Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A display of self-destructive fury

A taste of Bruno Schulz for those not reading The Street of Crocodiles for the Slaves of Golconda discussion on Jan. 31:

"And then we forgot the gale. Adela started pounding cinnamon in a mortar.
Aunt Perasia had come to call. Small, vivacious and very active, with the lace
of her black shawl on her head, she began to bustle about the kitchen, helping
Adela, who by then had plucked a cockerel. Aunt Perasia put a handful of paper
in the grate and lit it. Adela grasped the cockerel by its neck, and held it
over the flames to scorch off the remaining feathers. The bird suddenly spread
its wings in the fire, crowed once and was burned. At that Aunt Perasia began to
shout and curse. Trembling with anger, she shook her fists at Adela and at
Mother. I could not understand what it was all about, but she persisted in her
anger and became one small bundle of gestures and imprecations. It seemed that
in her paroxysm of fury she might disintegrate into separate gestures, that she
would divide into a hundred spiders, would spread out over the floor in a black,
shimmering net of crazy running cockroaches. Instead, she began suddenly to
shrink and dwindle, still shaking and spitting curses. And then she trotted off,
hunched and small, into a corner of the kitchen where we stacked the firewood
and, cursing and coughing, began feverishly to rummage among the sonorous wood
until she found two thin, yellow splinters. She grabbed them with trembling
hands, measured them against her legs, then raised herself on them as if they
were stilts and began to walk about, clattering on the floor, jumping here and
there across the slanting lines of the floorboards, quicker and quicker, until
she finished up on a pine bench, whence she climbed on the shelf with the
crockery, a tinkling wooden shelf running the whole length of the kitchen wall.
She ran along it on her stilts and shrank away into a corner. She became smaller
and smaller, black and folded like a wilted, charred sheet of paper, oxidized
into a petal of ash, disintegrating into dust and nothingness.

"We all stood helples sin the face of this display of self-destructive fury.
With regret we observed the sad course of the paroxysm and with some relief
returned to our occupations when the lamentable process had spent itself.

"Adela clanked the mortar again, pounding cinnamon; Mother returned to her
interrruped conversation; and Theodore, listening to the prophecies in the
attic, made comical faces, lifting his eyebrows and softly chuckling to
himself."

4 comments:

Stefanie said...

I think the Gale chapter has been my favorite one so far. Two more to go yet, so maybe one of them will be even better.

Kate S. said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying The Street of Crocodiles and very much looking forward to the discussion of it. I'm so glad that you chose this one for us!

SFP said...

I'm glad everyone seems to be enjoying it. I think there's going to be lots of discussion and I'm looking forward to all the fun.

zhoen said...

Just that passage, feels a complete essay on the uselessness of anger.