In The Childhood of Jesus, the first instalment of what now, somewhat surprisingly, proves to be J M Coetzee’s series of Jesus novels, we followed a strange boy named Davíd and his adoptive guardian, Simón, who had come on a ship across Lethean waters to the land of Novilla. In the voyage they had been washed clean of all memories of their earlier lives, adopting new names along with the Spanish language, out of which their episodic philosophical dialogues were all purportedly translated. In Novilla, a benevolent if not entirely appealing utopia of mild, passionless rationality, they sought, found and joined Inés, a woman whom they deemed to be Davíd’s mother.
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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.