Enslaved by wealth and ignorance


Трудно быть богом

In the eyes of a terrestrial observer, they all had something in common. Probably it was the fact that all of them, with almost no exceptions, were not yet human beings in the current sense of the word, but rather preliminary stages, blocks of raw iron ore out of which the bloody centuries of history would eventually forge proud and free men. They were passive, greedy, and incredibly egoistic. Seen from a psychological point of view, almost all of them were slaves – slaves of faith, slaves of their own selfs, slaves of their passing passions and slaves of their avarice. And if by chance one of them was born a nobleman, or worked his way up through diligence over the years, he did not even know what to do with his freedom. He rushed to become a slave once more – enslaved by wealth, enslaved by unnatural luxury, enslaved by debauched companions and enslaved by his own slaves. The majority could not really be blamed for this at all. Their enslavement was rooted in passivity and ignorance. Passivity and ignorance, however, would lead in turn again and again to their enslavement.

Boris & Arkadij Strugatskij in Hard to Be a God (Трудно быть богом), 1964


One after another, hard-pressed waves


One after another, hard-pressed waves
Curl in their green motion
And hiss white foam into
The brownness of sea shores.

Leisurely clouds one after another
Break open their round motion
And sun burns the air space
Between the scanty clouds.

Indifferent to me, as I to her,
The fair day’s disposition
Takes little from my sense
Of time evaporating.

Only a vague inconsequential ache
Halts a moment at the portal of my soul
And, after staring briefly at me,
Passes on, smiling at nothing.

Fernando Pessoa (1918, translated by Edwin Honig and Susan M. Brown)