Saturday, January 24, 2009


A mysterious word is written on the side of an abandoned temple: OURANOS, meaning "heaven" in Greek. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio recalls: "I would sit there for a long time, half hidden by the tall weeds, looking through the leaves of the bay laurels at the strange word without understanding. It was a word that took you a long way back, to another time, to another world, like the name of some imaginary land. ... This was the time when it was most beautiful: the blue, cloudless sly and the white stone of the temple so intense, so dazzling, I would have to shut my eyes. Then I'd look at the magical name, and with only that name, I'd be able to take off, like going to another land, like entering a world that didn't really exist yet. There would be nothing but the blank sky and the white stone, the tall white marble columns, and the chirping sound of summer insects, as though they made up the very sound of the light. I would sit for hours at a time on the threshold of that world, without really wanting to enter it, simply looking at those letters that said the magic word and feeling the power of the light and smells. Even today, I can still recall it, the pungent smell of laurel, of bark, of broken branches baking in the heat of the sun, the smell of the red soil. It's more powerful than reality, and the light that I gathered at that moment in the garden still shines within me more clearly and more intensely than the light of day" (The Round & Other Cold Hard Facts, 2002).