Louis Esterhuizen. CA Conrad oor terloopse medemenslikheid

 

‘n Interessante digter is die Amerikaanse digter CA Conrad (foto) inderdaad. Daarom verbaas dit nie dat ooteoote in hul 45ste aflewering van die Vertaallab besluit het om op dié veelkleurige fenomeen te fokus aan die hand van Conrad se biografiese essay getiteld Unknown duration of fear.

Maar eers, ietsie oor Conrad. Volgens die lewenskets op sy weblog, die volgende:  “(I am) the son of white trash asphyxiation, my childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for my mother and helping her shoplift. I am the author of several books of poetry, and I am a 2011 PEW Fellow, a 2012 UCROSS Fellow, and a 2013 BANFF Fellow. I am also a 2012 and 2013 visiting faculty member for the Summer Writing Program of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.” Die “several books” waarna hy verwys is inderdaad vyf digbundels, met as die mees onlangse die bundel A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave Books, 2012).  ‘n Vorige publikasie, The Book of Frank (eweneens Wave Books), is reeds vertaal in Duits, Spaans en  dan pas ook in Sweeds.

Nietemin, sy essay op ooteoote handel oor die per abuise kontak tussen vreemdelinge en die terloopse, selfs ongevraagde intimiteit  wat dit tot gevolg kan hê. So beskryf hy die situasie tydens ‘n agtuurlange vlug waartydens hy besin oor die man wat langs hom in die vliegtuig sit en slaap: “People he loved knew him in the past, and would know him again in the future.  In the present he slouched against me and none of his loved ones were there to see him breathing the smaller breaths of a body taking down to rest.  No matter how many human beings are born to push plants and animals off the planet, we only permit touching strangers in a few locations:  crowded subways, buses, airplanes.  You do not touch a stranger at the checkout counter, unless it’s an accident, and then you apologize, sorry, say sorry.  You cannot touch a stranger at the restaurant.  You are not going to hold the stranger’s hand while they cut meat because you will be called insane and asked to leave.”

Dié ervaring het aanleiding gegee tot die ontroerende gedig hieronder. (Kliek op die gedig om dit te vergroot indien dit nie reg wys op jou skerm nie.) 

Maar ai, hoe skrams (en voorwaardelik) is ons medemenslikheid nie op die beste van tye nie …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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