Strangely, I almost liked the guy, president of a large book-publisher. He was in perfect shape. His shape was round. His diameter was a meter across the hips, easily. Perhaps, I was reflecting, this is why there is so little ancient art left in the world. Perhaps ancient fat people bumped into buildings and statues and made them fall. Perhaps this is the real reason Rome fell. “I had a dream I was a billionaire,” he was explaining. Being one of the biggest capitalists in the country, obviously, he was still in his coma. “But I have tried to write, and I have failed,” he continued, “I don’t care a fig about!” And right there was the cursed paradox of it. Every door to success in literature is guarded by those watch-dogs, the failures of literature. Of all creatures under the sun the most unfit would decide what shall and what shall not find its way into print. Strangely, I almost liked the guy, because despite the fat, more nauseating than cod-liver oil, despite being the most inadequate to decide on my manuscript, I could imagine his happiness when sitting on a couch next to his wife, resembling a large pear, and their children, like cucumbers, explaining magniloquent to them: “It’s funny. For a while now writers speak out on matters within the publishing world. Meanwhile, publishers function as critics, in the worst sense of the trade, and critics as writers, in the worst sense of the trade too. Everything is a little confused, outdated. But I’m the future…” The book factory tour was proving interesting, anyway.
We were accompanied by a young engineer who showed us those gigantic matte black machines, shuttling tokens of energy. I was deeply impressed by that properly automated and educated world. It was as a pornographic fantasy of the nineteenth century, rape followed by gratitude. According to the engineer, the annual output of the factory amounted to fifty million books. But what impressed me was not the number of books printed, but the almost total lack of workers. Then we entered a smaller chamber. A metal monstrosity presided room. It seemed to be a mass of hard drives all fused with each other, but too sophisticated to be merely hard drives. And above them, a funnel. “To print a book,” said the engineer, “is enough to put paper, ink and gray powder into the funnel-shaped opening of the machine. Once these materials have been placed in it, in less than five minutes, we start producing lots of books of all sizes.” I watched the books coming out as a torrent. I asked the engineer what the gray dust was. “This,” he replied indifferently, standing, with certain air of importance, in front the glistening black glowing machine, “is donkey brains. Brains are dried and turn into powder. The current price is two to three cents a ton.” Then it all made sense.
Donkey brains – Dugutigui’s version of a Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s tale
In the “Diula” language in Mali, the term « dugutigui » (chief of the village), literally translated, means: «owner of the village»; «dugu» means village and «tigui», owner. Probably the term is the result of the contraction of «dugu kuntigui» (literally: chief of the village).