Saturday, February 02, 2013

Falling Slowly

"Who knows what true loneliness is--not the conventional word, but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion. Now and then a fatal conjunction of events may lift the veil for an instant. For an instant only. No human being could bear a steady view of moral solitude without going mad."
Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes

The links between the Czech Republic and Ireland are long and extensive: Celtic Boii tribes came to the Czech lands in the second century B.C. before traveling westward to Ireland. Along their journey, they passed on a rich heritage and even named both countries, Bohemia and Éire, as well as the Vltava River, which translates to "wild water" in the old Germanic language of those ancient tribes.

Irish missionaries worked alongside Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia in the ninth century," Kelly says. "Irish Franciscan monks established a monastery in Prague in the 17th century on what became Hybernská street, and legend has it they introduced the potato to the Czech lands. Jakub Smith, an Irishman, was also rector of Charles University in the mid-18th century. In the 1920s, Czechs, including Alfred Navrátil, helped establish the sugar processing industry in Ireland, while in the 1940s, Kelly says, Karel Bačík was a founder of the world-renowned Waterford Crystal factory.
Irish and Czech people have a similar, wry view of the world

Gérard de Villiers’s best-selling espionage thrillers also serve as intelligence drop boxes for spy agencies around the world... Set in the midst of Syria's civil war, the book offered vivid character sketches of that country's embattled ruler, Bashar al-Assad, and his brother Maher, along with several little-known lieutenants and allies. It detailed a botched coup attempt secretly supported by the American and Israeli intelligence agencies. And most striking of all, it described an attack on one of the Syrian regime's command centers, near the presidential palace in Damascus, a month before an attack in the same place killed several of the regime's top figures. "It was prophetic," I was told by one veteran Middle East analyst who knows Syria well and preferred to remain nameless. "It really gave you a sense of the atmosphere inside the regime, of the way these people operate, in a way I hadn't seen before." Gérard de Villiers, the Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much

Now this is bad, very bad. These days I can hardly step away from this desk and not find myself gravitating to a used-book store and pulling out my credit card. I can almost always justify my purchases as sensible, reasonable courses of action. All addicts do this. Still, those book outlays add up quite dramatically when the monthly Visa bill comes due. Man can live on books alone, but he needs more bread to do so

We may pay little attention to how we walk. Our gait, however, may eventually identify us as surely as a fingerprint...Leg up high, knee unbent, toes skyward. It’s wholly unnatural and artificial, but should mask the way you really walk. No one will ever know it is you

Gone are the days when it was possible to write on a plain note card "Grab him if you can," as apparently Gilbert Ryle, professor of philosophy at Oxford, did for one of his students in the 1960s. References