’I’m actually from Kuilsriver, but we moved to Paarl and I got heavy asthma - so we decided to move here. Since we’ve been here I don’t get any asthma - nature became my health-pill here. I’m relaxed. We are totally off the grid - we don’t have a landline, or cell reception and the police van doesn’t even catch his radio signal here. We are cut off from the world and like it that way - and the kids can’t bother us unnecessarily. We do go to town once a week and then they can reach us. If there is an emergency the police will come out and call us. I prefer this place, because here you can actually see the stars - you get the feeling that they are so near that you want to pick them like flowers, while in town you don’t see it as there are too many lights around you. Here you get the darkness and it is so near to nature. I look at the moon basically every night because I walk up and down between the kitchen and here. Actually when I look at the moon I can almost tell you how many days it will be until full moon or till dark moon. You pick up a lot of things about the nature - like when it will rain. You can tell by the baboons and how they are screaming, by the ants carrying their food. Nature is absolutely part of my life here and I wouldn’t exchange it for town - not at all. I mean, you can’t actually describe all of this, you got to be here to feel it - to be part of it… sort of. I just acknowledge myself as a very privileged person, to be here - just to see the sky and nature on the ground and everything all come together. You have to be here to see what is going on - to live with it. Then you start to believe how great nature is, how great God is. I mean he put everything there for us and it fits together like a puzzle. I got no worry about time because when you are in nature you lose time, because there are so many things you observe. Time is not a factor here. You must not worry about getting older because you will get older.’Read More
‘When I was a young girl, we didn’t have telescopes. We had small binoculars mostly because it was after the world war. Today there are so many telescopes - and they are amazing. From this little size from where you could see the moon and the Planets to that big one over there where you can see literally everything.’ - Jess van Elferen, Shopkeeper, Telescope Shop, Brakpan, Gauteng.Read More
‘My three books are all about time, in them time becomes plastic, malleable, time becomes a thing which people can use as a weapon, time becomes a thing like where you can play a leapfrog war, you leap ahead in time, you get there earlier than the guy you are trying to destroy, you wait and when he pops out of sub metric space into metric space you zap him! That is where time becomes a theatre of war. Also, I love time. Everyone knows this story, about the two young fish. They are swimming along one morning, and they say ‘o what a lovely morning’. And they meet the old fish, he comes past and he says ‘hey, hallo boys’, he says ‘the water is nice this morning hey’. The young fish says, ‘what’s he mean by water?’. That’s like weird, like us saying - what do you mean by time? Is time granular, I don’t know. I think they worked out something like there is a Planck length for time, I’m not sure, don’t quote me on that. One of my characters says ‘time and space are granular they inhabit each others intestines, give them a shake and they come apart’. But this is all bullshit, all science-fiction. A real physicist would laugh, mind you I do have a physicist friend who read my books. He said ‘ja I enjoyed it’, he said ‘Jesus Tom you know, you come up with all this absolute nonsense and made up bullshit and it is so plausible!’. Which is a big compliment.’
‘What makes this system so powerful is that you can leave the earth - you are not stuck on the earth anymore. Traditional planetarium shows are stuck on the earth looking up at the night sky, now we can fly away from the earth and travel through the universe, moving out into space - right back to the beginning. We don’t actually have data sets that go that far back, but be can get really close, looking at some of the galaxies billions of light years away from us and, of course, when you are looking at those galaxies you are looking back in time - into the past. This is strange because we are looking at objects develop, seeing them as they were a very long time ago.’Read More
'"Ten . . . Nine . . . Eight . . . Seven . . . Six . . . Five . . . Four . . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . . Zero!"
The constant punch of thunder shakes the whole area. All eyes are focussed on the heavens or monitors that show images of the heavens. Inside them VR3 shrinks on top of an intense column of fire, first moving slowly, then faster, then unbelievably fast until it microscopically swims into the blue sea of heaven.'
'If man ventures out into space, he needs to be prepared to realise quite a few other things. That he was not the first intelligent being to do so and that he was not even the first child of Terra to leave his mother planet in this way. He'll learn to be humble. And further: That Terra is not the only planet in the heavens. That he can forget his allegiance to Terra. That he himself might change out in space, that he will never totally be and think the same as his fellow humans on Terra.'
From chapter 1 and chapter 11, Die Groen Planeet (The Green Planet), Jan Rabie, First edition, 1961. Translated from the original Afrikaans by Nic Grobler.
Photograph inspired by Die Groen Planeet, Jan Rabie, 1961.
'Meteorites or shooting stars are regarded in the Xhosa speaking community as a bad luck omen. This is because it is believed that when somebody dies they become an ancestor and the spirit of that dead person is wandering among the stars guarding us from the evil spirits. So if, perhaps, one dies as a bad person then that person would be a bad spirit or ancestor and up in the celestial sphere the good ancestors would kick out the bad ancestors - so when you see a meteor coming down you are actually seeing one of those bad ancestors being kicked out of the celestial sphere and it falls down. When you see this we say ‘let the bad luck pass us for we are not the only one who saw that’ - meaning that we associate that with bad spirit.'Read More
'For real, that is not a shadow, but an upright being squeezed up against the edge. Kind of like a human form with two arms and legs, a narrow, oval face framed by a cap looking like a bare skull, clothed in a blue overall that they only had a glimpse of previously. Dead quiet. Francois lowers the torch, lifts it again. One thing is for sure: this being is just as afraid as they are.'
From Die Hemelblom (The Heavenly Flower) by Jan Rabie, 2nd edition 1974, Tafelberg, first published 1971. Translated from the original Afrikaans by Nic Grobler.
The first encounter with Marwa, the main alien character in Die Hemelblom takes place in a collapsed cave near the Cederberg - she hold hands with the humans to make it out alive.Read More