Claro Agora

NÃO FOI UM CLARÃO MAIS UMA ESPÉCIE DE AMANHECER tão lento que nem me apercebi de que agora estava claro e antes não estava se calhar só reparei por ver os cantos que continuavam às escuras apesar da luz talvez e a ideia de que agora era preciso expô-los não foi minha acho eu a ideia primeiro não estava lá e depois de repente estava lá como se esse sempre tivesse sido o seu lugar o seu lugar certo o lugar não sei bem se para começar ou para continuar todos os claramente urgentes despojos o único lugar de onde se pode proclamar que se foda amanhã e que se foda a morte.

• • •

It’s Not Wrong

 

I NEED TO KEEP TELLING MYSELF THIS until convinced that my poor judgement my chronic lack of discernment and all those other flaws aren’t any more somber than anyone else’s and that it is very possible that I may have resisted admitting that their glorification was a fucking monumental waste of time that as if it would somehow tarnish an imaginary medal I’d awarded myself yes yes I know that my head being a souq is no excuse it is what it is.

 

 

• • •

De Olhos Fechados

 

EU SEI EXACTAMENTE O QUE SEMPRE QUIS mas nunca soube que sabia só suspeitava que talvez fosse um truque uma prestidigitação um obstáculo menor que quer ser vencido em nome de pequenos e pedestres louvores um rito de passagem mas ela diz que não que é um dique ou um fosso só pode e é tão difícil explicar-lhe que não quero saber que não é sequer para aí que estou a olhar.

 

 

• • •

Fôlego

AFINAL HÁ UNS TODOS QUE TE CORTAM O FÔLEGO que são tão raros que te esqueces que para serem todos inteiros e dessa dimensão toda precisam de ser salpicados dos sobressaltos que te fecham num poço negro num poço que parece não ter saída mas lá vais saindo e a cada vez que sais lembras-te e afagas-te com o calor de achar que percebeste que o sobressalto afinal era preciso tu que sempre juraste a pés juntos que só os sobressaltos existem o mesmo tu que agora descobre que o fôlego sim se esgota e que sem os sobressaltos então nunca mais se te cortava sem eles esse teu todo não ia mais deixar-te sequer respirar e então já não era todo já não tinha dimensão era só era como se não fosse.

• • •

The Infinite Loop

Rui Sanches — Sem Título (2012)

 

I get stuck sometimes.

I don’t mean stuck as in “frozen” but literally stuck in an infinite loop, processing the same set of mental steps, over and over, unable to detect an exit.

Yes, it sounds slightly mental but there’s a familiar tranquillity to it, much in the same way as the prospect of going to prison may be daunting at first, but there is still no denying that the idea of a prolonged isolation from initiative, or even reaction, is a blessing of sorts; all of a sudden, only a very specific universe of possible steps exists, there are no external variables. What has to be done, but especially what can be done becomes very clear.

The curse of it all is that no matter whether I embrace or question the thought, it just becomes another infinite loop in the next order of magnitude.

Maybe it’s not that important.

 

 

• • •

Se calhar não interessa

NÃO SABES NEM NUNCA VAIS SABER a culpa é tua de reparares nos mais ínfimos movimentos de um pescoço num encontro de olhares que dura mais tempo do que aquele que tu definiste como sendo o tempo suficiente para olhares razoáveis tempo esse que nem sequer sabes quanto é num olá ou num adeus que te parecem despropositados e que te deixam a pensar durante muito mais tempo do que aquele que alguém mais normal do que tu alguma vez lhes dedicaria mas mesmo assim isso aquece-te um bocadinho por dentro mas não sabes porquê nem nunca vais saber não vais nunca saber se estás certo ou se estás errado ou se tudo isso sequer interessa.

• • •

Mamihlapinatapai

BOM NÃO ERA MESMO NADA DISSO até podia ser mas na minha mente nunca como objectivo primeiro só se fosse mais como efeito secundário e seja como for ia-me atrapalhar à mesma não por não saber o que fazer mas mais por saber perfeitamente que não era capaz de o fazer bem ou pelo menos de o fazer sem arestas porque a dúvida sabes basta-me a dúvida para ter a certeza de tudo o que não sei e ela só se dissipa com um tempo que não temos que ninguém tem a menos que não saibamos que queremos é isso é preciso querer sem saber se calhar e alguém tem que começar.

 

 

• • •

Fica Aí

O QUE TU QUERIAS SEI EU querias saber o que é que é para fazer agora o que é para fazer a seguir só que nada é o que tu querias que fosse nada é sequer o que tu estavas convencido que é e lá em baixo está um breu que te assusta mas se calhar agora até já nem te assusta tanto assim mas não interessa porque assim como assim já nem trampolim tens para saltar não interessa porque se calhar já percebeste que não tens nenhuma dívida que te mande saltar não interessa porque podes ficar aí um dia acaba fica aí pronto.

 

 

• • •

Todos Os Nadas

NÃO SEI SEI LÁ EU DESTA ANESTESIA que não te protege de nada e que faz menos efeito quando te dás conta que é a única que há mas que mesmo assim é precisa apesar de não te proteger de nada porque era ainda pior que te protegesse menos do que nada bem sabes que claro que há menos do que nada bem sabes só não sabes é que só tu é que sabes dos teus nadas que são menos que nada e que todos somados são tudo e não são nada.

 

 

• • •

Está Tudo Bem

FOI O QUE ELE DISSE que estava tudo bem disse que o normal é ter dúvidas e também disse que o normal não existe o que me baralhou um bocadinho porque isso do normal existir e não existir ao mesmo tempo arranhou-me sem eu me dar conta imediatamente foi-me fazendo cada vez mais comichão ao longo do dia e quando comecei a coçar nada estava assim tão bem.

 

 

• • •

No Worries

YOU’VE SPENT YOUR WHOLE LIFE WORRYING about all that could happen but never did happen and you knew it all along and still defend that all that never happened never happened precisely because you worried about it happening because oh yes it would surely happen if you didn’t worry about it and now that nothing really happened you worry that it so happens that there’s nothing to worry about anymore.

 

 

• • •

Almost

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID is not what I did say come to think of it I didn’t actually say anything at all which usually feels like it is the right thing to say or even to not say and I now see that it isn’t not always not ever almost but the almost is precisely where I live even if I only wish to live somewhere else than this almost but that’s all there is to me that’s all that means something to me you know the suspended state between decisions is the one thing I should have said but no words exist to say almost so I guess I’ll wait.

• • •

Nós

DESCULPE MAS EU NÃO SEI QUEM VOCÊ É não existe aqui nenhum contexto em que essa sua estranha curiosidade seja conveniente eu não perguntei nada de significativo ou revelador de propósito e sim acho que é normal eu esperar que retribua a cortesia uma vez que não temos doze anos e portanto tenho quase a certeza que nem você nem eu temos vagas disponíveis para a posição do profundo dialogante quer a posição esteja por preencher ou não pensando bem até é um bocado suspeito que tenha sequer a mais pequena das compulsões para definir isso como uma lacuna que é preciso corrigir basta falar do tempo ou dos livros dos filmes do teatro ou da inocência das crianças ou da desesperante trivialidade da vida essas coisas todas todas elas perfeitas para serem imediatamente esquecidas porque acredite que já não consigo mesmo lidar com a tentação de desfazer nós para ver mais nós com a tentação de nos desfazer a nós para nos ver a nós.

 

 

• • •

What To Do

I AM VERY SORRY AND ALSO VERY AWARE that I ought to have gathered the courage or the patience to tell you to go fuck yourself but I’m still not sure I ever will perhaps because it’s painful or else simply moot by now and no I have not thought this through seen that I’m not even sure that the distinction is important and maybe I did tell you to go fuck yourself just now come to think of it but it doesn’t really matter anymore I’m sure you’ll know what to do.

 

 

• • •

Poetry

 

I know exactly fuck-all about poetry.

It’s not that I haven’t tried, I have very often and very hard, too: after all how could I resist the temptation, led on by a high-school teacher’s remark, that reciting poetry was the surest way to impress girls? So and in step with was being discussed in class I attacked Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud and all of the poètes maudits with unparalleled determination: all my other ploys to dazzle girls having met with various degrees of failure, poetry couldn’t conceivably fare worse, I thought.

I could already picture my then unrequited crush on her veranda hopelessly swooning at my declamation of the Fleurs du Mal under the full-moon. I was going to be Cyrano, damn it, and without stupid Christian de Neuvillette, too.

Sadly, reality intervened: no matter how much I read I invariably rebelled in anger after a few pages, jumped from my chair, paced the room furiously, yelling the by now familiar, for-fuck’s-sake-get-to-the-fucking-point-what-in-god’s-name-are-you-trying-to-say-make-it-stop-it’s-making-my-head-melt-oh-hell-yes-I’ll-have-another-drink-or-ten-et-meeerde litany. Also and to add to my despair, try as I might, I couldn’t memorize a single verse.

I had no problem with the poets themselves, mind you: their biographies were fascinating. After all, how many drug fiends, gun runners, absinthe drunkards, runaway criminals and suicidal maniacs does it take to make me take notice? Not many and there were plenty of those.

The fact is that Roxane looked very distant now.

It is true that I may have been an arrogant little twit back then and simply didn’t have the tranquility and wisdom that may have been needed to fully appreciate the rhythm, flow and music of the words. Today, as time has changed me into a much bigger arrogant twit, poetry doesn’t anger me as much and I do read some of it with great pleasure. Always careful, always on the look-out for the signals that are going to make me boil again, and sufficiently wise to know when to simply put down the book, should I feel attacked again.

Not that I understand it any better, though. Some of it stuck much like the many other passages from authors who aren’t poets and often for reasons that aren’t especially noble. I can quote Verlaine’s first stanza of the Chanson d’Automne for instance (les sanglots longs/des violons/de l’automne/blessent mon cœur/d’une langueur/monotone) but the explanation couldn’t be more pedestrian: it is prominently featured on the movie The Longest Day. And by the way can you spot the apparently arbitrary separation of sentences and how irritating that is? Right.

Perhaps the word “poetry” has a very specific connotation in my mind, one which doesn’t correspond to what it is usually understood to mean; Shakespeare, to me, isn’t classified under “poetry” for instance. Not even his sonnets, which, incidentally, have served me well with many a Roxane. Or a few. Well, at least one. Who would’ve thought that one day I’d softly whisper into some beautiful ear, …Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved? And yet I did, and the words worked wonders.

My high-school teacher, who I’ve now come to realise must have been an incorrigible romantic, failed to tell me about the most important fact about wooing your love interest with poetry: namely that in the dance of courtship it is equivalent to the thermonuclear solution. You don’t simply pull out the verses for no good reason and offer them trivially: for one your ammunition is limited (trust me, it is) and then the effect is lost if it is used too often.

You could always use your charming struggles with poetry instead; I’m told that it works extremely well.

• • •

Eduard

Votiv Kirche, Wien
Votiv Kirche, Wien

 

I first met Eduard Kosmack by coincidence on a lazy Viennese afternoon.

While exploring my new surroundings I came across a museum of modern art, right next to where we lived. There was no merit or elevation in any of this, no thirst for art, no sublime sharpening of the inner vision. The truth is simply that I was out of cigarettes and the museum’s coffee-shop was the only establishment open on Sundays. As it turns out, it didn’t sell cigarettes either.

(mais…)

• • •

Where Life Is

 

There is an infinity of purposeful silence in the microscopic pauses of the torpid white noise.

• • •

The Sublation Hypothesis

The reason for writing what I write is, I think, clarity: I’ve always been convinced that if I use the right words and the right amount of words, I will at some point understand whatever it is that I need to understand, and that time and practice will reveal all of the perfect and accurate sentences that make everything make sense.

So far, the results have not been brilliant: I can’t honestly affirm that the miles of text I’ve written, whether public or not, have put me any closer to understanding what hurts me, infuriates me or fascinates me and, with time and age, the premise that such perfect words and accurate sentences even exist at all is becoming increasingly suspect.

I do not write for the sake of the words themselves, in adoring awe of their phonetic harmony. It is very confusing to read an introspection that sounds like a random aggregation of fragments which the author thinks are beautiful enough on their own, and that, as such, they dispense with the need for any kind of structure, reasoning, message or even purpose, other than having the author being told how beautifully it is written. Yes, I am aware that poetry and many forms of stream of consciousness could maybe be interpreted that way, but poetry has its own rules: they do things differently there.

This confusion is not a judgement of pure literary value, seen that I have no authority or skill to judge it, but it is one of procedure: if the intention is personal scrutiny it seems to me that such introspection would be better served if there was some evidence of a structured inner dialogue, even if only somewhat.

Sadly what I often see is easily digestible, vaguely philosophical tripe, bits that you can ‘like’ or ‘republish’ without having to engage in any kind of intellectual activity which might help to elevate the mind from its comfortable state of insipid stupor: I suspect that most run away from sublation as if it were a character flaw too embarrassing to confess in public.

In their defence the prospect of being pulled into an infinite exercise in Fichtean dialectic, in permanent search of Aufhebung takes more time and effort than scribbling a few oh so beautiful words about “Love”, “Life” or “Purpose” (always capitalised) or the cause célèbre du jour, the bottom of this pit being obviously posting pictures of your cat as a sufficient statement of personal ethics or esthetics. I am not saying that it is wrong to do it, but rather that I can’t see the point of the exercise, possibly due to shortcomings of my own.

My only certainty is that I, for myself, need to write even if I’m not often particularly fond of it, less reaching for beautiful words than I am reaching for some kind of order.

For the record, I haven’t decided at some moment in my life that writing would be the better idea: the words themselves seem to have claimed me, before I even had a memory of them, and I have never discovered a way to escape them even if I usually want to. Frankly I’d sooner rather listen to music, or enjoy a good meal with friends, for instance, if only the words would leave me alone. But they don’t, they never do, ever. It’s a torrent that can’t be contained.

The reasons for this are, at least in part, obvious, and can be ascribed to the usual explanations: yes, I read, but most importantly I write, regardless of the value (literary or otherwise) it may have to others. I write here, on notebooks, on loose sheets of paper, on napkins, envelopes, restaurant receipts and anything that can be scribbled upon. It’s no mystery that writing lots makes you want to — or maybe need to — write more, recursive as that sounds.

I have no idea how I suddenly find myself painted into a corner, writing about why writing will help me understand writing, still dissecting words and sentences, still looking for the perfect and accurate ones, in a whole new maze of contrapuntal derivations.

What I do know is that if the only comment I elicit, from you, myself, or anyone else is any variation of “it’s beautifully written”, then I’ve failed.

Miserably.

• • •

What do all these Ithakas mean?

 

Have you ever experienced that moment when something that has appeared in your life, apparently randomly, slowly becomes a central obsession to the point of making you think that you either suffer from some kind of mental disease or else the universe is trying to tell you something really really important?

It is the moment when I suddenly realise that I am being pulled into an inescapable vortex of wonder, born from some mysterious fractal algorithm where each fragment of information I unveil is another world onto itself, one again made of other fragments, endlessly. It is the moment when like a blinding light it hits me that all of it has always been in me, the moment when I loose every concept of my own self as if I was being shown a dimension of me which transcends any kind of rationalisation I have to offer. This how feel right now and I can hardly breathe.

Let me tell you a story:

Many years ago during a more dissolute period of my life I found myself at someone’s house party. I can’t remember how I got there (or much of the party for that matter, don’t even think of asking why). By six in the morning or so, when the music isn’t as loud and more intimate moments set in, when small groups of hushed conversations form, I found myself sitting on a couch next to a man, silent as I was, both of us peacefully observing the living room while looking within. He looked different, foreign. A lanky but graceful surfer with a face that could have been chiselled from the rocks of the Cyclades.

How the conversation (if I can call it that) started I don’t know. We exchanged a few words in English and the whole dialogue can’t have lasted more than a few minutes. He introduced himself as “Ithaka”. “That is a curious name,” I offered, “isn’t that also an island in Greece”?

He then explained that it was his stage name and that because he was part Greek, he had chosen it because of a poem about the island, a poem he “really liked and tried to live by”, proceeding to either show me the poem or maybe recite it from memory or else tell me to look it up, I can’t recall which. What I do remember is that it was beautiful: full of longing and wisdom and comfort and sadness and hope. Still, it was six in the morning: I filed it in some obscure and night-soaked drawer in my mind and have never since thought about it again, except for these lines which sometimes resurface for no apparent reason:

Wise as you will have become, with so much experience,
you will understand, by then, these Ithakas, what they mean.

To my recollection we exchanged no further words. This is all I remember of both the poem and the man and never saw him again. Much later of course I connected this encounter with the artist Ithaka Darrin Pappas, living in Lisbon at that time and whose music I actually owned on CD (just one album had been published back then). I found out by chance that he used to surf and hang out with some other people I knew tangentially but that was about it.

Not much of a story, then.

Except for Cavafy.

Later, when my delight with his work began, I couldn’t help but to feel that, amidst all the joy, I was missing something important. Why did it sound so familiar? Maybe because of Pessoa? Or Alexandria? Yes, those are obvious, but there still lingers an inexplicable and undeniable melody that resonates within me for reasons that feel so my very own, as if sometimes he was writing to me personally, as if it was part of my very fabric.

And then I found Ithaka (or was it my destination all along?)

Ithaka

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Constantine Cavafy — Ithaka

The resonance is older, much much older. It may even be older than that chance encounter. I can’t begin to describe how this all makes me feel: a little more complete, connected to myself and excited at the prospect of diving carelessly into it all, trembling in anticipation at the prospect of discovering the glow of new infinite threads of light and of making them shine even brighter.

Maybe I have indeed become sufficiently wise and experienced to have been allowed to understand what all these Ithakas mean. This is how the voyage begins and I hope it’ll be a long one.

• • •

The Silent Sea

(or, my first true gesamterfahrung of the French language.)

Il fut précédé par un grand déploiement d’appareil militaire. D’abord deux troufions, tous deux très blonds, l’un dégingandé et maigre, l’autre carré, aux mains de carrier. Ils regardèrent la maison, sans entrer. Plus tard vint un sous-officier. Le troufion dégingandé l’accompa­gnait. Ils me parlèrent, dans ce qu’ils supposaient être du français. Je ne comprenais pas un mot. Pourtant je leur montrai les chambres libres. Ils parurent contents.

Vercors — Le Silence de la Mer

I did have some prior contact with French before, but not at the level of actually analyzing literary works. As a portuguese high-school student my experience of it had been a very formal and limited one, where many grammatical rules were taught, verb conjugations were reviewed with an iron resolve and vocabulary was an afterthought. It is little wonder that I consistently and predictably flunked the class, year after year after year.

(mais…)

• • •