Sunday, March 15, 2015

Quote of the Day

The oil tankers had a crew of more or less raucous sailors. These bandits would take advantage of the boat's stopover to go down in City, to see the hookers on the edge of Bois-de-Boulogne. They would spend lots of money, speak seven languages, bear nine afflictions, drink like the Mexicans in the movies, and return to Texaco reduced to ashes by alcohol's embers. Then they would confide in everyone, would describe things encountered throughout the Caribbean. They spoke of galleons stuffed with gold, glassy like jellyfish, which crossed the bows of their tankers stirring up exhalations of bitter algae, roughneck soldier songs, laughs of ladies glimpsed in the bowsprit portholes from which escaped music gay and sad. They spoke of sharks surging in their wake, white and pink like broken coral; their jaws would snap as they had for centuries around slave galleys which had thrown off whole cargos for them, to such point that, poisoned by a rumor about souls, these fish would spell anguish in thirteen African tongues. Nightmares (the drunk sailors would say) haunted this Caribbean Sea which is pensive like a cemetery; abysses latched onto the oil tanks to occupy their steel with a hosannah of millions of people dissolved into a horrible rug which remembered Africa in the submarine nights, a fabric bristling with balls and chains and joining the islands in an alliance of corpses. They spoke of Christopher Columbus at the bow of the Santa Maria which had turned opaline with the glint of age like very old ivory; she was the crystal formed out of the dust of Aztec peoples, Inca peoples, Arawaks, Caribs, the ashes of tongues, skins, bloods, collapsed cultures, out of the dust of that immense killing field spread out among the plantations of the world called New; since eternity, well before he arrived, ghosts were judging the Discoverer now petrified at his bow before an opaque Indies, they were judging him in vain because the Baneful One always escaped them, as if amnestied by irremediable history which he was forced to mutter endlessly...And all that made the tanker sailors more disgusted, more loony, more convulsive, and would contaminate our little nightmares in Texaco; these horrors they evoked while going through our huts, we felt, alas, my dear, that they filled us too.


—Patrick Chamoiseau, from Texaco

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