Monday, February 28, 2005

The Giant Cloud
A novel in twenty episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(After a moment’s indecision...)
Albe takes a last look at the mirror, closes the door to her hotel room and catches the elevator down to the breakfast room. We’re standing at the dawn of the world, she thinks without knowing, without even saying it.

The elevator door opened and Albe came out at last.

In front of her, Edmundo was crystallized and bewitched by the open newspaper that blossomed out like the rose the sweet French lady had imagined and who, after a moment’s indecision, comes out to surprise and cut him out of the spell. Forever.
He stands up, sits down, stands up, curling the newspaper on the oval table as Albe says she’d had a good night’s sleep. Hi, since yesterday - How long are you staying? - Yeah, I also like to get up early - Do you work or study, do you like chocolate? And Albe went on saying that she was a jurist, a lawyer, that she’d graduated but a month ago. “A calling? Me? Perhaps.”
What is the world but a strange crossroad of vocations, of propensities, of callings, of.
Edmundo had his white handkerchief in his hand and Albe was wearing her long pajamas which matched the color of his handkerchief; a joint sunspot breaking loose and their voice, less dry now, finding its place and timbre; and the tone, at last, anchoring in their eyes. - Who are you, anyway? – In which balcony were you on, after all? - Secrets and storms are exchanged, and behind them, the jar remains crystalline, tall and glazed, an immense vocation of nameless transparency.
Next episode of The Giant Cloud: “Edmundo tried to grasp the euphoria, enchantment, and the nothingness that remained after so much obvious surprise…”)

(see here portuguese updated version)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Fours years, four seasons, four lifes

"IT'S that time when the world holds its breath: the annual ritual when we wait to see which glittering and famous person will become even more glittering and more famous. But the Academy Awards are more than just a spectator sport. They are a matter of life and death. On average, the winners live four years longer than nominees who don't win."
(Michael Marmot)
The Giant Cloud
A novel in twenty episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)
(The night had brought him visions...)
It is morning anew. Edmundo comes down to the lobby and does not even notice the tall and glazed crystal jar, which looks like a devouring flame ready to take on the French window looking out on the swimming pool.
The night had brought him visions of rails on steep slopes and rivers resting on long Amazon stares, while muted hollow voices went on through platforms and, across that deep thunder, among creeping ivy, Edmundo continued to probe the hotel lights, that saraband of balconies and leafage that would only show signs of life at late hours, with the permission of the Mediterranean breeze.
Before moving into the breakfast room, Edmundo had managed to still his abysses, until he stumbled upon the front page about the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
He threw himself on the couch, bereft of the open elevator door before him.
Albe comes out of the shower, dries off and puts on her white columbine pajamas, imagining two garlands on her head and a red thornless rose outlining her lips.
She smiles towards the balcony and peeks through the long drapes at the too-perfect blue of a sea faking sleepiness.
There are open palm trees and a parrot, and hours of drowsiness mixed with the sudden apparition of whitish houses Albe looks round, spinning in a circle, dances, and veers on giddiness until catches herself in a laugh.
(Next episode of The Giant Cloud: “Secrets and storms are exchanged, and behind them, the jar remains crystalline, tall and glazed…”)
(see here the portuguese updated version)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Giant Cloud
A novel in twenty episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(Who could he be, after all?)

Nothing was to remain the same, the stars admitted. Quite so.
The world broke out in a sudden delirium and the early breakfast hour almost allowed you to forget the swarm of lights the hotel had become during the night. There had been fire flies, mosquitoes, moths as Edmundo walked on stilts, imagining buildings and constructions, the massive meccano of the universe; but, above all, the uncertain whereabouts of Albe’s porch. Which one was it? – What maze or mist, what dream could cover the emptiness left behind by that room since you crossed the swimming-pool like a golden mermaid, Albe? – And Edmundo in the darkness, divining a giant lamp, the foundations of a Trojan faun, or was it the huge horse on wheels to penetrate the porch, as if he were Zorro and she a Juliet of too high a breed for such a sudden lot.

And Albe, in front of the mirror, on that same night of waves suspended by time, idling around the bulls and pegasuses from La Camargue, with a ticket to love growing in secret, or in the simple music her dove heart fugaciously pumps into her retina, so close to that day. – Who could he be, after all? - and Albe, facing useless shadows, after having turned the bedroom light off, watches the carved movement of shapes on the ceiling, while her skin stirred up under the thin sheets and the night heat - always the same prodigal night –, that went on whispering the name of languor, magic, of the answer without end. – Why did he look at me like that? – and Albe lay in front of the night’s burning chamber, as the stars filled the void of open curtains, and mole-crickets and other strange animals tramped along the same scorching fate.

(Next episode of The Giant Cloud: “Edmundo comes down to the lobby and does not even notice the tall and glazed crystal jar…”)


(see here portuguese updated version)


Friday, February 25, 2005


Or... how radicalism makes any meaningful debate impossible. As Brendan O'Neill puts it:

"The anti-Guantanamo lobby no doubt considers itself at the radical cutting edge of critiquing American imperialism. But in transforming Guantanamo into an easy emotional issue, they have done the debate no favours. Instead of a discussion of what lies behind Guantanamo - the peculiar nature of the war that created it, the sense of US paranoia that sustains it, and what the camps have come to symbolise for the US elite - we get unsubstantiated stories about evil Americans and their wicked ways. It remains to be seen what kind of interrogation tactics have been used at Guantanamo, but in the meantime, could we have perhaps have a proper debate about the war on terror and its consequences?"

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Making politics a game between two tables of the same restaurant: it´s a delightful history about Negroponte, Michael Powell, Tosca, Tommy Franks, delicious pasta and somebody else.
Being a "blog celebrity"

"I quite enjoy doing this and the interesting detour my life has taken, but being a "blog celebrity" isn't actually the glamorous thing some seem to imagine it to be. Aside from the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of time at my computer, not a glamorous way to spend one's time, my life is fairly normal. I haven't yet been invited to go to Vegas with Ben Affleck, and have rarely been seen hanging out with the "cool kids" of any stripe."
(via Eschaton)
Blogging soul

"Blogging is becoming its own literary form. People have always written diary entries, pamphlets, letters or simple observations and essays. But never before could you publish and within minutes have direct criticism on what you've just written by dozens of readers and fellow writers. As a writer, it's quite wonderful (and sometimes depressing) to know what your audience thinks right away. You aren't stuck waiting for some literary snob or political critic to make you or break you; your validation or rejection is immediate and obvious. So, it's really not the writer but the readership that makes this new format so innovative."
(Via Hullabaloo)

Ward Churchill

Is it only "political correctness"? (Or something else?):

"The Star-Bulletin story quoted Churchill saying he is not Indian as he mocked critics for the manner in which they have questioned his ethnicity. "Is he an Indian? Do we really care?"' Churchill said, quoting those he called his white Republican critics. "Let's cut to the chase; I am not," according to the Star-Bulletin.""
In his own words, Churchill added: "I never wanted to be a poster boy for academic freedom. You can't give an inch. If you let this one down, you've lost it all"

(Remember: Churchill compared one day... 9/11 victims to Nazis)
From Russia

A senior Bush administration official said today in Bratislava:

"I always get suspicious when people put any adjective in front of democracy -- people's democracy, proletarian democracy, Aryan democracy, managed democracy (...)"

After all, Aristotle was very clear: an adjective is "a class of words used to modify a noun".

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Did you Know?

"Other developed countries focus much more on contraception. The upshot is that while teenagers in the U.S. have about as much sexual activity as teenagers in Canada or Europe, Americans girls are four times as likely as German girls to become pregnant, almost five times as likely as French girls to have a baby, and more than seven times as likely as Dutch girls to have an abortion. Young Americans are five times as likely to have H.I.V. as young Germans, and teenagers' gonorrhea rate is 70 times higher in the U.S. than in the Netherlands or France."
(Nicholas D. Kristof)
"Anonymous Bloggers"

What are your first reactions to reading this?
Open world

Blogging in Iran can be dangerous!
Make Mubarak not Mubarak


The blog Hello From the land of the Pharaohs Egypt works out two different ways of facing democratic procedures in Egypt:

"I have to admit that I never witnessed such unprecedented demonstrations in Egypt. Here the figure of the president is revered and no one dares to cross this red line. The president in Egypt is like the pope to Catholics or the Imam to Shias, he's infallible and he's eternal. This is the reason why I am very surprised that the issue of Mubarak's fifth term is actually being discussed inside and outside Egypt.Even though I do respect the courage of today's demonstrators, I'll still vote for Mubarak's fifth term next October! You all know where I stand on this issue. There are currently no alternatives to Mubarak's regime and my president must be pressured to liberalize the political discourse in Egypt so that alternatives start to pop up and then we can be prepared to vote, and not the other way round. Today's demonstrators were composed of leftist radicals, Islamists, and a number of liberal figures. Again, I respect their courage and initiative but they're definitely not my cup of tea."

A sign of times.
A fog of vague sources

"Pentagon officials say the secret contacts with insurgent leaders are being conducted mainly by U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers. A Western observer close to the discussions says that "there is no authorized dialogue with the insurgents" but that the U.S. has joined "back-channel" communications with rebels. Says the observer: "There's a lot bubbling under the surface today.""

No comments. Via Times.

You know, David, in ancient Rome ambiguity was punished with the death penalty.
But is the world a safer place today, for the majority of its 5 billion population,than it was two thousand years ago?
Yes, of course. Ushakov is one lucky fellow.
A new book

of Peter Sloterdijk (original: Luftbeben - An den Quellen des Terrors). A very important study to understand the emergence and genealogy of hyperterrorism.
Despite the impact of his several books and of his public profile in Europe, Sloterdijk remains under-recognized in the United States. For instance, Spheres, Sloterdijk´s most ambitious project, has yet to be translated into English.

About Spheres:

"My Spheres trilogy obviously belongs to a widespread reversal among philosophical and cultural-theoretical discourses that has taken place in the strongholds of contemporary reflection over the course of the past decade. As I began in 1990, while a fellow at Bard College, in New York, I had only a vague premonition of this topological turn within cultural theory. Only now, after the completion of the trilogy, do I see more clearly how my work is connected with that of numerous colleagues around the world, such as Homi Bhabha, Arjun Appadurai, and Edward S. Casey. Even Ilya Kabakov's installation art and the work of architects like Frei Otto, Grimshaw and Partners, or Rem Koolhaas, belong to the circle of theoretical relations. At the time, I wanted to work with the figures of the circle and arrow in order to offer my students in Vienna and New York, who were mainly young artists, an introduction to philosophical thinking. I thought that graphic figures would be useful in that context."
(Peter Sloterdijk)

"In the form of Schäume/Foams Peter Sloterdijk has now brought to an end his three-volume endeavor to retell the history of humankind.The concept of the sphere refers back to Sloterdijk's main proposition, namely that life is a matter of form. "It suggests that life, sphere images and thought are different expressions of one and the same thing." The first volume Blasen/Bubbles appeared in 1998 and reconstructs how the close co-existence of people creates a special kind of intérieur. The emphasis in that first volume of the Spheres was on the hypothesis that compared with the individual it is actually the couple/pair that is the far stronger entity. In the second volume, the philosophical Roman Globen/Globes (1999) Sloterdijk narrates how classical metaphysical thought qua contemplation of the large round whole expands to appropriate the world, the globe, and thus triggers several forms of globalization.Schäume/Foams, the third and last volume, now offers a philosophical theory of the present age from a specific angle: Life, or so Sloterdijk claims, unfolds in a multi-focal fashion. The cheerful image of "foam" serves to re-assert the pluralism of world inventions and invented worlds, thus allowing Sloterdijk to formulate a philosophical-anthropological interpretation of modern individualism that goes beyond existing descriptions. Schäume/Foams likewise answers the question as to what shape a bond must take in order to bind the individuals together to form what the sociological tradition terms "society".By virtue of the fact that the third section of the Sphären/Spheres concerns itself with the most urgent and compelling questions, it is quite possible to read it as if it were the first of the triad".

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Quoting past experiences

"The political landscape today reminds me of the spring of 2002, after the big revelations of corporate fraud. Then, as now, the administration was on the defensive, and Democrats expected to do well in midterm elections.
Then, suddenly, it was all Iraq, all the time, and Harken Energy and Halliburton vanished from the headlines.
I don't know which foreign threat the administration will start playing up this time, but Bush critics should be prepared for the shift. They must curb their natural inclination to focus almost exclusively on domestic issues, and challenge the administrattion on national security policy, too."

(Paul Krugman, N.Y.T.)

What are your first reactions to reading this expression: "foreign threat"?
Blogging for Knowledge Exchange

Daniel Okrent is the NYT readers' representative. Will he become a blogger?

Just One Minute´s idea is to invite the mainstream media to create blogs in order to engage readership and editors in a new way:

"The (New York) Times has a vast readership with a collective expertise far in excess of that possessed by any of its reporters. However, the Times seems to be trapped in a mindset that views itself as producers of news, and its readers as consumers. For example, although it receives roughly 1,000 Letters to the Editor each day, only about 15 are printed.
Rather than this Producer/Consumer "transmit only" model, the Times might want to recast itself as being engaged with its readership in a cooperative quest for the truth" (...) "Allow me to suggest the obvious - the Public Editor of the NY Times should be running a blog."

Jeff Jarvis and Rebecca MacKinnon also have ideas about this exchange proposal.

Monday, February 21, 2005


It´s easier to read - in global media - something about David Beckham's new baby than about the portuguese elections or the spanish referendum.
This gives us a clean, efficient way to write about the existence of God today.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


"(...) it seems to be a singular fact about Wittgenstein -- something that genuinely sets him off from most other philosophers -- that it is most biographically plausible that even when we understand what he is saying, we may be radically in the dark about why he says it, why he finds it significant, what leads him to it"
(John Holbo)

I like, I read and I teach Wittgenstein. It´s important even for beginners to understand the difference between the conditions of truth (TL-P) and the "games" of language use proposed in PI. But that "biographic darkness" seems to me a little bit mistified.

"Before September 11th, the evening news, to say nothing of the morning programs and the magazine shows, paid scant attention to foreign news."

Before de "big turn" (that´s the title of my next essay), the "segno" (that which is not in the natural order of things) had still a peaceful life. It was just an imaginative item.
Like Van Gogh

The blog Iraq the Model and "there´s nothing BIG":

"Maybe the reason for not writing much these days is because of the current situation in Iraq; the elections are over and the results have been announced so there's nothing BIG to reason or to write about.Also, there aren't any remarkable changes in the everyday life in Iraq recently; although the security situation has somewhat improved in Baghdad but still not to the degree that makes a difference. Less explosions and gunfire are heard but criminal gangs still perform their attacks so the citizens of Baghdad are still cautious."

That´s the point: what to do with "nothing"? Van Gogh had an answer:

"I have such extraordinary fun working to get this interior from nothing, with a simplicity worthy of Seurat" (Autumn, 1888, Arles)
Unteachable knowledge - 2

Again: is motherhood somehow a kind of sweet hypertext?
A check

Or... how things are going bad in the (UN) World Meteorological Organization.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Funny skies

Imagine a world of autonomous software systems making a living as artists.

What would have been written by Kant if this was the case in his time?
Reimagine a new Critique of the Aesthetical Judgement (above all, the Analytic of the Aesthetical Judgement)!
What a fiction!

MENSA Mission: 2005 AD

The thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible and awful.
When real and fiction come together no one can say that a last redemption is about to be created by man (simulacrum).
Unteachable knowledge

Is motherhood somehow a kind of hypertext?

Imagine a "world where there was only one kind of robot allowed and only one company was allowed to make it".

Would you survive? Would you then believe in an apollonian paradise?

Did you know that the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect today?
Read this anyway:

"Over 150 of the world's countries are not participating in Kyoto cuts of greenhouse emissions. Only 35 countries have pledged to make greenhouse cuts. Only two of the EU15 countries are on track to meet their Kyoto commitments. Italy, a signatory to the treaty, says it won't seek further greenhouse gas emissions reductions after 2012".

And so What?
Today´s instantaneousness is in certain respects the same as the pre-modern level of salvation. No problem.
Love Online

Aaron Ben-Ze'ev wrote a book about falling in love in this particular world: Love Online: Emotions on the Internet.
This book, as Yuval Dror testified, compares "love at first sight" and "love at first chat." Are we talking about the same thing? Is falling in love from the first chat really possible? Ben-Ze'ev writes that this kind of love is based on a "personality cult" in which someone who has certain good qualities is assumed to have others. To illustrate this, Ben-Ze'ev provides quotes from people who say they fell in love with an on-line partner from their very first conversation. He uses this effective strategy throughout the book, which is interspersed with hundreds of quotes (some of them quite charming) from people talking about their on-line experiences".
And... What is your real experience?
European economies

It seems clear, but must not be...
Italian and german economies failed to live up to the diminished expectations of analysts, who anticipated some growth in the last three months of 2004.

Are improvements to come? At least in Germany it seems to be the case.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Political blogging

About Eason Jordan's resignation and blogging impact in the UK.
(by Rhys Blakely, Times Online).
Ratio Difficilis

Charles Murtaugh wrote:

"Speaking of Gibson, I've just started his latest novel, Pattern Recognition, which is set not in the onrushing future but right here and now. (Actually, I think it is set last year, which is a trip: not only have we arrived in Gibson-land at last, but we're already on to something new.)
I haven't read any of Gibson's recent sci-fi novels, although I've re-read his older ones many times over, and I was plenty nervous that he not screw up what appears to be a bid for mainstream cred. And at first, Pattern Recognition is both disconcerting and tense for the Gibson fanatic: did he just use the term "Google" as a verb? (Yes, right there on page two!) Be careful, Bill! It's one thing to make up your own techie lingo (the only reason we don't all use the word "simstim" is that, unlike "cyberspace," it hasn't quite been invented) and brand name celebrities ("Sony Mao"), but please don't impale yourself on the real thing!"

And I ask: aren´t contents and expressions both part of a semiotic game? Is language an untouchtable godness?
That´s a very good one

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday that two journalists must testify before a federal grand jury about their confidential sources in an investigation into a leak that exposed the identity of a covert CIA operative."

Isn´t it?

Blogging and its impact: OK, let them call us "amateurs".

It seems that The New York Times stylebook forbids the word “bullshit”.
That´s very bad for Harry Frankfurt’s essay, “On Bullshit". Is it really?

P.S. Lawrence Solum has more about this interesting case.
Not yet

Glenn Reynolds wrote:

"Two books by Tony Daniel: Metaplanetary, -- which I've actually read and liked -- and Superluminal, which I haven't read yet, but which looks quite good (...)"

That´s why one doesn´t think little of William Shakespeare.
The Crossing

For centuries he crossed the desert
In pursuit of a comet

he carried with him
lemons from Alexandria
and one day unraveled the color jade
in his dreams of the ghost of Delphi

he found paths and transfigured palm trees
many hidden between keystones
and mirages
until the day he was paralyzed
from looking at the milky way

and in the dew and shudder of his face
all shape resigned
except for the thin line that the veil drew
all across the horizon

it was then he saw the fruit
come looseand tumble
in blood, as he whispered
his love for the crossing
with awestruck eyes

Luís Carmelo
(translation: Bernardo Palmeirim)
The Night

She was reclining on the night
glancing at broom shrubs and one of those blocks
of masonry that lead to the soul

there was a clear sense of nothing else existing
she said

the painter
would have liked to see it

he would fly through the oblique light
and from that shadow invent the night
the ancient river absorbed.

Luís Carmelo.
(translation: Bernardo Palmeirim)