Chegada

«
Houve uns poucos de anos em que a minha vida foi invulgar.
»

Paulo Varela Gomes, “Era uma vez em Goa”. Lisboa: Tinta da China, 2015, p. 13.

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And thus such pictures

«
What is aura, actually? A strange weave of space and time: the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter how close it may be. While at rest on a summer’s noon, to trace a range of mountains on the horizon, or a branch that throws its shadow on the observer, until the moment or the hour become part of their appearance – this is what it means to breathe the aura of those mountains, that branch.
»

Walter Benjamin, “Little History of Photography”. In Jennings, M. W., Eiland H., Smith, G. (Eds.) “Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 2, Part 2, 1931-1934”. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005, pp. 518-519.

The data religion

«
With so many scenarios and possibilities, what should we pay attention to? The world is changing faster than ever before, and we are flooded by impossible amounts of data, of ideas, of promises and of threats. Humans are relinquishing authority to the free market, to crowd wisdom and to external algorithms partly because we cannot deal with the deluge of data. In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. We just don’t know what to pay attention to, and often spend our time investigating and debating side issues. In ancient times having power meant having access to data. Today having power means knowing what to ignore. So considering everything that is happening in our chaotic world, what should we focus on?
»

Yuval Noah Harari, “Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow”. London: Vintage, 2017, p. 461-462.

A prova dessa beleza

«
O campo infinito dos possíveis alarga-se, e se por acaso o real se apresentasse à nossa frente, seria de tal modo fora dos possíveis que, numa repentina vertigem, esbarrando nessa parede inesperada, cairíamos de costas. O movimento e a fuga verificados nem sequer são indispensáveis, basta que os induzamos. Ela havia-nos prometido uma carta, estávamos calmos, já não amávamos. A carta não chegou, nenhum correio a traz, que se passa?, renasce a ansiedade e o amor. São sobretudo pessoas como estas que nos inspiram amor, para nossa desolação. Porque cada nova ansiedade que experimentamos por causa delas retira-lhes aos nossos olhos algo da sua personalidade. Estávamos resignados ao sofrimento, julgando amar fora de nós, e percebemos que o amor é função da nossa tristeza, que o nosso amor é talvez a nossa tristeza e que o seu objecto só em pequena parte é a rapariga de cabelo negro. Mas afinal são sobretudo tais pessoas que inspiram amor. A maioria das vezes o amor só tem por objecto um corpo se uma emoção, o medo de o perder, a incerteza de o recuperar nele estiverem fundidos. Ora este género de ansiedade tem uma grande afinidade com os corpos. Acrescenta-lhes uma qualidade que ultrapassa a própria beleza, o que é uma das razões pelas quais vemos homens indiferentes às mulheres mais belas amarem apaixonadamente umas que nos parecem feias. A essas criaturas, a essas criaturas em fuga, a sua natureza e a nossa inquietação dão-lhes asas. E, mesmo junto de nós, o olhar delas parece dizer-nos que vão levantar voo. A prova dessa beleza que ultrapassa a beleza que as asas acrescentam está em que muitíssimas vezes, para nós, uma mesma pessoa é sucessivamente desprovida de asas e alada. Basta que receemos perdê-la para esquecermos todas as outras. Seguros de a conservar, comparamo-la a essas outras que imediatamente lhe preferimos. E como estas emoções e estas certezas podem alternar de uma semana para outra, numa semana pode ser sacrificado a uma pessoa tudo o que agradava e ser ela sacrificada na semana seguinte, e assim por diante durante muito tempo. O que seria incompreensível se não soubéssemos, pela experiência que todo o homem tem de ter deixado de amar, ao menos uma vez na vida, de ter esquecido uma mulher, quão pouco é em si mesma uma criatura quando já não é, ou não é ainda, permeável às nossas emoções.
»

Marcel Proust, “A Prisioneira, Em Busca do Tempo Perdido, Vol. 5”. Lisboa: Relógio D’Água, 2016, p. 77-78.

Era noite

«
– Vou te contar um segredo – ela começou.
– Ainda conta – perdi o pirilampo de vista.
– Dizem que quando um silêncio chega e fica entre duas pessoas…
– Sim?
– É porque passou um anjo e lhes roubou a voz.
– Tu acreditas em anjos?
– Tu não acreditas em silêncios?
»

Ondjaki, “Uma Escuridão Bonita”. Alfragide: Editorial Caminho, 2013, p. 38.

The humanist revolution

«
What exactly are ‘experiences’? They are not empirical data. An experience is not made of atoms, electromagnetic waves, proteins or numbers. Rather, an experience is a subjective phenomenon made up of three main ingredients: sensations, emotions and thoughts. At any particular moment my experience comprises everything I sense (heat, pleasure, tension, etc.), every emotion I feel (love, fear, anger, etc.) and whatever thoughts arise in my mind.
And what is ‘sensitivity’? It means two things. Firstly, paying attention to my sensations, emotions and thoughts. Second, allowing these sensations, emotions and thoughts to influence me. Granted, I shouldn’t allow every passing breeze to sweep me away. Yet I should be open to new experiences and permit them to change my views, my behaviour and even my personality.
Experiences and sensitivity build up one another in a never-ending cycle. I cannot experience anything if I have no sensitivity, and I cannot develop sensitivity unless I undergo a variety of experiences. Sensitivity is not an abstract aptitude that can be developed by reading books or listening to lectures. It is a practical skill that can ripen and mature only by applying it in practice.
(…)
You cannot experience something if you don’t have the necessary sensitivity, and you cannot develop your sensitivity except by undergoing a long string of experiences.
(…)
We aren’t born with a ready-made conscience. As we pass through life we hurt people and people hurt us, we act compassionately and others show compassion for us. If we pay attention, our moral sensitivity sharpens, and these experiences become a source of valuable ethical knowledge about what is good, what is right and who I really am.
»

Yuval Noah Harari, “Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow”. London: Vintage, 2017, p. 278-279.

To loosen the grip of the past

«
Movements seeking to change the world often begin by rewriting history, thereby enabling people to reimagine the future. Whether you want workers to go on a general strike, women to take possession of their bodies, or oppressed minorities to demand political rights – the first step is to retell their history. The new history will explain that ‘our present situation is neither natural nor eternal. Things were different once. Only a string of chance events created the unjust world we know today. If we act wisely, we can change that world, and create a much better one.’ This is why Marxists recount the history of capitalism; why feminists study the formation of patriarchal societies; and why African Americans commemorate the horrors of the slave trade. They aim not to perpetuate the past, but rather be liberated from it.
»

Yuval Noah Harari, “Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow”. London: Vintage, 2017, p. 69.

Aprendiz de viajante

«
Um dia li num livro: ‘Viajar cura a melancolia’.
Creio que, na altura, acreditei no que lia. Estava doente, tinha quinze anos. Não me lembro da doença que me levara à cama, recordo apenas a impressão que me causara, então, o que acabara de ler.
Os anos passaram – como se apagam as estrelas cadentes – e, ainda hoje, não sei se viajar cura a melancolia. No entanto, persiste em mim aquela estranha impressão de que lera uma predestinação.
»

Al Berto, “Aprendiz de Viajante”, In “O Anjo Mudo”. Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 2012, p. 9.

Eu havia prometido

«
‘Pudesse eu não ser morto’, pensa de si para si, ‘e havia de atirar-me ao trabalho nesse mesmo instante, e além disso havia também de me divertir.’ Com efeito, a vida tomou de repente a seus olhos um valor maior porque põe na vida tudo o que ela parece poder dar, e não o pouco que habitualmente lhe faz dar. Vê-a em conformidade com o seu desejo, e não tal como a experiência lhe ensinou que era capaz de torná-la, isto é, tão medíocre. Ela encheu-se de repente das tarefas, das viagens, das caminhadas na montanha, de todas as belas coisas que, pensa ele, o funesto desfecho daquele duelo poderá tornar impossíveis, sem pensar que elas já o eram antes de se pôr o problema do duelo, devido a maus hábitos que mesmo sem duelo teriam continuado. Volta para casa sem ter sido ferido sequer. Mas reencontra os mesmos obstáculos aos prazeres, às excursões, às viagens, a tudo de que por momentos teve medo de ser despojado pela morte, que para isso basta-lhe a vida. Quanto ao trabalho, como as circunstâncias excepcionais têm como efeito exacerbar o que previamente existia em cada um, o trabalho no homem trabalhador e a preguiça no ociosos – tira férias. Eu fazia como ele e como sempre fizera desde a minha velha decisão de me consagrar à escrita, que em tempos tomara mas que me parecia datar de ontem porque considerara cada dia, um após outro, como não tendo sido para valer. Usava o mesmo processo com este, deixando passar sem fazer nada os seus aguaceiros e as suas abertas e prometendo a mim mesmo começar a trabalhar no dia seguinte.
»

Marcel Proust, “A Prisioneira, Em Busca do Tempo Perdido, Vol. 5”. Lisboa: Relógio D’Água, 2016, p. 69.

In the compartment

«
Then, for no reason except prudent verification, Tomagra slid his hand along the back of the seat and waited until the train’s jolts, imperceptibly, made the lady slide over his fingers. To say he waited is not correct: actually, with the tips of his fingers, wedge-like between the seat and her, he pushed with an invisible movement, which could also have been the effect of the train’s speeding. If he stopped at a certain point, it wasn’t because the lady had given any indication of disapproval, but because, as Tomagra thought, if she did accept, on the contrary, it would be easy for her, with a half-rotation of the muscles, to meet him halfway, to fall, as it were, on that expectant hand. To suggest to her the friendly nature of his attention, Tomagra, in that position beneath the lady, attempted a discreet wiggle of the fingers; the lady was looking out of the window, and her hand was idly toying with the purse-clap, opening and closing it. Were these signals to him, to stop?Was it a final concession she was granting him, a warning that her patience could be tried no longer? Was it this? – Tomagra asked himself – Was it this?
He noticed that this hand, like a stubby octopus, was clasping her flesh. Now all was decided: he could no longer draw back, not Tomagra. But what about her? She was a sphinx.
With a crab’s oblique scuttle, the soldier’s hand now descended her thigh: was it out in the open, before the eyes of the others? No, now the lady was adjusting the jacket she held folded on her lap, allowing it to spill to one side. To offer him cover, or to block his path? There: now the hand moved freely and unseen, it clasped her, it opened in fleeting caresses like brief puffs of wind. But the widow’s face was still turned away, distant; Tomagra stared at a part of her, a zone of naked skin, between the ear and the curve of her full chignon. And in that dimple beneath the ear a vein throbbed: this was the answer she was giving him, clear, heart-rending, and fleeting. She turned her face all of a sudden, proud and marmoreal; the veil hanging below the hat moved like a curtain; the gaze was lost beneath the heavy lids. But that gaze had gone past him, Tomagra, perhaps had not even grazed him; she was looking beyond him, at something, or nothing, the pretext of some thought, but anyway something more important than he. This he decided later; because earlier, when he had barely seen that movement of hers, he had immediately thrown himself back and shut his eyes tight, as if he were asleep, trying to quell the flush spreading over his face, and thus perhaps losing the opportunity to catch in the first glint of her eyes an answer to his own extreme doubts.
His hand, hidden under the black jacket, had remained as if detached from him, numb, the fingers drawn back towards the wrist: no longer a real hand, now without sensitivity beyond that arboreal sensitivity of the bones. But as the truce the widow had granted to her own impassivity with that vague glance around soon ended, blood and courage flowed into the hand again. And it was then that, resuming contact with that soft saddle of leg, he realized he had reached a limit: the fingers were running along the hem of the skirt, beyond there was the leap to the knee, and the void.
»

Italo Calvino, “The adventure of a soldier”, In “Difficult Lovers”. London: Vintage Books, 1999, p. 7-9.