Parnaso

O Bêbado e o Tamanduá

Entendo-me perfeitamente bem com quem discordo completamente. Todos nós (suponho) conhecemos pessoas que de tão diferentes de nós mesmos chegam a ser caricaturais, excêntricas e até mesmo atraentes. Quando chego a certa conclusão, tenho a tácita segurança de que esses indivíduos chegaram a uma outra diametralmente oposta. Eles se opóiam e tomam como verdadeiras idéias que eu nem me daria ao trabalho de discutir. São o anti-eu. E por isso mesmo nos entendemos muito bem.

Quando vemos um tamanduá comendo formigas (sei que não vemos tamanduás com muita frequência; é só um exemplo) não nos sentimos impelidos a discutir com o tamanduá, nem tampouco tentamos mostrar a ele que bolo de milho é mais saboroso que formigas. Dizemos eu nunca faria isso com um sorriso despreocupado e até feliz, mais de admiração que de impaciência. Note-se que isso não pressupõe qualquer relação de superioridade para com o tamanduá; para ele, o bolo de milho deve ser comparavelmente detestável.

Do mesmo modo que não discuto com o tamanduá, não discuto com quem, assim como o tamanduá, não tem condições de me entender. Se um sujeito gosta de Che Guevara, por que tentarei eu convencê-lo da intransigência de Lenin? E se ele não vê intransigência em Lenin, que tem ele com a arbitrariedade de Stalin? E por isso nos entendemos muito bem: ele fala de Stalin e eu rio; eu falo de Stalin e ele ri. Estamos fadados a uma relação amigável. Quando Nietzsche ou Huxley se opõem à religião, eles não têm a esperança de que os religiosos deixem de ser religiosos; perderiam muitos amigos nesse processo. Especificar o que eles querem, além de mostrar que se opõem à religião, já é bem mais difícil.

Discutir com quem concordamos, ainda que superficialmente, é mais viável. Cumpre discutir por que concordamos, e também por que concordamos apenas superficialmente. Se concordamos completa e inescapavelmente, cumpre discutir por que isso tem de ser assim.

Passemos, então, à questão de saber por que discutimos, às vezes, com tanta pertinácia, apenas para descobrir que estamos engajados numa discussão em que o interlocutor é ninguém menos que um tamanduá. A verdade é que o tamanduá por vezes se disfarça; inclina-se para o prato de bolo mas tem as formigas bem guardadas no bolso. Quando descobrimos já é tarde: resta-nos apenas aquela admiração aparvalhada a que me referi anteriormente. E então a discussão deixa de ser discussão, nenhuma concessão será possível, até porque qualquer concessão seria negar-se a si mesmo. Se não estamos lidando com um tamanduá, pontos de convergência surgirão naturalmente; até chegarmos à divergência, há muito chão em comum, caso contrário a divergência nem sequer teria a chance de existir.

Deve ser por isso que o bêbado tem tanta facilidade para fazer amigos. Isso não se dá porque o alcoól o deixa mais amigável, mas porque se esvai toda e qualquer necessidade de encontrar, nos outros, vestígios de uma concordância incondicional. Nossas caricaturas, ou melhor, anti-caricaturas, são nossos melhores amigos. Só eles nos divertem.

Arquivado em:Miscelânea

Woody Allen


O que acontece com o segundo filme, Before Sunset, não é nem pretendia ser diferente do que acontece com o primeiro, Before Sunrise: temos a ilustração do que disse Woody Allen num desses últimos filmes dele: Conversation is what we have to go through to get to sex. Está claro que, nesse contexto, não me refiro aos conversation e sex usuais – o mesmo, naturalmente, não pode ser dito do personagem de Allen… mas sou eu quem está fazendo a citação; uso-a como melhor me aprouver! -, isto é, continua havendo muita conversação e pouco sexo até o final do filme.

A conversação por que foi necessário passar por cima para que o(s) filme(s) começasse(m) a interessar permeia os inevitáveis momentos iniciais, aqueles em que cada um tenta desesperadamente impressionar o outro; aqueles em que se tenta resumir em algumas poucas frases toda uma existência e que, a não ser que sejamos indivíduos sumamente extraordinários, devem ser evitados a todo custo. Até o silêncio é preferível.

Superada essa primeira fase, em que todo argumento dispõe de uma reminiscência convenientemente ilustrativa resgatada dos confins da mais longínqua infância, ou até mesmo de um sonho recém-sonhado que vem, sem mais delongas, ratificar sua validade, adentra-se na questão que realmente interessa: o porquê de um gostar tanto do outro. Uma vez quitados os dividendos pertencentes à trivialidade (nesse processo, somos levados a conhecer todo o engajamento da moça, de suas visitas ao México, à Índia etc. Em determinado momento fui tomado pelo temor de que o aquecimento global e o derretimento das calotas polares seria o próximo assunto em pauta), sobra espaço para o que há de realmente meritório no filme, sendo que um desses méritos é a ridicularização da mesma trivialidade (note-se que o gato da moça se chama Che).

Difícil é saber até que ponto seria legítimo extirpar esse intróito; se quiséssemos nos aproximar da realidade, legítimo seria, talvez, banalizá-lo ainda mais.

Arquivado em:Cinema

The Prison & An Odissey (2)

An Odissey

Not long ago, when I decided I would write this, I couldn’t think of a suitable title. One could argue that An Odyssey was a thoroughly ordinary choice. It was and it was not. This is, roughly speaking, a narrative of a man’s journey to the sea and its implications. It was fair enough, then, to simply name it An Odyssey. There is more meaning into it, though; something that I feel compelled to disclose in the very beginning not because I think it would be wrong not to do so, but because I recognize that I need the readers’ sympathy, and nothing more sympathetic, nowadays, than honesty. My original intention was to establish a link between what I am about to write and Homer’s Odyssey. I am aware of the absurdity of the idea, especially because my text will not take more than a few pages, and, more importantly, it has absolutely no literary pretensions; but, still, I figured it would be a good idea to relate it to something of Homer’s magnitude. Something absolute, unshakable, free of doubt. The reason why I think it is a good idea will hopefully become more evident as I go on, but it is undeniable that an epic poem such as The Odyssey has already acquired some sort of divine quality; people don’t read it anymore, they simply bow before its intimidating importance. No matter how insignificant and unsuccessful my writings happen to be reputed someday, they will always be praised for at least bringing up the reassuring memories of ancient creativity. And I intend to keep this link fresh in the readers’ minds by naming this story’s hero Odysseus, or Ulysses, although it is widely known that his real name had nothing to do with either of the two.

I must warn the adventure-seekers that this Odysseus’ wanderings were much milder than the original’s: there were no witches or giants to trouble his journey; and his journey, instead of ten years, did not last more than ten months. But his inexplicable (not entirely inexplicable; this will be discussed in depth later) urge to reach the sea was undoubtedly comparable to the original Odysseus’ urge to reach Ithaca, even though this Odysseus had obviously no underwater family anxiously awaiting. For being so, many could infer that not much attention would be drawn toward his odyssey. If I were to infer, I would have probably inferred the same, but the outcome ended up being the exact opposite: innumerable books (books, not brief texts like this one) were written about it, and discussions concerning his life, his motives, and his death are unending. I happen to be humble enough to admit that I can barely comprehend many of these books, for they have reached a level of complexity that is well beyond anything this town has ever experienced. My friends and I like to think that they are almost as obscure as Odysseus’ mystery itself, and with this in mind we increasingly tend to ignore them.

* * *

Odysseus’ hometown is as far from the sea as a town can possibly be. In fact, the sea used to be regarded, by its inhabitants (and it still is, by the more skeptical ones), as something beyond human grasp, just as some like to think that the existence of God or any sort of divinity is a topic beyond human’s sphere of conjectures. The sea, though, never had any sacred book to defend its existence, let alone apostles who were willing to approach different peoples to spread its influence, resulting in a general belief that the sea was nothing but a legend, something so distant (both geographically and ideologically, though no one was ever certain, before Odysseus’ journey, about their exact geographic location) that only the children still bothered to give it any relevance. This is perfectly understandable, for there was a myriad of fantastic tales about the sea, usually depicting brave sailors and overwhelming storms. Had they inquired about it to anyone immediately outside their community, they would have found out that, after all, the way to the sea was not that complicated.

When Odysseus was still a young child, he said: “I want to reach the sea.” His father was particularly amused by this childlike whim, especially because of Odysseus’ stern and resolute facial expression. Nevertheless, as the years progressed, and Odysseus’ original statement evolved into “I need to reach the sea” and “I will reach the sea,” respectively, his father’s concern increased considerably. In one of his first so-called dictionary sessions, Odysseus learned the definition of the word impossible: “Not capable of existing, being done, or happening.” He never seemed to notice that his father wanted him to relate this word to what he wished to accomplish. Rather, he was always ready to learn different words (the dictionary sessions were held thrice everyday, under the inexorable supervision of his father), for he thought that there was nothing more important than that. He once said: “There may be language without thought, but there may be no thought without language, for, after all, how could a thought, as simple as it might be, prove its own existence if not through the language? An ancient man, living in caves, could exteriorize his, say, lascivious intentions, to an ancient woman he finds to be attractive, through unintelligible moans and groans. Yet another language.” Nonetheless, once Odysseus’ father ran out of words to teach, that is, once Odysseus finished reading the whole dictionary, his father became, in some strange manner, bitter and mean-spirited for not being able to impose any kind of intellectual superiority upon his own creature. He, then, started to arbitrarily and mistakenly correlate meanings to words: sea became “the solid portion of earth’s surface”; love became “a strong feeling of dislike or ill will” and so forth.

The reason why I bother to mention this eccentricity is that it helped Odysseus tremendously during his journey. The relation is indeed not that obvious at first sight, but one could think of it this way: Odysseus became acquainted with an adverse situation. Even though he knew his father was freely mixing up words and definitions (for he, fortunately, had a dictionary of his own, and, besides, he already knew the correct meaning of most words), he had to submit himself to the now long and fastidious dictionary sessions with remarkable resignation. He did it because of two reasons: he was still grateful to his father, for, after all, he was the one who first introduced him into the study of words (at the time, a coherent study); and, perhaps even more importantly, he was still not quite ready to leave his home. The reasons why he accepted it pale in contrast with its consequences. Using the pretentiously scientific term (endorsed by most of those who wrote unending analyses of this case), Odysseus was propelled into a “familiar confusion” state of mind. This concept is usually elucidated by the belief that the human being, when going through a difficult situation (confusion), eventually gets used to it and even tends to struggle to keep it as it is (familiar). That is, no one ever wants to be expelled from their routine, even if the new routine that is being offered has evident advantages over the former. The time and dedication required to adapt to a new way of living are usually considered too consuming, in spite of the rewards, standing right in front of our nose.

When Odysseus finally decided he was prepared to leave his home, he did so without faltering. That tells a lot about the nature of his urge to reach the sea; it surpassed in importance the “familiar confusion” of his home. He had enough strength to wrench himself out of his family’s protection and to fall right into a new “confusion”: not being able to find out where the sea was. And he did get used to this new one, too; if he had been told where the sea was, he would have probably hesitated before following the directions. Not because he didn’t want to reach it (there was nothing he wanted more), but because the routine of being unsuccessful was so strongly solidified that it was almost comfortable. For at least a month he helplessly tried to collect information and directions in his own town. He asked mostly the older portion of the population, for they, supposedly, knew more about the sea and about how to get there. Unfortunately for Odysseus, it had been generations since the last foreigner had settled in that town, and he apparently had brought no relevant information, for the only thing that had been perpetuated throughout the years was that “it is impossible to reach the sea” or “the sea does not exist.” These were the replies Odysseus usually had to hear; if not, a sarcastic laughter. Odysseus failed to notice how different, in the broader sense of the term, two towns right next to each other can be, and that was his first mistake. All he needed to do was to ask one of those many persons whom he encountered on his way once he left his town. He would have been told that the sea was undoubtedly far away, but that the way to get there was widely known and not at all complicated. He could have probably bought a map (such a concept had not yet reached his town, despite the fact that all the towns located around there did have it for years) and even a catalogue with pictures and prices of the most modern speedboats! But he did not ask.

He became a victim of his own pragmatism: after a month of fruitless inquiries, he gave up because he thought there was a conspiracy trying to keep him away from the sea, which cannot be considered a bad conclusion, since it was unthinkable for him that no one would have any information. Then, he decided not to tell anyone where he was going to, so that there would be no attempt to stop him. His new tactics was to involve his listeners in a series of elaborate and seemingly innocent questions, hoping that his interlocutors would provide him with the needed directions without really noticing it. These questions never mentioned the sea or anything in any way related to the sea, except for the fact that he often started a conversation with “I’ve just come from the sea and…” or “I’m a sailor and I’d like to know…”, so that he wouldn’t convey the impression of wanting to know what he wanted to know. The persons to whom he directed the questions were always confused, for the questions were invariably too complicated for them, but one thing they knew for sure: Odysseus had just come from the sea, so there was absolutely no need to tell him how to get there.

I am certain that Odysseus would have been tremendously disappointed had he learned that miscommunication was the reason why he ultimately could not reach the sea. He had the needed persistence, the needed physical strength; he had an inexplicable urge (again, not exactly inexplicable. Be patient! It won’t be long until I discuss this), but he could not communicate with those who were willing to help, if only approached and inquired properly. He, who knew all the words (or so he claimed), who was as eloquent as a Greek poet (pardon my enthusiasm), could not address common people; could not make good use of his speech, which he considered to be highly efficient; could not establish any kind of link between himself and those who spoke his own language! It was as though he was mute. I assume some philosopher might have already said this, but, if not, I feel even more obliged to point out: knowing how to communicate, be it through oral or written expression, does not necessarily mean knowing how to communicate adequately in every possible occasion. This may seem a little simplistic, but many, especially certain writers, have a tendency to ignore it. An example: the already mentioned ancient man expresses himself through groans and moans. We can infer, then, that the ancient man is familiar with (let us put it this way) the groaning language. We can also infer that the ancient woman understands what he wishes to convey, for the groaning language is what she is used to hearing. Many, then, assume that this mutual understanding will always happen provided that every person involved in a conversation speaks the same language. But, if the ancient man’s groaning starts to become too sophisticated, or too archaic (if that is possible), he will not be comprehended, not even by his fellow cavemen. This is what happened to Odysseus.

* * *

Now, Odysseus’ motives.

The same adventure-seekers who were warned earlier that this was not exactly the most exciting report (in light of their standards, of course) are about to, if they haven’t done it already, blame me for prematurely disclosing Odysseus’ journey’s outcome. He never reached the sea, never saw it, with the exception of the illustrations in fairy-tale books he enjoyed reading. I had two reasons for doing this: the plausible one and the real one. I obviously would not bother to tell the real one, but the commitment I made in the beginning of this text is still valid. It is, if my decision happens to be, for some reason, considered wrong, I will at least be able to say that it was intentional. The plausible one (which, even though it was not the one that influenced me most, cannot be said to be false, either) is that Odysseus’ journey’s outcome is not the keystone of my report. I actually consider it irrelevant, since I always knew the sea existed. I am sure that Tolstoy, who used to flatter himself by claiming that his novels were so complex that one could not decisively tell their main topic, would have approved of my consideration. One could argue, then, that Odysseus’ motives are indeed my main topic, but not even that I would be able to tell for sure. I will leave this issue for those who are always seeking worthless challenges.

It is known, too, that great portions of the books about Odysseus’ journey are dedicated to his motives. There are actually some that discuss his motives only, leaving personal details untouched. They tend to agree that the sea itself never had a great deal of importance; it just happened to be his objective because of circumstances under which he and his town lived. Had Odysseus been born in a town where there were no mountains, they argue, he would have pursued the mountains with the same disposition. There are some subtleties, though, that could lead us to think otherwise, such as Odysseus’ urinary incontinence. I am surely not trying to say that he avidly pursued the sea, for ten full months, until he could not possibly continue, just to go in the water and spare himself from possible embarrassments. He could have done that in his own shower, and he did. According to his parents, from whom most of the information in regards to his life was acquired, it would always be a struggle to get him out of the bathroom. Not that I believe that his disease was of crucial importance to the shaping of his behavior, but it serves as an example of how personal details (seemingly unimportant details) may influence one’s conduct, as well as it influences one’s writings. The author that is not influenced by personal events and beliefs is the one who conceals this tendency better; anyone who has the pen as an instrument of work will confirm this idea. Odysseus’ journey, it can therefore be said, was Odysseus’ “book”.

I should also add, now that suitable time comes, that I actually got to meet Odysseus, though it happened only a few days before his death. He approached me with his already described process of tortuous and apparently random commentaries. I must confess that I, for a moment, doubted his sanity, for he discussed, in no particular order, the importance of preserving the marine environment, the absurd bureaucracy involved in getting a fishing license, and the advantages of moving to a city in the country. He finished with an affirmation that still doesn’t seem to relate in any way to what he had just said: “Candide was not as ingenuous as Voltaire wanted us to believe.” Out of my huge pile of books that deal with Odysseus’ journey, none of them mention that quote, even though I made it public after his death. This is not an isolated decision: there are certain aspects of Odysseus’ life that, according to those involved in discussing them, cannot be explained; a logic to describe their pattern is something virtually unattainable. For the aspects that seem to follow an at least slightly coherent logic, they develop extensive analyses, theories and conclusions. I must say it has already become a scientific pursuit, and they are so meticulous and focused that I can’t help thinking that they, at times, forget the bigger picture, forget who they are dealing with and why they are doing it. There are actually, in many of the books, detailed graphics describing Odysseus’ emotions during the ten months he spent looking for the sea. Ascending lines on these graphics represent the periods in which Odysseus was allegedly seen with a relatively optimistic facial expression, also being possible for us to see, in these graphics, lines with different slopes, depending upon the degree of optimism he conveyed. Very steep ascending or descending lines, then, represent a sudden shift of mood, to the better and to the worse, respectively.

The period in which these lines reach their lowest point occurred right after Odysseus’ conversation with an older man named Estragon. According to the old man, he was filling bottles of water and turning them upside down so that he could fill them once more when Odysseus approached him. Our hero seemed exhausted, and, probably because he thought it wouldn’t hurt him to have a sincere conversation with an old man who could barely stand on his feet, he said: “I am having difficulties accomplishing my objective.” Estragon replied: “If you try hard enough, if you dedicate body and soul toward your goal, if you believe you can actually do it, then, when you least expect it, you’ll achieve it.” Odysseus said: “Couldn’t you have simply said ‘be persistent’?” Estragon replied: “Yes, but the way I put it is more eloquent. Many poets have done it for centuries and they’re hardly ever told that it’s excessive.” Odysseus said: “Still, my objective is not warning poets of their excesses, it is reaching the sea.” Estragon replied: “We always find something, eh my friend, to give us the impression we exist. You have the sea as an objective, some have God as an objective, others have no objectives. These bottles are my objective.”

Needless to say, the theory according to which the sea itself never represented much to Odysseus was originated from this event. Most of the books agree that Odysseus’ main motive was what Estragon exposed: filling his existence with something, with anything. There are, nevertheless, many other theories, and some of them are indeed plausible. Most, however, have their flaws and contradictions, in spite of the overwhelming effort that is often made on their behalf. My original intention, though, was not to assess their validity, but simply to lay them out so that the readers could draw their own conclusions. Here are, then, some alternative explanations for Odysseus’ urge to reach the sea: he could be trying to escape from the oppressing dictionary sessions of his father’s, and chose the sea because he would never be found there, considering his entire town thought it did not exist; he could be, though it still sounds a little excessive to me, trying to heal his urinary incontinence, for he had heard that certain waters had healing powers; he could be trying to prove to his family and town (and to himself) that the sea actually existed; and, my favorite, he could be simply curious, since he had never seen the sea, with the exception of the illustrations in fairy-tale books he enjoyed reading. Whatever it might have been, he died a few days after the first time I saw him, and his death was as complicated as his life, or at least as complicated as those who dedicated their lives to the study of Odysseus’ case wanted it to be.

* * *

I live in the town where Odysseus died; it is a coastal town. In fact, when Odysseus dropped dead, in the middle of the street, he had perhaps ten more minutes of walking to reach the sea. The reason why I leave such a basic information about myself to the end (I can already sense the fierce criticism that this might trigger), for my report is not to last for much longer, is not yet clear, not even to me. I certainly did not do it with the intention of making a surprise or an impression; I repeat, this text has no literary pretensions. One thing that comes to my mind, though, is that, in a mere exposition of an event, every piece of information should be revealed when appropriate time comes, even if it doesn’t follow a chronological or coherent pattern. Thomas Mann, for instance, has already done the same in his Doctor Faustus, with the difference that he had the advantage of disposing of a great amount of information about his hero, which justified the decision of not displaying this information all at once, for it would take pages for the actual narrative to commence. One could ask me, then, “Why do you think that this is the suitable time to reveal your geographic location?” And I would use Odysseus’ behavior immediately prior to his death as an answer: he seemed to have lost interest in reaching the sea. This is, obviously, merely one of my observations, and many disagree with it. He, for some reason, seemed to know where he was, seemed to know that the sea was not at all far away. This is perfectly believable, for, after ten months of traveling through non-coastal towns, it would be hard for him not to notice the difference in a coastal one; something different in the atmosphere of the place, in the general disposition of the people. He, moreover, when asked about his destination, would always answer: “I am going home,” though he was still moving away from his parents’ house. The word home (as it could be expected) is discussed exhaustively; but the interpretation that pleases me most (again, it is not one of the most popular ones) is that he had been at home ever since the day he left his parents’ house, and that he would still be at home for as long as he pursued his objective. That is, being at home is doing what one is meant to do. I like to think that I have some authority in this matter, for, besides knowing him in person (though it wasn’t for more than a few minutes of conversation; the rest was just me virtually spying on him), he died here.

Nobody really knows why Odysseus died; he simply did, dropped dead one day. My guess is that a detailed examination of his body could thoroughly elucidate the causes of his death, consequently refuting many of the theories created to explain the event. Furthermore, many simply do not seem to be interested in the truth: with truth there is no wondering, and wondering is what these people do best. And no, I don’t blame them.

Thus I conclude my report, which I hope will be helpful for those having trouble wading through the massive volumes pertaining to Odysseus’ life and death; but, just for the sake of chronology (let us make this concession), I’ll tack in a brief description of his death before putting the pen away. One day he was walking down the street and fell. A group of people rapidly approached him and surrounded him; I was one of them. He was clearly exhausted (his pants soaking wet), but of an exhaustion that resembled the tacitly satisfied exhaustion felt by someone who is content with finally being able to go to sleep, rather than the frustrating exhaustion felt by someone who still has a task to accomplish. Before closing his eyes, he said: “I feel rather tired,” or so it seemed to me, for his voice was already too weak to be clearly heard by any man.

Arquivado em:Prosa

The Prison & An Odissey (1)

Aí vai o primeiro desses dois textos que escrevi, há uns três anos, como projetos finais do meu curso final de inglês. Reli-os recentemente e cheguei à conclusão de que não são tão ruins assim.

The Prison

I. The prison and its warden

There is a prison that was once well known because of the unusual working method of its lights. The warden of the prison, responsible for the creation of this method, explained with his own words how it used to function: “The lights are turned off, with no previous warning, whenever I decide they should be turned off. It is obvious that I never use predictable schedules, which means that a prisoner is never able to tell at what time the lights will be turned off on the following day.” This was an overwhelming inconvenience to the prisoners, for they needed light to accomplish some very basic necessities, such as going to the bathroom. One may argue that after not much time, they were able to learn their way to the bathroom, being possible to get there even in the dark. But the warden, having thought of this detail, decided to assign different cells for each prisoner everyday, leaving them no time to memorize their way, for all the cells were enormous and had the bathroom in different locations. The prisoners’ families were astonished when they first learned the prison’s eccentric routine, but, it must be said, they hardly ever visited the unfortunate prisoners; not because they couldn’t or didn’t want to, but because they never knew when to do it. The warden told us why: “When they were free, they had all the time in the world to be with their loving families, but, instead, they chose to spend their time with unlawful behaviors such as robbing, killing, raping, shouting in libraries and so forth. Now, their loving families have to be lucky enough to get here on a day the prison happens to be open for visits, such as yesterday, when, fortunately, no one appeared.”

It is fairly noticeable that the warden enjoyed being arbitrary. Except for reading and writing about the universal classics of literature, practicing incomprehensible despotism was his favorite pastime. The foreigners who read about this prison never seem to understand how a mere warden could have had such power and influence, since nobody dared question his rather questionable methods. But the truth is, because of his work, the crime rates in the town decreased dramatically, and thus he started to become a respected figure. Many criminals simply stopped being criminals, and the rest moved out of town, which is perfectly understandable. Moreover, the ones who spent any time in the prison would rather commit suicide than allow themselves back again in that terrifying gaol, which is also perfectly understandable.

The warden’s power reached a point that allowed him to decide whether a person should go to prison or not. Often times, he himself would write an order of imprisonment (he was particularly fond of writing those, for he believed he had an innate talent for written composition, especially when the latter was based on disagreeable news) stating all the reasons why he reputed this or that man a threat to society. He would, then, picture, with abundance of details, while lasciviously licking his lips, the circumstances under which his new victim would receive the news. He told us, with his usual sincerity: “I can never help imagining their faces. Maybe while having dinner, or playing with their kids, or engaged in any other pleasant activity, they would, then, receive the fateful order and stop whatever they were doing momentarily. The kids would wonder why their parents were so suddenly uneasy, but they would soon find out, for a member of the family would invariably be missing for a while.” With all this ritual in mind, the warden decided to send an order of imprisonment to the town’s one and only writer. After everything that happened because of this decision, he realized he had made a big mistake.

At any rate, he did so, but not before consulting the opinion of his group of loyal advisors. The impression I have is that he had advisors not to make sure he was making the right decision, but to assure himself that he was being as despotic as possible. The first advisor said, reluctantly: “You can’t simply throw this poor fellow in jail just because you don’t agree with his writings.” The second advisor said, thoughtfully: “The first advisor is right. Besides, you, as an admirer of good literature, should know that people have different ideas and therefore write about different things.” The warden responded, impatiently: “You two big idiots. I don’t intend to do what I intend to do because I don’t agree with his writings. I have never read a single line from him. What I can’t accept is to know that he writes fictional stories. We don’t need new literature: there’s still a lot to be said and written about the classics. Writing new material is the same as implying that what we already have is not sufficient, and that I cannot bear.” The advisors consented instantly, which does not mean they truly agreed: they just knew how to secure their jobs, and so did I.

II. The prisoner and the possibility of his death

The town’s one and only writer, having no other choice other than following the warden’s orders, became the prison’s most celebrated prisoner. He was the most celebrated because of his behavior, which was scrupulously flawless, in spite of the false idea that many had of him: a disquiet and revolutionary man full of ideas. Because his name was inexplicably unknown, and because this denomination was perfectly suitable, he was known as the prisoner.

He was a peaceful man. One would think he was a hideous criminal, for he seemed to accept his punishment with remarkable resignation, as if he had thorough conscience of how terrible his crime had been. This unexpected behavior did not, not at all, please the warden. As stated before, he enjoyed being inconvenient, and the last thing he wanted was a satisfied prisoner, as the prisoner seemed to be. He, then, again asked for his advisor’s help. Firstly, he could not let people notice that there were content prisoners in his prison, which would obviously ruin its reputation. Furthermore, it started to become a personal issue, for the warden could not stand the prisoner’s unshakable conformity. He tried, through every possible way, to urge him for freedom, but the prisoner seemed, each day, more comfortable where he was. According to him, the prison was a “… terrific place to live. Where else could you have different rooms everyday? Not to mention the architecture, which is utterly magnificent. The lights, reason for unending complaints, aren’t really necessary. You can always use the flashlights they have in here.” No one really knows whether he was speaking the truth or not, after all, he was a writer; a good one, many insist on saying, although I haven’t read a single line from him, either. One thing is acknowledged: he had an incomparable ability to persuade people through his writings, and this ability was the main responsible for the success of his revenge plan against the warden. Some would say that he was capable of convincing people, with no more than a few words, that a clock was showing another time instead of the time everyone saw. He said: “It is all a matter of choosing the right words.”

The warden proposed his death. It was not an easy decision, for he thought that “… the prisoners ought to suffer, and then they die. This is how one pays for one’s crimes.” He, then, tried to find something that would bring the prisoner’s deserved suffering. He told the prisoner: “It is in deep sorrow that I find myself obliged to bring you the news of your wife’s death.” The prisoner replied: “Did my lovely wife indeed die, sir?” The warden replied: “I wish I could tell otherwise, but yes.” The prisoner replied: “I am tremendously sad to hear it, but I am not worried. I am sure that you, generous as you are, will take care of the funeral’s expenses, considering I cannot do so.” His second attempt was equally frustrating. He told the prisoner: “I myself looked over and over and there seem to be no mail for you since you arrived here.” The prisoner replied, a little embarrassed: “Oh, it is true. I think I should try giving them the prison’s address first.” Once he realized that his efforts were completely innocuous, he decided to kill the prisoner.

The third advisor objected: “This would be, undoubtedly, a harmful thing to do. Once you begin with this sort of extreme attitude, you will rapidly lose all the respect you have in this town.” The warden replied, again, impatiently (he never seemed to be in a good mood): “Don’t be silly. It will surely cause some impression, but I have many merits to compensate for it. It is undeniable that Napoleon, for instance, is mostly remembered not because of the many, so to speak, lives he slaughtered, but because of his outstanding military genius. This is what, if everything goes as I plan, will happen to me: I will not be remembered because of the worthless lives I tortured, but because I so efficiently handled the crime situation in this town. As a Russian philosopher used to say, removing an unimportant obstacle is a part of the process of achieving something bigger, and it should, therefore, be accepted. And it will be accepted. People forget things easily.” The fourth advisor asked, doubtfully: “Wasn’t this Russian guy a writer?” And the fifth advisor replied, triumphantly: “He was a writer-philosopher.” It is needless to say that this kind of digression irritated the warden tremendously, and it irritated me, too.

His plans could not be consummated, though. When he voiced his idea of killing the prisoner, he also assigned one of the security guards to do the job, that is, to actually kill him. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t know, the first assigned security guard was not able to kill him. Nor was the second one. Claiming the most absurd reasons, such as sudden stomachaches and not previously announced wedding parties, none of them were able to do it, leaving the warden no other choice other than doing it himself. The warden tried, he sincerely did, but the slightest sight of blood frightened him beyond comprehension.

III. The diaries

The warden, instead of insisting on doing something he knew he could not do, changed his strategy completely. The prisoner’s influence spread momentarily in the prison: no one seemed to be interested in escaping or simply being liberated. He, then, thought that, by providing an entertainment to the prisoners, they would recover, at least, a minimal interest for life and, consequently, they would, once again, seek freedom, as they used to do when they first arrived. The warden’s idea, then, would favor him in two ways. One: he would be able to regain his powerful position, considering all the prisoners would be again dissatisfied and he was the one to keep them where they were. Two: he needed documents that could testify to his efficiency for the posterity. He assumed that all the diaries – this was his idea, to let the prisoners write diaries about whatever they wanted – would frequently mention his name as an arbitrary and devilish man. He explained why this was what he wanted: “Arbitrary and devilish for prisoners mean severe and efficient for honored citizens. Those who read the diaries will realize that this is the suitable behavior when dealing with unlawful people. My name will be praised, and they will wish they had a man like me to manage their local prison.”

Theoretically, it was a noteworthy idea, I must admit. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t know, things didn’t work quite as well as he had planned. Indeed, all the prisoners were very excited with the possibility of writing diaries, but, instead of beginning a process that would lead them to the need for redemption, they preferred to remain imprisoned, so that they could keep writing their diaries. And, to worsen the warden’s situation, they decided not to write about the latter (in almost one hundred thousand pages, his name was mentioned three times), but to write about themselves. One of the prisoners said, visibly excited: “I am thrilled. I never thought that, as a prisoner, I would have the opportunity to write anything relevant. Now that I know that the posterity will read this, I’ll flatter myself as much as I can, and, who knows, in some years, there will be a school named after me.” Many thought the same. After not long, when the diaries were available for the public to read, I was told that, if all the prisoners were truthful when they wrote the papers, there were, among them, mathematicians, runners, physicians, geologists, pediatricians, orthodontists, geographers, biologists, cardiologists, paleoanthropologists, paleontologists, dominoes players, psychiatrists, psychologists, gynecologists, urologists, chess players, pilots, writers, philosophers and some other occupations which I cannot remember right now.

The warden could not know that, for no one was allowed to read someone else’s diary. He thought of simply ignoring it and of requiring all the prisoners to show him their diaries, but the sixth advisor warned him: “Wouldn’t it be better, then, to hire fake prisoners and write them their diaries with the exact content you desire? Besides, all the prisoners here, all but one, are ignorant; no one will believe in what they write.” The warden finally agreed: “It makes sense. Moreover, my reputation is considerably solid, already. And, I read, the other day, by accident, a page of a poor fellow’s diary who claimed himself a writer, but I could find a handful of childish spelling mistakes. Their diaries are not the problem. My only concern is the prisoner’s diary. I heard his words can be as convincing as a picture.” The seventh advisor, after considering the matter for a second, replied: “Let us say, then, that the prisoner is not allowed to have a diary.” And thus it was agreed.

The prisoner, as it was expected, was not disappointed with this decision. Although he knew that his revenge would be accomplished through his diary, he knew, too, that there was no need to worry. Instead of complaining, he accepted and even conjectured the opinion that he was privileged for not being able to write a diary, because, this way, he would have more time left to enjoy the other commodities the prison had to offer. He spent a great deal of his time trying to figure out the working method of the lights, even though he still thought this was irrelevant. Nevertheless, he enjoyed doing so, for he believed, vehemently, that the times the lights were turned off weren’t arbitrary: they certainly followed some sort of logic. He had a hard time to prove it, for the prison had no clocks (there actually was a clock available to the prisoners, but it was located so far away from their sight that it was impossible for them to see the time; and, the ones who claimed it possible to see (which was probably a lie), affirmed that it showed the wrong time), making it difficult for him to develop a tentative schedule for the lights. He tried using the sun as a time referential, but, as I believe I stated before, the prison had no windows.

IV. The prisoner’s diary

But he was right, there was no need to worry. He somehow found a way to have a diary, even though he could not and he did not write a diary. The prison’s security guards, I was their supervisor, watched him closely. He did not, I can say this for sure, write a single line while he was in that prison, but, by the time he died, he had a two-hundred-page diary, that was sent, along with the other prisoner’s writings, to the library for the people to read. The warden could not stop this from happening because I assured him, after the prisoner’s death, that he hadn’t written anything, and that that month’s package of papers could safely go to the local public library.

My first guess is that he dictated it to the prisoners with whom he shared cells during the thirteen years between the implementation of the diaries idea and his death. Although it sounds simple, it certainly wasn’t, for, as I think I stated before, the prisoners changed cells everyday and, therefore, shared cells with different prisoners everyday. He had, then, in one day, to meet and convince his new mate to write him his diary. I don’t even have to mention that this was a herculean task, for two basic reasons. One: for the other prisoners to write the prisoner’s diary, they had to give up, at least for a day, writing their own, which was almost impossible, for they avidly wanted to add as much as possible to their writings (they only had until their death to finish it). Two: as the sixth advisor and the warden themselves noticed, all the prisoners there were ignorant. The prisoner must have spent an incredible amount of time spelling the words to his helpers, considering I could not find a single spelling mistake in his diary. These are probably the reasons that better explain why he took thirteen years to have only two hundred pages written.

As it is probably known by now, if not, my apologies, once a prisoner died, his writings were immediately remitted to the local public library, where they had a space dedicated to the diaries. It is beyond human comprehension how the prisoner managed to organize his scattered papers. The only rational conjecture, although it would be rational to repute it irrational, is that he convinced the two hundred prisoners who had helped him to, after his death, organize them for him. That is, possibly, the reason why, when he happened to share a cell with someone older, he would sleep the entire day: only younger prisoners could him help because he needed them to be alive on the day of his death. The handwriting was inexplicably homogeneous, though.

Accidents may have happened, for there are two pages missing on his diary; unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t know, they don’t deprive the text of its general meaning, which is the last thing left for me to report.

V. The wooden door

The sixth advisor was absolutely right: no one would ever believe in those extravagancies, as I noticed while I was reading some of the diaries in the local public library. When I found a volume entitled The prisoner, I obviously did not relate this denomination to the town’s old writer; I was the one responsible for watching him, I knew he had no diary. As I began to read, though, there was no doubt that it was indeed the prisoner’s writings, and I knew it because of two basic reasons. One: there were no spelling mistakes. Two: it was so convincing that, by the time I finished the reading, I was completely sure that it said the truth and nothing but the truth.

In two hundred pages, the prisoner, eloquently and, according to the many that dedicated their lives to the analysis of the writings, irrefutably, proved that the prison’s warden was the fairest of all wardens.

I took a copy of the diary (the originals were to remain there forever: orders from the librarian) to the prison and placed it on the warden’s desk. I saw as he went in his office and closed the door. After two hours or so, enough time to read a considerable part of the volume, I heard a scream of agony coming from his room. I heard it rather clearly, even though his wooden door was relatively thick.

Arquivado em:Prosa

O Império do Achismo

Hoje basta que uma opinião corrobore a mais superficial das intuições para que seja reputada tão boa quanto qualquer outra. O esforço hercúleo que existe em levar uma determinada opinião do domínio incerto da intuição a um outro mais bem fundamentado é sistematicamente desprezado, tido inclusive como uma demonstração de arrogância.

Esse é um fato de fácil verificação. Basta começar uma frase com um De acordo com Fulano de Tal… para que nos interpelem com um Opa, por que não pensa por si próprio? ou um Que tal deixarmos as referências obscuras de lado? A verdade é que qualquer referência que transcenda o triunvirato Paulo Coelho – Tolkien – Dan Brown já é obscura. Na tentativa mesma de lançar alguma luz sobre a escuridão intelectual reinante, é-se acusado de obscurantista. Na tentativa mesma de forjar um raciocínio mais elaborado, através da meditação de autores e de obras que não necessariamente são lidas aos montes, é-se acusado de alguém que não sabe pensar. Ou, no mínimo, de alguém que não tem outra intenção além de, indiscriminadamente, esfregar nomes e títulos nas fuças dos outros. Não é à toa que já se fala em terrorismo onomástico.

A facilidade com que viramos as costas aos que vieram antes de nós é alarmante. É como se não merecessem confiança pelo simples fato de já não estarem vivos. O próprio Chesterton se surpreende com a prioridade que damos aos que, por acaso, ainda estão vivos: Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. O Império do Achismo é precisamente isso: o solene desprezo que se dedica a qualquer tipo de tradição. Erra-se como já se errou há centenas de anos, e nem mesmo esse erro incita qualquer tipo de pesquisa; é a Elite do Aleatório, o Reino do Improviso, a condição humana em estado ad hoc permanente.

Na Veja dessa última semana, Stephen Kanitz vem nos dizer que

Tudo isso são sintomas de um perigoso antiintelectualismo que cresce na América Latina. A eleição de Hugo Chávez e Evo Morales mostra o mesmo fenômeno. O povo latino-americano se cansou do silêncio, da soberba e da incompetência de sua elite intelectual, que pouco cria e só copia teorias como Inflation Targeting, por exemplo.

Ora vejam: o grande culpado por essa letargia intelectual é ninguém menos que o próprio intelectual. Isso não deixa de ser verdade, mas não é o aspecto mais importante: Kanitz não o deixa claro não sei por quê. Se perguntamos a Lula o que ele acha de James Joyce, ele não nos responderá com um Acho-o ilegível, ele e William Faulkner. O experimentalismo linguístico me parece grotesco, mas sim com um Quem é James Joyce? Se os intelectuais de atualmente não são tão competentes quanto seria desejável, não faz sentido esperar até que um surto de genialidade lhes arrebate por inteiro para que só então o indivíduo comum comece a se interessar por eles. Há também os mortos: os que, mesmo mortos, continuam vivos. Não por acaso.

O povo latino-americano não se cansou do silêncio porque, muitas vezes, nem sequer o percebe.

Arquivado em:Miscelânea

Nosso Camarada, ‘Che’

Hoje me perguntaram por que não gosto de Che Guevara. Não lembro ter tocado no assunto ultimamente… resta-me acreditar que esse desgosto se encontra patente na minha expressão facial. Isso é bom. Evita maiores esclarecimentos.

Respondi, claro está, com um Por que gostaria? Contudo, entendo essa dificuldade que alguns têm de perceber o óbvio: devem ter assistido ao Diários de Motocicleta, filme que, ora bolas, traz o Gael García Bernal, novo e notável talento latino-americano, eleito unanimemente a esse posto por uma intelligentsia (quase sempre) feminina e (sempre) suspirante. Que coincidência! Mas vamos ao que interessa.

Tenho a leve impressão de que a leitura dos artigos Ten Shots at Che Guevara e The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand, ambos do Alvaro Vargas Llosa, bastaria para diminuir um pouco o fascínio pelo filme, ou até mesmo pelas paisagens bolivianas. Similarmente, eu não teria de responder a perguntas como a que me fizeram hoje. A minha idéia, teimosa que seja, é que o ambiente circundante já não é tão atraente quando se sabe que o jovem visionário e cool não passa de um facínora de marca maior. Já conheço o contra-argumento: trata-se de ficção; o filme vale pelo que é, não por aquilo que seu protagonista (na vida real, não necessariamente no filme) viria a se tornar depois. Mas acontece que a imagem que faço de Guevara, antes de se render às suas tendências mais cruéis, é aquela mesma mostrada no filme: a de um bobão metido a visionário.

Dito isso, espero sinceramente que os jovens que vierem depois de nós se derretam por ideais que não envolvam a motocicleta de um assassino. E que não façam questão de usar a camiseta de um assassino. É, antes de mais, uma demonstração insuspeita de burrice.

Arquivado em:Cinema, Política

Engels Pergunta…

É sabido que, enquanto Marx ficava responsável pela elaboração teórica do socialismo científico alemão, a Engels cabia, nos periódicos de então, rebater as idéias que se opusessem à teoria marxista. Isso se deu inclusive após a morte de Marx, como é o caso de dois artigos que Engels escreveu em resposta às invectivas de um proudhoniano alemão, concernentes ao problema da moradia do trabalhador industrial.

Em dado momento, claramente perturbado com a possibilidade da existência de uma justiça eterna que, segundo Proudhon, deveria reger todo o processo revolucionário, Engels admite:

Esta “idea de justicia de la revolución” es para mí un enigma. Cierto que Proudhon hace de “la revolución” una especie de divindad que encarna y cumple su “justicia”, pero (…)

E, mais adiante, pergunta:

Hemos oído hablar de personas que están “en el cristianismo, en la fe verdadera, en gracia de Dios,” etc. Pero ¿”estar” en la revolución, el más agitado de los movimientos? ¿Es que “la revolución” es una religión dogmática en la que haya que creer?

E, no final das contas, Marx e Engels padecem do mesmo mal que tanto condenam: criaram um dogma. É o que observa Edmund Wilson em seu To The Finland Station. Tentaram criar a ciência do comportamento humano, a ciência da própria realidade, isto é, a divindade em seu estado mais completo. Engels adverte que representa um exercício por demais subjetivo querer saber como o proletariado resolverá o problema da moradia: se por uma desapropriação imediata ou gradativa das residências de classe superior. Em outras palavras: melhor deixar a discussão para depois da revolução. Que nunca veio.

Lewis Mumford, no mesmo livro que comentei há alguns dias, mostra que mesmo numa conjuntura revolucionária a idéia da desapropriação redundaria ineficaz:

Noutras palavras, até mesmo aquele crítico revolucionário não se dava conta do fato de que as moradias de classe superior eram, mais frequentemente do que se imagina, intoleráveis supercortiços. A necessidade de aumentar as disponibilidades de habitação, de expandir o espaço, de multiplicar o equipamento, de proporcionar facilidade comunais, era muito mais revolucionária nas suas exigências do que haveria de ser qualquer tola desapropriação das residências ocupadas pelos ricos. Esta última noção nada mais foi que um gesto impotente de vingança: a primeira exigia uma completa reconstrução de todo o ambiente social – uma reconstrução como esta em cujo limiar o mundo talvez se encontre hoje em dia, embora até mesmo países adiantados como a Inglaterra, a Suécia e os Países Baixos não tenham ainda apreendido todas as dimensões dessa mudança urbana.

Engels pergunta e, em tempo, obtém sua resposta.

Arquivado em:Política

O Emblema Rubro da Coragem

The Red Badge of Courage, do Stephen Crane, é mais um exemplo das grandes sínteses de que eu falava no post passado. Que Crane tenha conseguido escrevê-lo aos vinte e quatro anos (incompletos) é quase inacreditável.

Impossível lê-lo sem pensar em Joseph Conrad, principalmente em seu Lord Jim. Ou melhor: impossível ler Conrad sem pensar em Crane, já que o The Red Badge foi publicado um pouco antes de o Conrad estrear na literatura (1895). Não são poucos os pontos de contato. Em se tratando de dados biográficos, cumpre dizer que os dois passaram a se conhecer muito bem depois que Crane se mudou para a Inglaterra. Além disso, ambos chegaram, tacitamente, à conclusão de que o ofício de escrever era, para eles, inescapável. Ainda que isso significasse uma vida solitária e cheia de angústia.

Passando à literatura propriamente dita, as semelhanças não são menos marcantes. Pode-se entender o Jim de Conrad como uma encarnação mais taciturna do Henry Fleming de Crane. Ambos são levados a investigar de perto a condição humana – a condição humana em seus aspectos menos agradáveis – ao protaganizarem episódios que exigiram uma firmeza moral (ou coragem) de que não dispunham no momento: Fleming foge de seu regimento durante a primeira investida do inimigo na batalha de Chancellorsvile (1863), na Guerra Civil norte-americana; e Jim põe-se a salvo de um naufrágio sem ajudar alguns de seus companheiros, que acabam morrendo. Ambos estão marcados.

Apesar de Fleming conseguir voltar ao seu regimento sem ser descoberto, isto é, sem que seus companheiros desconfiem do porquê de seu sumiço, as horas que precederam esse regresso foram tão terríveis (ou horríveis) quanto se possa imaginar. O medo de que seus verdadeiros motivos fossem descobertos fizeram com que ele conhecesse bem o que a inglesa Ann Radcliff entendia por horror: um estado de excitação mental que, diferentemente do terror, aguça os sentidos, em vez de bloqueá-los, numa apreciação morbidamente clara da própria desgraça:

He could not conciliate the forest. As he made his way, it was always calling out protestations. When he separated embraces of trees and vines the disturbed foliages waved their arms and turned their face leaves toward him. He dreaded lest these noisy motions and cries should bring men to look at him. So he went far, seeking dark and intricate places.

Ironicamente, é um ferimento – o emblema rubro da coragem, ou, no seu caso, da falta de coragem, que acaba por tomar um significado diametralmente oposto à letra escarlate de Hawthorne – infligido por um soldado da União (isto é, seu aliado) que lhe dá a possibilidade de voltar ao seu regimento com a desculpa de que se tinha desgarrado e de que estava a lutar em outras bandas. Ora, oportunidade tão generosa não seria concedida ao Jim de Conrad, que foi inclusive julgado publicamente. A descrição que Marlow nos dá de Jim, ao vê-lo pela primeira vez no tribunal, permite-nos entrever a angústia e o sentimento de culpa que uma existência inteira não seria capaz de dissipar. Fleming, por sua vez, faz bom uso da chance que se lhe é apresentada: acaba por se tornar o soldado mais destacado de seu regimento, fazendo sempre questão de empunhar um segundo emblema (esse conquistado genuinamente): a bandeira das tropas aliadas.

Rubem Fonseca, nesse que é um de seus melhores contos, Labaredas nas Trevas (presente no volume Romance Negro e Outras Histórias), nos dá uma versão fictícia bem curiosa da relação Conrad-Crane. Note-se que o subtítulo do conto é Fragmentos do diário secreto de Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski, sendo que o nome de Joseph Conrad era, antes de naturalizar-se inglês, Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. Aí vão alguns trechos.

6 de Agosto, 1900: Acordei pensando em Crane. Sempre me interessei pelos novos escritores que surgem. Quero saber o que estão fazendo, se têm a mesma força que eu. Descobri a existência de Crane (já se passaram cinco anos) ao entrar numa livraria em Londres e encontrar The Red Badge of Courage. Peguei o trem para Sussex e naquela noite mesmo li o pequeno volume de menos de duzentas páginas. Como um sujeito com uma idade tão ridícula (Crane tinha vinte e três anos ao escrever o livro) conseguira fazer uma obra tão perfeita? Nela havia a tragédia pura, não como nos gregos, um capricho dos deuses, mas como uma criação exclusiva dos homens. Ali estava tudo que me interessava: o fracasso, a covardia, o horror. O horror.

(…)

10 de Outubro, 1900: Apanhei novamente a pasta de recortes. Procuro aqueles sobre Lord Jim. Sei tudo o que escreveram, mas releio assim mesmo. A repercussão de crítica e de público foi excelente. Mas lá está, uma linha apenas, no meio de um aluvião de elogios: “Há momentos em que Lord Jim lembra The Red Badge, de Crane…” Minhas mãos tremem. Tenho certeza de que ninguém, no mundo inteiro, dirá hoje que eu, algum dia, fui influenciado por Crane. Mesmo assim, sinto um aperto no peito, como se tivesse no coração uma ferida cicatrizada. Como pode um morto assombrar assim a minha vida?

(…)

2 de Julho, 1924: Passei a noite acordado, com dores lancinantes na perna. Pensei muito em Crane. Escrevo novamente o nome dele: Crane. O fogo na lareira está quase apagando. Sinto-me tão fraco que tenho medo de não ter forças para aproveitar esta ocasião em que estou sozinho e levantar da cama e, sem ninguém ver, jogar esse diário sobre as brasas da lareira, para que as labaredas destruam todas as referências que fiz ao seu nome.

Arquivado em:Prosa

A Arte da Síntese

Sempre admirei a capacidade de síntese que certos autores demonstraram na elaboração de obras que, talvez por isso mesmo (ou a despeito disso), acabaram por se tornar sintomáticas de tudo que haviam escrito até então e de tudo que escreveram depois. Ninguém ignora a posição d’A Metamorfose, do Kafka, como espécie de introdução (ou resumo) ao resto da obra dele. O mesmo se dá com o Vidas Secas, do Graciliano Ramos, ou com o Heart of Darkness do Joseph Conrad.

Se é mesmo verdade que o bom escritor está sempre a escrever o mesmo livro, dá-nos bom exemplo disso o próprio Kafka. Chegam mesmo a dizer que seu O Castelo foi interrompido abruptamente porque, ora vejam, continuá-lo seria repeti-lo. Por mais falaciosa que seja a idéia, a impressão que se pretende passar é verdadeira: o livro de Kafka é sempre o mesmo, sendo apenas, a cada nova tentativa, abordado sob uma perspectiva ligeiramente diferente. Esse processo se aproxima mais de uma continuação que de uma repetição, apesar de me parecer impossível precisar até que ponto isso continua a ser verdade.

E, se a obra de determinados escritores se caracteriza realmente por uma interminável continuação, não admira que surjam essas sínteses, que sintetizam e sugerem ao mesmo tempo, frutos do que parece ser uma visão particularmente límpida de um objetivo na literatura, podendo essa “visão” representar um “começo”, algo a ser mais extensamente desenvolvido (como para Conrad e Kafka), ou um “desfecho”, o epitáfio de uma idéia que já parece ter sido devidamente explorada (como para Graciliano Ramos). É nesse sentido que se faz importante o respeito pelo essencial: tudo que não for sumamente necessário deve ser descartado; dilapida-se o texto até que este atinja a dimensão do poema, se é que me faço entender. O supérfluo, nesses casos especiais, longe de realçar o que quer que seja, tenderia apenas a deturpar o que me parece ser uma ode ao límpido e ao inteligível, ao que há de verdadeiramente puro na visão que o homem tem do mundo e de si mesmo.

Arquivado em:Prosa

Quote of the day

"All differences of opinion are at bottom theological." Cardinal Manning (1808 - 1892)
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