Kering (Drought)

I just finished reading Kering (or translated at Drought) by Iwan Simatupang.  It’s part of the wonderful series of books published by the Lontar Foundation in Jakarta, the Modern Library of Indonesia.

It’s a very strange and compelling book.

In his opinion, normal man was to blame for every disharmony in the world.  The normal man allowed the devil full rein.  The devil, a genial enough creature, was God’s adversary.  One day Satan would gather together as many normal people as he could and try to storm heaven a second time.

“Normal” was another word for “lacking initiative,” “lacking in originality,” “boring,” imitative.”


The edition I read is translated by Harry Aveling from Australia.  The book is full of strange, surreal imagery, and rich metaphors about the struggle of existence, and the commitments we make to move forward despite all of our conflicts.


It was pure coincidence that he had not utilized it.  A coincidence he was not dead.  Coincidence he was still alive.

Now he could not.  That was deliberate.  He had deliberately decided not to die but to live.  Deliberately?  That was coincidence too.

His trajectory had been a mixture of unintentionally deliberate acts and deliberately unintentional acts.  This same trajectory had propelled him onto this unpaved road beneath the drought sky.

With this paradox, all contradiction vanished.  We are deliberate coincidences, and coincidentally deliberate.



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