What I’ve failed to write

131 days ago life took a weird, sharp turn after a few months of my driving it erratically in and out of course. Because I am prone to think of my life as a movie or perhaps as a series of pilot episodes in shows that never get aired, I failed to realize that maybe real life was happening. And I have a problem with this. My mind anticipates all kinds of scenarios, dramatic dialogues and plot twists, failing to see what’s right in front of me, failing to hear Caetano‘s warning that life is after all real and skewed. I insist on other melodies, I insist on not getting tired of hoping that one day I will get to be everything.

My homeless heart
Wants to keep the world
In me

131 days ago we coincided in space and time; he told me I was making him travel, I didn’t realize he was making me come home. For once, life was not about being the rebel in a made up cause, it was not about coming up with the perfect character for the occasion, it was not about trying to be perfect, it was not about packing and going somewhere trying to find whatever is needed at the moment to feel more alive. It was about staying. I didn’t know that to stay took a special kind of courage. I have spent well over seven thousand days of my adult life being adventurously brave, going everywhere, doing everything, preferably on my own. Along the way I collected all the clichés of falling madly, deeply and foolishly in love, of getting married and divorced, of hurting and getting hurt and feeling that I have committed the worse sin my twelve years of Catholic, yet somewhat liberal, education helped me identify, I have wasted my time and have, of course, ended up being wasted by it. Staying, in the same way as getting older, is not for the faint of heart. Staying means you have to face life as it is not as you think it was meant to be.

131 days ago I begun to understand what years of fictional manipulation have done to me, how they have created the most unrealistic expectations and contributed to an almost complete emotional disarrangement. In the midst of my inability to deal with what was happening, I have read these wise words:

Your deepest beliefs about seduction were carefully crafted by high-capitalist strategists. Lust and fantasy are opiates of the masses, easily manipulated into shapes that human animals fall for, over and over again.

I have never really taken advice columns very seriously, probably because I tend to be a bit of a snob, but every single word Heather Havrilesky poured into her column of February 28, struck a chord and I understood that yes, it was really about surrendering to reality with no futile embellishments. And still, 131 days were not enough to learn that the assumptions one makes about one self and others are also created by all the nonsense around you and that they are not real. For 131 days I have promised myself, almost everyday, that I was not going to fall in that trap, I was going to let life get real because it might not be the most glamorous or exciting place to be but you have at least a chance of not seeing life disappear without getting to live it. But, self-sabotage is a powerful force, “a way of avoiding that moment of showing up, of facing potential loss, of being strong enough and courageous enough to surrender to the unknown — but also, to surrender to the goodness of ordinary human beings.” 131 days ago,  getting hurt living my fictional life was easy enough to deal with because fictional feelings tend to be overtly dramatic but shallow.

Getting hurt in real life gets you broken.

References

Caetano Veloso, O quereres, Coração Vagabundo

William Shakespeare, Richard II 

Bette Davis

Ask Polly 

From time to time a smile is turned upon us

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A smile that blinds with blitheness, overspending
Upon this gasping sightless round of fun …

Das KarussellJardin du Luxembourg, Rainer Maria Rilke

Photo: San Diego, 2014

Rust and stardust

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were

I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to account for every month of 2017. I needed to go through all the photos in my phone to be able to do this. It seems that without them it would not have been possible for me to recall what I have lived. 2017 was not an easy year for me and for those around me. I broke someone’s heart and got badly bruised by someone else. Some sort of cosmic retribution I would say, if I was inclined to believe in a such thing.

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I don’t remember much happening in January 2017. I remember that I did not celebrate New Years, I went to bed before midnight. For the past eleven years I lived with someone who did not “believe in that sort of thing” and accommodated. I do believe in starting over, either on January 1st or whenever there is a need to do so. The best of January 2017 was hoping for something better to come along during the rest of the eleven months ahead. Daydreaming has always seemed to me another form of making plans. I did play dress up at Fatima‘s which seems to be my favourite form of therapy and was happy to find my Mozambique travel diary.

Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?

I particularly dislike the first three months of every year. They are normally cold and grey and wet and February does feel like paradoxically long most of the times, but this one I actually remember it as being a happy month, celebrating Futurism and Almada in the voice of talented friends and art exhibitions, going back to Fatima’s for a somewhat surreal fashion shoot, having my hair cut and feeling incredibly cool and authentic as a tomboy, getting on stage for Flamenco tangos and fandangos and being busy with costumes and make up backstage.

March was also surprisingly good: Filipe Catto doing Variações, finding the life of strangers inside second-hand books, commuting in Lisbon with people that have no end, as Almada would say, those are the best people; seeing friends’ dreams come to life, Anna Karenina remixed at TNSJ (How she dies) and finally gaining momentum to read it all, page after page, without spiking details, Olivier Saillard‘s manifesto, waiting around for friends who are always late, going back in time, Macbeth’s open rehearsal and being reminded of the absolute privilege of hearing António M. Feijó

April came and it was not the cruelest month. Going away, enjoying bad habits at cool smokers lounges, arriving in Sarajevo, the sun, the snow, the coffee, new Friends, their stories, the history, the drive to Mostar, long conversations on everything and nothing, swan lake reloaded, the beauty, hanging out over drinks and photos and dance, “come what sorrow can it cannot countervail the exchange of joy”. Sarajevo might not have changed my life but has changed something inside me forever in the way I am able to relate and feel immense love for other people and to the moments we shared. Realizing I live somewhere in musical schizophrenia, absolutely loving two of the best concerts of the year between Heavy Metal and Fado, and that this actually helps. Every day.

May walked backwards: going back to the roots that sometimes still clutch, being back in Siena in great company, getting lost in museums, being silly enough to play La Niña de Fuego, going back to the music that once made sense

June chasing angels and finding them: Loft living in DTLA, getting an education at Los Feliz, unexpected gifts, falling in love with a bookstore, the kind and dapper gentlemen at Clifton’s, old school partying, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, being back at the MOCA, stars that never fade, hanging out with some of the coolest Ladies I know, feeling in heaven at the Way we Wore, feeling at home at LACMA, “The city is named for the angels, And its angels are easy to find”, on Beauty and Consolation, Shakespeare, being called Hope and the freedom of learning by heart, feeling at peace in Porto, clowning around on stage.

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,

For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,

And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,

And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.

July “I believe I read most of it with my eyes shut” Spring’s Awakening, Summer sunsets, flamingo shoes, walking on sunshine, flirting with writing machines and getting no answers, seeing the fog clear; “life is a matter of taste”.

August getting older and none the wiser: Chance encounters have consequences too, birthday surprises, finally returning to Mérida and making it to the classical theater festival, between a rock and a hard place, checking works of art walk by, music does save your mortal soul (writing letters might not). Fátima moved to Braga and I almost did as well.

September “Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.” Going kitsch, Being hugged by strangers, getting closer, Rosalía e Raül Refree at Theatro Circo, Revisiting Viana and more talented friends, realizing that nothing lives there anymore, Lisbon stories por buleria, reconnecting with Luis after having met in Boston, Still writing letters (with a pen), Jazz with a view, bumping into Lola Lola, Book fairs and pulp fictions, Being somewhat afraid of Virginia Woolf, meta coincidences, Being teletransported to The Zap via Ian’s syndrome, Revisiting Mr. Vertigo’s last (together) space, Being disarmed by words, bedtime stories and playlists feeling like goodnight kisses, Between lived words and word games, Street poets on the verge of insanity. Facing the truth and having it added to my pillow book.

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me

October “There is nothing in the dark that isn’t there when the lights are on.” A road trip through a black hole, Spiraling into someone else’s talent, Seeing George and Martha come to life, The apparent insight and kindness of strangers, Getting it wrong, learning where not to go, learning to let go, forgetting the door was open and letting chance walk right in (again), the Safety of favourite places and favourite people, Walls quoting Sartre, Lisbon stories, Healing noises, Wonder walks, wonder walls and the best guide in town, Black cats and English eccentrics, Bad concerts with cool friends, Reaching Point Omega, Making peace with Virginia Woolf through Orlando, “To put it in a nutshell, he was afflicted with a love of literature. It was the fatal nature of this disease to substitute a phantom for reality.” I have fallen in love with words. The ones I wanted to read, the one’s the poet on the other side knew were the right ones.

November “O bom é ser inteligente e não entender. É uma benção estranha, como ter loucura sem ser doida.” (The good thing is to be intelligent and not to understand. It’s a strange blessing, like having madness without being crazy.) In love with Josef Isräels‘ Mijmering, Stendhal syndrome episodes, Daydreaming and insomnia, Fictional love affairs through jet lag induced illusions – such is the power of words: they make you see things that aren’t there. Teenaging in Yichang, getting to know Frida who met at me at the airport wanting to know if my name really meant hope, hanging out with Cathy, Being a lucky charm, Getting Lost in translation and still feeling better than Charlotte, Tai Chi classes on airplanes, the sunset in Xangai and the sunrise in Amsterdam, Dark Porto, Lisbon stories on disappointment and being a spoiled brat, Life according to George Costanza, Flying solo, Getting it (so incredibly) wrong and trying to take the high road, Lisbon stories – the cold shoulder episode, saved by the happiness of strangers and a wise beyond her years long distance friend, Chasing walls, 3 a.m. dinners and the warmth of platonic love, Boots, Songs about boots, Good concerts with the same cool friends and some more, Drafting fictional memories, “For once the disease of reading has laid upon the system it weakens so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. ” Flying high and falling hard: Considering emotional exile, Soap bubbles as reality filter

December “São tudo fantasias que o cinema projectou no meu olhar” (They are all fantasies that the cinema projected in my gaze): Letting someone else’s clothes and music do the talking; Being called a pearl farmer and realizing that every once in a while casting pearls to swine is no big deal; I’ll still have plenty left. The circus, moments of pure joy, remembering my Grandparents, because they were the ones who used to take me when I was a kid, Sharing heartbreak stories during the storm with a name, pretending to be Mia Wallace and then dreaming of being Vivian Rutledge, better yet, Florence Carala (there was enough mist for that), If only I was Jackie Demaistre, Facing lost possibilities, Befriending misfits while drinking coffee and talking for an hour at gas stations, Going back to the classroom and considering that I might actually enjoy teaching, Midnight strolls during Sagittarius birthdays, Playing diva with the Diva, Holly Golightly gifts for breakfast, Christmas Day at the movies, making up gangster stories at Turkish restaurants, Bumping into Pedro from school and being 9 again, ivory colored letters in real envelopes with real stamps, feeling connected while trying to disconnect, Synthesizer freaks, being Alice but not in the city, time lapsing, picking up where we left off, So many ways to be (“no olvides que solo eres real cuando tocas y te tocan“), the Clear Insight, Incredible Patience, Undivided Attention and Unconditional Love of old Friends. Braga doing more for my sanity this year than any shrink could have ever done. “And the rest is rust and stardust.”

I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past

I think this is the first time I try to write some kind of “memory”. I am not very good at describing events, everything that has happened seems to have only a translation in how places, books, movies, plays, poems, music, little details, events, actions and the words of others have made me feel. And, in 2017, most of them have hurt me deeply. This year, I celebrated New Year, for two whole days. On December 30 I went to a punk rock show and decided not to move away from the mosh pit as some sort of “shock therapy” and it felt good. I spent New Years Eve with my best friend and his family and even though we had not thought of going out, we did and danced the night away until morning. And all this might not solve anything, but just giving myself away to music makes me feel both hugged by the world and ready to restart.

The appeal of inebriating oneself.

 The appeal of the dance and of the shout,

 the appeal of the colorful ball,

 the appeal of Kant and of poetry,

 all of them . . . and none of them resolves things

 

Today (January 1st) I went back to the circus and felt like crying during Duo eMotion‘s act. Real life is never this perfect. Or beautiful. And then, sometimes it happens. I went for coffee at my favorite place in Porto and wished by favorite waiter a Happy New Year and he just called me my love and kissed me. These little details end up, in a way, making up for a lot of the mistakes and disappointments of the previous year.

Unspoken feelings are unforgettable

If you set them free by writing unnecessarily long posts they might just go away.

 

mde

References:

Vladimir Nabokov, Marcel Proust, William Shakespeare, Clarice Lispector, Virginia Woolf Anais Nin, Samuel Beckett, Carlos Drummod de Andrade, Andre Tarkovsky, António Variações, The Twilight Zone

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. 

An ill fitting week

I wore this dress on Monday and the whole day I felt as if was in disguise. I thought I looked like a twenty first century flapper when I checked myself in the mirror before leaving the house, but the minute I got to work I looked as if I had borrowed the last available dress left in someone else’s closet. And that someone definitely didn’t  have a lot in common with me. I didn’t buy this dress. It was a gift from my mum who probably never abandoned the hope that, in the right outfit, I would look like a pretty girl. This dress is too pink for me, it’s either too short for me or I’m too tall for it, I am also too old to pull something like this off. Not being a mother myself, I am left with a daughter’s perspective on this strange relationship that sometimes infantilizes me in order to, so it seems, avoid confronting the inevitability of time.

Mondays are never easy and I have a horrible cold and the medication is making me feel like I’m living underwater and the weight of every single thought is too much to even consider taking any kind of action.

TUESDAY

I bought this jacket in Vietnam in November 2014. A text message received while I was in Hanoi let me know that my great aunt had died. I was there for work and alone and while I can’t really say that I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, I have found that sometimes, strangers make the best friends and know exactly what to do and how to help.

Stray people brought together by chance

WEDNESDAY

I have a weak spot for chinoiserie and I absolutely adore these pants. I think I bought them some twenty years ago and they have never made it to the error category.

I felt a lot better today. After work we went to Java, the usual hang out before theater, for dinner. The TV was showing the aftermath of the Westminster attack. The coffee shop was crowded and we are all seating at an uncomfortable closeness. The gentleman next to me is wearing a brown jacket and turns his head often in my direction. Maybe he’s getting irritated at the proximity. No, he starts talking about the news. I try not to engage. I studied political science and I have no idea how to comment on the historical, sociological, or political contexts of what we are staring at. I find it difficult to rationalize barbarity. He’s British. He goes on about foreigners and political correctness. For twelve years he served in the Royal Navy, like his father before him. His eyesight started failing. He’s now a civilian. He was born in Cornwall and grew up in Scotland, now he lives in Manchester because he can’t afford to live in London. He’s been in Portugal for two weeks on vacation, this was his last night. He’s wearing a black t-shirt with some very graphic expression of discontent written in Afrikaans. I’ve never been a big fan of clothes that are too explicit in doing your talking for you. We have to go, the play starts at 9. He says goodbye kissing our hands and thanking us for the company and patience. Whatever was said, I realize I missed that accent and the blue eyed frankness I have lived with for four or so years of my life.

The play is a Portuguese – Belgian co-production spoken in French, Portuguese and Flemish with subtitles in English and Portuguese. I like the set and love the wardrobe when Anna Karenina is the woman inhabiting them and their actions. Still, it’s difficult to focus on anything either than the text. Forty years apart in Lisbon and Antwerp two couples fall out of love, question the normal life people manage to live and read Anna Karenina in French. One of the characters hasn’t read it. He actually thought about reading War and Peace but there were too many pages.

How she dies. It’s not supposed to be about this particular written death but about how literature changes or makes us change our lives. So the author says in a number of interviews.

But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second car. And exactly at the moment when the midpoint between the wheels drew level with her, she threw away the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the car, and with a light movement, as though she would rise immediately, dropped on her knees. And at the instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. ‘Where am I? What am I doing? What for?’ She tried to get up, to throw herself back; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and dragged her down on her back

 

THURSDAY

Last week there was a promise of an early Summer that has vanished during this week as temperatures dropped some twenty degrees and the news reported closed schools because of the snow. Not in Porto. I miss my second ballet class of the week and go to a conference on culture and citizenship. Friends and experts come together to pay tribute to the Poet. To Poetry. There’s a painting exhibition in the room. There’s this painting, A homage to Gaugin, it’s called, and there’s this amazing figure of a woman that could also be a man painted in the warm colours that live in Tahiti. It keeps me  from listening to most of what is being said.

FRIDAY

A lavender morning turned into a cold rainy afternoon. I took half the day off to seat at a open rehearsal of Macbeth at the national theater. They only started rehearsals on Monday so this is still the table-work phase of reading and exploring the text and the characters. There’s an English literature professor and expert in Shakespeare who has been invited to talk about the play, and the text, and the differences between the English original and the Portuguese translation. And there he was, academia at it’s very best, rethorical mighty with all its seductive power. And the words go on for five hours and I don’t feel tired or bored. There’s nothing more fascinating than being the witness to personal passions. Not to me, at least. The catastrophe of getting exactly what you want in life. Those who choose to loose everything and those who do. The fantasy of being whole and the prison it creates. And Sartre who could be very pedantic but also very intelligent.

We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment that he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does.

In 2012 I did a course on Shakespeare at the University of Oxford. This was how I fell in love with Macbeth. My final essay was on the question of agency. My somewhat lazy conclusion stated that “Macbeth’s hamartia is not his ambition, as this is a character flaw, but his miscalculation of the personal consequences of assassinating Duncan and the inner torment that leads him on a murdering spree in the frantic desire for peace of mind. It is this tragic error that ultimately transforms his life in an empty mockery”. I’m often surprised and ashamed when reading what I have written.

SATURDAY

On Saturday I decided to revisit the rive gauche intellectual in me, ratty cashmere sweater and all.

Saturday is flamenco class day. I decided not to miss this one and take me and my cold for another session of trying to emulate Lola. It is not an easy, if at all possible, task to be a Lola. Either a fictional or a real one.

The rest of my Saturday is spent doing adult stuff, washing, and supermarket shopping, and other uninteresting errands. I sold a white Betty Barclay jacket. It’s going to Boise, Idaho.  At the end of all this I go and see Ana present a book on American cuisine. I’m only there for moral support. Cookbooks are basically useless at my house.

It took five songs of the weird (I like to think about it as eclectic but I suspect it’s just weird) driving playlist on my iPod to drive home:

Everybody knows

The famous blue raincoat

For once in my life

Girl, you’ll be a woman soon

Guilty

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I suspect rive gauche intellectuals didn’t care much for glitter ballet flats. Shoes off. I’m not going out, I decide that watching This Property is Condemned on TV is a much better option.

SUNDAY

Daylight saving time began at 1 AM. Outside it still looks like Winter.
I go to the only cinema we have downtown, one of the two movie theaters that is not a multiplex. Popcorn free zone, what a bliss. The movie is Aquarius with Sonia Braga. Two and half hours lost, gone forever. Such a grand actress deserved a much better movie. Great soundtrack, though.

I get home to this

 My next door neighbour is a sweet Lady.

References

Tolstoy

Tennessee Williams

Aristotle

Inside history

Two weeks ago I ordered a few used books from AwesomeBooks and inside A History of Fashion by J. Anderson Black & Madge Garland I found four letters from 1992. This was not one of those amazing discoveries that sometimes happens in the wonderful world of second-hand books. They are letters written to Gemma by friends that seem to have met her during a summer course in France while sharing a dorm and, most probably, a few giggling nights in a chatêau. I remember this kind of experience when I was a teenager sharing a room with Monica from Cugat del Valles at Cathy and Howard’s house in Cheltenham. In our minds, our friendship was forever. We also wrote letters to each other planning visits and other adventures. They never happened and we never met each other again. I wonder if Gemma and her friends kept in touch.

The first letter to Gemma was written on December 26. Her friend, whose birthday was December 2, got clothes, chocolate, a “very nice new desk” and soft toys, for her collection, as Christmas gifts. Maybe Gemma got A History of Fashion as a seasonal token of affection. In another letter, another friend writes about her mother who is a teacher and even though she looks like one, she is actually not that boring. But she swears quite a lot at home. In public, she assumes a “pompous” persona. Her dad is a vicar described in short and rather unpleasant words. She really hopes Gemma won’t be “put off” by her family. The other two letters are about boys. There’s Tristan, the knight in shining armour, with whom the girl is so smitten that she even talked to her mother about him. She didn’t tell her mum everything… There’s also Bob, fancied by another one of Gemma’s friends. Bob doesn’t seem very interested in going out with her. Maybe they could have one of those “open relationships, as they say”.

After the first excitement of finding these letters ( I do love all kinds of surprises and most especially if they are of the written kind), it took me a week to decide whether I should read them or not. I suppose the answer to this would always have to be no. These are, after all, personal stories traveling between Lincolnshire and Essex and I still read them. And even decided to share what I’ve read.

I remember C. telling me that he wished he would have the time to get rid of all his notes and letters before he died so no one would get to invade what was only his. We had this conversation again a few weeks ago. He has now given up on that sort of absolute control. Maybe it doesn’t make much sense to fight for privacy anymore. It does, however still bother me that I did not resist the temptation to invade someone’s else’s life.

There’s a full name and address (I didn’t Google them) on the envelopes; maybe you could just return them, J. suggests. What’s the chance that Gemma is still living in the same place? What’s the chance that twenty-five years later she is actually interested in getting some loose pieces of her life back? Would you want your adolescence to come back to you?

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

“No matter how far you travel, you can never get away from yourself.”

In Retrospective, a cinematographic year without the scent of time. I have accomplished nothing. I kept zapping.

References

Haruki Murakami, After the Quake

Byung-Chul Han, The Scent of Time