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Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Lara Hoffenberg 2003

This was my first SA4QE - I joined the Kraken too late last year to take part in the first event. I've been re-reading The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz a lot during the last year, finding new things in it all the time, and especially enjoying the tension between fateful inevitability / biting the wheel, and freedom / letting go. I re-read it after finishing The Bat Tattoo because so much of Lion was wound up, for me, in the crash test dummies. Anyway, I knew I wanted to use Lion quotes.

It was easy to find a place to leave them. Just above the university where I work, on the slopes of a mountain called Devil's Peak which has a commanding view of the Cape peninsula [you can even see both the Indian and the Atlantic oceans at once] is a monument incorporating 8 huge stoic lions. They keep a watchful eye on everyone below; the irony here is that there used to be lions on these 'plains' but now they too are gone. So I left a sheaf of yellow paper between the giant paws of one lion and on the back of another - weighted down so as not to blow away. I came back to the site four hours later and they'd all been taken.

The first two quotes from Lion hint at all the wonderful mysteries of the novel.

~ ~ ~ ~


The last lion alive was the one whom the others would have made their king if they had been allowed to. He was large, strong, and fierce, and with two arrows deep in his spine he was still alive. The arrows burned like fire in him, his sight was fading, the blood was roaring in his ears with the rumble of the chariot wheels. Before him and above him, racing away, the glittering king was calm in his chariot, is spear poised, his spearmen beside him. The dying lion-king leaped, clung to the tall and turning wheel that brought him up to the spears. Growling and frowning he bit the wheel that lifted him and bore him on to darkness.

The lion was gone. Where the lion had been was a sudden empty giddy blackness, like the sensation produced by straightening up too quickly after bending down for a long time.
~ ~ ~ ~

Darkness roared with the lion, the night stalked with the silence of him. The lion was. Ignorant of non-existence he existed. Ignorant of self he was a sunlit violence with calm joy at the centre of it, he was the violence of being-as-hunter constantly renewed in the devouring of non-being.

For him, there were no maps, no places, no time. Beneath his tread the round earth rolled, the wheel turned, bearing him to death and life again. Through his lion-being drifted stars and blackness, morning sang, night soothed, dawn burst its daylight from the womb of vital terror. Oceans heaved, frail bridges spanned the winding track of days, the rising air sang lion-flight in wings of birds. In clocks ticked lion-time. It pulsed in heartbeats, footsteps walking all unknowing, souls of guilt and sorrow, souls of love and pain. He had been called, he had come. He was.

~ ~ ~ ~

I chose the last two quotes because they reminded me that whoever we think we are, we're all something different to somebody else - and they made me smile:


"Am I a mirror in which you see yourself?" I said.

"Everybody is," he said. "I am so infinitely varied that I never tire of myself. Mortals looking in a mirror see only me but I see all the faces that ever were and I love myself in all of them."

"You think well of yourself!" I said.

~ ~ ~ ~


"Friends unknown to me have heard of my disappearance and are coming to the rescue, " said the pig. "No doubt there'll be a big celebration when they find me. Crackers and party hats and probably a cake with pink icing. Perhaps I'll be stood on top of the cake and asked to make a speech."

He began to think of the speech he would make. "Dear Friends," he said, "having spent long months in solitude behind the sofa, I speak to you tonight of..."

"Sweetness," said a voice behind him.

"Who's that?" said the pig. It was a mouse. She was nibbling at him. "You're sweet," she said.

"There was a time when I was sweet," said the pig, "but I have known such..."

"Sweetness, sweetness, sweetness," murmured the mouse, and she ate him up entirely.

~ ~ ~ ~

Happy birthday Russ! And thanks for the chance to send these words out into my part of the world.


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