Sunday, 31 March 2013

Olhos de Gigante by Teatro o Bando ...

I have been to watch the Theatrical Group O Bando perform Olhos de Gigante (Giant Eyes) based on Almada Negreiros at Teatro Nacional D. Maria I.

The first moments into the performance left the audience wondering what was actually going to come out of it, until the dialogues built up the core issue of the play. Majestically interpreted by the two actors on stage. The whole mis-en-scène clearly brought in much of Almada Negreiros's soul, even down to the actors' attire.

As I left the Theatre I couldn't help re-evaluating my actual life and wondering ...

"Don't fear witnessing your head moving towards madness, let it not frighten you. Let it reach madness! Help push it towards madness. Join in and move yourself towards madness as well! Whilst some only see what is within reach, so caught up in their daily agenda, others have been dreaming of far away landscapes and chimeras, without being able to distinguish the contours of that which surround them. Some can't dream but a life whilst others can't live without dreaming. But how then can one keep the world going 'round? Which world is this the one we live in, whether lived or dreamt of  concealing yet another side? One thrives to venture into the unknown, knowing that one has to stop before moving on, even if moving on means not moving away. Knowing that if one reaches whatever one is looking for one will not be able to ask back one's shadow: who are you running away from? Knowing that something will come before you the moment the light is turned off. Believing that something will finally come before you when darkness lights itself up."

Ana Brandão, Raul Atalaia

Gil Gonçalves

Metteurs en scène
João Brites and Miguel Jesus

Rui Francisco

Teatro o Bando

Saturday, 30 March 2013

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster ...

In spite of not having felt as "connected" to these rather exquisite "novellas" as I have with other Paul Auster's books, I still must admit the whole exploration of the fragility of one's identity and the randomness of one's life has had me hooked onto their reading, with "Ghosts" and "The locked room" having been the ones I liked the most.

I have once more written down some of the sentences that have impacted me and which have surfaced several times already since I have finished reading the book last night.

"We exist for ourselves, perhaps at times we even have a glimmer of who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and as our lives go on, we become more and more opaque to ourselves, more and more aware of our incoherence. No one can cross the boundary into another - for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself."

"Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential  thing resists telling. To say that so and so was born here and went there, that he did this and did that, that he married this woman and had these children, that he lived, that he died, that he left behind these books or this battle or that bridge - none of that tells us much."

"He was there for you, and yet at the same time he was inaccessible. You felt there was a secret core in him that could never be penetrated, a mysterious centre of hiddenness."

"What I had done so far amounted to a mere fraction of nothing at all. It was so much dust, and the slightest wind would blow it away."

"I have been struggling to say goodbye to something for a long time now, and this struggle is all that really matters. The story is not in the words; it is in the struggle."

Still worth being read.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Eggs as artistic objects ... or in the eyes of the beholder ...

The first time I set my eyes on an "artistic egg" was sometime ago, to be precise in 2001, when strolling along one of the Angolan capital city streets I fell upon a beautifully  decorated ostrich egg (with a wilderness scene painted on it by a South African artist) proudly standing among other artefacts in a well known down-town handicraft shop.

As I was buying it I was told that the oldest eggshells decorated with engraved hatched patterns had precisely been found in South Africa and dated back to 60.000 years.

A few years later whilst travelling through the Czech Republic and Slovakia I saw some quite different ones at an Easter egg Fair and couldn't resist buying a few more, having since then initiated a sporadic collection.

 Five of the thirty decorated egg shells I have collected (from Hungary, Poland, Romania and Czech Republic).

According to what I have read the tradition of egg decoration within many Slavic Ethnic groups (Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Ukrainians) as well as Romanians is said to have originated in Pagan times. They are mostly associated to Easter nowadays.

Many of these eggs are decorated by applying a wax-resist method similar to Batik, others a scratch technique, brush painting, carving and even various appliqué versions glued to their shells.

My fascination for this artistic form is intimately connected  to the meticulous work involved, the fragility (and many times) the hardship of the material it is worked but above all the beauty it conveys ...

Having them in boxes ... out of anyone's sight does not diminish their beauty ... there they lie ... to be seen by one who really treasures them ...

I look at them from time to time (like today), as if  to remind myself that beauty does exist, whether it is in the eyes of the beholder ... 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Mindfulness ... Mindlessness ...

Monotony has settled itself into my daily routine lately ... a bit like the ongoing rain that seems to have made its way into our gray-looking days as if willing to stay ...

Apart from preparing myself for the forthcoming trips, my daily night "companienship" with Paul Auster and some failed attempts at writing down some of my innermost thoughts, the sole exception has been city wandering in a rather similar approach to the one Auster has so accurately described in "The New York Trilogy" I am currently reading.

"(...) was used to wandering. His excursions through the city had taught him to understand the connectedness of inner and outer. Using aimless motion as a technique of reversal, on his best days he could bring the outside in and thus usurp the sovereignty of inwardness. By flooding himself with externals, by drowning himself out of himself, he had managed to exert some small degree of control over his fits of despair. Wandering therefore was a kind of mindlessness."

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Memories ... minor obstacles ...

"Obstacles" may present themselves in every possible shape and form whether material or non-material, so long" they stay in the way of literal or figurative progress" as according to the dictionary.

Looking through some of my old childhood memories, I came across three photographs, which almost instantly took me back into specific difficult situations of the past ... some of which  I had to face with a herculean child-like determination.

Just prior to participating in a folkloric dance competition held in the Casino of my home-town I stepped on a broken glass earring inadvertently left (or fallen) on the floor close to the stage curtains ... but still I managed to  smile to the photographer and dance in enormous pain with the "object" stuck into one of my feet, until I finally collapsed soon after having thanked the public for the performance appraisal.

There was once a high-jump beach venue in my home-town (which assumed a tremendous importance for me as it would ultimately lead me to being accepted by the other boys and girls attending the occupational Summer camp) that I managed to win despite not having had any previous special training ...

Having been a student at a boarding school  of nuns for a period  of six years (from the early age of nine through to fifteen years of age) I managed to feel free in my thoughts and be happy despite the numerous visible  and "non-visible" imposing obstacles ...

These were just a few of the minor "impediments" I had to overcome, as if in preparation for major obstacles I would have to later be confronted with throughout my life ... and the many more I will certainly have to face (still) ...

May the inner strength and stamina, I used to have as a child, help me through ...

Monday, 25 March 2013

The artist of disappearance by Anita Desai ...

Three gracefully "woven" stories in which the different main characters are confronted with their own malaise and sensibilities, whether they are related to gaining recognition, as in "The Museum of final journeys" and "The translator translated" or the simple quest for solace in "The artist of disappearance".

The meticulous reflection on the trajectories of life of the three main characters and the modern India apparently haunted by a past embedded in each of these three "novellas" have appealed to me, though the "Translator translated" was the one which impacted me the most.

The faint division between one's life's expectations and the human frailties therewith interfering are ellegantly carved into these stories and if for no other reason than Anita Desai's sensitive writing I would say these are worth being read.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Brooklyn follies by Paul Auster ...

It took me two consecutive nights to read the 273 pages of "Brooklyn follies" and now that I have finished it I still can't help thinking of some of its quotations ...

"One should never underestimate the power of books."

"Reading was my escapade and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice, reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head."

When a person is lucky enough to live inside a story, to live inside an imaginary world, the pains of this world disappear for as long as the story goes on, reality no longer exists." 

One of my favourite Paul Auster's books, so far ... 

Definitely worth reading ... and eventually rereading.

Julio dos Reis Pereira revisited ...

As the first morning sun rays broke free I made my way to Gulbenkian Museum to revisit Julio dos Reis Pereira's exhibition so as to take some photographs of his most impressive paintings ... the ones which represent the female body in its manifold perspectives, whether symbol of sensitiveness or lacking any sense of seduction ... unveiling a state of carnal desire or revealing enchantment  ... promiscuity ... macabre situations ... nakedness ... the boundaries between the inside and the outside ... dreams ... aspirations ...

Menina com franja (Girl with fringed hair) - 1930 (left). Mulher e natureza morta (Woman and still life) - 1927 (right).

Nu (Nude) - 1930 (left). Nu à janela (Nude by the window) - 1930 (right).

Sobre a cidade (On the city) - 1931 (left). Epitalamio (Epithalamium) - 1931 (right).

O burguês e a menina (The bourgeois and the young girl) - 1931.

O pescador de sereias (The angler of mermaids) - 1929.

Espera (Waiting) - 1930 (left). Noturno (Nocturne) - 1927 (right).

Comediantes (Comedians) - 1928 (left). Musica sobre a vila (On the village music) - 1929 (right).

Noturno (Nocturne) - 1929 (left). Aspiração (Aspiring) -1926 (right).

Musicos e Mulheres no espaço (Musicians and Women in space) - 1925.

Paraiso (Paradise) - 1927

Some of  his 1939 drawings caught my attention as well, so I ended up photographing some of them. "Lines and gestures made into poems" ..., stories behind each representation ...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

I have finally managed to finish reading "De Profundis"  ... and I say finally because it was quite a hard "journey" as it opened a recent emotional wound.

People who have been in unrequited relationships or any other relationships which have not been fully resolved may end up feeling imprisoned like Wilde, irrespective of the dissimilarity of circumstances.

Emotional imprisonment can lead to a feeling of permanent suffering which sounds and feels as unstoppable and obscure as any other life "disruptive" situation until one manages to "break free" and "heal" the wound.

Wilde's words

"(...) while there were times when I rejoiced in the idea that my sufferings were to be endless, I could not bear them to be without meaning. Now I find hidden somewhere away in my nature something that tells me that nothing in the whole world is meaningless, and suffering least of all."

resound in me and I do now believe it to be so.

Definately worth reading, though I must confess that after the first few pages I may have thought it was not necessarily the "right" moment to read it. How wrong could I be!..

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

On Father's day ...

It was Father's day yesterday and similarly to what happened throughout my childhood and part of my adulthood on this particular day I have praised my Mother for having played the role of the "absent" Father figure.

Both my daughters, and since Faye's demise, Mia have in turn praised me for similar reasons ...; it sounds as if no man has been around the household or in our lives  ... or has (have) not assumed the role he (they) were supposed and expected to ... their photos having symbolically been the fuel of our imagination.

Did we miss what we never had? ... or if we did, what was left weren't but mere hues of ephemeral presences ... the rest  being "reconstructions" of our "agitated" souls and the projected images of the Fathers we would have liked to have (had).

I do remember my youngest daughter asking my Mother once the reason  for there being more women  at home than men ... and her rather unhesitant response that men who had made their way into our family had either passed away fairly young or had moved out soon after having moved in ... as if a spell had fallen upon them ... as if the straightforwardness and "strength" of their women had driven them away ...

Whether these reasons are true or not, I would like  to believe that  sometime in the future ... like in fairy tales the spell (if it does exist in fact) might  be broken and that we'll start seeing more of them around the house ...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Tower of Belém by João Rui de Sousa ...

"Torre de Belém

Tu és como um barco

E quando à ponte de comando,
meus olhos varrem - perscrutam -
o espaço aberto, o horizonte de agua
e os trémulos reflexos que por ela afloram,
encontro (ou adivinho) o luxo de altaneiras
pérgolas, de magicos cordoames manuelinos,
de traves arquimestras torneadas,
de fustes que são astros no teu corpo
repleto de cornijas e ameias
ou de sombrios degraus interminaveis
por sal e lentidão ja muito gastos.

Quase flutuas, sim, tu és um barco

E à ponte de comando,
Eu sinto-me um rei subito cismando
no branco dos velames
na solidão das quilhas e dos mastros,
nos séculos que te habitam como lâmpadas
de um destino que - cego-
não se aparta."

"Tower of Belém

You stand like a ship

And while, on the bridge
my eyes sweep - search-
the open space, the sea's horizon
and the shimmering lights over the water
I find (or guess)  the glories of towering pergolas,
of carved, magical Manueline ropes,
of sculptured arquitraves, of shafts
like a firmament over your body
so full of cornices and contours
or of endless, somber steps that waste away
with salt and time.

You almost float, yes, you are a ship

And I, on the bridge suddenly feel
as if I were a king who dreams
of blazing white sails,
of solitary keels and masts,
of centuries that abide in you like flares
lighting a destiny which - blind
will not let go."

Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa ...


(...) Céu apenas, céu de todas as cores que desmaiam - azul branco verde ainda azulado, cinzento palido entre verde e azul, vagos tons remotos de cores de nuvens que o não são, amarelamente escurecidas de encarnado findo. E tudo isto é uma visão que se extingue no mesmo momento em que é tida, um intervalo entre nada e nada alado, posto alto, em tonalidades de céu e magoa, prolixo e indefinido."


(...) Just sky, a sky with every fading colour - light blue, blue-green, pale gray between green and blue, fuzzy hues of distant clouds that aren't clouds, yellowishly darkened by an expiring red. And all of this is a vision that vanishes as soon as it occurs, a winged interlude between nothing and nothing that takes place on high, in shades of sky and grief, diffuse and indefinite."

Sunday, 17 March 2013

In the country of last things by Paul Auster ...

I have just finished reading one more book by Paul Auster, who is slowly and "unforcefully" becoming  my everyday evening companion.

I found it hard to get through the first twenty or something pages because of its clear dystopian description, but once the story started to unfold I realised that many of the described feelings and situational relationships, though allegorically approached may not be (are not) so far from nowadays'life.

Brilliantly written, it does "unveil" quite a few notions, which having remained in one's mind, may (and need)  to be re-read and re-thought of later.

"Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn't waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that's the end of it." 

"Our lives are no more than the sum of manifold contingencies, and no matter how diverse they might be in their details, they all share an essential randomness in their designs: this then that, and because of that, this." 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Gaivota perdida by Adelino Tavares da Silva e Andrade ...


Adelino Tavares da Silva e Andrade may not have been a great poet ..., nor even a good husband to his wife (my mother) for sixteen consecutive years, in spite of having loved her profoundly ... I may even say he might not have been a father figure, (though we strongly loved each other) ... and yet he was a rather unique person ... an incredible "story teller" ... a journalist ... a theatre critic ... an actor ... a random poet ... 

Among the numerous poems he wrote, a particular one has caught my attention, not only because of being one of the most heartfelt poems I have ever read, which is more than a love poem to my mother (as she is the one he undoubtedly wrote it for) but also because it is the unveiling of his innermost feelings ... the ones related to who he really was and would always be ...

I have heard this poem sung several times ... yet never having seen it translated ...  decided to  translate it myself ...

"Gaivota perdida

Sou como um barco sem rota
que no alto mar fizera seu cais

Sou a imagem de gaivota
tonta de voar
e não para mais

Alguém me largou dentro de mim
Alguém me deixou tal como sou

Sem principio ou fim
deixado sozinho
sou asa que voa

Nao consigo encontrar-me
Não sei quem me prende
neste voo incerto

Vejo bem o sol sem grades
Vejo bem o firmamento
mas não me liberto

Alguém me esqueceu sem uma saudade
Alguém me prendeu nesta liberdade

Sem meio ou processo de voltar à vida
Sou ave perdida
que não tem regresso

Sem meio ou processo de voltar à vida
Sou ave perdida
que não tem regresso."

"Seagull flying astray

I feel like a boat drifting
in the high sea I've made anchoring quay

I am the mere image of a dizzy seagull
 in the ever unstoppable flying spree

I was thrown within myself
I was dropped the way I am

Without any beginning or end
 and left to my own fate
as a wing do I soar high

I cannot reach myself
Nor do I know who might hold me firm
in such an uneven flight

I see the sun without restrictions
I  can even reach the sky
but I can't escape from the "me" and from the "I"

I was forgotten without a yearning
yet caught in this freedom of mine

Without a way to go back to life
I am like a bird flying astray
who will never make it right

Without a way to go back to life
I am like a bird flying astray
who will never make it right"


A Westerner's feeling by Cesario Verde ...


"O sentimento de um Ocidental

Nas nossas ruas, ao anoitecer,
ha tal soturnidade, ha tal melancolia
que as sombras, o bulicio, o Tejo, a maresia
despertam-me um desejo absurdo de sofrer  (...)"

"A Westerner's feeling

Throughout our streets, as the evening
brings with it such gloom, such melancholy,
shadows, bustle, the Tagus, the smell of the sea
awakens in me a foolish suffering (...)"

Friday, 15 March 2013

City of sadness and joy by José Rodrigues Miguéis ... ...

As the International day of Poetry is getting closer I've decided to go through some of my favourite Lisbon prose poems and their translated English versions ... many of which are to be found in the amazingly beautiful bilingual book "Portrait of Lisbon" by John O'Connor.

In an attempt to honour such a day and with it some of the acclaimed (and less acclaimed) Portuguese writers and poets I'll have one transcribed in my humble blog everyday for the next few days ...


"Cidade triste e alegre

Presépio, anfiteatro, cais de um destino, plano inclinado por onde ha séculos um povo  e uma alma parecem escoar-se a caminho de outros  mundos e paisagens, do pão amargo sobretudo - Lisboa é deste rio imenso, este horizonte de apelos sem fim, e não se pode ter nascido aqui, vivido aqui, ou ser-lhe assimilado, sem lhe sofrer o influxo, sem ficar para sempre marcado de uma vocação, dum desgarramento e fatalismo, dum anseio de partir e tornar, duma sensual melancolia"

"City of sadness and joy

Crib, amphitheatre, harbour of destiny, a slipway down which for centuries a people and a soul seemed to have slid away in search of different worlds and landscapes, and above all their meagre bread - Lisbon belongs  to this immense river, to this horizon of  a ceaseless calling, and it's not possible to have been born here, to have lived here, to have let it absorb you, without being subject to its influence, without being forever  affected by a yearning, a desire to break loose, a fatalism, a longing to depart and return, a sensual melody"

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The pressing need to "travel" ...

As I was looking through some old picture albums and written memories of mine I unexpectedly came across quite a few interesting "memorabilia", which made me think of the important role "travelling" has played in my life.

I have always felt a pressing need to "travel" and in a broader sense this "travelling" urge may not necessarily mean  to travel geographically ... but also "travel" into the heart of whatever I set my mind to, whether it is a foreign linguistic "venture" ... or even a different culture.

 My first Mandarin Chinese test. (1998)

Hong-Kong in 1998 (left). Sumbe, Angola (2001).

Nothing seems to give me more pleasure  than getting ready for any "trip" ahead or getting around the difficulties of some "trips", whether they range from an "encounter" with "characters" of all sorts and shapes, meeting different people with different concepts of life and cultural backgrounds ... or a trip "within myself".

Some are naturally harder than others, once they demand  a lot more from you than simply reading guide-books or any other  books one might find about this or that particular country.

One needs to be fully committed ... spending endless hours studying ... revising ... and when it comes to "venturing" within oneself one may need to analyse ... re-analyse one's actions or merely hypothesise the numerous situational possibilities and potential outcomes that may lay ahead.

At Lisbon airport on my way to Madrid (2004)

As a youngster I never gave too much thought to having a house and whichever possessions might be needed to go along with it ... I simply couldn't imagine myself staying at one particular place for too long ... and if I were to I felt it might be not more than a starting or returning point to and from those "travels".

I have bought a house (against all predictable odds) ... I have been long enough at the same job ... I have had my share of quite a few peculiar "travels" ... and yet I still feel the pressing need to keep on "travelling" ...