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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Anna Kavan | Sleep Has His House (1948)

Shouting and singing and hullooing his satellites the gregarious sun comes ranting upon the collective stage. After so many billion repetitions you might expect him to be getting the least bit perfunctory : but not he ; no sirree. Like a conscientious actor determined to give the public full value for money, he rampages through his performance as enthusiastically as the first time he put on the act. Of course the rest of the cast plays up to him. The clouds jump to their opening positions, hurriedly snatching the gaudy properties of the cooperative scarf dance. On earth ocean bellows to ocean across the continents like allied commanders exchanging a salute of guns. The mutual greetings of the archipelagoes are more intime.

As the sunwaves break over the roof of the jungle, flocks of parrots burst upward from the dark teeming mass like an explosion of rockets. The monkey village yawns, fornicates, pinches, scratches, chatters itself awake. In honeycombed caves the glow-worms conglomerate starrily. In linked caves, between clotted stalactites, the bats hang themselves up together. The gentle pandas in their dainty dress indulge in party frolics among the rocks.

At sea it is the same thing : whales, porpoises, dolphins, flying fish, mackerel, sprats, all travelling in schools and shoals ; oyster-beds packed to capacity ; animalcula and foraminifera swarming in astronomical multitudes.

Higher up the scale there's no difference eiher. The tribal community rouses itself en mass. Everyone begins laughing and talking and praying and crying and cooking and washing and working on top of everyone else. The baskets of the fighting-cocks are placed close together for company's sake. Paying the civilized penalty, Mr. Whosit awakens flimsily divided from the tens or hundreds of rabbits inhabiting his particular warren. Quick the switch and the dial, then, to bring loud the voices of nations ; quick the collar and tie, quick the pants of respectability, the shined shoes to run to the crowded eating-places, the streets, the buses, the trains, the cars, planes, offices, parks, night-clubs, theatres, hospitals, churches, graveyards, tombs.

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