I’m not feeling depressed today. I had a profoundly sad moment the evening before last when, leaving Tate Modern, I looked at the building and after sunset walked over the Millennium Bridge. Both were opened in 2000, both symbols of a new openness. That same month I was nominated for the Turner Prize for British art alongside two other non-Britons and one Briton. This was the new London that had been taking shape since the early 90s. The London that had self-confidently taken its place at the very centre of Europe. I looked at the yellow-red sky to the west and my eyes filled with tears, realising that this could be the final evening before a new era. That sixteen years later we should have got to a situation where half the population rejects this open and international spirit is hard to comprehend. This all happened when there was still the general feeling that the vote would favour remain. The fact that, unlike many others this morning, I’m not feeling deeply depressed about the way the English and Welsh voted, makes me realise that the sorrow I’d felt two days previously was the emotional manifestation of something that I had sensed for a long time; which Tony Blair put into words on 29 August last year in the Guardian. Blair who had completely lost touch with reality over Iraq, suddenly showed a moment of lucidity, as he wrote to fellow party members in an effort to persuade them not to elect the populist left-wing candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, as leader of the Labour Party. Reading the last paragraph, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as Blair admitted that his generation would have to rethink everything, because what we are currently seeing is part of something even bigger: ‘But people like me have a lot of thinking to do. We don’t yet properly understand this. It is about to transform a political institution we spent our whole lives defending. But it is part of something much bigger in politics.
Because it is a vast wave of feeling against the unfairness of globalisation, against elites, against the humdrum navigation of decision-making in an imperfect world, it persuades itself that it has a monopoly on authenticity. They’re “telling it like it is”, when, of course, they’re telling it like it isn’t.’
Now ten months after Blair wrote these words, the first big wave has breached one of these institutions. He was writing about left-wing populism in his own party, but the larger picture is of course the more damaging right-wing populism, which yesterday’s vote is so much part of. We still have more of this to go through.
The only thing that helps is not to lose courage, because what’s being attacked by populists is not in fact the real evil, instead it’s substitutes that get attacked – refugees, the UN, the EU, or simply politicians. It’s now the duty of us all to defend the pillars of the free world order that was created over the last seventy years.
To hold the centre ground, and not to contribute to the centrifugal energies around us. And I know that we’re still the majority.
Wolfgang Tillmans, “Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 June 2016”. In “Wolgang Tillmans, 2017”. London: Tate Publishing, 2017, p. 303.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning,
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply,
That is not heard at all, but you are the music,
While the music lasts.
T. S. Eliot, excerpt from “The Dry Salvages”. In Alexandra Prado Coelho, “Bolos entre ruínas”. Granta, nº9, Lisboa: Tinta da China, 2017, p. 21.
Oh, the revolution was here
That would set you free from those bourgeoisie
In the morning everything’s clearer
When the sunlight exposes your age
But that’s okay
And that’s okay
Grab your clothes and head to the doorway
If you dance out, no one complains
Find the place where you can be boring
Where you won’t need to explain
That you’re sick in the head and you wish you were dead
Or at least instead of sleeping here you prefer your own bed, come on
You just suck at self-preservation
Versus someone else’s pain
So you feel drained
But now more will go with age, you know
So get up and stop your complaining
You know that you’re the only one who’s been destroying all the fun
Look what happened when you were dreaming
Then punch yourself in the face
So you kiss and you clutch but you can’t fight that feeling
That your one true love is just awaiting your big meeting
So you never even asked for names
You just look right through them as if you already came
It’s a drug of the heart and you can’t stop the shaking
‘Cause the body wants what it’s terrible at taking, oh
And you can’t remember the meaning
But there’s no going back against this California feeling
In “American Dream”, LCD Soundsystem, 2017.
O que suscita em nós uma grande ideia é quando alguém diz uma coisa que nos leva a pensar num grande número de outras coisas ou quando somos levados a descobrir num impulso algo que só poderíamos vir a entender depois de muita leitura.
Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, “Essai sur le goût”. In “Manuela Marques e Versailles: A face escondida do sol”. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2017, p. 5.
É sem dúvida a existência do nosso corpo, semelhante para nós a um vaso onde estivesse encerrada a nossa espiritualidade, que nos induz a supor que todos os nossos bens interiores, as nossas alegrias passadas, todas as nossas dores estão permanentemente na nossa posse. Talvez seja também inexacto acreditar que elas se escapam ou que regressam. Em todo o caso, se permanecem em nós, ficam a maioria das vezes confinadas a um domínio desconhecido onde não nos servem para nada e onde, até, as mais usuais são recalcadas por recordações de ordem diferente e que excluem toda a simultaneidade com elas na consciência. Mas, se o quadro de sensações onde se conservaram for retomado, têm por sua vez aquele mesmo poder de expulsar tudo o que com elas for incompatível, de instalar em nós, sozinho, o eu que as viveu.
Marcel Proust, “Sodoma e Gomorra, Em Busca do Tempo Perdido, Vol. 4”. Lisboa: Relógio D’Água, 2016, p. 146.
The first myth to dispel about ‘theory’ is the idea that we can do without it. There is no untheoretical way to see photography. While some people may think of theory as the work of reading difficult essays by European intellectuals, all practices presuppose a theory. Even someone who claims to be ‘against theory’ is, ironically, actually articulating a theoretical position on theory (albeit one that is far from new or very useful). Certainly theory can be difficult, but so is ice-skating to the novice. Like most things, theory becomes easier with practice; just like new words and concepts that inevitably belong to that discipline become easier with practice too.
Davit Bate, “Photography: The Key Concepts”. Oxford: Berg, 2009, p. 25.
“The strength of images is that they always relate to the one who is looking at them,” Varda said. “But it also depends on the time you spend looking.” She recounts a time she visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, specifically to sit in front of the paintings of Vermeer. “I felt so good that I fell asleep,” she said. “After a while, for some reason, a person I knew woke me up. The feeling of peace and happiness had been so strong that I wanted to sleep there. So maybe we will find people sleeping in front of my work.”
Agnès Varda, editorial by Craig Hubert, “Grandmother of French New Wave Agnès Varda on Becoming an Artist at 88”. In Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-grandmother-french-cinema-agnes-varda-artist-88
It is what fosters empathy or compassion. Without resonance there can be no understanding, no appreciation. But resonance requires you to apply feeling as well as thought. Indeed, feeling is more essential, for without feeling we will remain entangled in illusions.
Unni Wikan, quoting a ‘professor-poet’ in a Balinese village.
In Robert Kozinets, “Netnograpy: Redefined”. 2nd Edition. London: Sage, 2015, p. 268.
In imagining, you build on your initial reflective ideas captured in your fieldnotes and add many elements of your own awareness as a social being, as a human coming from a particular social situation, identity and place. Imagining is a stream of consciousness association. It is a right-brained wandering, the talking method, the chattering monkey voice that human mind is, beginning to dream, sometimes deeply in a hypnotic state, the murmur jabbering in our ear, as the Buddhist monks say, mindless many times like a tape recorder repeating things over, looping sounds and ideas, linking thoughts to them. Just let it run free and keep recording it. This is imagining.
Robert Kozinets, “Netnograpy: Redefined”. 2nd Edition. London: Sage, 2015, p. 201.
‘Escute, vou ser obrigada a despedir-me de si’, disse-lhe enquanto se levantava com um ar melancólico e como se para ela aquilo constituísse uma infelicidade. Sob o feitiço dos seus olhos azuis, a sua voz docemente musical fazia pensar na lamentação poética de uma fada. ‘O Basin quer que eu vá um pouco para junto de Marie.’ Na realidade, estava farta de ouvir Froberville, que já não parava de a invejar por ir a Montfort-l’ Amaury, sabendo ela muito bem que era a primeira vez que ele ouvia falar desses vitrais e que, por outro lado, por nada deste mundo trocaria a matinée de Saint-Euverte. ‘Adeus, mal falei consigo, em sociedade é assim mesmo, a gente não se vê, não dizemos as coisas que gostaríamos de dizer uns aos outros, de resto passa-se a mesma coisa em tudo na vida. Esperemos que depois da morte as coisas estejam mais bem organizadas. Pelo menos não teremos sempre necessidade de enfiar vestidos decotados.
Marcel Proust, “Sodoma e Gomorra, Em Busca do Tempo Perdido, Vol. 4”. Lisboa: Relógio D’Água, 2016, p. 85.