Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Siren of Dal



A bus running up the road somewhere in Haridwar
"Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never. Against the feeling of having triumphed over them by one's own strength, and the consequent exaltation that bears down everything before it, no earthly powers could have remained intact."
-Franz Kafka, The Silence of the Sirens (1917)

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"The valley is full of legends and superstitions, one of which is that certain stones to be seen beneath the waters of the lakes were at one time men, who for their evil deeds were condemned to die as rocks beneath the clear water until the lakes dried up. One is often shown the "stone men," which look very much like any other large rocks to our western eyes. Another legend is of a siren living on the border of the Dal Lake, who sings enchantingly if she sees one man alone, and beguiles him away with her, and he is never seen again, but if two men are together she does not try to ensnare them, or if the one lone man happens to have a gun and dog, so apparently she is a coward fay."

- 'Valley of Kashmir: India's Most Delightful Spot (Special Correspondence)', published in an American local daily 'The Logan Republican' (Logan, Utah) 1903, November 04. (Source: chroniclingamerica.loc.gov)

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"Proof that inadequate, even childish measures, may serve to rescue one from peril.

To protect himself from the Sirens Ulysses stopped his ears with wax and had himself bound to the mast of his ship. Naturally any and every traveller before him could have done the same, except those whom the Sirens allured even from a great distance; but it was known to all the world that such things were of no help whatever. The song of the Sirens could pierce
through everything, and the longing of those they seduced would have broken far stronger bonds than chains and masts. But Ulysses did not think of that, although he had probably heard of it. He trusted absolutely to his handful of wax and his fathom of chain, and in innocent elation over his little stratagem sailed out to meet the Sirens."

-Franz Kafka, The Silence of the Sirens (1917)



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