The Feel-Good Rethoric


Looking at this construction at a remove, it’s easy to see the trap. Setting out to love yourself because that’s the only way to gain love from others is a knot that undoes itself when pulled; needlessness as the tactic to get something one needs is impossible. But it’s an attractive emotional tautology in part because it keeps those who subscribe to it trapped in its hamster wheel, forever able to blame ourselves for wanting, when the fact of wanting is both the reason for never finding a relationship and the proof that we are not ready for it.

Helena Fitzgerald — There is no such thing as being ready for love.



• • •



It’s maybe a pity that we usually trust potent first impressions, programmed as we are to not question the paraphrasing of character, no matter how skewed or suspicious it may appear. If it is charming enough, we can’t even distinguish that which in hindsight is clearly a patchwork of unconnected traits which appear to be uniquely interesting.

By default, we give such persons the benefit of the doubt, I suspect, because there is something vaguely addictive to finding ourselves in the position of the ones being picked apart, analysed, dissected, and yes, cajoled; the immediate rush of a false sense of importance hides the true nature of what we desperately want to classify as an exchange, but is nothing of the sort.

It’s a con and we’re the mark, soon replaced by the next one. Since their capacity to understand the true depth of what they are borrowing is limited (were they to understand that depth, they wouldn’t need to borrow anything, to begin with, of course; it would have been built over time, unique, impossible to copy), quickly drained, they permanently need fresh new material to borrow from.

Later, our surprise at how easily we fall into this trap, at discovering that this isn’t a real person, but rather a palimpsest of fragments of poses, like years of concert flyers pasted upon each other on a phone booth, wearing off unequally over time like a meaningless and dysfunctional collage, and at how people like these, nowadays, are the very definition of success and aplomb, is wholly unjustified: we’re the ones feeding it.

All things considered, it could be worse, we could be them: assuming that they even get that far, it has to be a fucking calamity to realise that you have no character of your own.



• • •



— Oh boy, I’m an idiot.

— Well, that’s not a huge surprise then, is it? I mean you’ve known this for a while.

— Right, no surprise there, of course. What fascinates me is the consistency with which I keep going at it, since… well… forever.

— Maybe you’re hoping that outright persistence will trump observation, or something?

— Oh no, no matter how much I wish it were so much more than an ode to ineptitude, it just fucking isn’t. Oh well.



• • •

The Price of Revelation


All I know is that there is a door.

I don’t know where the door is exactly, but the one thing that gives me hope is knowning that whatever is on the other side of it, is nothing like anything on this side. It may be better, worse or else entirely different. Also, I am convinced that being unable to anticipate the pain is precisely what makes the prospect of opening it so terrifying.

Then again, that’s probably because I don’t really understand, can’t really understand, the insignificance of the imagined price to pay for the ἀποκάλυψις.

Still, it’s an exit. Or an entrance.

I can almost touch it now.



• • •



It’s difficult to admit that we all, without exception, regardless of how certain we are of the purity of our intentions, have occasionally plundered and fed on others.

It’s not commonly considered noble to do so, much less to flaunt it, true, but the fact that it afflicts us all, gives me some degree of consolation when instinctively distrusting the fervent affirmations of the pious.

I always thought I was being unfair, up until it dawned on me that the people worth paying attention to, are exactly the ones who talk to the predator in them, and have no, or little, illusions about their fate in the court of “pleasant manners”.

Not that I’m defending “radical candour”, that repugnant expression apparently meant to elevate “being an asshole” to a posture that’s acceptable and worthy of consideration, no.

Maybe I’m saying that unleashing the beast is fundamental, but only proper when you turn it into art.



• • •

É sempre assim


É tarde, não é?

Já é outra órbita, mais lenta, mais larga, mais esquisita, mais esquisita para ti, que ainda não chegaste ao pátio vazio (solarengo, sim, mas vazio), aquele onde te apercebes que afinal a tua órbita tem tanto de inevitável como de impossível, e que só pode mesmo ser assim.

É sempre assim.

Quem me dera conseguir explicar-te. Quem me dera conseguir não querer explicar-te, tanto. Quem me dera que não fosse assim.

Mas não, é sempre assim.



• • •



Não é como se me tivesse explicitamente indicado fosse o que fosse que me pudesse levar a supor que existia um qualquer diálogo que precisava de ser iniciado, mas a minha cabeça é solo fértil até para meros fragmentos de sementes dessas, reais ou imaginadas.

Se calhar são as hesitações, sobretudo as mais ínfimas, que me salvam de me rasgar em farrapos. Se calhar não querer saber está certo.

Se calhar é só isso que está certo.



• • •



In order to effectively solicit real sympathy, you will have to debase yourself by publicly opening the gates to your very soul, no matter how trivial or dark it may be.

To be clear, this is not an even exchange; what you are donating isn’t a kind of fuel that automatically triggers amity, it is a covert ransom which you will never be able to redeem.



• • •


Illustration by Moebius — L’incal Lumière


I completely forgot that you may have wanted to know when it’ll be over, so here: never, that’s when.

Calm down now; you know perfectly well that the solace of being convinced that you’re the one who’s in the right can never be so absolute as to guarantee that you have considered every single detail that may prove it otherwise.

And yes, you’re correct, it hasn’t mattered in a long time; just consider it the habitual reminder for the need for clarity in procedure.



• • •

De Olhos Fechados


Eu sei exactamente o que sempre quis, mas nunca soube que sabia.

É um truque, uma prestidigitação (ela diz que não, que “é um dique ou um fosso, só pode”), um obstáculo menor que quer ser vencido em nome de pequenos e pedestres louvores, um rito de passagem.

É muito difícil explicar-lhe que não quero saber, que não é para aí que estou a olhar.



• • •

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, could be 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.



• • •

Be There At Ten


You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you and guide you still deeper into Europa. Every time you hear my voice, with every word and every number, you will enter into a still deeper layer, open, relaxed and receptive.

I shall now count from one to ten. On the count of ten, you will be in Europa.

I say One. And as your focus and attention are entirely on my voice, you will slowly begin to relax.

Two, your hands and your fingers are getting warmer and heavier.

Three, the warmth is spreading through your arms, to your shoulders and your neck.

Four, your feet and your legs get heavier.

Five, the warmth is spreading to the whole of your body.

On six, I want you to go deeper.

I say: Six. And the whole of your relaxed body is slowly beginning to sink.

Seven, you go deeper and deeper and deeper.

Eight, on every breath you take, you go deeper.

Nine, you are floating.

On the mental count of ten, you will be in Europa. Be there at ten.

I say: Ten.

Europa (1991) — Lars von Trier, narrated by Max von Sydow




• • •

Un Bravo Ragazzo

Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita” (Federico Fellini, 1960)


Sono scappato dal mio vecchio lavoro, ho lasciato i vecchi giri, sono diventato un bravo ragazzo. Ma tutto, a parte mia moglie, a parte quello che ci diciamo io e lei quando siamo a letto assieme, a parte le giornate buone che ci prendiamo camminando per strada e pensando che non abbiamo bisogno di nient’altro, tutto mi è scivolato addosso senza lasciare tracce. Fino a oggi. Mi è bastato essere sfiorato dall’odore del sangue per ritrovarmi dentro, come un tossico del cazzo. E come un tossico mi sono dimenticato di quanto sia pericoloso spingersi oltre la linea, trasformare il lavoro in qualcosa di personale, che ti fa rischiare e stare male. Che ti fa perdere.

La bellezza è un malinteso — Sandrone Dazieri



• • •

The Termination Paradox


I struggle with the details.

Not because there’s so many of them, or because they’re small and, according to some, bothersome to deal with it, no.

What is exhausting is the brutal reckoning that nothing can ever be cleanly and completely terminated, that’s what it is.

The infinity of it all, see?



• • •

Mise En Abyme


Pre-emptive kitsch offers fake emotions, and at the same time a pretended rejection of the thing it offers. The artist pretends to take himself seriously, the critics pretend to judge his product and the modernist establishment pretends to promote it. At the end of all this pretence, someone who cannot perceive the difference between advertising (which is a means) and art (which is an end) decides that he should buy it. Only at this point does the chain of pretence come to an end, and the real value of postmodernist art reveal itself — namely, its value in monetary exchange. Even at this point, however, the pretence is important. The purchaser must still believe that what he buys is real art, and therefore intrinsically valuable, a bargain at any price. Otherwise, the price would reflect the obvious fact that anybody — even the purchaser — could have faked such a product. The essence of fakes is that they are substitutes for themselves, avatars of the infinite mise-en-abyme that lies behind every saleable thing.

Roger Scruton — The Great Swindle



• • •

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.

It is very possible that I may have resisted it, because admitting that their glorification was a fucking monumental waste of time, 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.



• • •

Et Si Tu Naissais Encore Une Fois?


Imagine que c’est possible, juste pour un instant.

Tu crois que ça te prendrait le même temps pour tout réapprendre? Et tu vas apprendre quoi, au juste?

Tu y arrives, toi, à imaginer l’inimaginable?




• • •

Devias estar contente só porque sim


Devias estar à espera que acabasse assim
Já desisti de tudo inclusive de mim
Mas as folhas dos ramos ainda vão cair
E o chão ficar à espera de as receber

Devia estar à espera
Não é diferente do que era
Devias estar contente só porque sim

A areia da praia nunca fica igual
Depois da passagem de um homem normal
Olhando para o caminho o que é que o homem vê
Apenas pegadas à espera da maré

Devia estar à espera
Não é diferente do que era
Devias estar contente só porque sim

Que a vida não faz sentido
Eu não lhe encontro sentido nenhum
Mas está a acontecer agora
Se não é boa ela melhora

Ela Melhora — OIOAI




• • •

Go Away


I don’t know how to deal with whatever it is that you seem to want me to realise, as it seems to involve mysteriously complex mental gymnastics. And I’m drawing a blank.

Could you please not make me tell you to go away, and simply fade into the background? Even if just as a reciprocal gesture of courtesy, for instance?

There will be no new memories, you know, these are the ones that will ever be, and begrudging that I’m disrespecting them sounds pointless.



• • •