1. The remake of “Anyone for Tennis?”

     
     
  2. Reposting. A Day at the Gallery. 

     
     

  3. Education #1

    *It will be a series of very brief reflections on education with no intention of finding a point.

    I once again stepped on a University campus to start another undergrad. As I cross the threshold, a guard rests at the entrance gate while a candid, and lazy, pack of stray dogs sleep at the turn of seven o’clock. This will be the third time I attempt to conclude a program. If I succeed it will be the second I finish. After almost one year of complete idleness secluded in my parents’ house it is nice to have in my mind a sentiment of resuming path worth traversing. My body requested me to feed it with works and texts that may or may not find its way into my soul. This time I will try doing it by burning my brain with “grammar rigor mortis”, ancient dead languages and cachaça.

    But while I will feel happy because I return to what I know best, a constant set of questions will come back to haunt me in the form of care. In fact, people are already asking me, as they have asked before when I was accepted into Philosophy and Liberal Arts majors:

    “What will you do with Classic Studies? No one speaks latin anymore. Do you want to be a professor?”

    This is quite true. I am not sure either what I can do, professionally, with Classic Studies. I cannot queue at a Starbucks and say “vellem nulla a magna.”1 I cannot hope that the sweet old lady doing her groceries in the morning will spare me an apple to offer to Mercury, unless she is my former classic literature professor Marie-Rose Logan. I probably cannot refer to Lucretius in a hearing to justify my inability to help someone after a hit and run:

    Thou’lt find but properties of those first twain,

    Or see but accidents those twain produce.

    My education, summing up the almost 10 years I have been enjoying higher education in its “lowest” form, doesn’t provide any benefit to the work force as it is. It would probably be seen as poisonous even in ancient Greece as I would probably be a sophist for that matter. Even if I become a professor who will guide other young people like me towards suitable workstations after listening to my wise words at the top of a stage, I won’t be helping anyone. The understanding of what a university in our times is but a reflection of what a university may have been in the past.

    When people ask me what will I do with Classic Studies they are actually asking how will I earn any money. But I could ask the same thing about the people who are earning an income: what will you do with all this financial independence your are harnessing? My inability to provide is equivalent to these people inability to see they are anything but cogs in an irrelevant mechanism.

    “Money has lost its narrative quality the way painting did once upon a time. Money is talking to itself.” Said Don DeLillo through one of his characters in Cosmopolis. If we exclusively think about our financial condition we are interpreting the world with a tool that has been redeemed obsolete. But I am not sure if my tool is the correct one either.

    So you can graduate in a prestigious engineering school and you can probably work for some famous contractor that will wreck havoc in Fallujah. But you won’t even know what you are doing because you rather not discuss it while drinking some cold light beer in the local pub not a few steps from your beautiful condo. That is the narrative that it has been written.

    I do sound bitter when I talk about our workforce because I get angry. I lose my temper because I know I am not very different from the people who earn the big bucks out of the flawed system. Even if I don’t have any means of making any money I still rely on the higher education system.I continue to find ways of sustain myself only with my writing. But how about all the minor things that are suppose to be done, like technical repairs or hotel cleaning? There is an hierarchy of judgment, even from me, that determine how much people should earn and how much they should be producing. And this hierarchy is never based on the development of a country or the maintenance of the specie or the safeguard of our planet: the objectives are always intersections of social interaction very far away from global well being.

    As I read [your letter] now, in the great silence of these distances, I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life, even more than when I was in Paris, where everything echoes and fades away differently because of the excessive noise that makes Things tremble. Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet #4

    I won’t go about some political nonsense to try finding what sort of system or ideology should be propose to fix this issue because it won’t take us anywhere. It was never a problem or believes anyway. Those are only excuses we like telling ourselves to justify our ulterior motives. We just don’t want to take the garbage out, neither we want to wash the dishes.

    But I thank my dear Jihii in pointing me to Rainer. I bet all I am talking about here are the anxieties generate when you are young and you have to resolve your life.

    1 This is “I would like to have a large coffee” translated into latin by Google Translate.

     

  4. I found a fantastic spread of Lucretius here…

     

  5. Rousseau, meia tarde, e umas flores roubadas

    *This is a short story I wrote in Portuguese.

     

    Paris, no mesmo instante em que Jean-Jacques Rousseau encontraria uma trágica epifânia em seu segundo Passeio


    Caminhava sem pensamentos num belo começo de noite, subindo a rua Ménilmontant. Nem poderia falar sobre a entropia da vida porque me faltavam palavras para tal; me foram tomadas por afazeres mais imediatos para um homem camponês como eu. Digo, assumindo que essas palavras não são minhas, já que minha sofisticação não passa além do projeto de pães. Tudo se tornaria irrelevante ao aproximarmos-nos de um impasse em meu mal começado devaneio.

    Por detrás de meus pensamentos um enorme cão dinamarquês abria caminho para uma carruagem que acelerava em violenta passagem. A tranquilidade que meu pai contava por Paris desaparecia por entre passos secos de cavalo. O cão , de porte impecável, desenvolvia movimentos vigorosos, liderando a evolução do carro. Seu focinho aprumava-se da mesma forma que uma seta de flecha sempre chegava antes de sua calda. Sua língua buscava refrescar a desenfreada empreitada de transporte. Seu olhar era cego.

    O impacto era certo. Senti a desigual transpiração do leviatã canino decidido em continuar sem avaliação posterior. Não poderia supor que um cão de porte “Cerberano teria qualquer entendimento de casualidade. Sua corrida era de consistência cosmológica que o excluía de qualquer interacção terrena. Era um evento inevitável e precedente de um escolha cuidadosa. Era uma metáfora ainda a ser contada.

    Mas havia um porém: a rua descrita, para a avaliação e resolução do desastre, é por mim apreendida apenas em semântica. Não tenho qualquer vinculo sensível com a disposição das calçadas e postes, se é que tinha tais objectos em tais propriedades. Acredito que minha disposição empírica pouco se atentaria a descrição precisa da estrada, já que tentava evitar um acidente que me impediria de exercer meus afazeres mais fundamentais, deixando minha esposa e  filho numa posição muito delicada. Não poderíamos arcar com meu tempo em repouso. Mas isso seria desnecessário. Pude desvencilhar do fatídico choque, com um movimento nada gracioso, com não menos dignidade.


    Recobrava-me a consciência para então cair novamente em perplexidade. Já remontava em minha cabeça o que contaria sobre o embate  aos poucos amigos que compartilhavam bom gosto pelo vinho em minha taverna preferida. Mas nem sobre recolecções ponderei ao ver que o cão, ainda determinado a chegar em seu destino longinquo, não desviaria de um senhor a sua frente. Esse velho parecia se aprumar para um salto.”Que estúpido” pensei e nada fiz. A tensão que o senhor produzia em sua pose heróica me remoía por dentro. Quem ele achava que era para tentar tamanha sandice? Pular um animal em cruzeiro para esquivar de sua trajetória? Sua postura logo foi substituída por uma posição mais cômoda para receber o impacto. Era inevitável.

    O choque foi Fortiano, um dado a ser esquecido na história. Notei que no momento ulterior ao impacto o senhor mantinha um olhar fixo na besta. O cão prosseguia. Os enormes ombros do brutamontes foram de encontro ao senhor, levando-o ao chão, de cabeça, como se fosse feito de papel. O velho levanta voou e poeira até o encontro de sua fronte ao firmamento. Foi belo. Fora tão robusto que as muitas analogias que poderia descrever o poder da natureza, φύσις, me faltaria momento para conjecturar. Era o tropel do cão a trajetória incomunicável.

    O velho senhor, estendido no chão seco, contorcia-se sem qualquer sinal de consciência.  Sangue escorria por sua mandibula que parecia ter sido dilacerada por pequenos monstros em forma de laminas. Era um pensamento profano. Via o velho ser comido vivo por pequenas aberrações e me satisfazia com o espetáculo. Me aterrorizava pelo prazer. Aonde estava minha mente? Precisava observar os bons costumes e interferir no acidental coma do infortuno homem que cruzara a irrefreável besta. Me dirigi ao inconsciente e notara que éramos apenas ele e eu. O céu se fechava e a noite se dirigia ao palco. O universo conspirava para esse quase moribundo ao me colocar em tão estratégica condição. Ele ficaria bem.

    Ao vê-lo de perto um transe se interpõem entre nós. Sua pose desajeitada parecia uma seta formada pelos seus braços. O objeto de sua simbólica, e inconsciente, atenção era um buquê de flores e plantas que jamais havia visto em minha vida. Não conseguia manter o foco no homem, e inflamava meu coração com promessas esdrúxulas de amor e glória. Eram flores sobrenaturais. Flores do abismo; seus encantos não eram comuns. Mas me prometiam altas e claras; queriam o meu bem. Tudo que deveria fazer para satisfazer essa promessa era levá-las dali; prometê-las o fim merecido. Como manteve cativas tão belas flores?Teria ele algum coração?

    Via agora a providência do universo. O cão, o velho, as flores não se encontraram por um acidente vil da casualidade. Foi o poder da justiça em criar a oportunidade da libertação. Meras flores não fariam tal acidente tão cruel. Apenas flores destinadas a acidentes cruéis o fariam. Não perderia mais tempo. Recolhi cada parte do buquê que havia se esparramado com a queda. Maldito velho! Merecia mais que apenas um choque. Merecia ser também aprisionado. Merecia nenhuma misericórdia. A mim, tinham as flores, e podia me libertar. Meu amor para sempre seria marcado com sangue da ressurreição.

    ***

    Diante da lapide o remorso destruía meu teatro. “Aqui jaz quem achava que o mundo o perseguia”. Eu o deixei. Tive a chance de mudar seu destino, agora ele mora nos céus acreditando que o vil o matou. Porém não pensava dessa forma. Um homem iletrado como eu não haveria de saber quem era Rousseau. Mas meu roubo incidental causara-me estranhas sensações de vidas que nunca tive, como se aquelas flores tivessem me dado o poder de ver as possibilidades que nunca foram. Experimentei um pouco de cada uma delas; bêbado de todas as culpas.

    Essas flores nunca recuperaram meu amor. As prometi a liberdade e as dei. No fim só haviam flores mortas em minhas mãos. Minha esposa morta. Eu partia aos poucos.

    Devolvia o que havia tomado, para deixar de morrer. Meu movimento era mesquinho porém simbólico. Flores malditas que deveria ter ficado no abismo.  Viveria o que tivera de viver a me lamentaria da morte da minha flor; e do velho. Seu destino era cuidar das flores e minha angustia terminou sua tragédia. No fim o único indiferente foi o cão. Impassível, viril e constante. Nada se importava senão destino. Meu destino era cão.

     
  6.  
  7. Iracema hipster

     

  8. Women as Poetry

    It is easy loving women because they resemble poetry. Their beauty is a raw power within so effervescent it transcends the flesh. Beauty so raw power that while transcending still remains away from curiosity, bubbling in desires against inner struggles. Their exterior façade copes with the river that flows quietly inside; a river that is wide, deep and long as the Amazon.

    I personally find these nuances and conflicts the most attractive phenomena in this barren reality; but why is that we don’t see it exploding in every corner, exuding in life everywhere? What does it make it resonate so quietly within the cages of chastity?

    One of the greatest Brazilian Novels is José de Alencar’s Iracema. It is the story of the forbiden love of a white European, who first arrived in the region of Ceará, for a Native Brazilian Tabajara whose name is the novel’s title. It may well seem like any other white-men-falls-in-love-for-a-native story, just like Pocahontas or Avatar. It is a story of taming the wild while feeling incredibly attracted to it. Why do we believe they should be tame? The moment we educated the first civilizations of the Americas, Africa and Oceania we shut up their gods and their inner lights with them.

    It is not uncommon to find in art entrapping these wild desires in forms and shapes. What it should upset me I often don’t give a damn because they don’t resonate with my heart at any point. It is the costumery colonial and imperial vision of many who seem to come to this world to conquer it and that doesn’t click on me even if could save my life. But I struggled many years to understand the verses of my favorite Brazilian poet, Vinícius de Moraes, on his spoken passage of Samba da Benção, Blessing Samba:


    Senão é como amar uma mulher só linda

    E daí? Uma mulher tem que ter

    Qualquer coisa além de beleza

    Qualquer coisa de triste

    Qualquer coisa que chora

    Qualquer coisa que sente saudade

    Um molejo de amor machucado

    Uma beleza que vem da tristeza

    De se saber mulher

    Feita apenas para amar

    Para sofrer pelo seu amor

    E pra ser só perdão

     

    Then if not, it is just like loving a woman who is just beautiful.

    So what? A woman have to have:

    Something beyond beauty

    Something sad

    Something that cries

    Something that feels longing

    A hurt love’s springiness

    A beauty that comes from sadness

    to know being a woman

    made just for loving

    to suffer for her love

    and to long for forgiveness


    I often read these verses as quite sexists and therefore resonates with all the masculine energy in art that I am not certain that it makes into my heart. He was exalted as a man who loves women more than anyone else, why would he portrait them in such light? A woman who is just made for loving? It sounded like a prostitute to me. Was he trying to say they were not meant to be loved in return? After honestly reading these passages I decided I didn’t want to be associated with him the same way I avoided being associated with the other artists who also diminished women in their art and who also believed women are suppose to be tame.

    But what I think he meant, although to say “but what I think he meant” sounds like someone trying to apologize for someone else’s bad behaviour but I expect this not being the case here, by sadness and willingness to love and suffer is exactly these inner struggles that women have to endure their entire lives. You should not tame their longingness. You should allow them to accept their feelings so they can be whole again. The woman who is just beautiful in this song is a ruse. It is impossible for a woman to be “just beautiful.” For a woman to be just beautiful she has to be completely detached from her raw power, and that could be translated into “taming the beast. “ But they are much more complex than men because they have to conciliate with this raw internal power to allow themselves to be free. To be tame and docile, to diminish this power, is to be a man.

    The brain was taken hostage of this silly dispute when we divided it into two parts: the right artistic side and the insipid left one. Arts is about expression of the inner movings of our hearts while science urges for the world to stop so we can experiment on it. Right is freedom while left is tame. I don’t believe the brain, the mind, can be quite divided so cut clean between opposing forces: I think this is another effort from the left side to make everything into categories. Why doesn’t the right side resists? Rather, how is the right side resisting?

    Some of the arts that survived the scientific and colonial efforts to put these into categories because their inner structures do not accept incarceration. These are forms of art intrinsically connected to the our wild and beasial spirit.  Poetry is the champion of all that is beyond chains. That is why women are the right side of the brain because they are poems. Men often say they cannot understand women because they are not clear and don’t say upfront exactly what they want. The collective desire of all men is that women simply say aloud what they have in mind. They often say women are too ambiguous and they could be much easier to live with if they were more logical. This ambiguity is exactly what makes them more special anyone could ever imagine.

    William Empson was a famous literary critic who delved in the qualities of ambiguity in poetry and he started the second edition of his book about the subject clarifying the meaning of dichotomies:

    “An ambiguity, in ordinary speech, means something very pronounced, and as a rule witty or deceitful. (…) The word in an extended sense (…)[is] relevant to my subject in any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same pieces of language.” (Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity)

    …alternative reactions to the same pieces of women. Besides sounding cannibalistic, the parallel I am tracing with Empson is that women are attractive precisely because their contradictions. There is nothing witty or deceitful about them, although the “ordinary speech” understanding of ambiguity is exactly what the canon have attributed to women. The examples start at either the Bible or the Book of Songs but is also contained in Iracema,etc.. In fact the very first poem of the Book of Songs, titled Guan Ju or the Cry of the Osprey, is about a young peasant girl seducing a lord away from the rites and customs of the Chinese people. It is starts with the cry of the earthly and unbound osprey and it ends in a band contained in a marriage.

    What Empson inadvertently, because I don’t know if he had women in mind when he stumble upon this insight about poems, brought to the table was that complex beauty exists on a multitude of meaning of any given word, concept or person. Freedom and beauty intersect when there is space for several iterations of the same world.


    The irony is that I never really liked poetry until now: after Empson and after relating it to women. I could never really see that poetry was always setting us free from ourselves when it deceived us into believing on the absurd of a little bird to be also a young church boy. It might have been more interesting saying differently how I started: It is easier being attracted to poetry because they resemble women.

     

     

  9. goodgirlsdivein said: Your post on attraction was amazing. Muito legal.

    Muito obrigado! I hope it was not just a solitary rant after all and that it might have brought you some freedom into your life. 

     

  10. When I tried being attracted to men…

    image

    I find it way too easy to be attracted to women even as I pass by the unfriendly Rio de Janeiro’s open markets. I observe their eager consumption of shoes and nail polish while they neglect my presence in a bus going to a park. There is no effort in looking at their exuberance and feeling my body transpiring something beyond genetic rush. It is different. I am not sure if other people who are attracted to women see them the way I do, but I watch them as if they are paintings happening right in front of eyes. They are poems in the verge of a well placed semicolon.

    I once tried being attracted to men but I end up gazing at an unknown fellow who probably thought I was hitting on him. Quite the contrary: I tried finding the elusive brush stroke in his stance but I could only find the approximation of a number to zero in a limit. I wanted to feel the artistic contradictions in his aura but I end up with a homemade “Disney trip 1988” picture of a fake mountain coming from his fading smile. I tried reading him as a poem, the same way I read beautiful women, but I saw a graph.

    I do find some men quite handsome, indeed. But instead of being attracted to them I am simply jealous of the attention they get. I wish I could look like them in a way. If I don’t think about it I am often satisfied with my looks but if by any chance I think that women prefer them to me, I desire even more to be like them. My average height and my inclination to speak the entire content of my mind in one breathe does not stick well against a tall leather wearing casanova who speaks only the necessary.

    But it is quite the effort for me to find men attractive because I cannot see the same dichotomy I absorb from women. If women are poetry, men are an extremely bitter order of an IPA. Because men are precisely apparent with their presentation. The first taste you get overwhelms you palate and whatever comes beyond that is numbed. There is no art to it. I could never find that beautiful.

    I believe the male energy to be quite dominant, almost authoritarian. I could never find that attractive. There is nothing I shiver the most about than dictatorships of any kind. So when I often hear that women are in fact quite attracted to commanding personalities I am always very reluctant to accept that: nothing wrong desiring this sort of presence but that is something so distant from myself that I have a hard time dealing with. I live in the anarchy of the sou and could never survive that sort of rigid environment.

    The closest men get to ambiguity is when they are as mysterious as they are handsome. These gents, in fact, also live in the imaginarium of women just like the authoritarians. But these men dissipate fast from ladies’ eager minds as soon as their mystery is unveiled. It is quite the silly game in the end because women will go along at this road so far as they are excited enough with the idea of “fixing” a guy, and the mysterious gentlemen my be in fact falling in love into a trap. And it may feel that this happens a lot but it is just frequent in movies and TV shows rather than in real life.The true ambiguous man is quite rare.

    Besides the dominant personality theory and the mysterious gentlemen, I have a hard time trying to explain in a different way why women are attracted to men. There is nothing I could explain it would make sense to me. I often find myself not attractive enough to women exactly because I am the opposite of mysterious and dominant. But my inability to think myself attractive is rather a personal struggle of being someone who doesn’t leave space for wonder than to understand if I am or not attractive as a man.

    But these qualities of fantasies, of fixing a dominant type or trying to figure out who this mysterious guy is in his interior, are inherent in the “personhood” instead of explaining why women are attracted to men. It is our desire to transform people around us into something that is more appropriated to our view of the universe. Women do so more discreetly because their desire is that their indirect influence will change people, not their saying of something. While men wish people listen and follow their instructions directly. I don’t want people to change for me at all.

    Perhaps if I could find a suitable analogy, like poetry for women, men could suddenly become attractive. But rethinking of all the math examples, like graphs and limits, I find myself already bored. Logic is a set of judgements that doesn’t allow paradoxes, therefore it is something I could never be attracted to. Despite all my efforts there are sensibilities that are quite far away from my taste.

    But thinking back about women and men: will us be forever bound to these judgement and preferences? I know I am not the most orthodox man and that may hurt me in the game of attraction. But I am also very attracted to what women really are, the beautiful verses they produce with their lives. That is why I put faith in the equal rights movement because it shows us there is a way to escape all that. So I change my question to: when we will be free? Does poetry and math work together?