Friday, April 29, 2005

The sense of other minds

"The novel is supreme in giving us the possibility of inhabiting other minds. I think it does it better than drama, better than cinema. It’s developed these elaborate conventions over three or four hundred years of representing not only mental states, but change, over time. So in that sense, yes, I think that ‘other minds’ is partly what the novel is about. If you saw the novel as I do in terms of being an exploration of human nature—an investigation of the human condition—then the main tool of that investigation has to be to demonstrate, to somehow give you, on the page, the sensual ‘felt’ feeling of what it is to be someone else.
Surely everyone in childhood makes this slow recognition— in little leaps and starts— that other people are as alive to themselves as you are to yourself. It’s quite a startling discovery. I remember, round about the age of ten, having one of those little epiphanies of ‘I’m me,’ and at the same time thinking, well, everyone must feel this. Everyone must think, ‘I’m me.’ It’s a terrifying idea, I think, for a child, and yet that sense that other people exist is the basis of our morality. You cannot be cruel to someone, I think, if you are fully aware of what it’s like to be them. And to come back to the novel as a form, I think that’s where it is supreme in giving us that sense of other minds.”


Wednesday, April 27, 2005


The blog population is exploding around the world, resembling the growth of e-mail users in the 1990s:

April - 8,700,000
Jan. - 6,600,000
Dec. - 5,400,000
Sept. - 4,100,000
June - 2,950,000
March - 2,000,000
Dec. - 1,400,000
Sept. - 1,000,000
June - 300,000
March - 100,000
But blogs are also taking off as chat boards and alternative newspapers in countries like Iran, Egypt, and China.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Wait to Come Unstuck"

by Wyatt Bonikowski (on Elimae Books)

"They were having their rails lubricated. Underneath they had discovered blockage, and it was all they could do to free themselves, like a kind of jellied meat. "Exposure to the elements," the doctor said. "We have made arrangements for a salad to happen. It will be arriving tomorrow, express." Could they wait any longer? They were busy posting notices on the walls of their apartment, to remind themselves of the truly important in life."

(Full text here)
One by one

(in A Tasca)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Give Policarpo a Chance?

(Get all the latest Next Pope odds here now)

"Jose Da Cruz Policarpo is not well known because he has spent most of his life working in Portugal. He is, however, evidently popular among the cardinals and this means that he may have a chance at winning — especially if the cardinals wish to elect someone that isn’t an “expected” choice by outsiders." (About)
"Apart from study in Rome, Lisbon's Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo has spent his whole priestly life in his native Portugal and is little known to Catholics outside Portuguese-speaking countries.
But this theological moderate has impressed other cardinals in Europe and Latin America, where a Portuguese prelate can serve as a link between the two continents. "If Policarpo is elected Pope, almost everyone outside the College of Cardinals will ask 'who is he?'," a Church official said before the conclave. "But among the cardinals, they've been talking about him for years
." (Mydd)
"Portuguese cardinal could be a bridge candidate in conclave." (C.N.S.)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mirror, Mirror!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Walt Whitman

Library of Congress, P. P. D. (LC-USZ62-82784)

The Washington Friends of Walt Whitman is pleased to announce a city-wide festival which will take place between March 26 (the date of Whitman's death) and May 31 (Whitman's birth) in 2005. These dates include the month of April, National Poetry Month. Events are designed to highlight the 150th anniversary of the first publication of a masterpiece of American literature, Leaves of Grass, and Whitman’s connection to Washington, DC, where he lived and worked from 1863 to 1873. During this period, the poet published his poignant poems of the Civil War, Drum Taps, and his elegies to Lincoln, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” all while earning his living as a civil servant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Oblique Light

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. Transl.: Bernardo Palmeirim)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It ain't over until the fat lady sings

"The post-9/11 world involves two competing nightmares. One imagines another terrorist attack that occurs because authorities fail to respond to signs of danger. The other is about innocent people who are arrested by mistake and held indefinitely because authorities are too frightened, or embarrassed, to admit their errors. We have to be equally vigilant against both." (Ed.NYT)

This are the real signs of our times.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Part of the family...

Particular advices

National Libraries of Scotland

"More than 200 years on from his death, the author of a scandalous bestseller of Georgian London has been outed. For almost 30 years from 1757, Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies was the essential gentleman's accessory for a night on the town."
"The alleged author was as famous as his book. Jack Harris, real name John Harrison, was head waiter at the Shakespear's Head , supplying women, and occasionally men, for all tastes."
Read more about Harris, the "diabolical poet" who "was also briefly an actor."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Beirut is Beirut!

People filled restaurants and jammed sidewalks Saturday in answer to a call to stop mourning in a city buffeted by nearly two months of political and economic turmoil.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Disturbing revelations

"A report just released by the National Academy of Sciences bears two disturbing revelations. The cooling pools for nuclear waste at some reactor sites may be far more vulnerable to a devastating attack by terrorists than federal regulators are willing to admit. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is operating in a hermetically sealed cocoon that makes it difficult for anyone - even the academy, armed with a Congressional mandate - to tell whether the public is adequately protected."

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Danny Kruger wrote:

"The ugliness of this campaign - already a swamp of dirty tricks and name-calling - resembles two divorced parents scheming and screaming at their children to choose between them: but the kids are sullen, and won't get off the sofa. What's going on?"

Democracy is hard, perhaps the most complex and difficult of all forms. But still the best one to live in!
A novel in eleven episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(The terrible gush)

Maya hit the gas for the long stretch.
The twilight had invaded the hilly cobblestone and the road sides, and a low fog spread out into the abyss. A figure sprung out running from the somber hedge, looking like a jumbled blob, zigzagging - a single blood-like eye amid the most disconsolate darkness. Maya hit the brakes, shifted gears, and screamed into a tremendous crash. The car leant on its left side against the small wall on the edge of the belvedere. Next to it, snug as a bug in a rug, laid the animal, legs in the air and dead in a pool of blood that ran down the road line.
Like a bolt, as if she had awoken from her sleepwalker’s adventure, from the unforeseen climb and illogical journey, Maya ran out of the car to check, who knows, if the wild boar was dead. Just a couple of seconds later, Rui opened his car door and stood stunned, numb, hanging onto the side mirror. It was then that the wild boar, in a final breath and last grimace, placed the mask of life back on and dashed at Maya who knelt close by.

Rui had no time to react. Blood, the boar’s or Maya’s, etched the car window. A brief, dry moment. The shatter of pain. An instant of light in the darkness. Maybe the photograph of the initiation. The terrible gush. And Rui, frozen solid, lost from himself. From everything.
And the dense smell of costmary celebrating the mountain air. An inexplicable whim. As if fate had awoken with the trip. As if fate had awoken, once and for all, for the only trip.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(The inventor of the wonder drug)

Yet nonetheless there was, between the two, that intimate exchange of looks that disclosed, in the hour of truth, a kind of pact, a bold, unforeseen trust. And the engine hiccupped, spoke of wear and tear, and pushed against the fatigue of such a climb. It is two to eight, and out of the shadow a dark sea surges in flickering lights, varying with the relief of the succeeding slopes.

Until they reached a stretch of road, approximately 50 meters long. Less than a mile to the belvedere now. The longing.

(It all takes place somewhere between accord and treachery – thought Rui, after it had all happened).

(Just a gift. Pilgrimage of the spirit that travels quiet until the moment we stand facing each other. One car for the both of us. The absurd. We had never seen each other before. And we were sitting there as if we had been granted access to life everlasting. We had been awaiting a sign. Anything. A car is an asset, a luxury, but I never thought it could be a sign of providence. For a car travels across space in the same way a miracle travels across your imagination. We’re still face to face, the two of us, next to the same car. Each holding his own key. We’d arrived at the park, the same park, at the same time. We took it for granted that we and we alone were heading for our own car and that obviously no one else could, especially at the same time, go for that car as their own. But on that day, it happened. And that was a gift. The gift. After that we traveled on board of a silent confession. We were like a baroque episode that makes movement awaken realities but not the reality. Unique. Between them, between these worlds, something ended up waking what we had lived together for a couple of hours. And because of that we drove, I swear, up to the highest point, the fancy of a higher thawing, where God could wait for us. And us with Him, arm in arm, holding a draught beer and a big cigar and playing crazy games. And I saw myself and them, Rui and God, hand in hand, running on clouds of twilight, in this isthmus where the curves of life can guess the ultimate stretch and, with it, the groveling fog and bitter wait for the belvedere of forbidden longing that I would never come to see. Already a kind of redemption anticipated the announced summit. World and life were still the image of starting the engine of a same vehicle disputed by two human beings who loved and betrayed each other, unaware. I, the inventor of the wonder drug, the magic vaccine, and he a lawman that would make his bearded colleague, he who had read out God’s commandments, envious. I can see him now, sitting on the blue cloud in the corner, a chandelier made out of seeds and costmary stems on each side. A true gift, that chance meeting: the royal pleasure of having existed for the big mountain climb, the oversized cliff. Until. Until the 50 m stretch showed up. It was less than a mile to the belvedere. The longing –Maya thought, just a blink of an eye before it all happened.)

Maya hit the gas for the long stretch.

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “Rui opened his car door and stood stunned, numb, hanging onto the side mirror.”)

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(And light came)

Rui and Maya are still standing in the parking lot, in front of the locked car. Each holding his own key.

When Maya places the costmary bunch on the car roof, it sets off the alarm. Rui quickly zaps the car with the remote, halting the siren’s blast. She looks into Rui’s eyes, frozen still. And light came. Without a word, Maya goes round the yellow road line and steps into the passenger’s seat. As if turned to stone, Rui sits next to her and sets the car in motion. They are already speeding out of town, street after street; as if regret could, in that unique moment, be the inauspicious worm which might halt the bizarre adventure already in motion. The mountain ridge looked like a feasible place to go, a place one could trust; and the spontaneous course of the wheel had preceded any decision arranged between the two of them. It was as if fate had awoken with the trip; for the trip.

Up to the last cliff.

It is almost eight in the evening, the last sunrays are spreading out into the liquid sphere of air. And the shadow of the Milky Way climbs out of nowhere. There is howling afar. The sparse branches of the last trees are grooved by the audacious breeze, as the curves and swerves lead to the forbidden belvedere. The red, blood-colored earth by the side of the road. Maya’s fingernails were as if stuck in the costmary bunch, Rui’s fingers tightened up on his knees. Their safety belts encircled an end of the world in motion. And there was still a tale to be told. That Maya had indeed been the true inventor of the AIDS and hepatitis vaccine, and that no one knew, or would know of it. That Rui was, after all, a former lawyer of the renowned Professor Romeo and that not even Maya knew, or was to know of this.

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “Until they reached a stretch of road, approximately 50 meters long. Less than a mile to the belvedere now. The longing.”)


Monday, April 04, 2005

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(The last cliff)

Over the last cliff, before the last stretch that goes on for approximately two snaky miles, you can easily see the specter of the whitish antenna marking the belvedere everyone yearns for. Maybe that is why it has been baptized ill-omened and proscribed; but deep down, always longed for. Where Rui grew up there was a slope called Dead-End; in Maya’s home town, an ancient path they called Dead Man’s Drink. And yet never did the good moon hold back its light from those places, be it a cold equinox or solstice day, one of evil omen or shady presage. For both Rui and Maya, everything, simply everything was land blessed by the eldest gods and legends that had translated, in ages of gold, the worthy postures and the good deeds which served as examples for mankind.
Rui and Maya never spoke of this, but they grasped it through a mystery that unfolded in the gap between their gazes during the hour of truth, when mystery cast light over its own doubt, and understanding was sewed into a handful of suddenly available, clear options. Numb for words, Rui and Maya realized that the summit of the last cliff was the most likely destination of a coincidence and remote complicity that, even though – who knows? – set off by others, ended up revealing an uncanny acknowledgment, an unexplainable agreement of spirit. Light had come out and the mountain, by a remarkable gift, accompanied it.

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “The mountain ridge looked like a feasible place to go, a place one could trust.”)


Sunday, April 03, 2005

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(On the edge of wonder)

Maya gripped the wheel, accompanying the wide curves. And darkness is moving in the travel’s tale, as the destination of our occult itinerary retracted before the aridness and a limitless abandonment. On the edge of wonder, as Rui lifted his eyes to the summits and granitic spikes foamed with night, a huge bird of prey glided in. In a green ray along the ridge’s top, it traversed the skies from side to side and ended up crossing over the safety of the Midnight Blue Mobilin 2000. Maya confessed:

“This thing about the papers still puzzles me.”
Rui smiled as if he held, almost by magic, the solution in his hands: “Look - the registration papers I took to the bureau were already copies, which is normal. Now, what I have here are these… receipts. There’s always a waiting period in this bureaucratic stuff. Yours are the originals… the very same he must have declared to have lost at the time. Obviously a lie.”
“And the keys?”
“What he told me was that he only had a copy left, which can also happen. Besides, that’s happened to me once. And moreover… he suggested that I should go to the place where he got the car and order two new keys… and that he would even pay for them himself. But that’s something that takes its time, I called to check, you know, and that’s why I hadn’t really begun to take care of it. As you can see, by a process of exclusion, the supposedly misplaced key is precisely the one that he gave to you.”
“But why on earth would he have done that?”
“I’ve got a hunch.”
“Think about it, if he managed to keep you away from the lab, if he stole your authority, even threatened you and got you working in some corner, it’s only likely that he should…”
“… want to go a step further.”
“Are you suggesting he wanted to…”
“Yes, he wanted to get rid of you… and so, for now at least, to get you into some kind of trouble. To… upset you, enclose you, I don’t know. Something of the sort. This was no distraction of his. You can be sure of that, I feel it.”
“Actually, it wasn’t me who was supposed to transport the blood samples today. It isn’t my day. And seldom is an office car unavailable. Why did he give me this car?”
“Common knowledge says that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That something doesn’t quite add up here... Do you want me to take over driving? Night’s falling. It’s getting hard to see well...”
“We’ll stop at eight and then see. We’re almost there anyway. I’ll try to reach the top of the out-of-bounds belvedere.”
“Ok, sure.”

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “Light had come out and the mountain, by a remarkable gift, accompanied it.”)


Saturday, April 02, 2005

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(The greatest venture of mortals: the imagination)

Half past seven and the sun is setting in the highest summits. On the ancient stone pavement the car drives on, rambling down roads, maneuvering within narrow slits. It glides mile after mile along the tilt of the hill, sloping upwards, succeeding curves replete with milestones and cypresses which rise above a thick slop of clouds that obstructs the view of the bottom of the valley and the pastures. Here up high, close to the darkening blue sky - a vestibule for the repose of gods -, life tastes of thin air and hard molten rock curves. Above all, life acquires the taste and wisdom that come with the greatest venture of mortals: the imagination. Perhaps on account of that, Maya has not yet forgotten the beginning of the conversation:

“Let’s go back to Professor Romeo. When did you meet him, after all?”
Rui shook off a chill, loosely forgot his elbow on the seat and began thinking outside of time:
“He sold me the car. It was only then I met him.”
“But how?”
“He was a friend of a colleague of mine from the office. My colleague told me he knew someone who wanted to trade cars. It was precisely what I wanted: a nice car, low mileage, practically new, and the price was very reasonable. So in fact I only met that gentleman and his long coat when we met to take care of the paperwork.”
“And when was that?”
“The day before last.”
“At what time?”
“Well, let me see, it must have been about two pm. I remember I had to have an early lunch.”
“I just can’t make out why the hell he gave me the car keys for the very same car!”
It was a place of mountain peaks speckled with fir-trees. Towards the bottom lay the forest and the first set of long, endless escalades. An ancient memory of ice caps, glaciers, and peaks of death. And here, in this nothingness near the top of the vast canyon, the only thing left is the big evening star that seems to want to come down and touch the globe’s lonely ceiling with a thread of silk. A place of mountain climbers and cold gales, small patches of grass and lost-in-time escapades.

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “We’ll stop at eight and then see. We’re almost there anyway. I’ll try to reach the top of the out-of-bounds belvedere.”)


Friday, April 01, 2005

A novel in twelve episodes
By Luís Carmelo
(transl. Bernardo Palmeirim)

(Almost vitreous this certainty, so unmovable)

Rui switched foots, felt his muscles purr about a remote sprain, placed his hand on his chin and rekindled the by then long dialogue:

“But listen, as we were saying, why didn’t you leave town during those hard times?”
“You know, I worked on this project for about ten years. And no matter how many obstacles appeared before me, I always said to myself that one must attain one’s goals. And… as you must have gathered, I’m pretty stubborn. I may have many flaws, but I persevere.”
“It never occurred to you to bail out?”
“Not even when they tried to accuse you of lying in a scientific paper?”
“Much less then. The truth is the vaccine was certainly not in the best interest of a lot of nicely settled people. It would solve a lot; too much. And you can’t begin to imagine what nestled interests are like.”
“But they got what they wanted, right?.. They took advantage of your discoveries and came up with a new vaccine as if they’d made it themselves.”
“This isn’t the end of it, believe me. This story doesn’t end here, you can be sure of that. And she that laughs last, laughs best, I assure you.” She rose her dark glasses with her fingertip, a long fourth crescent shaped fingernail, red, sanguine. Almost vitreous this certainty, so unmovable.

(Next episode of Wild Boar Eye: “And here, in this nothingness near the top of the vast canyon, the only thing left is the big evening star that seems to want to come down and touch the globe’s lonely ceiling with a thread of silk.”)