February 06, 2014

Another Excerpt

From Karl Ove novel “My Struggle”:
I raised the glass to my mouth and felt the froth touch my lips, the cold, slightly bitter liquid fill my mouth – which was so unprepared for all this taste that a shiver ran through me – and slip down my throat. Ahh. 
When you visualized the future and conjured up a world where urban life had spread everywhere and man had achieved his long-desired symbiosis with the machine, you never took account of the simplest elements, beer, for example, so golden and flavorsome and robust, made from corn in the field and hops in the meadow, or bread or beetroot with its sweet but dark, earthy taste, all this we had always eaten and drunk at tables made of wood, inside windows through which beams of sunlight fell. What did people do in these seventeenth-century palaces, with their liveried servants, high-heeled shoes and powdered wigs, which were pulled down over skulls full of seventeenth-century thoughts, what else if not drink beer and wine, eat bread and meat and piss and shit? The same applied to the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries...all manner of strange ideas and beliefs emerged and vanished, useful and useless objects were discovered, science penetrated ever deeper into the world’s mysteries, machines grew in number, speeds increased and ever greater areas of old lifestyles were abandoned, but no one dreamed of discarding beer or changing it. Malt, hops, water. Field, meadow, stream.
We were rooted in the archaic past, nothing radical about us, our bodies or needs had changed since the first human saw the light of day somewhere in Africa forty thousand years ago or however long Homo sapiens had existed. But we imagined it was different, and so strong was our imaginative power we not only believed that but we also organized ourselves accordingly...

How could the notion that we were modern even arise when people were dropping all around us, infected with illnesses for which there were no remedies? Who can be modern with a brain tumor? How could we believe we were modern if we knew that everyone would soon be lying somewhere in the ground and rotting? 
...there was a wealth of nuance in her personality, and you intuited a psychological depth, with no apparent signs of neuroticism, the constant companion of sensitivity of course.

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