Two Lines 28
In this village there’s a cat
who knows the abyss.
—Luz Pichel, tr. Neil Anderson
Last week Spotify sent me a playlist, and I love probably ninety-nine percent of the songs on it. I was also looking for a new kitchen faucet online, and now every ad I see is for a faucet I’d probably buy. But I hate shopping for anything, let alone faucets. And, even though I love each song, the Spotify playlist tailored just for me is a horrible mix that mashes my workout music against music I listen to just before bed.
Not everything in this issue of Two Lines was chosen just for you, but each was chosen lovingly, and I’d suspect some of the things you’ll like best will be surprises, which don’t fit neatly into what you’d be expected to like. Literature is a place where an individual, half a world away, can say something unique to them and you immediately feel it, despite never having thought of it in that way, like the frustration of being a kid in Saskia Vogel’s translation from Johanne Lykke Holm’s The Night before This Day:
It’s a terrible thing to be a child. You stand in line with the animals, the crops, and the machines. You open your mouth and speak. You hear the adults say: Something’s coming out of that child-mouth. Impossible to know what.
Or the loneliness of the angel in “Mirror” by Carsten René Nielsen, translated by David Keplinger: “…an angel, who is giving itself a shave. Even though it has no reflection, it holds up a shaving mirror and lifts up the chin, as it has seen humans do.”
Literature is the wonder that comes from learning that you already know something incredibly personal to someone you’ll never meet, from somewhere you had never considered and no algorithm could have possibly guessed.