Excerpt: Waiting for the Barbarians

Excerpts from Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee:
“Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall, of beginning and end, of catastrophe.”

“One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation.”

“The Empire does not require that its servants love each other, merely that they perform their duty.”

“To the last we have learned nothing. In all of us, deep down, there seems to be something granite and unteachable. No one truly believes, despite the hysteria in the streets that the world of tranquil certainties we were born into is about to be extinguished.” 

“The jackal rips out the hare's bowels, but the world rolls on.”

“I truly believe I am not afraid of death. What I shrink from, I believe, is the shame of dying as stupid and befuddled as I am.”