Jonathan, I did not know that was a hobby of yours!! I miss hearing Yiddish, I really do. Maybe you can teach us a few new ones.
I have a feeling I can learn a lot from the people in Number Our Days about aging and how can you lose with so many people on this website with incredible perspectives, and memories, too.
But since this is the Sci Fi short story discussion and I saw Ursula K. Le Guin's name, I thought I'd read hers because I don't read a lot in this genre but I have read hers, and I like her immensely.
What did you all make of it? Is this what you meant, Pat, by There's truth even if you haven't been under surveillance too. Have any of you ever had some external circumstance remind you of your inner strength and purpose, and set you back on your path?
And then Frybabe talking about "free from surveillance."
I had some difficulty with it. If he's really under surveillance how did they let him get away?
It IS true the gardens at Versailles are immense and easy to disappear in but they are enclosed by gates as he said, it wouldn't have been easy IF they were keeping an eye on him as he supposes, close to him at all times? But apparently they aren't.
Is it possible it was all in his mind? Perhaps he feels watched and confined but really isn't? So what set him free here was....
I notice that when "free," when he has decided to "defect," he doesn't know what to do. Should he approach one of the embassies that late at night? He walks on. He goes back to his hotel (or is it?).
I have to admit she beguiled me with the fountains. The fountains at Versailles are...there are no words. I happened to stumble on them being turned on one year when visiting, they were only on on Sundays (then), they may be every day now, tho I was there year before last and they were just beginning to turn them on, but it was raining.... There is a new fountain directly behind the palace being built, and I am afraid of what it's going to look like, but anyway...The workers come and manually turn these gigantic water wheels, and it's interesting that Le Guin chose to talk about them being extinguished, because what's really stunning about them is when they come to life. The other is a let down. It's a return to reality. And she says that: The tremendous voice of uprushing and downfalling water became a rattling, coughing sigh. It was all through, and everyone stood for a moment alone.
Is she saying his new found "freedom," if that's what it was, in his "defection," even in his own mind, is a let down? Why is he crying? But no, he's striding like a king through the lobby. I kept looking for the rest of the story but there isn't one.
I actually, an old woman, actually RAN from one to the other of the fountains as they came to life and they turned them on, it's... it's an experience like no other and it's hard to describe unless you've seen it. It takes forever to turn them on, there are so many and to run to this one or that one and finally just give up, there are too many, and she's right, they can't run them all the time so they begin to turn them off.
(Versailles didn't used to have fountains or water features at all. Louis XIV kept a smaller court in Paris called Marly, the Château de Marly which was a wonderland of water featured because of the nearness of the Seine. Torn down and turned into some sort of factory after the French Revolution, the statuary, the famous Horses of Marly ended up in the Cour Marly in the Louvre, after briefly being put in public in the Place de la Concorde. The only reason I know about it is because from the same chateau came statues of Atalanta and Hippomenes which we read about in Latin. Also now in the Louvre with replicas in the Tuileries.)
So he sees the fountains and it gives him the strength to go on his own? But then his "minders" get back on the grey bus and leave him? All they would have to have done is wait by the gates, he would have to come out, but he says he doesn't really want...He was not long in the groves, an hour or less; there were gates to be locked and he did not want to be locked in
Knowing now that he was both a king and a thief and so was at home anywhere, what turned him to his own land was mere fidelity. For what else should move a man, these days? Kingly he strode past the secret-police agent in the hotel lobby, hiding under his coat the stolen, inexhaustible fountains.
So in HIS mind he has decided not to defect, he's turned again to his own land...a "thief" and a "king."
What happened next, in his life, do you think? I'm trying to figure out how he is different. A perfect choice for a discussion, there's something that everybody sees here that I don't.