17 August 2011

ONE-HUNDRED FIRST

Sufyan, kindly fellow that he was, went over to where Chamcha sat clutching at his horns, patted him on the shoulder, and tried to bring what good cheer he could.  "Question of mutability of the essence of the self," he began, awkwardly, "has long been subject of profound debate.  For example, great Lucretius tells us, in De Rerum Natura, this following thing: quodcumque suis mutatum finibus exit, continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante. Which being translated, forgive my clumsiness, is 'whatever by its changing goes out of its frontiers,' - that is, bursts its banks, - or, maybe, breaks out of its limitations, - so to speak disregards its own rules, but that is too free, I am thinking... 'that thing', at any rate, Lucretius holds, 'by doing so brings immediate death to its old self.'  However," up went the ex-schoolmaster's finger, "poet Ovid, in the Metamorphoses, takes diametrically opposed view.  He avers thus: 'As yielding wax' — heated, you see, possibly for the sealing of documents or such, — 'is stamped with new designs And changes shape and seems not still the same, Yet is indeed the same, even so our souls,' — you hear, good sir? Our spirits! Our immortal essences! — 'Are still the same forever, but adopt in their migrations ever-varying forms.' "
— Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses