In the middle of his long poem From the Rising of the Sun, Czeslaw Milosz contemplates a remote river in Oregon. Its name is the Rogue River, a translation of the French ‘Riviere des Coquins’; the French name arose after Indians had ambushed some French trappers; the Indian name is lost forever. ‘A word should be contained in every single thing,’ Milosz .understands, ‘But it is not. So what then of my vocation?’ Milosz and an American, Lillian Vallee, have translated these poems from the Polish, and Milosz must know himself that the result is a rogue book, ambushed by language. The poems still flow, but most of their music is lost.
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Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.
The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.