“Words are the waters which power the hydro-electricity of nations. Words are the chemicals that H20 human intercourse. Words are the rain of votes which made the harvest possible. Words are the thunderstorm when a nation is divided. Words are the water in a shattering glass when friends break into argument. Words are the acronym of a nuclear test site. Every single minute the world is deluged by boulders of words crushing down upon us over the cliff of the TV, the telephone, the telex, the post, the satellite, the radio, the advertisement, the billposter, the traffic sign, graffiti, etc. Everywhere you go, some shit word will collide with you on the wrong side of the road. You can’t even hide in yourself because your thoughts think of themselves in the words you have been taught to read and write. Even if you flee home and ountry, sanity and feeling, the priest and mourners, if any, will be muttering words over your coffin; the people you leave behind will be imagining you in their minds with words and signs. And there will be no silence in the cemetery because always there are burials and more burials of people asphyxiated by words. No wonder it is said,
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God.
And the Word was God,
All things were made by him;
And without him not any thing made
That was made.
“No wonder too it was said,
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the dust descend;
Dust into dust, and under dust, to lie
Sans wine, sans song, sans singer, and –
“Suddenly the other side of the world is only an alphabet away. Existence itself becomes a description, our lives a mere pattern in the massive universal web of words. Fictions become more documentary than actual documentaries. The only certain thing about these world descriptions is the damage they do, the devastation they bring to the minds of men and children. You do not become a man by studying the species but his language. The winds of change have cooled our porridge and now we can take up our spoons and eat it. Go, good countrymen, have yourselves a ball.”
–Dambudzo Marechera, The Black Insider (1992; Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1999) 35-36.
I have added Everything Is Illuminated to my I-want-to-read list. I am tired of most Holocaust related “art” because I think it is created to assure Americans that they are virtuous and safe and that “evil” and “danger” were in the past. I make an exception for this because it is an entirely different kind of narrative with hilarious diction (or, “premium diction,” as the narrator, who speaks English as a third language, would surely say).