Tuesday 21 October 2014

Reading Soul by Andrey Platonov at Limerick Junction waiting for the down train opposite a large stone building with unaccountable small holes at regular intervals up and down the front. The broken glass in the windows is triumphant, even, beside the dwellings of the Soul nation I am reading about – if they have dwellings, if they haven't left to wander. It is a light, sad feeling, sitting on the platform at a railway junction, in the middle of several choices, with the wind blowing from west to east, reading about people on the steppes of Central Asia in the 1930s, who chew on tumbleweed and have forgotten how to think.

The station men at Limerick Junction are plump and smoking, flicking dog-ends onto the tracks. There are older travellers, their wheeled luggage trilling along behind them, younger ones with rucksack and boots, undefeated; a Chinese father and son with their guides, phones and notebooks. Nowhere any of the merriment of despair that the Soul nation can raise as they invite death from the great and powerful who can bestow it. None of the lightness of being.

At Limerick Junction on a Monday morning in the middle of Ireland there's a fullness, a satisfaction even in the lateness of the up train, the cosy station men out of a 1960s Czech film, the important door of the station master, all announcements in triplicate in two languages. The train to Dublin is running thirty minutes late. Next train at platform one is the Cork train, the Cork train, the Cork train.

Reading Soul is like being at sea. Whatever you look at on land afterwards is excessive. Too many features, too many clothes, too many bags. People on the move in Modern Europe are even more substantial than when they're at home, packed into their train seats with their paper coffee cups and their apple Danish wrappers, their soccer fanatic newspaper pullouts. The calorie count of every item, including nought for tea, coffee and diet coke, is given on the train menu.

The Soul tribe, the Dzhan, move around the steppes Central Asia in euphoric desolation: desert, mountains, marsh and oasis. They are called soul because that's all they have. They are called nation not because they are many but because they are persistent, so far beyond sense that they are back inside it.

No comments :

Post a Comment