La Liseuse
An old tale for a new year

Picture this.

A busy marketplace in an ancient town, somewhere along the Silk Road. It could be anywhere between the Mediterranean and China, any time over a period of a millenium and a half after 114 BCE. The market square is home to dozens of languages, cultures and religions. Some people come to buy or sell their wares; others come just to pass the time of day, meet like-minded people, tell stories and jokes, learn of the other places and cultures. Some do business, some talk, others just listen and watch. There are wise men and fools, honest merchants and charlatans. Some people are always there, some pass by once and are never seen again, while others might return after months or years away. This is a tiny hub set in a vast network of trade routes, a place which is both a meeting of minds and a meeting of civilisations -  a reminder that the known world is both very large and very small.

Then, abruptly, it was gone. In 1453, a mighty Imperial power decided that it would serve its trading interests better if the Silk Road were closed. That vibrant meeting place was lost for ever.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Jan 1, 2019 5:39 PM
Comments · 15

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China (or the price of maple syrup in Canada or the price of a cheeseburger in the US).

I'm dangerously baffled, bewildered, befuddled, dumbfounded, stumped, stupefied, mixed up, and/or confused. :)

Does this story have anything to do the rise and fall of language websites?
Is that the metaphor Phil referred to?

Or could this be what George Harrison meant when he wrote and sang "All things must pass"?

Everyone... stay positive... keep smiling.

January 1, 2019

Here is my reading of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, "Ozymandias:"

<a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/28vna7zchb5aff5/Oxymandias.mp3?dl=0" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); color: rgb(17, 85, 204); text-decoration: underline; font-size: 19.5px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Ozymandias</a>

The text of the poem follows:


I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


January 1, 2019

… But many people remembered this lively marketplace and the friends and acquaintances they had met there. The mighty Imperial power could not eliminate this famous place. Although the Silk Road was closed, the values and the relationships remained; also the sellers and customers did not disappear. There was just a different system of rules and maybe a new brand name…  Perhaps, the tale will find a happy end...

January 1, 2019

@Cristopher

That's scary. I really wouldn't like to meet you in a dark street.

January 1, 2019
Beautiful metaphor, Su.Ki. I’m hopeful that things always have a way of working themselves out in the end. Happy New Year!

January 1, 2019
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