeit with a kind of jealousy,
fear and even repulsion,
since few people want to discover the horrors
that lurk in the depths of their souls.
This is the highest mission of great literature,
and there is no other.

Ernesto Sabato (* 24 Juni 1911 - 30 April 2011)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Beers & Books XCVII– Zülfü Livaneli

At dusk a man came to a village and said
he was a prophet. But the farmers did not
believe him. "Prove it!" they demanded.
The man pointed to the fortress wall opposite
and asked, "If this wall speaks and confirms
that I am a prophet, will you believe me?"
"By God, then we believe you," they shouted.
The man turned to the wall, stretched out his hand
and commanded, "Speak, O wall!"
Then the wall began to speak:
"This man is not a prophet. He is deceiving you.
He is not a prophet."*

Zülfü Livaneli * 20 June 1946

Just for interest translated with (free version). Does any native speaker find any mistake(s)?

Friday, June 18, 2021

Beers & Books XCVI – Varlam Shalamov

“I discovered
that the world should be divided
not into good and bad people
but into cowards and non-cowards.
Ninety-five percent of cowards are capable
of the vilest things, lethal things,
at the mildest threat.”

Varlam Shalamov (18 June 1907 – 17 January 1982)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Beers & Books XCIV – Liao Yiwu

Where did you get the meat from?
Mo Erwa answered calmly:
We just boiled our three-year-old daughter.
The Corpse Walker:
Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up

Liao Yiwu * 16 June 1958

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Beers & Books XCII – Fernando Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet
"Literature exists because the world isn't enough."

Fernando Pessoa (13. Juni 1888 – 30. November 1935)

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Beers & Books XCI – Djuna Barnes

Only the impossible lasts forever.

Djuna Barnes (June 12, 1892 – June 18, 1982)

Monday, June 07, 2021

Beers & Books XC – Orhan Pamuk

Without patience and the skill of a craftsman,
even the greatest talent is wasted.

Orhan Pamuk *7 June 1952

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Hiatus interruptus

Herewith it is anounced that I have not moved to my probably last dwelling six feet under, yet.
I felt but the wish to prove myself I could do without internet for at least four weeks, and still happily survive.
"Surprise": It's possible.
Good to know.
Tomorrow, or one of the following days, I shall answer the comments I received since end of April.
And I am looking forward to "visit my friends".
The peace of the night.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Saturday Night Music – Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich *5 June 1941

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791)

Beers & Books LXXXIX – Federico García Lorca

The day we stop resisting our instincts,
we'll have learned how to live.

Federico García Lorca
(5 June 1898 – 19 August 1936)

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Beers & Books LXXXVI – Zoran Feric

Death of the Little Match Girl

Zoran Ferić * 2 June 1961

Beers & Books LXXXV –Thomas Hardy

Time changes everything
except something within us
which is always surprised by change.

Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

At The Mid Hour Of Night

At the mid hour of night, when stars are weeping, I fly
To the lone valley we loved, when life shone warm in thine eye;
And I think oft, if spirits can steal from the regions of air
To revisit past scenes of delight, thou wilt come to me there
And tell me our love is remember'd even in the sky!
Then I sing the wild song it was once rapture to hear
When our voices, commingly, breathed like one on the ear;
And as Echo far off through the vale my sad orison rolls, I think,
O my Love! 'tis thy voice, from the Kingdom of Souls
Faintly answering still the notes that once were so dear.

Thomas Moore (28 May 1779 – 25 February 1852)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Beers & Books LXXXIV – Louis Ferdinand Céline

Journey to the End of the Night
"The poetry of heroism
appeals irresistibly to those
who don't go to a war,
and even more to those
whom the war is making
enormously wealthy.
It's always so."

Louis Ferdinand Céline (27 May 1894 – 1 July 1961)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Beers & Books LXXXIII – Raymond Carver

Woke up this morning with a terrific urge
to lie in bed all day and read.

Raymond Carver (25 May 1938 – 2 August 1988)

Monday, May 24, 2021

Beers & Books LXXXII – William Trevor

I read hungrily and delightedly,
and have realized since
that you can’t write unless you read.

William Trevor (24 May 1928 – 20 November 2016)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Beers & Books LXXXI – Wolfgang Borchert

I've got a deep dark suspicion
that pretty soon we should start looking around
for another planet for ourselves.

Wolfgang Borchert (20 May 1921 – 20 November 1947)

Beers & Books LXXX – Honoré de Balzac

Equality may perhaps be a right,
but no power on earth
can ever turn it into a fact.

Honoré de Balzac (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Beers & Books LXXIX – Mikhail Bulgakov

"In order to be in control,
you have to have a definite plan
for at least a reasonable period of time.
So how, may I ask, can man be in control
if he can't even draw up a plan
for a ridiculously short period of time,
say, a thousand years, and is, moreover,
unable to ensure his own safety
for even the next day?"

Mikhail Bulgakov (15 May 1891 – 10 März 1940)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Beers & Books LXXVIII – Joris Karl Huysmans

A rebours.
“There's no doubt about it -
gardeners are the only true artists
these days.”*

Joris Karl Huysmans (5 February 1848 – 12 May 1907)

* Alright, two more:

"Art and prayer are the only decent ejaculations of the soul."

"Only the chaste are truly obscene."

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Beers & Books LXXVII – Camilo José Cela

The Hive
My head is full of them, one after the other,
but they serve no purpose there.
They must be put down on paper,
one after the other.

Camilo José Cela (11 May 1916 – 17 January 2002)

Monday, May 10, 2021

New Quests on Route 66

And good luck
for your quests
on Route 66


Sunday, May 09, 2021

Beers & Books LXXVI – José Ortega y Gasset

The Revolt of the Masses

"Better beware of
notions like genius and inspiration;
they are a sort of magic wand
and should be used sparingly by anybody
who wants to see things clearly."

José Ortega y Gasset (9 May 1883 – 18 October 1955)

Saturday Night Music – Adriana Varela

Adriana Varela * 9 May 1952

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Beers & Books LXXVIII – Ian Rankin

"I don't have many friends.
It's not because I'm a misanthrope.
It's because I'm reserved. I'm self-contained.
I get all my adventures in my head
when I'm writing my books."

Ian Rankin *28 April 1960

Beers & Books LXXVII – Roberto Bolaño

Literature is a vast forest
and the masterpieces are the lakes,
the towering trees or strange trees,
the lovely eloquent flowers, the hidden caves,
but a forest is also made up of ordinary trees,
patches of grass, puddles,
clinging vines, mushrooms and little wildflowers.

Roberto Bolaño (28 April 1953 – 15 July 2003)

Beers & Books LXXVI – Terry Pratchett

without over-egging it, as I often do,
the library and journalism,
those things made me who I am.

Terry Pratchett (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021


Milva (17 July 1939 – 23 April 2021)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Beers & Books LXXV – Anthony Trollope

Three hours a day
will produce as much as a man ought to write.

Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 Dezember 1882)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Beers & Books LXXIV – Halldór Laxness

Love of, and respect for, the humble routine
of everyday life and its creatures
was the only moral commandment
which carried conviction when I was a child.

Halldór Laxness (23. April 1902 in Reykjavík – 8. Februar 1998)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Beers & Books LXXIII– María Zambrano

“La palabra es libertad.”

The Intellectuals
in Spain's Drama

(written 1936/37)

 María Zambrano 22 April 1904 – 6 February 1991)

Beers & Books LXXII – Henry Fielding

"The prudence of the best heads
is often defeated
by the tenderness of the best hearts."

Henry Fielding (22 April 1707 – 8 October 1754)

Monday, April 19, 2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Beers & Books LXXI – Gabriel García Márquez

In journalism just one fact
that is false prejudices the entire work.
In contrast,
in fiction one single fact that is true
gives legitimacy to the entire work
That's the only difference,
and it lies in the commitment of the writer.
A novelist can do anything he wants
so long as he makes people believe in it.

Gabriel García Márquez (6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014)