We are far too young and clever

        Postulate: the quality of a conference can be roughly measured by the level of English of its Spanish and French participants.
If a single sentence can, by itself, serve as a permanent memento of a whole experience, the one describing the process of writing the document which resulted from my stay in Brussels is it. For that reason, I believe that, despite this text’s brevity, I will hold it dear for a long time. It is imprecise and clunky in places, but I think it is so inseparable from the context wherein it was written that it makes no sense to me to change it now, so the following sentences will forever remain in their current form.

If I tell you these days were some of the most fun of my life, how badly does that reflect on the twenty-odd years for which I’ve existed so far? If I tell you how I’ve liked going over our draft with E. and R., rephrasing and condensing clunky prose, debating on the comparative merits of bullet points, run-on sentences, and run-on sentences structured like bullet points, rewriting or erasing dubious statements, redundancies, logical gaps, too-far-fetched conclusions, each of us poring through the text over google drive, focusing on our own screen, both occupying the same physical space and not, seeing different-coloured cursors with nametags attached to them running athwart our screens and text appearing and disappearing throughout our field of vision while our foveae glare at a single point and our fingers hover above the virtual or real keys which we’ll press next, italicising a grossly understating may for an itself understated and grotesquely nerdy joke that nonetheless generated hearty laughs from them, if I tell you that in that moment I was, exceptionally, happy, how do I come across? As a person? Considering you’ve barely met me and this is the first time you’ve got to know me deliberately uncovered by the cloak of social performance we all slowly grow accustomed to wearing, no matter how deeply we empathised with Holden Caulfield at sixteen? Does it matter? If I tell you that towards six o’clock that day, when the effects of the day’s third and last coffee had inexorably subsided, when each thought and reasoning seemingly had to be forcefully dragged out of the murky sludge that appeared to have filled my mind, when taking yet another break seemed not only lackadaisical and unjustifiable but somehow insulting towards my colleagues, all of them hard at work, unflinching, unwavering, seemingly unperturbed —
If I tell you it’s almost two in the morning and I should go the fuck to sleep instead of sitting in an hostel corridor, with nothing but a periodically whirring soft drink dispenser for company, writing pseudo-lyrical bullshit that’ll seem insufferable when I reread it five hours from now (five hours? I’m gonna be so fucked.) would you visibly and audibly cringe in Fremdscham? I’m too sleepy to try to guess.

PS: Thanks to everyone who participated and organized.


Smrt cycklistům!

A cidade de Praga é famosa por ter uma rede de elétricos densa no centro e abrangente na periferia, o que a torna numa das cidades cujos habitantes mais utilizam este transporte público. Se, numa rua de Praga, se olhar para cima, é provável que se veja a entrecruzarem-se uma rede de catenárias; para baixo, de carris. Estes tornam a cidade perigosa para os ciclistas, particularmente nos cruzamentos, onde a densidade de carris que partem em diferentes direções requer bastante destreza para ser ultrapassada em segurança. Este facto ilustra uma curiosidade histórica interessante. Após a revolução de veludo, o novo regime checoslovaco pretendia apagar todos os sinais do comunismo, tendo a bicicleta sido nomeada como um dos alvos a abater. Por se temer que uma proibição gerasse descontentamento popular, decidiu-se implementar em Praga uma densa rede de elétricos, com dezenas de linhas que servissem praticamente toda a cidade. O plano, ambicioso, teve sucesso: no primeiro ano de implementação plena, morreram 637 ciclistas e 2019 ficaram permanentemente estropeados devido a quedas nos carris dos elétricos. Aquando da separação do país, em 92, poucos ciclistas sobreviviam, e hoje o rácio de bicicletas para SUVs na cidade é de aprox. 1 para 120. A contínua deposição de partículas emitidas pelos veículos a gasóleo sobre as paredes dos edifícios comunistas foi dando origem a uma tonalidade única de cinzento que a cidade patenteou em 2007, à semelhança do que fizera Yves Klein com os seus famosos quadros azuis.