One hot September summer night in 1990 I’m tossed and turned in bed like the mattress and the sheets are a storm and I’m a small ten year-old boat in it. I wake up soaked in sweat from a bad dream I can’t remember to the siren’s call of music from downstairs. I go look. Music is where mommy and daddy will be, where I’ll find solace. Down I go. The record player is in the front room and in warm weather my father balances the speakers on the windowsill and feeds music to the porch and the world beyond. Sinatra croons to the Ohio darkness over luscious Gordon Jenkins’ arranged strings about his very good years. The Voice is turning fifty in 1965, the year he records the song, a comeback year for him. Bear in mind this is the sixth recording of the Ervin Drake original, but Sinatra is Sinatra and that’s what everybody remembers.
Mom and dad sit on the porch step, they hold each other close with eyes shut, silhouetted in blue and silver. I can’t see, but I know their eyes are shut. How could they not be? Beyond them, mysteries, the dark land, a billion stars. I daren’t interrupt. I know not to. He leans into her ear and whispers. She smiles dreamily. I stand inside in the shadow by the record player. I watch the needle navigate its predestined way in the black shiny vinyl grooves. It’s hypnotic. My father never owned a CD in his life, as far as I know. It was all old school for him. It’s the first time I hear the song and I will never forget it. I don’t forget my father’s white t-shirt clinging to his strong shoulders, my mother’s flowery blouse which the warm breeze occasionally ruffles, her wavy blond hair that she lifts from her neck to try and get some cool air in there. But all she gets is a kiss from my father and he leaves his head hidden in her blondness and then takes her by the hand and walks her down the path, across the road into the woods. Maybe, I’m just saying maybe, they ended up by the pond where I would lie down with Cat and then Roy, years later. For a moment, I fear they’re gone never to return. But it’s fine. Sinatra keeps me company and he’s all I need. The song’s over and I lift the needle before the next one begins, bring it back to the start of Side B. I listen to it again. Again, and again, until I can sing along, until I believe the particular grooves of that track are now worn deeper than the others. What other song could I have sung for Uly and Mad, on our own soft summer night, the night I drew his blood and Madeline–
They’re still gone. I don’t mind. I can cope. I wish them well. I stop the music and listen in on the night. Wind in the trees and small animals and beautiful silence. Someone laughing in the dark. Is it? I shiver. I’m a little afraid, I am, but I stay a bit longer, because the night is under my skin. This is about a month before my father is shipped off to the Middle East, back to war, this addiction the country has him hooked on. This is two months before I turn eleven and wake up early to his garbled, clipped, flat, satellite-borne ‘happy birthday, kid.’ This is happiness and love and goodbye, and time passes and what do we do with it, all mashed up in one moment, a choreography of gestures and secrets with the right soundtrack. We yearn and we long and our memory goes.
This is five months before he dies.
Sinatra had five more songs to go through on that side of the record, the B Side. The record is called The September of My Years. Won a Grammy. The last song is Weill’s September Song. It came together, it made sense like that. Tonight will not swing. Tonight is for serious. Says so on the back cover. It says he sings of days and loves ago. I set it down by the record player with the wistful painted Francis Albert facing me. I go to my room. The heat doesn’t bother me anymore.
Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.
At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man's penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings.
During Phase IV, just after lunch, we were able to avoid bulldozing a single home. Furthermore, we set, on roads in every city, in every nation in the world, a total of zero (0) roadside bombs which, not being there, did not subsequently explode, killing/maiming a total of nobody. No bombs were dropped, during the lazy afternoon hours, on crowded civilian neighborhoods, from which, it was observed, no post-bomb momentary silences were then heard. These silences were, in all cases, followed by no unimaginable, grief-stricken bellows of rage, and/or frantic imprecations to a deity. No sleeping baby was awakened from an afternoon nap by the sudden collapse and/or bursting into flame of his/her domicile during Phase IV.
In the late afternoon (Phase V), our membership focused on using zero (0) trained dogs to bite/terrorize naked prisoners. In addition, no stun guns, rubber batons, rubber bullets, tear gas, or bullets were used, by our membership, on any individual, anywhere in the world. No one was forced to don a hood. No teeth were pulled in darkened rooms. No drills were used on human flesh, nor were whips or flames. No one was reduced to hysterical tears via a series of blows to the head or body, by us. Our membership, while casting no racial or ethnic aspersions, skillfully continued not to rape, gang-rape, or sexually assault a single person. On the contrary, during this late-afternoon phase, many of our membership flirted happily and even consoled, in a nonsexual way, individuals to whom they were attracted, putting aside their sexual feelings out of a sudden welling of empathy.
As night fell, our membership harbored no secret feelings of rage or, if they did, meditated, or discussed these feelings with a friend until such time as the feelings abated, or were understood to be symptomatic of some deeper sadness.
It should be noted that, in addition to the above-listed and planned activities completed by our members, a number of unplanned activities were completed by part-time members, or even nonmembers.
In London, a bitter homophobic grandfather whose grocery bag broke open gave a loaf of very nice bread to a balding gay man who stopped to help him. A stooped toothless woman in Tokyo pounded her head with her hands, tired beyond belief of her lifelong feelings of anger and negativity, and silently prayed that her heart would somehow be opened before it was too late. In Syracuse, New York, holding the broken body of his kitten, a man felt a sudden kinship for all small things.
Even declared nonmembers, it would appear, responded to our efforts. In Chitral, Pakistan, for example, a recent al-Qaida recruit remembered the way an elderly American tourist once made an encouraging remark about his English, and how, as she made the remark, she touched his arm, like a mother. In Gaza, an Israeli soldier and a young Palestinian, just before averting their eyes and muttering insults in their respective languages, exchanged a brief look of mutual shame.
Who are we? A word about our membership.
Since the world began, we have gone about our work quietly, resisting the urge to generalize, valuing the individual over the group, the actual over the conceptual, the inherent sweetness of the present moment over the theoretically peaceful future to be obtained via murder. Many of us have trouble sleeping and lie awake at night, worrying about something catastrophic befalling someone we love. We rise in the morning with no plans to convert anyone via beating, humiliation, or invasion. To tell the truth, we are tired. We work. We would just like some peace and quiet. When wrong, we think about it awhile, then apologize. We stand under awnings during urban thunderstorms, moved to thoughtfulness by the troubled, umbrella-tinged faces rushing by. In moments of crisis, we pat one another awkwardly on the back, mumbling shy truisms. Rushing to an appointment, remembering a friend who has passed away, our eyes well with tears and we think: Well, my God, he could be a pain, but still I'm lucky to have known him.
This is PRKA. To those who would oppose us, I would simply say: We are many. We are worldwide. We, in fact, outnumber you. Though you are louder, though you create a momentary ripple on the water of life, we will endure, and prevail.
Once upon a time there was a sad man who thought often of killing himself.
There were two reasons, he told himself, why he didn't. The first and more important one was that there were people who loved him. Some of these, like his parents, loved him unconditionally, others less so. These others he wouldn't mind being able to glimpse their reaction to his death, their sincere grief, their pain as a petty revenge on some small slight that people who do love us always commit, mostly unintentionally. But not his parents. He couldn't bear the thought of their agony upon his death. He thought about killing these people who loved him beyond reason beforehand to spare them the hurt of seeing him die but this sounded stupid when he considered it and ripe with the possibility of failure.
Fear of failure was the other reason why he refrained from taking his own life. Every method he thought of, he could debunk and consider some chance of it going awry which would leave him crippled or having to explain himself. The point of suicide was no longer to have to do this, it was the ultimate irresponsibility. He craved this childishness, not to have to account for his actions, his desires, his many faults, not to be an adult with the succession of days to take in hand. This was also foolish for was it not adult life that had allowed him the more freedom?
His point was what was the point? To being alive, he meant. The world was clearly ending: climate change, overpopulation, uncharted diseases, zombie attacks in the form of celebrities trying to eat your brains from out of whatever screen they inhabited. Bills to pay, meals to cook, washing to be done. Conversations to be had, people to meet, politenesses to be endured.
Time passed but even when his parents died, his friends dwindled and he was living in a high-rise in one of the top floors, he couldn't bring himself to do it. He discovered the act required more courage than he could muster. So he kept at his sad cowardly life right into a lonely old age. And he watched television. As most people do.
Ray Barko, Adrian Jacobs, Josh Jacobs, Johnny Collins, Gulley Jimson, Abel, Erik Vonk, Juan Antonio, Maria Elena, Iris, Walter Paisley, Maxwell H. Brock, David Shaw, Oswald Deuce, Oliver Deuce, Venus de Milo, Miles Fairley, Sabina, Tereza, Moore, Robert Lomax, Jack Dawson, Reno Miller, Van Meegeren, Julie, Bradley Morahan, Jerry Mulligan, Jimmy, Jerome, Jona, Rick Todd, Eugene Fullstack, Abigail ‘Abby’ Parker, Jonathan Lansdale, Simon Bishop, Edgar Stark, Delia Deetz, Michio, Thomas, Bill, Gaston Morrell, Adrian Jonas, Elaine, Joe, Chris Flanders, Cruz, Jess Aarons, Anne Benton, Jorday Mooney, Robert Powel, Adam Sorg, Daisy Kenyon, Basil Hallward, Alex, Chester Dalton, Roderick Usher, Dick Avery, Roberta Allsworth, Enid, Frederick, Elwood P. Dowd, Lucy Berliner, Sir Henry, Tom Warshaw, Henry Jarrod, Gwladys Inglott, Sophie Hartley, Prince Goffredo, Edouard Frenhofer, Fergus, Chelsea Deardon, Michčle Stalens, Lilie, Harry Caine, Nina Mosley, Paul Knight Somerset, Christine Jesperson, Mikael, Claude Zoret, Jonathan Adams, Morgan Delt, Adam Beckett, Behrman, Susan Goodwin, et al.
Max Pinckers in collaboration with Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin took up a challenge posed by the artist Setareh Shahbazi to make a film composed of all the fictional artists that have ever appeared in fictional films. This is only the beginning…
“I was?” He might have been, as Peter was reading.
“Playground Love, right?”
“The boy knows his French electronica.”
“And his Sofia Coppola,” he says with a disarming smile, “wasn’t she scheduled to do a movie about you at some time?”
“She might have been.”
“What’s your favorite?”
“Sofia Coppola movie?”
“And Air album.”
“I would go with Premiers Symptômes and… Somewhere?”
“Really?” Peter finds his choices intriguing.
“Which one?” Uly asks.
“Somewhere. I find it boring. It’s Marie Antoinette for me.”
“The boy likes his French baroque.”
“I do. And Kirsten Dunst, I mean… She’s perfect in that Sofia Coppola way, always seeming detached, always making you guess what rivers run deep inside her.”
“In my mind, there is a connection between that album and that film.”
“So many years apart?”
“Time is of no importance. Very different things can connect over time. Take Coppola’s Versailles. And didn’t Air do music to a Meliès film? I can imagine Premiers Symptômes as a soundtrack to Somewhere, a soundtrack even before there is a movie. All that too-bright permanent-summer Los Angeles light drenched in their sound… Le soleil est près de moi. It could be I’m thinking of a different movie.”
“Don’t you like Phoenix?”
“I do, yet… Air would have made it a smoother film, more… dreamy, I guess. I always liked these unexpected connections. In that same album, there’s a tune called Casanova 70. It’s a Fellini film from thirty years before. I mean, who cares if things are simultaneous in time and space? In our minds time and space are what we make of them.” Peter seems genuinely interested in what he’s saying. “And Elle Fanning is…”
“She’s a young Kirsten! Right?” the boy interrupts excitedly.
“Perhaps. Could be. It’s a contemplative movie, I love that. It gives you time to stare and wonder and wander and... Premiers Symptômes was a Gainsbourg song. Well not a song exactly, a short spoken piece.”
A Portugal Telecom (onde trabalho) contém, como diria o poeta, multidões. Entre essas multidões estão várias pessoas que editaram já livros de vários tipos. Nem todos serão escritores (eu próprio tenho dificuldades com a palavra) mas existem. Além disso, existem também, em espaços da empresa quatro bibliotecas para funcionários onde estes podem requisitar livros - são os Bookpoints.
Neste contexto, fui entrevistado a propósito de "Virá a Morte e Terá os Teus Olhos", de que podem fazer download no link mesmo mesmo aqui ao lado esquerdo. Fica aqui abaixo um vídeo e o texto da dita entrevista, conforme o meio que mais vos agradar.
Como se descreve enquanto escritor? Sou um escritor em part-time porque faço outras coisas. Não vivo da escrita, nem a minha vida é 100 % dedicada à escrita. Intrinsecamente enquanto escritor, diria que sou um escritor de temas mais urbanos e contemporâneos. Há uma série de temas que perseguem os meus livros e que têm que ver com a identidade e com aqueles momentos na vida em que as pessoas têm de decidir o que são, o que não são e o que faz delas aquilo que elas são.
Quando e como nasceu o gosto pela escrita? Diria que escrevo desde que sei, isto é, acho que mal aprendi a ler e a escrever comecei a escrever histórias. Por volta dos 10 anos já tinha pequenas histórias escritas e depois comecei a escrever mais a sério durante a faculdade. Foi nessa altura que as minhas histórias começaram a ganhar alguma coerência e consistência e a transformarem-se em livros.
Partilha o gosto pela escrita e tecnologia. Como concilia as duas áreas? A escrita e a tecnologia estão cada vez mais a cruzar-se e uma apanhou a outra algures no percurso. Continuo a gostar muito de livros em papel e a ser um fetichista do livro, mas acho que a tecnologia está a ter um papel fundamental na distribuição dos livros e na forma como as pessoas leem, compram e usam os livros. E já tinha um papel fundamental na maneira como os livros são escritos. Desde que existem processadores de texto tornou-se mais fácil corrigir e a própria escrita tornou-se mais fluida e também mais fragmentada. Diria que a escrita e a tecnologia acabaram por se cruzar facilmente na minha vida.
Tem alguma fonte de inspiração? A inspiração surge em qualquer momento. Geralmente, surgem-me frases em momentos inconvenientes como nos transportes públicos ou quando vou dormir. Mas acho que não há uma única fonte de inspiração. É tudo!
Quais são os seus escritores preferidos? São bastantes. Gosto de ler e leio muito. É difícil enumerar escritores preferidos, mas leio mais literatura anglófona e, portanto, escritores ingleses e americanos. Leio todo o tipo de literatura e gosto muito de Don DeLillo, Richard Ford e Jonathan Franzen, por exemplo.
Fale-nos sobre as cinco obras que produziu? O primeiro livro que escrevi foi o Aquariofilia, um livro mais de fim de adolescência e princípio da idade adulta com temas muito urbanos. É um livro que tem alguns elementos mais autobiográficos, embora todos acabem por ter. O segundo Os Adultos foi uma sofisticação desses temas e é o livro mais longo. Em reação a isso, Em Silêncio, Amor é um livro mais curto e simples. É o primeiro livro que não se passa em nenhuma cidade com nome específico, mas continua a ter os mesmos temas e começa a expressar também o meu gosto pelas artes e pela cultura, nomeadamente pela literatura. Nos dois livros seguintes - Regresso a Barcelona e Virá a morte e terá os teus olhos - há temas específicos, precisamente culturais. O primeiro é muito à volta do tema da música e o segundo em torno da fotografia.
Tem optado pela publicação dos livros também em formato online? A opção pelo formato online é cada vez mais natural, quer em complemento ao papel, quer em edição exclusiva. Acho que a edição em eBook está nos seus primórdios, naquela fase em que emita o papel. Os livros leem-se da mesma maneira, os formatos são semelhantes e as pessoas querem ter a noção de que existem as páginas. Acho que são formatos que vão evoluir e vamos descobrir novas maneiras de escrever e de ler. Portanto, é natural para mim evoluir para esses formatos. Por outro lado, foi também uma opção que teve que ver com circunstâncias específicas - a não edição do último livro em papel -, por isso, decidi editá-lo, ser eu o meu próprio editor e divulgador e ver o que acontece. Acho que faz parte do futuro. O livro não vai morrer em papel mas vai existir de outras formas.
Pode fazer um pequeno resumo do livro Virá a morte e terá os teus olhos? O Virá a morte e terá os teus olhos é uma biografia inventada de um fotógrafo. A história percorre grande parte do século XX, sobretudo a 2.ª parte, onde acho que a fotografia e todas as artes de imagem tiveram uma importância fundamental, até chegarmos ao dia de hoje em que quase tudo é imagem, qualquer pessoa diz que é fotógrafo e há milhões de fotografias tiradas todos os dias e como é que essa evolução teve consequências políticas, sociais, culturais e pessoais. Desde a primeira linha do livro, sabemos que este fotógrafo vai morrer em breve e, portanto, queremos descobrir porque é que ele morre, como é que ele morreu e como é que a vida dele o levou àquele ponto.
E só porque Dia Mundial do Livro é, diz a lógica, dia também dos meus livros. E num momento de shameless self-promotion ficam abaixo as capas de cada um. Para saber mais e eventualmente ler, é só clicar.
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man…
I want nothing less than an epic tale of adventure, desire, violence and music to come of this conversation. Do you hear me, young Warum?
My name is Ulysses and I understand all the weight the name carries; ten years at war, ten years lost, Dublin in a day. Homer and Joyce and all that jazz. I have always understood it. My parents are to blame, as is customary in children’s names.
My father was a Latin and Ancient Greek teacher, a priest who fell in love with a beautiful red-haired woman who happened to be a Literature professor. Even after he was married and no longer wore a priest’s collar he still talked louder than most people, especially in class, as if he was still preaching instead of teaching. Such a contrast to soft-spoken mom. Ulysses, the name, was one of the small number of things they had in common. Books were their true one love affair besides each other. All in all, enough to keep them together for many years. Their life was mostly uneventful, except for the fact he shouldn’t have fucked her and did. So he did the right thing. He stopped being a priest and married her.
My mother was the daughter of catholic Irish but fled her family to Portugal. She found a not so secret pleasure in stealing a man from God’s service and on top of it all in Lisbon, supposedly founded by Odysseus himself. Resourceful, sly, deceitful Odysseus, master of many crafts. I heard that story every Christmas.
She never went back to Ireland. My grandparents faced their fear of flying only once and visited our small home, found it lacking – too many books, too little space, some dust settling on the second-hand furniture. Her in-laws died in a panic that their son would face eternal damnation for having renounced his vows. So we had small, cozy Christmas celebrations, just the three of us and an excess of port wine into the night.
My parents are only marginally relevant to this story, my story, my friends’ story. My childhood and most of my teen years are also of limited relevance. Still, I’ve always felt that all stories should begin somewhere in the distant past, that everything is connected in ways that precede the living. Maybe it has something to do with growing up surrounded by all those books, our house a nest of stories.
I read a children’s version of the Odyssey as a child, the full thing later on. In my twenties I decided it was time to sink my teeth into my namesake novel and spent three or four months with my head swimming in thoughts of wondering and wandering. Well not all of it, I read bits. I did read the last pages, yes, got tangled in their rhythm, that long fast heartbeat of desire. I never was much of a reader, though. My true passion was music, always music.
Still, I hope I can find the words to tell our tale. This story, our story, began when we were seventeen and happy, lying in the dust, looking at the stars, our last summer before we were supposed to go to college and decided not to. Well, some of us did. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Desde a Antiguidade a figura do herói mobiliza multidões, civilizações. Li recentemente uma biografia ficcionada de Aquiles dos pés velozes e tenho relido partes da Ilíada só por causa disso. Aquiles, o melhor dos gregos, mimado por uma deusa, o melhor guerreiro de entre os seus, arrogante, desafiando o destino e pagando pelo seu desafio.
Os meus heróis desde sempre foram músicos, escritores, cineastas, atores mas também políticos, jornalistas, filósofos. Os meus heróis sempre foram pessoas inteligentes e talentosas, de preferência com a coragem suficiente para fazerem o que realmente queriam da sua vida. Nunca me senti herói de mim mesmo, mas sempre olhei para cima e tentei trepar para os ombros desses gigantes. Usei o masculino porque essa é a regra da língua, há evidentemente mulheres também entre os meus heróis.
Num mundo em que a tecnologia democratizou o acesso aos media, em que os gatekeepers perderam influência, em que as redes e a visibilidade instantânea e permanente dominam, parece que qualquer um pode ser herói, num vídeo no Youtube, num post no Facebook, num qualquer concurso de talento ou disparate. E isso é uma coisa boa. Haja o que houver, o acesso democrático é bom. A pergunta é outra. De entre tantos possíveis heróis, como podemos no fim distinguir realmente os verdadeiros, aqueles que nos podem inspirar e ter vontade de ser melhores?
Gosto muito de futebol mas, lamento, nenhum jogador é um herói para mim. E lamento também, mais rapidamente seria Messi do que Ronaldo, só porque Ronaldo é mais Aquiles que Messi. É uma personagem muito melhor, claro, com a sua arrogância, a sua emoção à flor da pele e a sua obsessão pelo trabalho. Mas eu prefiro os meus heróis um pouco mais humildes, com pinta de anti-heróis, na verdade. Não o louro Aquiles, mas Pátroclo na sua sombra.
Como é frequente quando escrevo coisas destas, mesmo com futebol pelo meio, este texto era apenas para dizer que Aaron Sorkin é um dos meus heróis. Tal como Alan Ball ou Tony Kushner. São algumas das pessoas que me fazem ainda acreditar que a ficção televisiva pode desempenhar uma função social e política. "The Newsroom" é a nova série da autoria de Sorkin, produzida claro pela HBO, e tem ainda um escasso episódio, coisa curta para a podermos avaliar, mas espero que seja mais "West Wing" do que "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip".
Ficando-me ainda por esse primeiro episódio, não o podia aconselhar mais. Na fotografia, Jeff Daniels, que desempenha o papel principal, herói a contragosto, figura de Don Quixote, ou talvez seja apenas o seu cavalo. Mas não era um burro? Vejam e percebam.