At the wheel…

 

…of a Chevrolet on the road to Sintra,
Through moonlight and dreams, on the deserted road,
I drive alone, drive almost slowly, and it almost
Seems to me, or I almost force myself to think it seems,
That I’m going down another road, another dream, another world,
That I’m going on without having left Lisbon, without Sintra to go to,
That I’m going on, and what is there to going on except not stopping, but going on?

I’ll spend the night in Sintra because I can’t spend it in Lisbon,
But, when I get to Sintra, I’ll be sorry I didn’t stay in Lisbon.
Always this groundless worry, no purpose, no consequence,
Always, always, always,
This excessive anguish for nothing at all,
On the road to Sintra, on the road to dreams, on the road to life

Alert to my subconscious movements at the wheel,
Around me, with me, leaps the car I borrowed.
I smile at the symbol, at thinking of it, and at turning right.
In how many borrowed things do I move through the world?
How many borrowed things do I drive as if they were mine?
How many borrowed things — oh God — am I myself?

To my left, a hovel — yes, a hovel — by the roadside.
To my right an open field, the moon far off.
The car, which seemed just now to give me freedom,
Is now something I’m shut up in,
That I can only drive shut up in,
That I can only tame if I include it, if it includes me.

To my left, back there, that modest, that more than modest hovel.
Life must be happy there: it’s not mine.
If someone saw me from the window, they’d think: Now that guy’s happy.

Maybe a child spying at the upstairs window
Would see me, in my borrowed car, as a dream, a fairy tale come true.
Maybe, for the girl who watched me, hearing my motor out the kitchen window,
On packed earth,
I’m some kind of prince of girls’ hearts,
And she’ll watch me sideways, out the window, past this curve where I lose myself.
Will I leave dreams behind me? Will the car?
I, the borrowed-car-driver, or the borrowed car I drive?

On the road to Sintra in moonlight, in sadness, before the fields and night,
Forlornly driving the borrowed Chevy,
I lose myself on the future road, I disappear in the distance I reach.

And in a terrible, sudden, violent, inconceivable desire
I speed up,
But my heart stayed back on a pile of rocks I veered from, seeing without seeing it,
At the door of the hovel —
My empty heart,
My dissatisfied heart,
My heart more human than me, more exact than life.

On the road to Sintra, near midnight, in moonlight, at the wheel,
On the road to Sintra, oh my weary imagination,
On the road to Sintra, ever nearer to Sintra,
On the road to Sintra, ever farther from me…

In The Collected Poems of Álvaro de CamposVol. 2 (1928–1935) . translated by Chris Daniels

 

Ao volante do Chevrolet pela estrada de Sintra,

Ao luar e ao sonho, na estrada deserta,

Sozinho guio, guio quase devagar, e um pouco

Me parece, ou me forço um pouco para que me pareça,

Que sigo por outra estrada, por outro sonho, por outro mundo,

Que sigo sem haver Lisboa deixada ou Sintra a que ir ter,

Que sigo, e que mais haverá em seguir senão não parar mas seguir?

Vou passar a noite a Sintra por não poder passá-la em Lisboa,

Mas, quando chegar a Sintra, terei pena de não ter ficado em Lisboa.

Sempre esta inquietação sem propósito, sem nexo, sem consequência,

Sempre, sempre, sempre,

Esta angústia excessiva do espírito por coisa nenhuma,

Na estrada de Sintra, ou na estrada do sonho, ou na estrada da vida…

Maleável aos meus movimentos subconscientes do volante,

Galga sob mim comigo o automóvel que me emprestaram.

Sorrio do símbolo, ao pensar nele, e ao virar à direita.

Em quantas coisas que me emprestaram guio como minhas!

Quanto me emprestaram, ai de mim!, eu próprio sou!

À esquerda o casebre — sim, o casebre — à beira da estrada.

À direita o campo aberto, com a lua ao longe.

O automóvel, que parecia há pouco dar-me liberdade,

É agora uma coisa onde estou fechado,

Que só posso conduzir se nele estiver fechado,

Que só domino se me incluir nele, se ele me incluir a mim.

À esquerda lá para trás o casebre modesto, mais que modesto.

A vida ali deve ser feliz, só porque não é a minha.

Se alguém me viu da janela do casebre, sonhará: Aquele é que é feliz.

Talvez à criança espreitando pelos vidros da janela do andar que está em cima

Fiquei (com o automóvel emprestado) como um sonho, uma fada real.

Talvez à rapariga que olhou, ouvindo o motor, pela janela da cozinha

No pavimento térreo,

Sou qualquer coisa do príncipe de todo o coração de rapariga,

E ela me olhará de esguelha, pelos vidros, até à curva em que me perdi.

Deixarei sonhos atrás de mim, ou é o automóvel que os deixa?

Eu, guiador do automóvel emprestado, ou o automóvel emprestado que eu guio?

Na estrada de Sintra ao luar, na tristeza, ante os campos e a noite,

Guiando o Chevrolet emprestado desconsoladamente,

Perco-me na estrada futura, sumo-me na distância que alcanço,

E, num desejo terrível, súbito, violento, inconcebível,

Acelero…

Mas o meu coração ficou no monte de pedras, de que me desviei ao vê-lo sem vê-lo,

À porta do casebre,

O meu coração vazio,

O meu coração insatisfeito,

O meu coração mais humano do que eu, mais exacto que a vida.

Na estrada de Sintra, perto da meia-noite, ao luar, ao volante,

Na estrada de Sintra, que cansaço da própria imaginação,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez mais perto de Sintra,

Na estrada de Sintra, cada vez menos perto de mim…

11-5-1928

Poesias de Álvaro de Campos. Fernando Pessoa. Lisboa: Ática, 1944 (imp. 1993).- 37

 

I chose part of this poem to say goodbye to someone today. I did not go the funeral. “Do you want me to go?”, I asked. He didn’t. I didn’t know his father, I have never met him, I heard stories of beautiful cars and saw fading photos of a once happy life.

 

Photo: Not really a Chevrolet at Bastelicaccia, Corsica, August 2018

I’d rather stop

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This is not a good photo. I couldn’t get out of the car and attempt a proper photo, the letter box stands right by a traffic light and words on walls and urban equipments tend to vanish quickly, so you get them when you spot them.

Pause and reflect on the [your / mine]  path 

That’s how it reads to me. That’s what’s lacking, the time to stop and try to see the direction.

Why would you walk?

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“But ballet itself – it’s important. Dance is important. It’s that language that everybody understands. It’s a powerful tool to open people’s minds. It’s some subconscious thing, a connection we all have. Kids dance before walking. It’s our truest nature of being. It’s true spirit.” He pauses. “And then, slowly and slowly, as we grow older, we get more and more baggage and life changes you. We are more scared of things, more fearful. So how to eliminate that? We have to go back to how we were as a kid, because that’s our truest nature. And with ballet, that is how I’m trying to come back to this state of mind. Because that’s the purest state. Tribes dance. Every country has a national dance. In the clubs we dance, we dance at weddings. Dance is a language. It’s a language that we need, like music, to survive.”

Sergei Polunin interview Another Man Magazine

If you could be dancing

Photo: Street Milonga in Porto (2013)

you may not believe it

but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
distress.
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they have moments of
grief
but all in all
they are undisturbed 
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
sleep.
you may not believe 
it 
but such people do
exist. 
but I am not one of
them.
oh no, I am not one
of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of 
them 
but they are
there 
and I am 
here.

 

The Aliens, Charles Bukowski

The Last Night Of The Earth Poems

It’s only human

Our century is so shallow, its desires scattered so widely, our knowledge so encyclopedic, that we are absolutely unable to focus our designs on any single object and hence, willy-nilly, we fragment all our works into trivia and charming toys. We have the marvellous gift of making everything insignificant.

Nikolai Gogol (1809 – 1852)

Shallow

When he left

Mr. Alexandre used to work here, from 1962 until he died in 2016.

From the street, looking through the window, it doesn’t look like this place is abandoned. He might come back. Someone might come back for their bespoke suit.

If you read Portuguese, please head to Blog dos Alfaiates, Mr. Alexandre’s story is there along with other stories about other masters of elegance.

Photo: Alexandre Alfaiate, Praça Coronel Pacheco, Porto

Natália

AUTORRETRATO

    

Espáduas brancas palpitantes:

asas no exílio dum corpo.

Os braços calhas cintilantes

para o comboio da alma.

E os olhos emigrantes

no navio da pálpebra

encalhado em renúncia ou cobardia.

Por vezes fêmea . Por vezes monja.

Conforme a noite. Conforme o dia.

Molusco. Esponja

embebida num filtro de magia.

Aranha de ouro

presa na teia dos seus ardis.

E aos pés um coração de louça

quebrado em jogos infantis.


Again I wish I could translate poetry without committing some kind of murder. I can’t.

This is the self-portrait of a bird in exile, whose arms know that they are wings trapped in a human body. Whose eyes migrate but never leave. A ship stranded by cowardice and abjuration. A Woman. Sometimes a female, sometimes a nun.

From night to day.

Strong, fragile, beautiful, talented and contradictory. They said. Very dark and very tender. A force of nature is the appropriate cliché. Unjust for someone who lived like a true original. In full. Strident in controversy, provocative and original, strong, excessive and forceful.  Witch and Lark of the abolition of opposites.

My words could never come close

a heart of china

broken in childish games

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Era uma mulher inigualável. Nos caprichos, nos excessos, nas iras, nas premonições, nos exibicionismos, na sedução, na coragem, na esperança. Cantava, dançava, declamava, improvisava, discursava, polemizava como poucos entre nós alguma vez o fizeram, o somaram.

Fernando Dacosta

She was an unrivaled woman. In whims, in excesses, in anger, in premonitions, in exhibitionism, in seduction, in courage, in hope. She sang, danced, recited, improvised, discoursed, polemicized as few among us ever did and ever added.

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Acho que a missão da mulher é assombrar, espantar. Se a mulher não espanta… De resto, não é só a mulher, todos os seres humanos têm que deslumbrar os seus semelhantes para serem um acontecimento. Temos que ser um acontecimento uns para os outros. Então a pessoa tem que fazer o possível para deslumbrar o seu semelhante, para que a vida seja um motivo de deslumbramento. Se chama a isso sedução, cumpri aquilo que me era forçoso fazer.

Natália Correia, in Entrevista (1983)

I think a woman’s mission is to haunt, to amaze. If a woman does not amaze … Besides, it is not only the woman, all human beings have to dazzle their peers, they have to be an event. We have to be a momentous event for each other. So one has to do one’s best to dazzle one’s fellow human, so that life can be a cause of wonder. If this is called seduction, I accomplished what I had to.

References

NATÁLIA CORREIA – 10 anos depois

One too many

Eyes blinded by the fog of things

cannot see truth.

Ears deafened by the din of things

cannot hear truth.

Brains bewildered by the whirl of things

cannot think truth.

Hearts deadened by the weight of things

cannot feel truth.

Throats choked by the dust of things

cannot speak truth.

Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King

And yet, there is no amount of self help books, “keep it simple” formulas or declutter instructions that will tame the maximalist in me.  

A euphemism for self-indulgence most probably. 

Reinterpreting – Marchesa Luisa Casati

Casati was born Luisa Adele Rosa Maria Amman on January 23, 1881

Determined to become a “living work of art”, she lived her life as a reaction to her horror of the mundane, crafting herself into an otherworldly creature whose image was her voice.

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

An outsized personality, hers was a life lived in performance.

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

She was in herself and in her creations an unforgettable spectacle, and although by the time of her demise she had ceased to live a gilded existence, her legacy was not about to fade away

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

But life as performance seems to bear the ingredients of tragedy. As described by Jean Cocteau,

As soon as she came out of her dressing room, the Marquise Casati received the applause usually given to a famous tragedian at her entry to the stage. It remained to act the play. There was none. This was her tragedy.


Is it the common choice of those who don’t feel that they belong or are seen (or feel themselves to be) as inadequate to choose being the performance of self over being oneself?

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety
William Shakespeare 

Anthony and Cleopatra

References

An Ode to the Singular Marchesa Luisa Casati

Anarchists of Style: Marchesa Luisa Casati

Marchesa Casati Goth, Glamorous and Wild 

http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-1998-couture/christian-dior