Os meus álbuns preferidos

Original list from 2013; constantly updated since. Listening to music, especially from the list below, is an important activity for me, and a lot of what I am today comes from it; I’ll be very glad if anyone can get as much as I did from any of these works.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet — Time Out (59)
Stan Getz & João Gilberto — Getz/Gilberto (64)
King Crimson — In the Court of the Crimson King (69)
Happy End — Kazemachi Roman (71)
Novos Baianos — Acabou Chorare (72)
Pink Floyd — The Dark Side of the Moon (73)
Electric Light Orchestra — Eldorado (74)
Pink Floyd — Wish You Were Here (75)
Penguin Cafe Orchestra — Music from the Penguin Cafe (76)
Ryo Fukui — Scenery (76)
Metallica — Ride the Lightning (84)
Guns N’ Roses — Appetite for Destruction (87)
Talk Talk — Spirit of Eden (88)
Megadeth — Rust in Peace (90)
The KLF — Chill Out (90)
Jorge Palma — Só (91)
Rage Against the Machine — Rage Against the Machine (92)
Morphine — Cure for Pain (93)
Smashing Pumpkins — Siamese Dream (93)
Autechre — Amber (94)
Kyuss — Welcome to Sky Valley (94)
Aphex Twin — Richard D. James Album (96)
Boards of Canada — Old Tunes Vol. 2 (96)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! — F♯ A♯ ∞ (97)
Ornatos Violeta — Cão! (97)
Radiohead — OK Computer (97)
Rhapsody — Legendary Tales (97)
Air — Moon Safari (98)
Belle Chase Hotel — Fossanova (98)
Quasi — Featuring “Birds” (98)
Rhapsody — Symphony of Enchanted Lands (98)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! — Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada (99)
Mr. Bungle — California (99)
Air — The Virgin Suicides (00)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! — Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (00)
Radiohead — Kid A (00)
Rhapsody — Dawn of Victory (00)
Fennesz — Endless Summer (01)
set fire to flames — sings reign rebuilder (01)
Boards of Canada — Geogaddi (02)
Karate — Some Boots (02)
loscil — Submers (02)
Nobuo Uematsu — Piano Collections Final Fantasy X (02)
Quinteto Tati — Exílio (04)
Tim Hecker — Mirages (04)
Boards of Canada — The Campfire Headphase (05)
Venetian Snares — Rossz Csillag Alatt Született (05)
Arctic Monkeys — Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (06)
Arctic Monkeys — Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? (06)
Arctic Monkeys — Favourite Worst Nightmare (07)
Deolinda — Canção ao Lado (08)
Arctic Monkeys — Humbug (09)
The xx — xx (09)
Arctic Monkeys — Suck It And See (11)
Capitão Fausto — Pesar o Sol (14)
Ganso — Não Tarda (19)

Honorable mentions: Ganso — Costela Ofendida; Ganso — Pá Pá Pá; Zarco — Zarcotráfico; Zarco — Spazutempo; Capitão Fausto — Gazela; Fausto — Por Este Rio Acima; Weyes Blood — Titanic Rising; Billie Eilish — WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?; Cornelius — Fantasma; Mr. Herbert Quain — Forgetting is a Liability; Lana del Rey — Norman Fucking Rockwell!; Zero 7 — Simple Things; Karate — 595

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.

Peaches for me

I sometimes feel like a peach. More specifically, one of those big, round, yellow peaches. The awfully bland, tasteless, juiceless ones, devoid of any hint of either sweetness or tanginess.

Who likes those peaches? Who craves them? Eating them is a dreary experience. They provide no joy, no pleasure, only dull disappointment. Who would miss them, were they to disappear? And why are they so big? Given their dullness, their exaggerated, grapefruit-like size seems absurd, insulting — a way to needlessly prolong a dismal experience, bite after sad bite. And why buy them? There is plenty of good fruit available, after all. There are good peaches. Like those peaches in Call Me By Your Name.

That’s the kind of peach I’d want to be. A peach that’s yearned for and then bitten into with eager enthusiasm. A peach that’s lush and rich, that excites the senses, that tastes of life, of summer, of love. The MDMA of peaches. A peach you eat with joy and which leaves an imprint so memorable it can awaken that same joy through its mere evocation — a peach to be fondly remembered, not a bland yellow ball you force yourself to go through with growing disgust and then try to forget immediately afterwards.

A peach you can even fuck! a peach you want to fuck. Who would want to fuck a shitty yellow-bland-ball peach? I mean, they’re not even juicy! Worthless, unfuckable, disappointing.
Peaches.

core

Sit-ups, high plank, low plank, side plank. Crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, side crunches, oblique crunches. Mountain climbers, knees to shoulder, leg lifts, scissor kicks, bicycle kicks, flutter kicks, jackknives, in-out abs, ski abs, the C-sit for the V-in.

The amount of painful, unpleasant shit people [N.B. myself incl.] go through to work out their abs, when the best ab exercises are simply laughing and fucking.

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.

(H/M;O/P)

George: My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat… It’s all been wrong.
(…)
Jerry: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

 

There are happy optimists; happiness zealots, undisturbable by reality, soldiering on unwaveringly in their Great Leap Forward of relentless positivity. They would earnestly read self-help books except they don’t even feel the need to.
Avoid if possible.

There are miserable optimists, always looking upwards only to have life repeatedly headbutt them in the nose; recognizable at their uneasy smiles, unreflected in their absent stares and hinting at a dash of cognitive dissonance.
Pity them; lend them a hand and try to gently drag them downwards.

There are happy pessimists, ever pleasantly surprised that reality exceeded their gloomy expectations. They make self-deprecating jokes but actually laugh at them, and make sincere attempts to develop self-avoidance strategies.  “No, we don’t”. Shut up, this is my own personal fantasy, truth is an irrelevant attribute here.
Try to be more like them, which is to say, to act more like them (no, your hypothetical “inner self” mysteriously never coalesced into actual action is just narcissistic wankery).

Finally, there are miserable pessimists, for whom pleasurable and satisfactory events lead to a flash of optimism which is then instantly replaced by seemingly unsurmountable dread at how, if everything will go wrong anyway, there is now so much more potential for it to go wronger, so maybe pleasure and satisfaction should just be avoided in the future, which of course ultimately doesn’t help, etc.
They have analysis-paralysis, and so would you if when faced with a choice you had to consider not only the pros and cons of each option but also that the pros are themselves cons, and let’s not even add a layer of masochism which sometimes causes the cons to be themselves pros, hence cons, etc.
(You have to have a system.)
I’d say “lend them a hand and try to gently drag them upwards”, but actually don’t since that would be something good, and, as mentioned above, 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.” (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.

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?

Hiperligação

Here’s hoping Scotland becomes independent and Boards of Canada are chosen to compose its anthem. I could say that they’ve broadened my understanding of what music can be, but even that would be reductive: with Geogaddi, they’ve broadened my understanding of what sound can be. They, and all their compatriots, deserve to flourish in a Tory-free country.