Once Again I feel Beneath My Heels

18 January 2011

..the ribs of Rosinante.”
So spake Che Guevara, on the eve of his departure from Habana, Cuba — land of aromatic cigars, rum and women — to the rat lands of southern Bolivia, where he met an untimely end and, worse, indifference from the local population to his appeals for revolution.
A Social Entrepreneur, Breaking Bad.
Rosinante, you will recall, was the beat up nag of Don Quixote. Don Quixote is one of those awesome novels that everyone knows they should read but — like Ulysses, Rembrance of Things Past, and Goin’ Rogue — you know you never will. Why? It’s long. It’s histrionic. The author, Cervantes, falls back on Deux Ex Machina whenever things get slow. In fact, he does it so much it’s more like Deux Ex Factora, or Deux Ex Industrial Parka.
Thing is, though, as you’ve probably guessed, I AM reading Don Quixote, and in the original Castellano, no less. I am about halfway through it’s 1,400 page girth. Why? Because one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (100 Years of Solitude) said that you couldn’t consider yourself an educated man until you had. I’m doing it, then, so you don’t have to, and will still be able to claim you are educated.
Marquez also advised the only way to get through it was to put it in the bathroom and read a page a sitting, which is what I’m doing.
It’s not all dull, however. Far from it. One part is based on Cervantes’ own experience as a slave of Islamic pirates in Algeria. Five years after he participated in the battle of Lepanto, the last naval battle employing galley slaves as the main form of locomotion, Cervantes was taken captive by Corsairs and taken to Algiers. Kidnapping for ransom was a popular Business Model back then (how little has changed), and in order to encourage their captives to write home for ransom money the captors would periodically impale one of their captives on a large iron roasting spit. Except they didn’t do it in a civilized way, like “Dracula the Impaler” (I know, you thought he was a vampire) farther up north, but rather inserted the tip of the pole in the “fondo” of the victim, and then pushed it “at times so far it almost came out his mouth”, according to the author. It took them two days to die.
The things you learn, on your path to becoming “an educated man.”

Rupert Scofield


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