Friday, November 18, 2005

sliding and crunching

Line of sea against sky. It runs all the way from landfall to landfall, in this case from the loading-bay cordoned by identikit mountains of salt all the way round (twisting my head) to the snobby bar on the nose of Punta Prima, known from its three tall palms. In between there´s not much going on. Due south the sea is glittering - pyramid on its head, a revolution. Nearer to the harbour end (but several miles out at sea) is a large salt-ship that is waiting its turn while the one in port is filled up. Closer to us there is a bloom of identical small sails that have arrived and await instruction before dispersing. And oh there's a speedboat ploughing through, and a screech of parakeets. Beyond Punta Prima you can make out (if you know they're there) the shapes of distant mountains. Rather indistinctly, in the quarter where you never happen to be looking, loiters a fishing boat with a shack of a cabin.

This is the quarter where (reading it made a great impression on me) a skilled Apache - or was it a Zulu? - could creep up on you without any cover, yet you'd never notice.

We need to find some answers. We need to rise above all that.

Most of it is easy enough to sketch. The line isn't really a line but a discontinuity. Sometimes you have to shade down from the sky, and sometimes up from the sea. But the sketch would be fifteen or twenty pages wide! - Like when you take a snapshot of a resplendent moon that seems to fill the landscape, but when you look at the photo the moon is lost in it, just an insignificant blob and you're lucky if it's even round.

I am neither in England nor Spain, a government walks in mist and so do I - sometimes I meet one of their dogs who is sprinkling a post. I feel incapable of weighing the gravity of any event and in my heart is a sediment of optimism that is enlivened by crises of a season; like so much charcoal and glitter, or the autumn schedules.

Unless you admit to me what you did and what I saw

During the Paris siege of 1870-71, the populace were compelled to eat strange foods, most famously rats. But mainly it was the rich who ate salmi de rat. The meat (said to resemble fowl) was not palatable without a good sauce, and salt was like diamonds in Paris. Parisians were detached from the rest of the world for four months, and though frozen balloonists drifted letters out 2000m over the Prussian lines, none could return since the balloons could not be steered.

Mr Lev, I'd like a word with you my friend

The fishermen line the rocks impassively, the long rods becalmed; nothing happening; as on the Seine that May while Thiers' troops shelled their way into the western suburbs of Paris. It was a few miles north of here, in 1939, that the Spanish Civil War ended. Franco's insurgents had rolled up and through and around until all that remained of government Spain was a terrified hubbub crowding down to the port at Alicante. But the only ship was hostile, and fired over their heads, demanding their withdrawal. Some preferred to shoot themselves at quayside rather than be taken and shot elsewhere.


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