Thick skinned

According to our contemporary oracle, Wikipedia, the war in the Congo is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people.

Joëlle Sambi, a young scriptophile who lives and works in Brussels, has written a book about it called Le Monde est Gueule de Chèvre.

“The world is a goat’s mouth” which, apart from a pointed beard with Satanic overtones, makes me think of a goat’s cud and chewing the cud: slow and aimless mastication. Like a giant shredder, crusher. Mechanical madness. Automated atrocity.

Here is a rough translation of an excerpt from Chapter 1:

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Two, three, four… numbers and dead bodies. 162, … 164 dead bodies, thousands of them, dead bodies and their souls tossed about, ground into pieces, pushed around… there are 10,000 of them from one end of the world to the other… 10,000 of them between land and sky. Souls in distress wandering, drowning, seeking justice. In this writhing world, my mind is sinking…

My name is Jerry and I’m 13. Maybe a bit older. I don’t really know exactly. Whatever!
My name is Jerry, I have a job to do and I think I’m about 13. My job: counting the bodies. A bit like Papa Diallo counts his dollars, in my jotter I write them down, list them, calculate, enumerate, measure and count: 162, 163… 164! Today, we’re at 164.
What I know for certain is that 164 won’t get through the gates of paradise. He’s enormous. A pachyderm. 'Pachyderm, from Ancient Greek pachydermos, someone (or something) with a thick skin. Used for animals such as an elephant or a hippopotamus.'

Zoology was a subject I loved when the school was still standing. I had brand new jotters, so bright and clean. They all had an animal on the cover: a lion, a giraffe, an elephant, an okapi .'


By the way, "an Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a mammal living in the Ituri Rainforest in the north east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo". I, for one had never heard of it until I read this book. "Although it bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe. Until 1901 it was known only to the local people. The tongue of an okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears: it is one of the few mammals that can lick its own ears. Male okapis have short, skin-covered horns called "ossicones". They have large ears, which help them detect their predator, the leopard. "

Listen to Joëlle talking about her book (in French) :

and Now, Ladies and Gentlemen Please, here is the information you need :

Titre: Le monde est gueule de chèvre
Auteur: Joëlle Sambi
Editeur: Biliki
Année de Parution: Novembre 2007

to vote for Joëlle Sambi in the Rock Salt book competition !!!!!

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and buy the book !!!!
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Book émissaire (page en français)



Sunday is a day like no other. I wrote a prose poem about it a few years ago in French.

Last Sunday was a degree beyond every other Sunday. I swear it felt like Christmas. It had the same fullness about it, everything being available, being in place - it didn’t matter that it was raining… or maybe the rain helped, by making inside cosier and outside palpable.

I got to the village shop before it closed – they had a farm chicken left for Sunday dinner. It felt like the opposite of the feeling in “Sunday morning coming down”…

“and there’s nothing short of dying half as lonesome as the sound”

… the empty city sidewalk with the Sunday smell of someone cooking chicken. For once, I was the one cooking chicken. I had crossed over to the other side. I was “in”.

and yet just the day before, I had been observing my awkwardness, my inability to make small talk, my uneasiness in company, and feeling very “out” of it.

Life is full of this kind of up and down, extremes that are connected, you feel excluded and a few seconds later you feel accepted. Just like this house. I was so excited about how great it is and how pleasant to live in and when I had finished sending the photographs I looked around and knew I was over it already. It’s not that it’s not important. But it isn’t everything.

Whenever I think I have mastered something I fall, fail, trip. Like learning to go a bike. When I think “I can do this” I lose my balance and fall off. But when I do master something, it becomes pointless.

I sat down at the piano and played, like a child with a toy. Starting at opposite ends I hit every key several times, moved up and down and thoroughly filled my mind and the room with the random sounds of the keys. Freedom.

I thought about the octave again and about repetition and how the most infinite of fields – music – on a certain level can be broken down into a small number of units and consists in how they interact.

Just like human beings…

But when I do master something, it becomes pointless… or, a related feeling is when I finally manage to accept something, it is too late – like when I began to feel I could psychologically cope with my periods, I was menopausal, they had already started to stop. Is there a connection? Was I able to achieve the feeling that I could cope with menstruation because it was secretely over?

There’s something about a Sunday that brings out feelings of finite and infinite…