In this brief and surreal excerpt from Imperium, Kapuscinski's prose is tight, vivid, and memorable.
Through the act of worship, a people confer formidable power on that most inanimate of objects, a stone.
This immortal energy lives inside the stone like a perpetual captive.
And is released back to people through the caresses of their lips.
Before movie idols, before rock stars, and before pop icons, people revered rocks.
And their power consumed them with desire.
"The people of the Uzboj worshiped sacred stones. This is typical of inhabitants of deserts, who revere everything they have at hand - stones, gorges, wells, and trees. Fighting was forbidden in the place where a sacred stone stood. The stone protected one from death. A concentrated force dwelled inside it, imprisoned in an immutable form, bestowed upon it for all eternity. Kissing the stone gave people an almost sensual pleasure. Rashyd calls my attention to a fragment of The Voyage in which...as Ibn Battutah writes..."the lips feel an immense sweetness when kissing stone, so that one wants to go on kissing it forever." To the people of the Uzboj, a stone was a divine being."