Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Haroun and Dinner Parties.

A few weeks ago, our gracious friends Marissa (masterful cook and photographer exraodinair) and Nelly (chef de cuisine and traveler of the high seas) had a wit and wisdom dinner party where we got to enjoy each other's company, partake in the worlds best apple torte and listen to a host of wit and wisdom that was as inspiring as it was pleasurable.

I read from a novel called "Haroun and the Sea of Stories", a book that is, in a word, delicious, and in three, full of learning. I was spurred on to re-read it - and curled up in front of the wood stove in my Grandma's deutche family room seemed like the perfect way to do it.
And so I give you one of my favorite pages.
* * *
“So pick a bird,” the Water Genie commanded. “Any bird.”
This was puzzling. “The only bird around here is a wooden peacock,” Haroun pointed out, reasonably enough. Iff gave a snort of disgust. “A person may choose what he cannot see,” he said, as if explaining something very obvious to a very foolish individual. “A person may mention a bird’s name even if the creature is not present and correct: crow, quail, hummingbird, bulbul, mynah, parrot, kite. A person may even select a flying creature of his own invention, for example winged horse, flying turtle, airborne whale, space serpent, aeromouse. To give a thing a name, a label, a handle; to rescue it from anonymity, to pluck it out of the Place of Namelessness, in short to identify it – well, that’s a way of bringing the said thing into being. Or in this case, the said bird or Imaginary Flying Organism.”
“That may be true where you come from,” Haroun argued. “But in these parts stricter rules apply.”
“In these parts,” rejoined blue-bearded Iff, “I am having my time wasted by a Disconnector Thief who will not trust in what he can’t see. How much have you seen, eh, Theiflet? Africa, have you seen it? No? Then is it truly there? And submarines? Huh? Also hailstones, baseballs, pagodas? Gold-mines? Kangaroos, Mount Fujiyama, the North Pole? And the past, did it happen? And the future, will it come? Believe in your own eyes and you’ll get into a lot of trouble, hot water, a mess.”
* * *

To believe without seeing is faith. Difficult, perhaps, but does it not give us a scope for adventure and knowledge that would otherwise be out of reach?

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