‘If you divide death by life, you will find a circle.’ Theodor Hertzl
This blogpost is inspired by the book Apeirogon, a Novel written by the writer Colum McCann.
The title of McCann’s novel is Apeirogon, this is a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. The latest eruption of violence between Palestina and Israel have made me go back to this book and my notes. A few days ago I saw the statement of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte about the violence on the news and that same morning I saw at the online South African newspaper News24 the response from the South African Government:
Mark Rutte defends Israel and the South African government is condemning the attacks by Israel. In Apeirogon, a Novel Colum McCann repeats the words said by Theodor Hertzl ‘If you divide death by life, you will find a circle’. This motif of the story, the circle, and death…. is important. What I interpreted from this book is that it is important in our world, ( that is a circle..,) to act and talk with the infinite number of sides in our minds. Above statements, both, do unfortunately not honour this principle. I wish world leaders who are trying to stop the violence would read this book. Sometimes it is just one story that tells it all.
Palestina and Israel are inhabited by an infinite number of daughters, sons, parents, uncles, mothers, living rooms, bedrooms, spaces that are supposed to be safe….
Another motif in this Novel is the presence of birds and the live of birds. They migrate across our world. In the story you will find the following chapter:
39 Folklore has it that, to this day, migratory birds avoid flying over the fields of Theriesenstadt.
In 2021 Israelian people and Palestinean people are being violated, and the birds see it.
With the book in my mind and the violence currently erupting in Palestina and Israel my body sits with the following questions:
When will the birds stop flying over Israel and Palestina?
And will we wait for that to happen?
In his Author’s note Column McCann writes “ We live our lives, suggested Rilke, in widening circles that reach out across the entire expanse.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
But I will give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
And I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
A storm, or a great song?
If we, like Rilke, think we might be a bird, what will we do? Will we keep circling around it? Or can we write a different song?
– Column McCann Apeirogon, A Novel
– Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize
– Bloomsbury Publishing 2020 United States