From Paris, the wind brings the scent of blood again. The sound of machine guns, and bombs going off. Images of massacre. Bodies of people who went out to have a good time, and ended up losing their lives.
The city is locked down as police and army struggle to hunt down the rest of the killers.
Locked down. Behind closed doors. In fear. Not allowed to move around, and unwilling, anyway. Continue reading
Every Easter, this text returns to haunt me. Written by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in 1917, it’s an anthem of moral individualism: a reminder that liberty and moral integrity are gifted to the individual – and that the collective can only corrupt them.
Although I’ve already posted this piece last Easter, I thought it had a place on this blog, too. The translation from Hungarian is mine, although I took hints from another, heavily abridged version.
For those of you who read Hungarian, here is the original: http://www.szepi.hu/irodalom/kedvenc/kt_030.html
It’s only fitting that I post this on Good Friday – but this is my Easter greeting, too: let us all have a happy time, but not an oblivious one.
by Frigyes Karinthy
On the third day, at dusk, he stepped out of the tomb, and quietly began to walk down the road. Black smoke was rising from the ruins, and surrounded him. At the bottom of a dry ditch, he found the first of those who, in front of Pilate’s house, had shouted the name of Barabbas. The wretched man was wailing at the red fumes with a blackened tongue.
This blog is my refuge – an intellectual refuge, so to speak. The title comes from Hungarian writer Antal Szerb, who wrote about his Italian travels in 1936 under this title. Szerb’s literal third tower is in San Marino, where you can see three towers (ubiquitous in Italy) on the mountain just above the city. (The towers shown at the header of this blog are in San Gimignano, Tuscany.)
Why a refuge, and why the Third Tower? Let me quote Szerb here:
“The third tower stands at a distance, in a remote corner of one of those mountains, on top of steep, insurmountable rocks on both sides. The city doesn’t reach up here, and as you walk along the ridge, you get dizzy by the height. […] There, right below the Third Tower, I came to understand my notorious anxiety: […] everywhere, through the entire journey, I had to deal with the happy Italian collectivism. I felt I had to protect my solitude from that, and the common European future it represented. I felt that my solitary happiness was threatened by their herd-like happiness, because they were stronger than me. […] I cannot share this happiness that I feel here at the foot of the Third Tower. Likewise, I’m unable to give myself up to anyone and anything, not to any government or any idea.”