“Pereira snuffed out the candles and asked himself why he had got mixed up in this business, why shelter Monteiro Rossi and ring Marta and leave coded messages, why meddle with things that didn’t concern him? Was it perhaps that Marta had got so thin that her shoulder blades stuck out like the wings of a plucked chicken? Was it that Monteiro Rossi had no mother or father to shelter him? Was it his visit to Parede and Dr. Cardoso explaining his theory of the confederation of souls? Pereira did not know, and even today he could not presume to say. He wanted to go to bed because next morning he inteded to be up early and make careful arrangements for the day, but before doing so he went into the hall for a brief glance at his wife’s photograph. He said not a word to it, just gave it an affectionate wave of the hand, he declares.”
Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Declares
“If what we have said so far is true, eternal life is actually part of the package of existence – not in the way cartoon represent the afterlife, with haloed characters in nightgowns standing around on clouds, but in the fact that our actions in this life are going to reverberate through time and shape the evolving future. Whether our present consciousness of individuality is preserved in some dimension of existence after death or disappears completely, the unalterable fact is that our being will forever remain part of the warp and woof of what is. The more psychic energy we invest in the future of life, the more we become a part of it. Those who identify with evolution blend their consciousness with it, like a tiny creek joining an immense river, whose currents become as one.”
I listened for Fidel at night. Over time, I counted on him. I translated his rambling monologues in my own dreamy way as he talked about his island with its green unpronounceable trees, the blooming pampas where butterflies from the north nested in the fall, lazy games of catch performed by children in starchy white uniforms chattering in a dialect that predates Columbus. You see, I was ready for someone to talk to me, to explain everything to me. How I looked like a movie star in those sunglasses I wore continually. How fires smell in the cane fields as the sugar carmelizes. I thought I understood romance for once and martyrdom, maybe even revolution. This ropey language, the syrup of its sound, an elixir, was on the air now all the time, crept into my bed each night.
What would my father say? It filled me up, crowding out the mortgaged furniture, the old sad music, the phone calls to the police, and all the names, especially the names I’ve now forgotten were ever attached to those other frequencies through which I drifted.
Michael Martone, “Fidel”
“Yes, there are many who seem to be happy in their lives and work. But strange lives, queer work. Space technicians, for example, busily refining a new type of inertial guidance system for an intercontinental ballistic missile bearing hydrogen bombs. Laboratory biologists testing the ability of mice, dogs, and chimpanzees to cultivate cancer on a diet of cigarettes and Holsum bread, to propel a treadmill under electric stimuli, to survive zero gravity in centrifuge. And the absurd R. Buckminster Fuller hurling himself around the globe by supersonic jet with six wristwatches strapped to each forearm, each watch set to a different timezone. ‘The world is big,’ says Fuller, ‘but it is comprehensible.’ Why indeed so it is, when you take myopia for utopia, travel in a tin tube, and think the Astrodome is home.'”
Edward Abbey, “Down the River with Henry Thoreau.”