Ad astra

Very deep is the well of the past, it is no small effort to pick out all the garbage that has been thrown into it. Our recent post on medieval and Renaissance bicycles has been honored first of all by the original Russian “translator”, Boris Indrikov, who also provided us with the reproduction of Van Gogh’s posthumous painting Self-portrait with bicycle, without the artist’s left ear and all the rest.

Then our estimated Greek friend Poly Hatjimanolaki congratulated through us to Boris, at the same time reminding us of Paco Ignacio Taibo II.’s absurd thriller, The bicycle of Leonardo. The idea that the great Renaissance master was also the inventor of the bike among so many other things, has stirred the fantasy of others as well and inspired a novel by Guy Davenport.

And it is no mere accident. Do you see the conspicuous similarity of the vehicles on the covers? All of them are based on the drawing discovered by Augusto Marinoni in the Codex Atlanticus of Milan which has preserved the sketches of Leonardo. He published his discovery in 1974 in a paper delivered precisely in Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo. Subsequently the bicycle of Leonardo run a brilliant career, it has been also modeled in life size for the Florentine exhibition in honor of the millennium traveling all over the world. Its only fault was the impossibility of being steered. Apparently this minor problem did not excite the master.

It was only in 1997 that Dr. Hans-Erhard Lessing pointed out in a detailed study that the design was a forgery, and a quite recent one at that, drawn into the codex (!) after its restoration in the 60s, more precisely between 1967 and 1974. No trace of it can be seen on the photos made before and during the restoration, only some circles and lines appear through from the other side of the page, and these were complemented into a bike by the forger. It is noteworthy, writes Lessing, that in all the literature on bicycle history none else has accepted the attribution except for Marinoni and his Italian followers.

No, this design of Leonardo is surely not authentic: it has been made for the Photoshop competition of Worth1000.

For the stake, writes Lessing, was not small. The Italians had to demonstrate that the first paleo-bicycle before the patent of the modern bike in 1817 was not the célérifère of 1791 of Comte de Sivrac as it has been asserted by the French for a century. Bicycle, in fact, must be an Italian invention. For Malaparte made it clear already in 1949:

In Italy, the bicycle belongs to the national art heritage in the same way as Mona Lisa by Leonardo, the dome of St. Peter or the Divine Comedy. It is surprising that it has not been invented by Botticelli, Michelangelo, or Raffael. Should it happen to you, that you voice in Italy that the bicycle was not invented by an Italian you will see: All miens turn sullen, a veil of grief lies down onto the faces. Oh, when you say in Italy, when you say loudly and distinctly in a café or on the street that the bicycle—like the horse, the dog, the eagle, the flowers, the trees, the clouds—has not been invented by an Italian (for it were the Italians that invented the horse, the dog, the eagle, the flowers, the trees, the clouds) then a long shudder will run down the peninsula’s spine, from the Alps to the Etna.

Reconstruction of the célérifère.

But in the reality all the noble efforts of the Italians were just shots in the air. For Comte de Sivrac never existed, and consequently neither the célérifère. Both were invented in 1891 by the journalist Louis Baudry de Saunier who in his national pride wanted to dispute the primacy of the German Baron Karl Drais, the actual inventor of the bicycle.

However, the series of surprising discoveries has not yet come to an end. The document sent to us in a comment by Syr Wullam cuts every petty cause among modern European nations already at the roots. Already ancient Greeks knew the bike! What is more, writes our blue-blooded expert,

the Greek did not need to strain themselves with pedals as the poor chaps in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. No, they just gave it the gun as the peasant to his Berva (© my granny).

We have also checked some other works of the artist Robert Weigand. Most of his drawings are in the style of the illustrations of Reader’s Digest which, interestingly, reintegrate the allegoric and emblematic pictorial language of the Early Modern period to 20th-century applied graphics – but this problem deserves a post of its own and will also receive it. However, what we have discovered with surprise – why should always other make the surprising discoveries? – was the fact that even the topics of Weigand’s other pictures are in line with the article by Indrikov. In several illustrations we find the bicycle, the Sun and the Moon, and even their modern knight balancing between them as if he did it on two wheels. Is it not possible that the master is a secret member of the Order of the Sun and the Moon which has survived until today?

However, the greatest and most breathtaking coming out was yet to come. The person exposed was no less than Wang Wei himself, co-author of our blog, founding father of Studiolum, whom after several years of bosom-friendship we have thought to know like our palm. Indeed, after reading the previous post he wrote to us:

Te mando un documento único. Que en realidad es una confesión secreta: yo pertenezco a la venerable «Order of the Sun and of the Moon». Una de las pruebas que tenemos que pasar es subir al Tourmalet intentando pasar completamente desapercibidos entre la masa de absurdos deportistas plebeyos que, ataviados con ropajes ridículos, exhiben su vanidad y se pavonean ante las damas. La hazaña no es pequeña, pues los aspirantes a caballeros de la Orden pueden ser requeridos por el Gran Maestre para pasar la prueba en cualquier momento del día o de la noche, en cualquier época del año, llueva o truene, con luna o bajo un sol de justicia. Cuando esa llamada ocurre, tenemos que dejar nuestra casa inmediatamente, coger la primera bicicleta que encontremos en la calle y, vestidos tal como estábamos en nuestros aposentos, lanzarnos a la carretera y subir la mítica montaña. Ello exige un permanente estado de vigilia física y espiritual que muchos no pueden soportar. Otros fracasan repetidas veces en sus intentos de escalada de las durísimas rampas y van repitiendo la prueba cada vez que son requeridos hasta que, convencidos de su inferioridad, deben abandonar sus pretensiones de entrar en la Orden. En fin, esta es una de las pruebas que mandó mi escudero al Gran Consejo de la Orden y que ahora te revelo en primicia.

Hereby I send you a unique document which is actually a secret confession: I belong to the venerable “Order of the Sun and of the Moon.” One of the tests we must pass is to climb the Tourmalet completely unnoticed among the mass of plebeian mock-athletes dressed in ridiculous clothes showing off their vanity to the ladies. The feat is not small, as the aspiring knights of the Order may be required by the Grand Master to pass the test at any time of the day or night all year round, in rain or frost, in moonlight or under the sun of justice. As soon as we hear this call, we must immediately leave our home, take the first bike that we find in the street and, dressed just as we were in our homes, take the road and climb the mystical mountain. This requires a constant state of physical and spiritual vigilance that many can not endure. Many fail repeatedly in their attempts to climb the hard ramps and try to repeat the test several times until, convinced of their inferiority, they abandon their claim to enter the Order. This is thus one of the tests that my squire recorded for the Grand Council of the Order with the following document which is now revealed to you as the first person outside the Order.

This unique document which can be dated to several years before, almost to the Middle Ages, attests not only for how long Wang Wei has been a knight of the Order of the Sun and of the Moon. But it also sheds light on something he has not unrevealed in one of his previous posts: the reason why his Mallorcan Catalan compatriots are so enthusiastic fighters for the freedom of Transylvania.

In velox libertas!

Time is relative. Especially historical time and especially at our parts, in Eastern Europe, where it can happen without further ado that three hundred years between 600 and 900 are stolen from Hungarians, while at Russians world history starts right in the stolen 800 and in its framework Christ is crucified in 1200 A.D. – just some years after the Troian war – in Istanbul.

It is therefore no accident that it was precisely a Russian graphic artist sensitive of such relativity, Boris Indrikov to discover and translate into Russian from the only available copy of the May 2009 issue of the Scientific Archevelogy the article of Sandy Collins, in which she has reported about their sensational discovery made during the excavations around the Lower Normandian Château-Gaillard. The Russian translation was published just two days ago. Here we publish its short English summary which – we are sure – will reach those interested much sooner than the original English publication.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Château-Gaillard was the favorite castle of Richard the Lionheart (1188-1199) in Lower Normandy. It also received its present name when the king, beholding for the first time the castle built on his order with its shining white stone walls, double ramparts, pont-levis and thirteen strong towers, exclaimed: “Quel château gaillard” – “What a merry castle!” At least this is how Maurice Druon describes it in The prison of Château-Gaillard.

In May 2008, while excavating around the castle, the archaeologists of Bristol University made a surprising discovery. They have unearthed two graves side by side. In both of them they have found the rests of the body of an armored knight, and above it in one grave the well preserved skeleton of a horse, while in the other the fragments of iron objects which, seen from above, resembled… a bicycle.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
The British scholars carefully cleaned the fragments,

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
they removed them,

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
and made inventory of them,

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
and they were shocked to see that it was in fact a bicycle, whose iron parts have remained in so good conditions because they had been covered with wax before being buried.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
“When they called me from the excavations saying that they had found a 12th-century bicycle,” said Steve Berkeley, the engineer-constructor of Cambridge University’s Scientific and Technical Center of Cardiff who, together with his colleague Andrew Hopkins assembled the excavated parts, “I would have suspected that it was an All Fool’s Day hoax, were it not the excavation’s leader Professor John Williams himself to tell it. And as we were gradually assembling the surviving fragments, our admiration grew higher and higher for the unknown medieval constructor.”

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
But is this construction really medieval? The opinion of experts vary in this question.

“As an expert of medieval knights’ armor,” declared archaeologist professor Justin Pierre, the representative of the French Academy of Sciences at the excavations of Château-Gaillard, “I have to say that the alloy adopted, the methods of elaboration and the X-ray examination rather point to the 15th century, and more precisely to the working methods of the armorer’s workshops of Milan and Venice, primarily to those of the renowned Missaglia dynasty.”

Does this mean that the Middle Ages already knew bicycle?

“Bicycle is a much older invention in human civilization than one would think,” says Peter Godward, professor of the Department of History and Archaeology of Cardiff University. “The sensational discovery of Château-Gaillard only reinforces the earlier results of our university’s researchers. Already in 1962 the news spread all over the world that in the course of an archaeological excavation in Versailles a closed cellar was found, among other things with a bicycle from the reign of the Sun King inside.”

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
“The news made much noise and led to heated debates. Following the Versailles excavations, our university decided to establish an international research center for the thorough examination of the question. For several years we have been collecting data, consulted with archaeologists and collectors, and examined the collections and manuscripts of the greatest museums of the world.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Finally in 1986 we managed to get in contact with art collector Andrea Castilles, co-founder of the Sotbyes auction house, who in his younger years had been an enthusiastic cyclist himself. In 1951 he participated on the Giro d’Italia, and in 1955 on the Tour de France. In his world famous collection he has dedicated a special section to the objects of art connected with cyclism. He readily offered us to observe them. And what we have seen has exceeded our most daring imaginations.

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) carried out between 1492 and 1500 his series of illustrations to Dante’s Divine comedy. One of his sketches to Canto XXXI of the Purgatory, preserved in the collection of Mr. Castilles represents the marvellous celestial pageant carrying Beatrice to Dante on a coach drawn by a griffin:

Thus they began their song and then
they took me to the griffin’s breast,
where Beatrice stood and faced us.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
«Have a closer look to the figure greeting the pageant in the forefront,» Mr. Castilles said. «Can you see what is standing on his side?»

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Then on his signal a massive, hermetically closed glass cage was carried in the room. The cage was constructed to protect a small panel painting. At a closer examination, the panel represented the same construction as the previous sketch.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard«This is one of the least known images by Botticelli,» Mr. Castilles said. «The composition and the details are fully identical to his Portrait of Saint Augustine of 1495, thus he most probably painted the two pictures at the same time. The fact that this painting represents a female version of the bicycle, also links it to the chef d’oeuvre of the master, the Birth of Venus. Art historical research has pointed out that this Portrait of a Bicycle has not achieved much success in the life of the master. As far as it can be established, the contemporaries did not understand what it represented. It is also a mystery to me why Botticelli undertook this unusual task. Why did he represent the bicycle as a female version? And how is the Divine comedy connected with all that? Perhaps the bicycle is a symbol for Beatrice? You, scholars, you should find the answers for these questions.

The image was soon forgotten after the master’s death. It was preserved in the Berlin State Museum, from where it disappeared during WWII. Then through an interesting chance it got to me… but this is already a totally different story.»

Then Mr. Castilles asked us to accompany him to the exhibition room of his castle which was established on the second floor of the medieval tower with all the achievements of modern technology.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard«Here you can see a minor image of Hans Holbein the Younger, the great Renaissance portraitist and court painter of Henry VIII,» he led us to a niche. «He painted it in 1540, in the same year as the famous portrait of Henry VIII preserved in the National Museum of Rome. They share a number of common details.…»

«And the same construction can be seen on an earlier sketch of Holbein. It is possible that on this the master represented the inventor himself. But this latter, judging from the gestures and looks of those standing around, was doomed to be not understood. New and unusual things were feared in every age and every period…»

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Then a new miracle followed.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard«This picture was painted by Jan van Eyck (1385-1441), the great master of early Flemish Renaissance,» pointed Mr. Castilles to another niche. «His Arnolfini Couple is known by everyone, but almost nobody knows about this masterpiece, painted in the same year.»

Mr. Castilles also told us that on the reverse of the Botticelli painting, during the X-ray examination of the Holbein picture and carved in the panel of that of Van Eyck the same design was found: a crowned lion on two wheels, looking at the sun and the moon. «What can it refer to? Perhaps to an Order of the Knights of the Bicycle?» We were amused by the idea, not knowing how close we were to truth.

«Bicycle is not only a vehicle of transport,» Mr. Castilles said to us at leaving, «but a form of artistic self-expression, a way of life and a Weltanschauung. Why did all these great masters dedicate a picture to the bicycle? As in the course of creation they all lived through the experience of unlimited freedom, this two-wheeled “freedom generator,” so wonderful in its simpleness, obviously deeply touched them. The bicycle as the way leading to the knowledge of the world and to freedom. You should also follow this way in your research.»”

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château GaillardBut did the Order of the Knights of the Bicycle really exist?

“Our research center has collected a large amount of data since 1962, and on the basis of this today we can already assert with certainty that between the 12th and 15th centuries «the Order of the Sun and of the Moon» in fact existed in Europe. According to the sources, the knights of this order rode on «iron horses» and took part in the battles together with the traditional cavallery. Their swiftness, quick manoeuvring and the invulnerability of their «horses» posed a serious threat, while their unusual appearance, reminding of the horsemen of the Apocalpyse, had a paralysing effect on the enemy. They were able to cover very long roads, as they needed no food for their «horses.» Their late followers, for example the English Brighton Rifles set up in 1885 were a remarkable force in the Boer War of 1899-1902, and in the 20th century they were brought into service at every army of the world.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
The first written record on the Knights of the Sun and of the Moon is found in a manuscript of the popular historical compilation The Deeds of the Romans from around 1230-40. The illumination of the manuscript represents a knight riding before the army on a construction very similar to a bicycle, and his shield shows the crowned lion standing on two wheels. This is also the first known representation of the coat of arms of the order.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
We also find this pattern in the 14th-century Bellenville Manuscript which collects the coat of arms of the English king and of his vassalls.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
And also in a 15th-century French book of coat of arms.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
However, the full form of the coat of arms also includes the united figure of the sun and the moon, and two obligatory accessory figures holding the shield: a silver griffin and a silver lion, both standing on a wheel. The motto of the coat of arms, «IN VELOX LIBERTAS» can be translated in various ways: «Freedom in velocity,» «Velocity makes you free» or «Swiftly into freedom.»

(Note of the English translator to the inventions of the Latin motto author and of the Russian translator: Oh scholars of Latin, have mercy on us!)

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château GaillardThe lion is a symbol of the Sun, of force and fire. The winged lion represents both force and swiftness. The griffin is also a solar and royal animal, the lord of the air.

The Sun and the Moon, these two wheels always turning on the sky, always following and never reaching each other, obviously refer to the members of the order who advance on their always turning wheels towards always greater freedom.

The winged lion can be found since the Renaissance in the coat of arms of Venice, while the united representation of the Sun and the Moon in that of Milan.”

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
But why just Venice and Milan?

“It is not by chance that the symbols of Venice and Milan figure in the coat of arms of the Knights of the Sun and of the Moon,” asserts Pierre Justin. “These two cities were the centers of armorership in 14th and 15th-century Europe, and the construction and details of the unearthed bicycle also reflects the technological methods of their masters.”

But the discovery of Château-Gaillard also had a further surprise in store.

Steve Berkeley and Andrew Hopkins, the engineer-constructors of Cambridge University’s Scientific and Technical Center assembling the excavated fragments have decided to build a working copy of the paleo-bicycle. In the structure of the vehicle they could follow the model of the findings. However, they had no model to its detailed elaboration. In the summer of 2008 they visited the great armor collections of Northern Italy, hoping to find inspiration in the products of the ancient masters of Milan and Venice, primarily of the Missaglia dynasty, but without any result.

At this time Peter Godward turned again to his old acquaintance, the eighty-two years old Andrea Castilles. And not in vain. Castilles had been since decades on good terms with a Northern Italian armorer whose ancestors already had been master blacksmiths in 9th-century Milan. He also purchased of him 14th and 15th-century drawings, and he could always rely on him in technical questions.

“As soon as I showed the photos to Giovanni Ferrelli,” recalled later Castilles, “he exclaimed with his eyes turned to the sky: «Santa Madonna! Impossibile!» And, struggling with tears, he started to take out various drawings from his secret family archive.”

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
The carefully kept drawings of the Missaglia dynasty displayed with full particulars all technical detail, surface finish, dimensions, ways of assembling, all provided with explanations, descriptions, even on the secrets of how to temper the metal… And every drawing had, besides the monogram of the Missaglia family, the crowned lion standing on two wheels.

Furthermore, Giovanni Ferrelli declared that it would be a honor for him to participate in the reconstruction of the vehicle. The team composed under his direction completed the work in six months. The dream of Steve Berkeley and Andrew Hopkins has come true. The result can be seen in the picture below. The work received the name “Richard the Lionheart” after the one time lord of Château-Gaillard, whose land has preserved to us for centuries the secret of the order.

Boris Indrikov’s medieval bicycle from Château Gaillard
Boris Indrikov workingBoris Indrikov, the original Russian translator of the article
Velikie Veliki –
Continuation: Ad astra

Reflexiones muy intempestivas a la caída de la tarde

Bueno. Después de estas dos entradas anteriores sobre un mundo sin fronteras, donde los catalanes piden la libertad de Transilvania, los partidos radicales húngaros conspiran en viejos caserones abandonados de Mallorca, los chinos dejan marcas esgrafiadas en los pórticos de las pocas iglesias que les dejan libres los ucranianos de la diáspora y todo junto revela una conspiración judía originada en Praga, voy a hacer unas consideraciones intempestivas, personales e intransferibles sobre mis experiencias al andar por el mundo.

La primera, intrascendente, es que no me gusta Francia. En España, Italia y Portugal me encuentro como en mi casa. Pero no en Francia, y esto me extraña a mí mismo pues parece que al provenir del ámbito catalán, lo francés me debería ser más próximo. Lo cierto es que no me encuentro a gusto en Francia, qué le vamos a hacer. Michel de Montaigne escribe en su Diario del viaje a Italia al llegar a Roma (por boca de esa curiosa tercera persona que refiere a veces sus palabras): «M. de Montaigne se faschoit d'y trouver si grand nombre de François qu'il ne trouvoit en la rue quasi personne qui ne saluast en sa langue» (el Sr. de Montaigne se enfadaba al encontrar tantos franceses, que no se cruzaba con nadie en la calle que no le saludase en su lengua).

Hace unos meses estuve en Roma y sentí la misma molestia: oía hablar español por todos lados. Y esta es mi segunda consideración intempestiva de hoy, igual de intrascendente: de repente, en plena contemplación de aquellos lugares romanos que venero, en el instante de mayor recogimiento y meditación devotas, me taladraba el oído una frase en español crudo y rudo, generalmente un chiste o una gracieta tosca proferida a voz en cuello, aniquilando cualquier tentación de arrobamiento. En estos casos me venía a la mente de golpe el Saco de Roma, en aquel infausto mayo de 1527, con la ingente pérdida de obras de arte, con la violencia y la rapiña desatadas por las calles que supuso prácticamente el acta de defunción del gran Renacimiento romano. Imaginaba Roma llena de las voces, los aullidos y las tropelías de los soldados españoles (aunque los españoles eran menos de la mitad de aquella horda mercenaria, ya lo sé). Aquellos días, paseando por el Giannicolo y viendo ondear en la cima de la colina, desde la que se domina la urbe, la bandera roja y gualda en la fachada de la Academia Española, volví a sentir con fuerza este malestar. Quizá porque conozco el aire de superioridad que suelen adoptar los españoles enseguida que creen que hay el más mínimo motivo, o aunque no lo haya. Y esas bromas sin gracia que nos distinguen a la legua...

Y la pregunta es: ¿no será que esta manera un poco compulsiva de buscar huellas del mundo exterior en nuestra propia casa y, al contrario, la incomodidad que nos produce encontrar restos de nuestra procedencia en lugares extraños revelan un profundo malestar con nosotros mismos, aunque lo camuflemos de búsqueda de conocimiento, de sana curiosidad o de vaya usted a saber?

Pensaré un poco a ver si doy con una respuesta (...ahora mismo iré a ver qué dice al respecto Zhuang-zi).

Vista dominadora de Roma desde la Academia Española, arriba del Giannicolo.
La flamante bandera española señoreando el panorama, a la derecha, casi
no se ve en la foto. Hay otra en la fachada principal.

A note by Pei Di:

I don’t know how others are with this, but I, as a Hungarian often feel in a similar way when encountering Hungarians in abroad. I don’t know whether it is my fault, that of mass tourism, or simply it is to be attributed to what Julia wrote in comment, complaining about the same at the sight of Argentine groups: “It is obvious that the faults known from home grow to a gigantic measure in our eyes, while we prefer to hide the faults of other people behind the veil of tolerance, sympathy or pictoresque.”

It is a fact that precisely on the way home from Mallorca and waiting for the change at the Barcelona airport, four loud-talking Hungarian managers sat to the next table, and after two weeks spent with work and reception the cold wind of Eastern European reality touched me again. After a melancholic acknowledging of it I returned to the Lapidary of Kapuściński where I happened to read this:

My flight goes to Brussels at 8:30 in the morning. It’s a warm, sunny day, no cloud in sight. Warsaw, Okęcie airport. Four of our compatriots fly to the great world. They are young, but already corpulent, pot-gutted, with sloppy appearance, windcheater, crumpled checked shirt, incredibly dirty tennis shoe, worn jeans – one has the impression that an average Polishman only has one dress in 1989. As soon as they enter the waiting-hall, they go to the bar – each of them takes a deciliter of vodka. They are drinking, sitting, from time to time mumbling one or two words, but they mostly keep silent. They have nothing to tell to each other, perhaps they have nothing to tell at all – for anyone. The community created by vodka soon fades away. All the four are sitting dumbly, without moving, paralyzed. What should they do, what can anyone do here? Finally one of them (with some traces of intelligence reflecting on his face) winks to the others. The winking is immediately understood. The empty, dull tension which was covering them while waiting for the next vodka, disappears, and – finally! – some sparkling, some little light, some glitter appears in their eyes, some human warmth begins to spread on their faces. Na! Naaa!! They jump from the low, hollow armchairs, they run, their bellies are trembling, they are shouting, shrieking: the fucked… – they apparently feel better, they are happy to feel soon the fiery relief running down on their throats.

And then I thought: how strange that Kapuściński, who describes his observations always precisely and always with love, this time, writing about his own compatriots, was only precise.