BagelsinAugust

fischer

Oct
15

He had rowed out on his own to a quiet stretch of Margit Island with a whole boatful of textbooks, leaving no clue as to his whereabouts. It was just him and the mathematics. One on one. Lying in the heat of the elderly summer, Gyuri opened the books to lay himself bare to calculus, to bask in the equations, but while his tan deepened, somehow his erudition didn’t. He felt cheated. Like jumping off a cliff, he had hurled himself at the distant algebra, but instead of plummeting down to impact with those formulae, he just hovered above, aloft, some covert anti-gravity repelling him from the maths.
Relishing the unrationed sunshine, he succumbed to a bout of ant-shepherding. Prior to this, his only dealings with ants had been stepping on them, either by accident or squashing them when they invaded his possessions or edibles. He had partitioned himself at the intersection of a number of formic caravan routes and spent the better part of three hours devising olympianly a series of obstacles and tests for the ants with the aid of twigs, leaves and extracts from his lunch sandwiches. He toyed with the idea of becoming a great entomologist, a world-leading zoologist. As far as he knew, biology was an area unpolluted by Marx though some of his disciples, like Lysenko, had tried to make up for Marx’s silence on the phyla.
The fascination of the ants had run unabated as long as there was no other distraction from the maths. Mathematics had this to recommend it, if nothing else: it made everything else, ants, English, push-ups, ironing, washing-up, beguiling and wonderful. Whole new galaxies of interests had popped open now that the maths exam was drawing close; anything unconnected with maths was irresistible.

pgs. 44-45, Under the Frog

During their post-micturition conversation, the elderly peasant had also told Gyuri: ‘Take the most rotten individual imaginable and there will always be someone, usually very stupid, but not always, who’ll say no, no, he’s simply misunderstood. Misquoted. Even with murderers, when they write about them in the newspapers, they have a wife or a mother who says he’s not bad, he’s a lovely boy when you get to know him. You ask anyone here to say anything in favour of Farago; ask people who’ve known him all their lives to say one thing to his credit, just one courtesy, one thank you, one favour – you’ll find the people of this village as quiet as melons in long grass. His own mother, if Farago was waiting to be executed, would only say things like “Make that noose tighter” or “Is it permissible to tip the hangman?”‘

pg. 75, Under the Frog