plágio trágico-pelágico

Não é esquisito que o livro Sostiene Pereira, de Antonio Tabucchi, seja essencialmente o mesmo livro que O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis, de José Saramago? As personagens (Pereira e Ricardo Reis) são idênticas: mesma idade; solidão, passividade, atitude de lassidão e desprendimento perante o mundo. O momento histórico e contexto político é o mesmo (anos 30, inícios do Estado Novo), e a interação dos personagens com ele também (interesse sociológico e desprendido, quase-aceitação resignada, conflito tímido).

Mas.. isto pode-se? Escrever um livro que é igual a outro livro? Não legalmente; para isso são suficientemente diferentes. Mas.. logicamente? socialmente? Pode-se? Não deveria gerar o mesmo tipo de incómodo social que quando um tipo numa festa nos conta uma história que sabemos que aconteceu a outra pessoa? ou afirma com confiança factos que sabemos estarem errados? Um daqueles momentos em que não sabemos se dizer algo ou ficar a remoer o desconforto? Em que ficamos com dúvidas sobre se estamos a viver na realidade ou num filme do Ruben Östlund?

(Ou ninguém liga? Pode-se copiar, desde que a cópia seja suficientemente boa? Como as canções Ouro de Tolo, de Raul Seixas, e Let Forever Be, dos Chemical Brothers (que são iguais respetivamente às canções Sentado à Beira do Caminho, de Erasmo Carlos, e Tomorrow Never Knows, dos Beatles)?)

O estilo é diferente, suponho. O final, também — mas, como já expus anteriormente, o final d’O Ano da Morte é por sua vez parecido ao da peça En Attendant Godot, de Samuel Beckett. É este o limite do Tabucchi? Não copiar algo que já seja uma cópia? Por medo a gerar regressões infinitas, talvez? Ou ele estava a chegar ao fim do livro e pensou “cazzo, isto assim dá muita cana, vou mudar aqui qualquer coisa para isto se notar menos”?

Sei que há uma objeção óbvia a este meu argumento. “E o fantasma do Fernando Pessoa? É uma personagem central d’O Ano da Morte, mas não entra no Sostiene Pereira, idiota. Isto não é suficiente para diferenciar as obras? A ausência de um personagem tão importante e memorável?” Certo. Mas o fantasma do Fernando Pessoa entra no Requiem, outro livro do Antonio Tabucchi! Vão ao cemitério dos Prazeres falar com ele! Como o Ricardo Reis! A sério! Que ideia inovadora, esta: dividir o plágio de uma obra por dois livros diferentes, para ser mais discreto.

Por falar nisso, ou não: não percam os meus próximos dois livros. Um é sobre um homem perseguido pela Inquisição que vai trabalhar nas obras do Aqueduto das Águas Livres. Outro é sobre outra coisa, mas mete o padre Bartolomeu de Gusmão e o compositor Domenico Scarlatti. Tudo ideias originais, claro. (Enfim, tecnicamente, mete no padre. Ups, spoiler!)

reflexiones de la desescalada (i)

I’ve been using the one daily hour the Spanish government has allotted for walking during this stage 0 of Covid-19 lockdown de-escalation (for adults, from 6h to 10h or 20h to 23h only, and in a 1-km radius around one’s residence) to discover my neighbourhood: its streets, vistas, buildings, nooks and crannies, trees.

This has always been something I’ve been aesthetically drawn to — finding interest in the proximate, wonderment in the nearby.

I think, for instance, of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places, when, inspired by his daughter’s “intense scrutiny of a snail, or a mushroom or a patch of briar”, he gives up on seeking amazement in the monumental and remote wilderness of the “vast wild spaces of Scotland” and starts seeking it instead in “backyards, roadsides, hedges, field boundaries or spinnies”, nearby places to which he had been “all but blind”.

Or of Thoreau’s reflection that “A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the King of Dahomey”.

And, of course, of Joachim du Bellay’s homage to his familial landscapes of Anjou in sonnet XXXI of Les Regrets:

Plus me plaist le sejour qu’ont basty mes ayeux,
Que des palais Romains le front audacieux ;
Plus que le marbre dur me plaist l’ardoise fine,

Plus mon Loyre Gaulois, que le Tibre Latin,
Plus mon petit Lyré, que le mont Palatin,
Et plus que l’air marin la douceur Angevine.

3 loose notes:

  1. Discovery. From a pre-existing interest, one is moved to exploration; through it, one acquires knowledge and experiences (in the sense of “events lived”: Erlebnisse, not Erfahrung); these kindle (i) an inherent satisfaction and (ii) a sense of wonderment at what remains to be discovered, which generate a yearning to know and see more and more deeply; therefore, one is moved to additional discovery. Knowledge and interest beget each other.
  2. Me. I used to have a deep, sub-conscious knowledge of Lisboa. I could name hundreds of its streets, could locate and orient myself effortlessly in it; when seeing a random photograph taken anywhere in the city, I would almost certainly be able to recognize the neighbourhood, and quite probably the specific spot, where it was taken. It’s not something I ever did, but I imagine that I would have been able to spend something like an entire day imagining myself moving through it, and picturing buildings/gardens/vistas with exactitude.
  3. Place. I think I see the level of interest that a place can provoke less as an intrinsic characteristic of it than as something like a property emerging from the interaction between observer-environment, or even just a function of the observer’s ability to evoke something interesting from within themself inspired by their environment. Certainly, in the literature of “observation” (Sinclair, Sebald, or Jon Day’s cyclogeography), the observer-writer can extract interest from a priori uninteresting settings.

Recomendações literárias

A sublinhado os preferidos.

Baudelaire, Charles. Les fleurs du mal (1857)
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de. Vol de nuit (31)
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de. Terre des hommes (39)
Steinbeck, Join. The Grapes of Wrath (39)
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four (49)
Beckett, Samuel. En attendant Godot (53)
Tavares Rodrigues, Urbano. A noite roxa (56)
Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road (61)
Yates, Richard. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (62)
Correia, Natália. A Madona (68)
Umbral, Francisco. Las ninfas (76)
Calvino, Italo. Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (79)
Eco, Umberto. Il nome della rosa (80)
Saramago, José. Memorial do Convento (82)
Borges, Jorge Luis. Cuentos completos (83)
Saramago, José. O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis (84)
Esteves Cardoso, Miguel. A causa das coisas (86)
Auster, Paul. The New York Trilogy (87)
Foster Wallace, David. The Broom of the System (87)
Murakami, Haruki. Norwegian Wood (87)
Umbral, Francisco. Leyenda del César Visionario (91)
Tabucchi, Antonio. Sostiene Pereira (94)
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club (96)
Delerm, Philippe. La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules (97)
Foster Wallace, David. A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again (97)
Fournel, Paul. Besoin de vélo (01)
Strauss, Neil. The Game (05)
Kang, Han. The Vegetarian (07)
Macfarlane, Robert. The Wild Places (07)
Houellebecq, Michel. La carte et le territoire (10)
Luiselli, Valeria. Papeles falsos (10)
Monbiot, George. Feral (13)
Day, Jon. Cyclogeography (15)
Macfarlane, Robert. Landmarks (15)
Monbiot, George. How did we get into this mess? (16)
Moshfegh, Ottessa. My Year of Rest and Relaxation (18)
Mitchell, David. Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy (19)

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.

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.” (wait, that’s Pulp Finction — they actually say “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 return 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.