Irretrievably lost.

“When the train left Tokyo Station, Tengo took out the paperback that he had brought along. It was an anthology of short stories on the theme of travel and it included a tale called “Town of Cats,” a fantastical piece by a German writer with whom Tengo was not familiar. According to the book’s foreword, the story had been written in the period between the two World Wars.

In the story, a young man is travelling alone with no particular destination in mind. He rides the train and gets off at any stop that arouses his interest. He takes a room, sees the sights, and stays for as long as he likes. When he has had enough, he boards another train. He spends every vacation this way.

One day, he sees a lovely river from the train window. Gentle green hills line the meandering stream, and below them lies a pretty little town with an old stone bridge. The train stops at the town’s station, and the young man steps down with his bag. No one else gets off, and, as soon as he alights, the train departs.

No workers man the station, which must see very little activity. The young man crosses the bridge and walks into the town. All the shops are shuttered, the town hall deserted. No one occupies the desk at the town’s only hotel. The place seems totally uninhabited. Perhaps all the people are off napping somewhere. But it is only ten-thirty in the morning, far too early for that. Perhaps something has caused all the people to abandon the town. In any case, the next train will not come until the following morning, so he has no choice but to spend the night here. He wanders around the town to kill time.

In fact, this is a town of cats. When the sun starts to go down, many cats come trooping across the bridge—cats of all different kinds and colors. They are much larger than ordinary cats, but they are still cats. The young man is shocked by this sight. He rushes into the bell tower in the center of town and climbs to the top to hide. The cats go about their business, raising the shop shutters or seating themselves at their desks to start their day’s work. Soon, more cats come, crossing the bridge into town like the others. They enter the shops to buy things or go to the town hall to handle administrative matters or eat a meal at the hotel restaurant or drink beer at the tavern and sing lively cat songs. Because cats can see in the dark, they need almost no lights, but that particular night the glow of the full moon floods the town, enabling the young man to see every detail from his perch in the bell tower. When dawn approaches, the cats finish their work, close up the shops, and swarm back across the bridge.

By the time the sun comes up, the cats are gone, and the town is deserted again. The young man climbs down, picks one of the hotel beds for himself, and goes to sleep. When he gets hungry, he eats some bread and fish that have been left in the hotel kitchen. When darkness approaches, he hides in the bell tower again and observes the cats’ activities until dawn. Trains stop at the station before noon and in the late afternoon. No passengers alight, and no one boards, either. Still, the trains stop at the station for exactly one minute, then pull out again. He could take one of these trains and leave the creepy cat town behind. But he doesn’t. Being young, he has a lively curiosity and is ready for adventure. He wants to see more of this strange spectacle. If possible, he wants to find out when and how this place became a town of cats.

On his third night, a hubbub breaks out in the square below the bell tower. “Hey, do you smell something human?” one of the cats says. “Now that you mention it, I thought there was a funny smell the past few days,” another chimes in, twitching his nose. “Me, too,” yet another cat says. “That’s weird. There shouldn’t be any humans here,” someone adds. “No, of course not. There’s no way a human could get into this town of cats.” “But that smell is definitely here.”

The cats form groups and begin to search the town like bands of vigilantes. It takes them very little time to discover that the bell tower is the source of the smell. The young man hears their soft paws padding up the stairs. That’s it, they’ve got me! he thinks. His smell seems to have roused the cats to anger. Humans are not supposed to set foot in this town. The cats have big, sharp claws and white fangs. He has no idea what terrible fate awaits him if he is discovered, but he is sure that they will not let him leave the town alive.

Three cats climb to the top of the bell tower and sniff the air. “Strange,” one cat says, twitching his whiskers, “I smell a human, but there’s no one here.”

“It is strange,” a second cat says. “But there really isn’t anyone here. Let’s go and look somewhere else.”

The cats cock their heads, puzzled, then retreat down the stairs. The young man hears their footsteps fading into the dark of night. He breathes a sigh of relief, but he doesn’t understand what just happened. There was no way they could have missed him. But for some reason they didn’t see him. In any case, he decides that when morning comes he will go to the station and take the train out of this town. His luck can’t last forever.

The next morning, however, the train does not stop at the station. He watches it pass by without slowing down. The afternoon train does the same. He can see the engineer seated at the controls. But the train shows no sign of stopping. It is as though no one can see the young man waiting for a train—or even see the station itself. Once the afternoon train disappears down the track, the place grows quieter than ever. The sun begins to sink. It is time for the cats to come. The young man knows that he is irretrievably lost. This is no town of cats, he finally realizes. It is the place where he is meant to be lost. It is another world, which has been prepared especially for him. And never again, for all eternity, will the train stop at this station to take him back to the world he came from.

Tengo read the story twice. The phrase “the place where he is meant to be lost” attracted his attention. He closed the book and let his eyes wander across the drab industrial scene passing by the train window. Soon afterward, he drifted off to sleep—not a long nap but a deep one. He woke covered in sweat. The train was moving along the southern coastline of the Boso Peninsula in midsummer.”

Fragment from 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (sursa)


The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

“I remember, in no particular order:
– a shiny inner wrist;
– steam rising from a wet sink as a frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
– gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;
– a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torch beams;
– another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
– bath water long gone cold behind a locked door.” (sursa)


„Corpul e singurul meu animal de companie.

Îl îngrijesc, îl hrănesc, dar încă n-am ajuns să-i vorbesc.

O prietenă din Canada mi-a zis de curînd că ea poate.

Am invidiat-o sincer, mai ales că m-am hotărît să las dracului toate scuzele din lume și să încep să alerg.

Obiceiul ăla nesuferit care te scoate din casă pe orice vreme”

(p. 5, Aleargă, Ana Maria Sandu)

Se joacă în Green Hours. Și se joacă bine.

Encounters with Difference

Call for Papers

Travel Writing is centrally concerned with narrating encounters with difference. This conference seeks to further the discussion of how gender influences these encounters and the writing thereof. While recent years have seen renewed scholarly interest in travel writing and in questions of gender in the field, we believe there are still crucial questions to be asked about the gendering of travel and travel writing. We are interested in addressing questions such as: How does gender interact with and modulate other kinds of difference, particularly cultural or racialised difference, in these texts? How are processes of othering, racializing, and gendering mutually implicated in travel writing? Do encounters with others trouble writers’ own identities – including gender identities, as colonial or imperial subjects, of European supremacy – or are these troubling encounters neutralized by recourse to other forms of difference, such as race? What part does gender play in different kinds of travel writing, and in writing from different locations and cultures?

Furthermore, we seek to ask how gender defines and shapes travel writing as a (hybrid) genre: How is and were definitions of travel writing gendered? How does and did gender play into questions of authenticity, fictionality and the proper scope of travel writing? Does or should travel writing include the narration of forms of travel such as forced migration, and how might this change the field?

We welcome papers from scholars of all fields interested in travel writing, including literary studies, art history, geography, ethnography and history. The conference will be held in English, but papers on travel writing in any and all languages are welcome. We invite papers on travel writing, particularly from the 18th–21st centuries, that engage with all questions of gender and difference. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender and the definition of travel and travel writing
  • Space, place, mapping and gender
  • Travel writing as nature writing
  • Travel writing as a hybrid genre, e.g. political discourse in personal correspondence
  • Relations between authenticity, fictionality and hybridity
  • Gender and the reception of European travel writing outside Europe
  • What is the role of gender for non-European travellers? Is the intersection of gender and imperialism relevant?
  • Queering travel writing and the study of travel writing; travel writing and sexuality
  • Gender and travel photography
  • Travel writing, gender and affect
  • Travel writing, gender and forms of authority accruing to writers and travelers through travel writing
  • Gender and the forms of knowledge and social commentary articulated in travel writing
  • The significance of travel writing for knowledge production through history

Please send proposals for either single 20-minute papers (abstract approx. 250 words, plus short bio and institutional affiliation) or panels of 3 papers (brief description of panel theme plus 3 abstracts) to by 15 June 2017.



Found a really cool sci-fi review blog.

„The interesting thing about books showing a utopic (I know the word doesn’t exist, neither do space elves but we have both!) society – where people don’t need income, to feed themselves, where everyone is free to pursue whatever passions or hobbies they have – is one common factor. You live long enough you see yourself not turning into a villain, but you do get bored. If for a baby the world is a wondrous place full of mysteries, for a 500 year old person everything starts to repeat itself. The ones that want to survive seem to be the head cases, the obsessed or the ones that were changed or changed themselves to always feel satisfaction from what they do. I’ts something that appears in more than one book, the real killer is boredom. Immortality seems to suck after a while.” (from Temporal void review)

Check it out:

Quote of the day

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars