northanger (northanger) wrote,


Serious turbulence is inescapable. There are easy parts, downhills, long straights like the old main roads lined with poplars or plane trees, and then there are hills, escarpments, sudden right turns, especially when you come to the transversal ranges of the five hundreds. You expect nothing but figures, and here you are back in your childhood, at primary school, among inkwells, work-smocks, sponges in satchels, the playground. You're back in the Russian mountains, among the "scenic railways", and the black marks for bad behaviour. You're counting in black and white. What ought to be a routine mechanical operation has become an altogether more difficult and fiddly affair. Have I missed out a ten? A one, or a hundred? Didn't I just make a mistake, when I was thinking of something else? Rather than being easy, ordered and continuous, the distance from one to a thousand is rutted and pot-holed. There's always a risk of you getting bogged down for good, or falling into a gap. Of hesitating, losing track and of starting all over again. Will this go on forever?

Now that you've finished counting, you can appreciate the magnatudes represented by a thousand years or a thousand souls. And a thousand times a thousand is utterly outside your range of visualisation, while a billion may be comprehensible to the reason, but it remains a blank to the emotions.


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