So, ?

I Will Get It Tattooed. Olson. Beware the Friendly Stranger. I Saw Drones. Over the Horizon Radar. A Moment of Clarity.
Or: Whitewater. Turquoise Hexagon Sun. Kid for Today. Sunshine Recorder. Slow This Bird Down (minus ending snippet). Seven Forty Seven.

So, which one is it going to be?

It’s called a confidence game. Why?

Se não morrer de desidratação entretanto há de vir a polícia perseguir-me. Estou a conduzir numa das orbitais de Madrid. Não sei ao certo qual: parecem-me todas iguais, e todas igualmente deprimentes, mas trato como um fim em si o ato de conduzir. Depressa, obviamente.
Resigno-me a esta tentativa de sobrecarga sensorial/emocional, ersatz miserável da experiência da tua companhia.
É possível que antes de me apanharem eu acabe despedaçado, debaixo dum camião conduzido por um romeno que vem de direta há quarenta e três horas desde Cluj-Napoca, afogado em anfetaminas até às orelhas.

Ocorre-me que, como tudo aquilo que penso, esta ideia não é original, veio-me do filme Jeux d’enfants, que vi, e que viste. Dois idiotas petulantes e egoístas, absurdamente auto-absortos, impossíveis de contentar.
Falo das duas personagens do filme, obviamente.

Imagino-te, agora, sentada na estação comendo cerejas, procurando sensações nelas, mordendo-as uma a uma, duas a três, à mão-cheia; de sorriso perverso e amoral nos Lábios de onde vai escorrendo sumo vermelho vivo; de pés doridos, de costas voltadas para as vítimas que foste deixando pelo caminho.
Penso num gato a afastar-se, altivo, da andorinha que torturou e deixou moribunda.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”, dixit Keiser Söze; vi o filme, e pouco depois de nos termos encontrado pela primeira vez chamei-te retardada, e mesmo assim aqui estou a escrever isto e a pensar em ti.
Depois disto não há morte cinematográfica que me salve.

If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table…

1984, 2016

If you want a picture of the future, imagine someone bent over themselves trying to suck their own cock, failing, and crying, while corporations stick antidepressants, viagra, and muscle relaxers up their butt, forever.

 

Aside: it’s funny to try to piece together everything that led me to come up with the quip above.
The overall sentence structure is an obvious adaptation from Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four; however, Scott Alexander from Slate Star Codex sometimes uses it, which is what brought it to the top of my mind, since I don’t have the original quote very present anymore; the reference to autofellatio comes from a common question asked by Richard Herring to his guests in RHLSTP; t
he bit about corporations (read: “the economy”, “society”, “the system”, “Moloch”, whatever) working as an enabler and promoter of this behavior is a pet theme of David Wong’s from Cracked; so is narcissism, but in this case I’d associate it more to Alone from The Last Psychiatrist (actually, a recommendation by Wong).

I get that the actual combination of words above had never written before, and that there was a certain entropy-reducing work in having come up with it based on all those sources of information, but I can’t help but wonder how much I had to do with it and how much was just a natural consequence of me spending a lot of time alone reading stuff off the internet plus finding it hard to fall asleep.

(… and the sentence above has the kind of DFWallace-inspired overthinking that was kind of missing in the list supra! plus the sentence structure itself is very Wallacian, etc.)

Books that have ruined me, Pt. 2

The Tartar Steppe, Dino Buzzati

 

Maybe they picked the title up from a ‘great books’ list; maybe it was an Amazon recommendation; maybe – my case – they had read and enjoyed a book of short stories from the author, had memorized its name, and by coincidence a Portuguese publisher had just put out a new edition, which happened to be displayed prominently in a bookstore’s shelf.

My point is: if you find a copy of The Tartar Steppe in your impressionable teenage child’s bedroom, do everything you can to divert their attention to something less psychologically damaging, such as bestiality porn or footage from the Srebrenica massacre. If, alas, they have finished it already, you might want to consider euthanasia. I know it is never an easy decision (aside: for me, there are no easy decisions, partly because of this fucking book), but do try to see it as saving someone from a lifetime of mental anguish.

 

 

Part cautionary tale to parents and future parents of teenagers, part reflection on the long-lasting impact of the 20th century’s greatest literary works, (large) part mental masturbation, with a dash of a cry for help… Stay tuned for more Books that have ruined me! (there might not be any)

Books that have ruined me, Pt. 1

Waiting for Godot, S. Beckett

You ever read Waiting for Godot? I have – we had to read it at school. About ten years ago, actually – unintended coincidence. I read it as En Attendant Godot, of course, though. As far as I know, Beckett wrote both the English and French versions himself, though I don’t know which came first. Also, as far as I haven’t read the play in surely five years and probably seven or eight and haven’t even stretched my left arm to pick the book up in order to write this text, most of what follows might well be inaccurate, which fact in no way affects the eventual validity or stupidity of the point I’m trying to make.

As an aside: go read the play. If I understand my so-called readership, you are likely to be an adult, the mental frameworks through which you perceive and process life solidly in place and almost fully fleshed out. Sure, books still manage to affect and move you on occasion, but this movement (hah) is mostly minute and occurs within set confines from which you are now unlikely to escape, for good and bad. And it is a transcendentally good play, after all.

 

Anyway, my point is: for me, life is structurally identical to Waiting for Godot: everything is always the same, except worse.

WfG has two acts, which are supposed to represent consecutive days. In each of these acts, the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, old friends, tramps, meet after an absence; they interact; two other characters, Pozzo and Lucky, come in; they all interact (more or less); Pozzo and Lucky leave; a boy comes in and says that Mr. Godot could not come today, “but surely tomorrow”; he leaves; Vladimir and Estragon decide to leave.
In Act Two, however, everything is slightly or significantly worse. Where Vladimir and Estragon were delighted to meet again, they are now indifferent or vaguely bitter towards one another. Warmth replaced by spite, cheer by gloom, optimism by despondency. Pozzo, superb and tyrannical, is now blind and helpless. At the end of the play, Vladimir and Estragon try to commit suicide, but fail. They say “I think we should be leaving now.” “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.” (or maybe “On y va?” “Allons-y.”). End. The second act is much shorter, too.

 

This is how I see life. Each day like the previous one. Each month, each year, too. Endless sameness, always. But worse, always. You lose a bit of something each time, with each iteration of sameness; everything is a copy of a copy of a copy and deteriorates accordingly. If WfG had about five thousand acts, multiple sets, and shittier dialogues, what would distinguish it from life itself?

At some point, your daily ten hours in front of a computer started meaning constant back pain that wouldn’t go away in the remaining fourteen. Same, but worse. At another point, the prospect of an evening with friends began to fill you with indifference or irritation rather than anticipation and lightheartedness. Same. Worse. At yet another, the thought of making year-end balances or plans more than two days in advance would just seem pointless, because the future would come, maybe, or not, whatever, and the past had gone, stick it in a box, store it somewhere, never go back to it, and all that mattered was the present but that wasn’t that great either, but all that mattered was that Mr. Godot would come, tomorrow, yes sir, surely tomorrow, so you went through with it all a little longer.

 

Fuck this. What makes it all worse is not even knowing to which extent all of the above is true. Is it merely an amusingly quirky mental distraction that I presented as truth in order to increase its appeal? Or have I just managed to uncover the mental paradigm through which I frame all of life? Same, but worse. It just fits. So is any of this true? It so, can it be helped?

No, fuck that. What makes it all worse is occasionally coming upon that quote of Beckett’s that goes “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Fuck you, Sammy B, I might do all of that if I hadn’t been driven to lifelong dejection by reading your stupid fucking play.

nichtnochgekündigt

‘Tyler [Durden] said, “You are not your job,” but he also founded and ran a successful soap company and became the head of an international social and political movement. He was totally his job.’ – David Wong

Over the past 16 months, I have let my job become my identity. Consulting attracts the indecisive, nurtures the insecure, spits out the inept – I now find myself, after barely a year and under peculiar circumstances, approaching the tail end of that process… Titles do matter, btw. What to make of what will remain?

The State That I Am In

Estou desiludido por ter entrado na minha empresa há um ano e não ter visto ninguém a drogar-se. Se fôssemos realmente tão distintivos como a nossa propaganda nos chega a convencer de que somos, andaríamos por aí a funcionar a cinco cafés por dia, como um qualquer contabilista júnior de uma média empresa familiar de produção de revestimentos plásticos do distrito de Aveiro, quando chega a altura de fechar as contas anuais? Pior – cafés tirados daquelas fajutas máquinas da Saeco, cujo sabor a lama com notas de carvão ainda consigo evocar instantaneamente! Uma pseudoefedrina de manhã, umas anfetaminas depois de almoço para ficarem a digerir a tarde toda. Reaplicar depois do jantar consoante necessidade. Pausas para modafinil ao longo do dia. Tramadol para relaxar à Sexta à tarde, benzos diversas para recuperar no fim-de-semana. Quão difícil pode ser? Temos o melhor seguro de saúde que há, porra! Podemos drogar-nos à borla! Milhões de pessoas estariam dispostas a matar-nos sem hesitação para estar no nosso lugar! Pior – devemos trabalhar com empresas que produzam disto tudo. Peçamos que nos paguem em espécie!
Divago.

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.

Estou motivadíssimo…

… para isto. Agora é esperar que seja aceite.

Dear Sir or Madam:
I am applying to participate in Student Forum Maastricht, and my preferred group is No. 3. Despite the appeal of other topics, as a soon-to-be graduate in Environmental Engineering, studying and discussing Sustainable Development in the EU is the natural choice for me.

I’ve always had a strong personal interest in environmental issues, which, combined with my scientific background and Bachelor’s degree, led me to pursue a Master’s in Environmental Engineering. In some of the subjects I took there (e.g. Environmental Impacts, Watershed Management) the study of the relevant European legislation was an important part of the course; I also took Environmental Policies, which focused significantly on the evolution of European environmental policy and its shifting paradigms, from the early 1970s to the present day, when environmental concerns must be considered in policy-making across all sectors and sustainable development is recognized as a key European goal in article 3 of the Treaty of the EU (which I obviously did not actually read though).
Last year, I was selected by Green MEP Rui Tavares, through an essay contest, to be one of the Portuguese participants in the Youth in Crisis Conference, organized by the Federation of Young European Greens at the European Parliament. There, I had the chance to debate European issues with over a hundred politically conscious and informed young people; when discussion groups were formed, I also chose to participate in the environmental one, and together we came to draft a list of proposals that were later publicly presented to the Green MEPs.

To participate in SFM would therefore allow me to use my prior education and interest in both environmental and European matters to circlejerk in a room with other twentysomething dorks and end up coming up with shitty, misinformed fluff no-one will ever care about after April 14th participate in and add to the debate on my working group’s proposals, but also to greatly deepen my own understanding of these issues, including relevant recent aspects or possible future developments whose existence or importance I might be unaware of, thus representing an exceptional learning experience.
Moreover, the combined participation of academic experts, political representatives, and members of powerful interest groups, not only as speakers but as active advisers to the working groups, will provide participants – such as, hopefully, myself – with exposure to different perspectives, a firm connection to real, current issues, and a uniquely realistic understanding of the European policy-making process. Yay!
Finally, I am interested in the opportunity to improve my decision-taking abilities in a group setting while considering different positions and stakeholders, as well as to have the proposals I helped craft be publicly broadcast and judged; and, on a personal level, it is always a pleasure to meet other European youth with similar interests but diverse experiences and to engage with them both formally and informally.

For all these reasons, I would like to attend and participate in Student Forum Maastricht 2014, in the Sustainable Development in the EU group.

edit: I was selected! I’m not totally sure, but I’d guess deleting those bits helped.

Coesão inconseguida

Há duas músicas na minha coleção digital que se adequam a este momento: Sábado de Sol, dos Mamonas Assassinas, e Hey Saturday Sun, dos Boards of Canada. É Sábado à tarde. Estou só, em casa. A loiça do almoço lavada; os restos já encaixinhados a arrefecer. Já poderão ir para o frigorífico? Os gatos dormem, um no pufe atrás de mim e a outra na cadeira ao meu lado. Os aviões vão aterrando regularmente, de Sul para Norte; vejo-lhes toda a descida suave e altiva, até que desaparecem por entre os prédios, de onde espreita a cauda do próximo a levantar. Quando o vento troca, é pelo ligeiro estremecer que o esforço dos motores provoca na caixilharia das janelas cá de casa que anunciam a sua presença, e às vezes quando levanto os olhos para os ver já desapareceram por entre as nuvens. Há pouco trânsito nas ruas; o mundo lá fora parece imóvel. Se não fizer nada, o dia escoar-se-á impercetivelmente. Como tantos outros.
Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep. And when at last it is over, there is no evidence, no weapon, no blood, and no body. The only clue might be the shadows beneath your eyes or terribly thin line near the corner of your mouth indicating something has been suffered, that in the privacy of your life you have lost something and the loss is too empty to share.
Nem sou corajoso ao ponto de assassinar premeditada e deliberada e requintadamente as minhas horas.

O T. e a C. estão cá; é a primeira vez que o vejo desde há sete meses. Temos uma tarde interessante e preenchida, em que vamos primeiro à LxFactory ver a Ler Devagar e o que mais há por lá e depois a Algés ver o Centro Champalimaud e depois a Campo de Ourique ver os novos espaços de restauração do mercado e comer (eles) o suposto melhor bolo de chocolate do mundo e depois ao Chiado a um bar pitoresco e finalmente jantar no vegetariano da Calçada do Sacramento antes de irmos à arrecadação de casa dele buscar umas coisas de que não me lembro o que eram porque estava espantado com a dimensão da coleção de cartas Pokémon e Harry Potter e Dragon Ball e afins que lá encontrara numa caixa de plástico. Foi tudo muito menos frenético do que a sintaxe e o comprimento da frase anterior parecem sugerir. No livro The Game, uma técnica do Mystery para simular intimidade é relocalizar o encontro várias vezes: a ideia é que estar com uma pessoa em diversos cenários dê a sensação de que a conhecemos há mais do que meras horas. E, nem de propósito, li recentemente no blogue da J. que “All the days that you spend in the same physical places doing the same thing will blend in your memory”; posto isto, a referência bibliográfica apropriada é sem dúvida o Pela Estrada Fora, de que essa tarde foi uma versão condensada/lisboeta/burguesa, com bolo de chocolate e música lounge em vez de erva e jazz e o Citroën C3 Picasso do T. em vez do Hudson do N.[eal Cassady].
Só faço coisas destas com o T. – apesar de que, claro, nada isto teria acontecido se cá não estivesse também a C.; não me estou a ver a mim e ao T. a passear à beira-rio em Algés. Será que o T. está no Pela Estrada Fora e os meus restantes amigos já vivem no Big Sur? Será que eu preciso de conhecer a minha Tristessa ou de passar uma temporada a fazer de Desolation Angel? Isto está aqui uma sofisticação literária do caralho. Fica o aviso: se o T. alguma vez vos der um conselho javardo, é atirarem-se de cabeça para onde ele vos mandar. (mas qual cabeça? HEH HEH HEH. pronto, já se foi a sofisticação toda. assim está bem melhor)

Se a empresa que detém o WordPress nunca falir (ocorrência cuja probabilidade está fortemente ligada à continuação da sua disponibilidade para subsidiar passeatas intercontinentais aos seus funcionários, mas isso é outra história) será que estarei a ler isto daqui a umas décadas quando quiser descobrir quem fui? Alguém relê os seus arquivos de chat? Se sim, consegue fazê-lo sem ter um acesso de (Selbst-)Fremdscham pelo seu eu passado, de amargura e tristeza por tudo o que em si morreu desde então? Isto tem nome? Alguém, daqui a umas décadas, coligirá os arquivos de chat das pessoas brilhantes e inspiradoras que têm agora a minha idade, como se fez ao longo da história com as cartas de escritores e líderes? Se a Heloísa e o Abelardo tivessem comunicado via Facebook, alguém leria as merdas que dali saíssem? Pelo menos o Abelardo, embora malgré lui, teria evitado uma grande fonte de distração cibernética. E se S. Paulo tivesse enviado tuítes aos Coríntios e Efesos? Os comprimentos dum tuíte e dum versículo bíblico não são muito diferentes. Preocupar-se demasiadamente com a maneira como o nosso eu futuro olhará para e se lembrará de nós será contra-producente, por nos impedir de fazer as coisas que o fariam apreciar-nos? Devia estar a pedalar na minha bicicleta nova, em vez de escrever estes disparates? O que fariam a J.? e a A.? e a D.? Isso importa? Aprender HTML? Photoshop? Alemão? Tenho a mente confusa; if I am by myself for like a week, I get weird. Agora é Quinta e é de noite; o gato não está no pufe mas no sofá, os aviões continuam a aterrar regularmente mas já não os consigo identificar. Analysis-Paralysis. Vou ouvir Set Fire to Flames e ler House of Leaves.