Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Third Language

I came across this verse from Miroslav Holub's The Third Language, and it reminded me of the essay by André Glucksmann I linked to on the 6th of March.

The poem is a reaction to the end of Communism in Czechoslavakia, the end of living the Big Lie, which was the daily lie that every person had to put on before they went out in the morning. Suddenly, the Big Lie wasn't there any more.

And so it happened
that something like a disinherited idea
thought people up.
The idea conjured up people
with three hands, people
with three colours above the gray dirt,
people with three languages,
Czech, Slovak
and another one.
I love that line: 'and another one'.

The dictionary of the third language
lay in the square
and the newborn windwas leafing through it. In this language
oxygen was oxygen
and a conic section passed through a fixed point
and intersected a fixed line.

From Scanning the Century. Translated by David Young, Dana Habova and the Author.

Do you recall in 1984, the injunction to remember forever that two plus two made four, and, no matter what the state said, never five?

There's info on Holub here and here.

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