Imminent Equilibrium

“Most of all I enjoy central-heating control rooms, where men with higher education, chained to their jobs like dogs to their kennels, write the history of their times as a sort of sociological survey and where I learned how the fourth estate was depopulated and the proletariat went from base to superstructure and how the university-trained elite now carries on its work. My best friends are two former members of our Academy of Sciences who have been set to work in the sewers, so they’ve decided to write a book about them, about their crissings and crossings under Prague, and they are the ones who taught me that the excrement entering the sewage plant at Podbaba on Sundays differs substantially from the excrement entering it on Mondays, and that each day is so clearly differentiated from the rest that the rate of flux may be plotted on a graph, and according to the ebb and flow of prophylactics one many determine the relative frequency with which varying sections of Prague indulge in sexual intercourse. Today, however, my friends made an even deeper impression on me with a report of a war, a total, humanlike war, between white rats and brown, which, though it ended in an absolute victory of the whites, had led to their immediate breakdown into two groups, two opposing clans, two tightly organized rodent factions engaged at this very moment in a life-and-death struggle for supremacy of the sewers, a great rodent war over the rights to all the refuse and fecal matter flowing through the sewers to Podbaba, and as soon as the present war was over, my friends the academic sewersweeps informed me, the winning side would break down again, like gases and metals and all organic matter, into two dialectically opposed camps, the struggle for supremacy bringing life back to life, the desire for conflict resolution promising imminent equilibrium, the world never stumbling for an instant.” —from Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal

8 thoughts on “Imminent Equilibrium

  1. It’s an odd vantage point up on a hill near the waterfront. The drop to the water is steep here in places, and it makes for some interesting viewpoints. Unfortunately, I think those buildings are residences for seniors. They get a nice view of the water, but the air isn’t so great. Thanks for the comment and the recents likes and follows. I appreciate the feedback.

  2. Smokestacks and highrise buildings. A very rare sight here in Iloilo. I see an industrial cityscape in the distance. Here we only see rice fields. You were on the roofdeck when you took those pictures?

  3. I’m drawn to this picture. It portrays the industrial ugliness of what we’ve made. Very arresting. The darkness is very evocative. Every square inch works.

  4. “Struggling for the supremacy of the sewers.”
    For some, the fight will go on until only sewage remains. And they’ll continue to fight, because that’s all they know how to do. Powerful post.

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