Tatamkhulu Afrika, Dirk Stermann, Johann Nestroy, Joyce Cary, Gabriel Marcel, Willa Cather, Noam Chomsky

De Zuid-Afrikaanse dichter en schrijver Tatamkhulu Afrika werd geboren op 7 december 1920 in Egypte. Zie ook alle tags voor Tatamkhulu Afrika op dit blog.

Uit: Bitter Eden

“I am lying on the only patch of improbable grass in a corner of the camp. Balding in parts, overgrown in others, generally neglected and forlorn, it is none the less grass, gentle to the touch, sweet on the tongue. The odd wild flower glows like a light left on under the alien sun.
I am not alone. Bodies, ranging from teak to white-worm, lie scattered at angles as though a bomb had flung them there. As at a signal, conversations swell to a low, communal hum hardly distinguishable from that of the darting bees, dwindle away into a silence in which I hear a plane droning somewhere high up, frustratingly free.
I am back in the narrow wadi sneaking down to the sea. I shelter under a rock’s overhang, clutching the recently shunted-off-on-to-me Hotchkiss machine gun that I still do not fully understand. Peculiarly, I am alone but I know that in the wadis paralleling mine there is a bristling like cockroaches packing a crack in a wall of thousands of others who wait for the jesus of the ships that will never come. I have stared at the grain of the rock for so long that it has become a grain on the inside of my skull.
A bomber, pregnantly not ours, lumbers over the wadi on its way to the sea, its shadow huge on the ground, its belly seeming to skim rock, scrub, sand. I dutifully pump the gun’s last exotic rounds at it, marvelling that, for once, the gun does not jam. But there is no flowering of the plane into flame, no gratifying hurtling of it into the glittering enamel of the sea, and I stare after it as it rises into higher flight and am drained as one who has milked his seed into his hand.
Later, a shell explodes near the sea, the sand and the windless air deadening it into the slow-motion of a dream, and the sun sets into the usual heedless blood-hush of the sky.
I squat down beside the now useless gun, resting my back against its stand, thinking I will not sleep, staring into the heart of darkness that is a night that may not attain to any dawn. But I am wrong. There are muted thunderings, stuttering rushes of nearer sound, an occasional screaming of men or some persisting gull, but I strangely sleep, as strangely do not dream, and am woken – not by any uproar but a silence – to a sun still far from where I have slumped down into the foetal coil. I do not need any loudhailer to tell me that the lines are breached, that the sand is as ash under my feet.
Dully, I struggle up, still tripping over trailing sleep, slop petrol over the gun and the truck of anti-gas equipment deeper in under the rock, curse all the courses at Helwan that readied frightened men for the nightmare that never was. The synthetics of the suits, gloves, boots, intolerably flare.”

Tatamkhulu Afrika (7 december 1920 – 23 december 2002)
Cover Franse uitgave


De Duits-Oostenrijkse schrijver, presentator en cabaretier Dirk Stermann werd geboren op 7 december 1965 in Duisburg. Zie ook alle tags voor Dirk Stermann op dit blog.

Uit: Der Junge bekommt das Gute zuletzt

«Mein Vater, dein Großvater. Er hat bei einem Arbeitsunfall ein Bein verloren. Also wirklich verloren. Es sollte ihm im Spital angenäht werden, man konnte es aber nicht finden. Sie hatten es in den Kofferraum geschmissen, hieß es. Aber im Kofferraum war nur eine alte, rostfleckige Decke. Und ein Wagenheber. Das Bein deines Großvaters nicht. Weinst du?»
«Komm zur Sache, Papa.»
«Deshalb schaute er sich später immer um. Er hat sein Bein gesucht. Jemand hatte es verlegt, ein Kollege. Wir wissen es nicht. Irgendwo liegt das Bein deines Großvaters. Das linke. Du kennst die Maschinen, die Pappkartons zerkleinern? Da war er hineingeraten. In Rohrbach. Bei uns in Hühnergeschrei gab es so was nicht. Das waren Schmerzen! Obwohl, der Körper sendet da Hilfe aus, irgendeine Chemie, die dich das alles aushalten lässt.»
«Meinst du mich? Willst du mich trösten, Papa?»
«Dich? Nein, glaube ich nicht. Da geht’s ja um richtigen körperlichen Schmerz. Bei dir, das ist ja nur Trauer, also, nur. Ich weiß schon, gut, du bist sehr traurig. Das Bein deines Großvaters war mein Lehrer.»
«Das hast du uns schon erzählt, Papa, mehr als ein Mal. Opa hat Akkordeon gespielt und beim Spielen deinen Oberschenkel an seinen gebunden. So hast du Rhythmus gelernt.»
«Richtig, Claude. So hab ich Rhythmus gelernt. Weißt du, wie merkwürdig das war, als im Hausflur nur mehr fünf Schuhe standen? Meine, Omas und seiner.»
Papa biss in das Mohnweckerl. An seinen Lippen klebten Mohnsamen und Eigelb.
«Um was geht’s, Papa?»
«Ich musste so lachen, als dein Großvater danach das erste Mal mit uns schwimmen war. Mit der fleischfarbenen Prothese. Das war zu komisch. Er stieg die Leiter aus dem Schwimmbad hinauf, und das Wasser schoss links und rechts aus seiner Prothese. Wie bei einem Auto, das man aus einem Fluss zieht, wo es dann aus den Fenstern und dem Motor rausläuft. Als er starb, hat deine Großmutter den Bestatter gefragt, ob es einen günstigeren Sarg für Einbeinige gäbe. Gab es aber nicht.»

Dirk Stermann (Duisburg, 7 december 1965)


De Oostenrijkse schrijver Johann Nepomuk Eduard Ambrosius Nestroy werd geboren in Wenen op 7 december 1801. Zie ook alle tags voor Johann Nestroy op dit blog.

Uit: Der Zerrissene

„STIFLER (zu Lips) Aber, Herr Bruder, sag’ doch, was ist’s mit dir? Die Gesellschaft wird immer lauter, du wirst immer stiller, alle Gesichter verklären sich, das deine verdüstert sich, endlich lassest du uns ganz in Stich –
WIXER Sein auch richtig alle ang’stochen!
Stifler (zu Lips) Es herrscht eine allgemeine Bestürzung unter den Gästen, weil sie dich nicht sehn.
LIPS Sie sollen sich trösten, früher haben s’ mich alle doppelt g’sehn, also gleicht sich das wieder aus.
Wixer Wenn s’ sehn, du kommst nicht, so verlier’n sie sich halt schön stad, die Anhänglichkeit, die wir haben, die kann man nicht prätendieren von so gewöhnliche Tischfreund’.
LIPS Freilich!
WIXER Bist du lustig, ist’s recht, bist du traurig, sind wir auch da und essen stumm in uns hinein, das heißt Ausdauer im Unglück!
STIFLER Sporner Auf uns kannst du zählen!
LIPS An euch drei hab’ ich wirklich einen Terno g’macht.
STIFLER Komm, trink noch ein Glas Champagner mit uns!
LIPS Ich hab’ keine Freud’ mehr dran. Wie ich noch zwanzig Jahr’ alt war, damals ja – aber jetzt!
STIFLER Ich finde jetzt alles am schönsten.
LIPS Ja, wenn man so jung is als wie du!
STIFLER Nu, gar so jung – ich bin wohl erst im Vierundfünfzigsten.
LIPS Ich aber schon im Achtunddreißigsten!
STIFLER Das schmeckt ja noch nach dem Flügelkleide!
LIPS Und doch schon Matthäi am letzten!
STIFLER Laß dir nichts träumen!“

Johann Nestroy (7 december 1801 – 25 mei 1862) 
Scene uit een opvoering in Salzburg, 2010


De Brits – Ierse schrijver Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary werd geboren op 7 december 1888 in Derry, Ierland. Zie ook alle tags voor Joyce Cary op dit blog.

Uit:Mr. Johnson

“Mr. Johnson is a young clerk who turns his life into a romance, he is a poet who creates for himself a glorious destiny. I have been asked if he is from life. None of my characters is from life, but all of them are derived from some intuition of a person, often somebody I do not know, a man seen in a bus, a woman on a railway platform gathering her family for the train. And I remember the letters of some unknown African clerk, which passed through my hands for censorship during the war, and which were full of the most wonderful yarns for his people on the coast. He was always in danger from the Germans (who were at that moment two hundred miles away); he was pursued by wild elephants (who were even further away from our station); he subdued raging mobs of ‘this savage people’ with a word. In his letters he was a hero on the frontier; actually he was a junior clerk in one of the most peaceful and sleepy stations to be found in the whole country. That was one recollection. Another was of a clerk sent to me in a station in remote Borgu who once spent all night copying a report, which he had done so badly in the first place that it could not go with the mail. I had not asked him to do the work again, for I saw that it was beyond him. I meant to do my own corrections. But at six o’clock in the morning, as I sat down to the letters, he appeared suddenly and uncalled (much to the indignation of the sleepy orderly at the door) and offered me the sheaf of papers, written in[Pg 6] his school copperplate (we did not own a typewriter) which looked so reassuringly firm, and was so delusive. I saw at once that this second copy was worse even than the first. A whole line was missing on the first page; whole paragraphs were repeated.
This clerk had been a disappointment; he was stupid, and he could not be trusted with the files. He seemed also, a rare thing in an African, unapproachable. He did not always respond even to good morning. His shyness had a sullen grieved air. What he now suddenly and unexpectedly disclosed was not only a power of devotion but the imaginative enterprise to show it.”

Joyce Cary (7 december 1888 – 29 maart 1957)


De Franse filosoof en toneelauteur Gabriel Marcel werd geboren op 7 december 1889 in Parijs. Zie ook alle tags voor Gabriel Marcel op dit blog.

Uit:The mystery of being

“The metaphor is open to objections of two sorts.
It might be said in the first place that a road implies space; and that the notion of space is something from which a meta physical investigation, as such, must abstract. One must make the simple answer that if my metaphor must be rejected on this count, so must every kind of discursive thinking; for it is all too evident that the notion of discursiveness implies, and rests on, a simple physical image like that of walking along a road. Moreover, we shall later on have occasion to recognize the existence and philosophical rights of a sort of spatiality which might be called the spatiality of inner experience ; and it may be that this spatiality of inner experience is coextensive with the whole spiritual life.
But the objection may be put in another way, which has a dangerous look of being much more genuinely awkward. To lay down a road in a place where at first there were only tracks, is that not equivalent to fixing in advance a certain destination at which one intends to arrive, and must not that destination, itself, be very exactly located? The underlying image would be that of a grotto, a mine, or a sanctuary whose whereabouts one knew in advance. It would be a matter of showing the way there to those who for one reason or another wanted to have a look at the place, no doubt in order to profit from its riches. But does not this presuppose that the result we are working for has already been achieved, even before we start working for it : does it not presuppose a preliminary or original discovery of the grotto or the sanctuary? Well, looking at the matter in my own way, I must ask whether, in the realm of philosophy, we can really talk about results? Is not all such talk based on a misunderstanding; of the specific character of a philosophical investigation, as such? The question raised here at least obliges us to come to much closer grips vith the very notion of a result.”

Gabriel Marcel (7 december 1889 – 8 oktober 1973)


De Amerikaanse schrijfster Willa Cather werd geboren op 7 december 1873 in de buurt van Winchester, Virginia. Zie ook alle tags voor Willa Cather op dit blog en ook mijn blog van 7 december 2010.

Uit: The Professor’s House

“The moving was over and done. Professor St. Peter was alone in the dismantled house where he had lived ever since his marriage, where he had worked out his career and brought up his two daughters. It was almost as ugly as it is possible for a house to be; square, three stories in height, painted the colour of ashes–the front porch just too narrow for comfort, with a slanting floor and sagging steps. As he walked slowly about the empty, echoing rooms on that bright September morning, the Professor regarded thoughtfully the needless inconveniences he had put up with for so long; the stairs that were too steep, the halls that were too cramped, the awkward oak mantles with thick round posts crowned by bumptious wooden balls, over green-tiled fire-places.
Certain wobbly stair treads, certain creaky boards in the upstairs hall, had made him wince many times a day for twenty-odd years–and they still creaked and wobbled. He had a deft hand with tools, he could easily have fixed them, but there were always so many things to fix, and there was not time enough to go round. He went into the kitchen, where he had carpentered under a succession of cooks, went up to the bath-room on the second floor, where there was only a painted tin tub; the taps were so old that no plumber could ever screw them tight enough to stop the drip, the window could only be coaxed up and down by wriggling, and the doors of the linen closet didn’t fit. He had sympathized with his daughters’ dissatisfaction, though he could never quite agree with them that the bath should be the most attractive room in the house. He had spent the happiest years of his youth in a house at Versailles where it distinctly was not, and he had known many charming people who had no bath at all. However, as his wife said: “If your country has contributed one thing, at least, to civilization, why not have it?” Many a night, after blowing out his study lamp, he had leaped into that tub, clad in his pyjamas, to give it another coat of some one of the many paints that were advertised to behave like porcelain, and didn’t.”

Willa Cather (7 december 1873 – 24 april 1947)


De Amerikaanse taalkundige, mediacriticus en anarchistisch denker Noam Chomsky werd geboren in Philadelphia op 7 december 1928. Zie ook alle tags voor Noam Chomsky op dit blog en ook mijn blog van 7 december 2010.

Uit: De vernietiging van de ‘commons’

“In zijn jaarlijkse toespraak tot de leden van het Amerikaanse Congres (State of the Union) prees President Obama de goede vooruitzichten op een eeuw van energie-zelfredzaamheid, dankzij nieuwe technieken die het mogelijk maken om koolwaterstoffen te onttrekken aan Canadees teerzand, schalie, en andere voorheen ontoegankelijke bronnen. Hij staat niet alleen. The Financial Times voorspelt een eeuw van energie-onafhankelijkheid voor de VS. Het verslag maakt melding van de destructieve lokale gevolgen van de nieuwe methoden. In deze optimistische voorspellingen komt niet ter sprake wat voor wereld deze roofzuchtige verwoestingen zal achterlaten.
Vooraan in de strijd om deze crisis een halt toe te roepen staan over de hele wereld de inheemse bevolkingen, zij die altijd het Handvest van het Woud hebben gehandhaafd. De sterkste positie wordt ingenomen door het enige land dat zij besturen, Bolivia, het armste land van Zuid-Amerika en al eeuwen het slachtoffer van westerse plundering van de overvloedige grondstoffen, in pre-Columbiaanse tijden ooit een van de meest vooruitstrevende van de ontwikkelde samenlevingen van de hemisfeer.
Na de schandelijke mislukking van de wereld-klimaatveranderingstop in Kopenhagen in 2009, organiseerde Bolivia een Top van de Volkeren met 35.000 deelnemers uit 140 landen – niet alleen maar vertegenwoordigers van regeringen, maar ook het maatschappelijk middenveld en activisten. Zij produceerden een Verdrag van de Volkeren, waarin werd opgeroepen tot zeer scherpe vermindering van uitstoot, en een Universele Verklaring van de Rechten van Moeder Aarde. Dat is de belangrijkste eis van de inheemse gemeenschappen in de hele wereld. Het wordt belachelijk gemaakt door ontwikkelde westerlingen, maar tot we in staat zijn om enkele van hun zorgen over te nemen, is het aannemelijk dat zij het laatst zullen lachen – een lach van grimmige wanhoop.”

Noam Chomsky (Philadelphia, 7 december 1928)


Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 7e december ook mijn blog van 7 december 2014 deel 2.