Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Pigeon

Tonight, I’m a little late making it to Book Group, which is a double blow as this week we’ve been reading a very short book, The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind and consequently, discussion is already tailing off by the time I arrive.

The novel follows a day in the life of a fanatically ordered fifty-something in Paris, who’s world comes crashing down the day he finds a shitting (literally) pigeon on the threshold of his flat.

Not a necessarily an ‘enjoyable’ read per se, but interesting and very good in parts. Other parts sadly disappoint and the ending is, we all agree, very unsatisfying.

Post book discussion, debate moves on to anything and everything. Conversation flows as freely as the wine and beer. Sat outside in the sunshine laughing and talking – it’s not a bad way to spend the evening.

B may disagree a little as one of the numerous circling swallows, decides to empty it’s bowels over her. I’m not sure if it was trying to emulate Suskind’s pigeon, or whether it was a comment on her (white South African) political views, which came out again tonight.

I like B immensely as a person and she’s fascinating to talk to about this stuff and challenges the liberal (she’d say PollyAnna) views of myself and others in the group. The influence her background has on her views, is at the same time both insightful and deeply disturbing.

I find impossible however, not to get riled by statements carelessly thrown in about how this or that race are inherently useless in such a way, or how Nelson Mandela and ANC cohorts were ‘skulking in jail’, for all those years.

And how do you react when someone tells you about the practice amongst white South Africans for training guard dogs, by paying a black child to torment and torture it as a puppy, so that it grows up with an in-built hatred of an entire race?

I guess growing up in that kind of world…well it’s an insight into the heritage that B brings with her as baggage. I think living here has started to change some elements of it, but even so.

I can’t sit back and let such outright racism go unchallenged, but it’s very weird to find yourself liking someone at the same time as feeling complete revulsion about the views they espouse.

Stuff I probably need to hear though, even if I don’t want to.

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