четверг, ноября 30, 2006

Postcards (III)

In the end, I forgot to publish the last part of the "Postcards" series (of which you can read parts I and II here and here), which I suppose nobody but a very important person had the opportunity to read. I think that, at the time when I wrote this, I still wanted to continue this very erudite text, but my good GRE results quenched the need to further study elaborate, one might even say exquisite, words such as "tyro" and "nostrum." So, here it is, the last paragraph of that text, at which we find out what happened at last once our hero has shaven his face.

And now, I'll just sit and wait for a call from the Swedish Academy.

At the end of the shaving ritual, it looked as if an artist had just limned the outsider's face: he had no more qualms about his now clear-cut features and his appearance in general. Nevertheless, his state of mind did not jibe with his external appearance. His inner tyro apprised him of the growing anxiety within his soul. The stranger realized the shaving of his face had been nothing more than an extemporaneous nostrum, losing its effect as quickly as it stirred his fallow self-respect.

суббота, ноября 25, 2006

A Nice Quote, or The Melancholy of Air Travel

Since last year at least, Lufthansa has been running some ads in the United States under the slogan "All for this one moment." I first saw then on the Metro-North trains, then on the subway in NY. Some of them are nice, one of them not so much: it shows a man from such a bad point of view that his nostrils, frankly, take up almost two-thirds of the ad. OK, maybe not two-thirds, but more room than a nostril should take up in an ad (unless you are advertising some sort of nostril-cleaning product).

I found a photo of this ad online, so here it goes:

It is a reasonably good campaign, in spite of the big nostrils in the image above. One of the pieces, and the one whose character I could not help identifying with, shows a kid looking out the window of an airport, and in the reflection on the window we see a Lufthansa airplane. The captions in this ad read

"Hundreds of destinations, none of them more welcoming than home."

I apologize for not being able to reproduce this ad, unfortunately I could not find it online. Anyway, a witty vandal in the Boston subway decided to cover some of the letters in this ad, and so the meaning of the ad was considerably changed. I could not help identifying with this new "ad," and I should say I really admire the anonymous writer who created such a fine example of urban poetry:

"Hundreds of nations, none welcoming me."

пятница, ноября 10, 2006

A Village

(Inspired by Matsuo Batsho's "[A village without bells – ]")

The first thing I realized when I arrived at the village was that there were no bells. The sun was setting, shedding its last rays on earth and sky. The upper and farther clouds shone with a red and orange glow. Yet, the clouds above the small village were dark. Some stars were appearing shyly above the horizon. Apart from the stars and the clouds, the sky was empty. No bird was seen flying to its warm nest. The air was still. And so was the village.

I walked through the main street, which wound up and down a smooth hill. A few houses were scattered along the sides of the street. On the summit of the hill, a small square was perched in the middle of the path. There were a few empty benches and an old oak, its long branches spreading from its thick trunk. The leaves shed a greenish shade upon the grass.

Night was falling, and it was about time the bells would ring announcing the overcoming darkness. However, I heard nothing. I looked around, gazing at the small village scattered on the green hill. I did not see anybody. I asked myself in a low tone of voice, "How do they live?"

Somebody answered: "We do not live."

As I stared openmouthedly around me, the secret inhabitants of this strange village began to surge from their abandoned houses. They moved in my direction, shouting from the top of their terrible voices. I ran away, as fast as the wind that blows away the flowers in Spring. Then, I was alone.