Running aimlessly

I am not, nor have I ever been a focused person. My attention is always distracted by some real or imagined connection or possibility. This obviously means that I’m the least efficient person I know. I get things done when they need to get done because I do not like to disappoint those who depend on me getting things done and because I procrastinate until I really have no other option. But, in general, inspirational quotes and sayings on how “things will happen if you stay focused” do not resonate with me. Staying focused will not make everything happen. Or, maybe it will, I just haven’t tried it.

I am not even one of those “existentialist pessimists” who thinks that all hope is an illusion. No, I do cling to hope and believe things will get better. If I just wait. They don’t. They haven’t.

You are only excused for happiness and success if you generously agree to share them. But if one is to be happy, one should not worry too much about other people – which means there is no way out. Happy and judged or absolved and miserable.

Albert Camus, The Fall

And now that I realize this and that this certainty seems to occupy my mind whenever I’m awake and sometimes even in my sleep, I can’t keep on waiting because it would be absurd. Although I should, by now, be way past the age of existential crisis, it does appear that sometimes it takes too long to build up the courage to become who you are and own the mistakes you have made while trying to convince yourself that you were different.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator

Trying to stay focused on being ” my own story” seems to be hard enough at this point but it’s better than waiting or just refusing to see what went wrong.

Getting started, keeping going, getting started again — in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm not only of achievement but of survival, the ground of convinced action, the basis of self-esteem and the guarantee of credibility in your lives, credibility to yourselves as well as to others.

Seamus Heaney

Photo: Words on Walls, Lisbon, September 2017 ( Running aimlessly is to wait in movement)

I am not done with my changes

bty

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

 

 

References

Stanley Kunitz, “The Layers” The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz. Copyright © 1978

 

Photo: Braga getting into Noites Brancas, September 2017

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric”

I know what he
meant
I know what he
wanted:

to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.

we can’t cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
us

it will have known a victory just as
perfect as
ours.

Charles Bukowski

A song with no end

Photo CPF (September 16, 2017). This was the last place, the exact last room where I saw O. for the last time. I don’t know if he liked Bukowski. I hope he did because I seem to be having a Bukowski moment and this poem made me think of him.

Revisiting

Não há nada que resista ao tempo. Como uma grande duna que se vai formando grão a grão, o esquecimento cobre tudo.

Ainda há dias pensava nisto a propósito de não sei que afecto.

Nisto de duas pessoas julgarem que se amam tresloucadamente, de não terem mutuamente no corpo e no pensamento senão a imagem do outro, e daí a meia dúzia de anos não se lembrarem sequer de que tal amor existiu, cruzarem-se numa rua sem qualquer estremecimento, como dois desconhecidos.

Essa certeza, hoje então, radicou-se ainda mais em mim.

Fui ver a casa onde passei um dos anos cruciais da minha vida de menino. E nem as portas, nem as janelas, nem o panorama em frente me disseram nada. Tinha cá dentro, é certo, uma nebulosa sentimental de tudo aquilo. Mas o concreto, o real, o número de degraus da escada, a cara da senhoria, a significação terrena de tudo aquilo, desaparecera.

Miguel Torga, “Diário (1940)”

Nothing can stand the test of time. Like a great dune, growing with each grain of sand, oblivion covers everything. I’ve been thinking about this for days, I do not know prompted by what type of feeling or affection.

Take the case of two people loving each other so madly that they did not have in their bodies and thoughts anything but the image of the other, and in a half-dozen years they will not even remember that such a love existed, when they walk past each other without any shudder, like two strangers.

This certainty, today, has become even more rooted in me.

I went to see the house where I spent one of the crucial years of my boyhood life. And neither the doors, nor the windows, nor the landscape in front spoke to me. I had in me, of course, a sentimental nebula of it all. But the concrete, the real, the number of steps on the stairs, the face of the landlady, the earthly meaning of all that had disappeared.

The translation is mine and it doesn’t do the original any justice. I saw part of this text written on a wall in Leiria two weeks ago, yesterday I felt what it meant. I walked through the streets of Viana do Castelo as a tourist. It didn’t feel like the city that was almost my second home at a time when I too seemed to be “madly in love”. No emotion, and the “sentimental nebula” was just the sad realization of that void. I walked to the theater to buy the ticket for the opera recital. The lady in front of me was asking a lot of questions, she was afraid she didn’t know her way around the building anymore. She had danced on that stage when she was young. Her memories felt comforting.

Photo: Teatro Sá de Miranda, Viana do Castelo

I am full of questions

This poem had the human contribution of Ursula Andkjær Olsen, and my intervention while sort of dancing with an old book with a black question mark on the cover but, is was composed by the Turn on Literature Machine.

After a week of immersion into the depths of Electronic Literature I am none the wiser. I am left with questions.

Our phones can speak to us (just as a human would). Our home appliances can take commands (just as a human would). Our cars will be able to drive themselves (just as a human would). What does “human” even mean?

Now they are people

And I’m in awe of all the possibilities of moving within words of seeing them transform into a physical experience. But still.

 

 

References

If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?

Flying at dawn

Disconnected thoughts at Frankfurt airport

The taxi was early, it arrived at 4.20 a.m. and the driver was, surprisingly, an older gentleman. Drivers working this shift tend to be younger. His son, who has been living in London for the past eleven years, called. He was embarrassed by the language used. He told me his younger son is going to be a father soon and that his eldest daughter goes to India every month because she works as a production manager in a textile company. He had an empire once, he says. And then it was all over. His mother died after a heated argument with his brother. She had a stroke. Within months his father killed himself and his beloved older brother died of cancer. For reasons he cannot explain, he convinced himself that his wife was to blame. He divorced her. He was seeing a psychiatrist and was put on heavy medication. Maybe because of that he had a car crash that sent him to hospital for almost two years. Nowadays, he just appreciates all the insignificant moments life has to offer. Maybe his children would take care of him and he wouldn’t need to drive a taxi anymore. He is proud, he wouldn’t have it. 

I wait until 5 so I can have a coffee before facing the security screening at the airport. If you ever travelled from Porto, you know it’s terrible, if you ever come here, be prepared for senseless long lines. 

On the flight to Frankfurt, I try to read the newspaper but I’ve only had two hours of sleep and just can’t manage to keep awake.

I have no idea how Frankfurt looks like beyond the airport. I have lost count of how many connecting flights I took from here, but I have never left the airport.

Boarding will be at gate Z 25, still two hours to go. I do enjoy people watching, so waiting, at least in airports as busy as this one, is never that much of a sacrifice.

Four days ago I’ve travelled to Italy with someone who’s in law enforcement and had a keen interest in uniforms. Italian police forces seem to have a wide variety of uniforms that are astonishingly ill fitting given the country’s reputation for sartorial mastery. 

I think this part of terminal 1 is only for US bound flights. The Camel Smokers Lounge is empty. Wien and Zurich have the best lounges for people who insist on keeping disgusting habits. Like myself. In certain circumstances, smoking is a social activity; you get to chat with strangers sharing your (still) legal addiction. At airports, we all look like ashamed social pariahs and we keep to our smartphones.

Twenty minutes to boarding time.