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Languages incomprehensible to the Kahn

Posted by on October 30, 2002

I’m reading Invisible Cities again. I know there’s more to it than all the pretty words, but the language is so dazzling that I get lost trying to find the unifying elements. “There is a sense of emptiness that comes over us in the evening, with the odor of the elephants after the rain…” That’s on the first page. Do you know how hard it is to turn a page like that?

The last time I read this I was in a house covered in blackberries with rats in the roof. Now my rooms smell like paint. The windows let in the cold air and the noise of the sobbing drunk woman trapped in the alley who can’t make her fingers work the door.

In between blackberries and paint there was a fallow period when the only words I read were in crosswords. I couldn’t see language as anything but puzzling. This was, fittingly, in the house filled with roaches scuttling behind my chair and over my sheets. I walked around with a blank walled brain and bugs hiding in my corners.

Now I’m back to Calvino, thank God, and a fever-hectic neighborhood, and the noise of my neighbors’ sex lives, and the odor of the elephants.

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