Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Quote / Citação (33)

"It was at night that they came for you, always at night. The proper thing was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly some people did so. Many of the disappearances were actually suicides. But it needed desperate courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and certain poison, were completely unprocurable. He thought with a kind of astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment when a special effort is needed. He might have silenced the dark-haired girl if only he had acted quickly enough: but precisely because of the extremity of his danger he had lost the power to act. It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body. Even now, in spite of the gin, the dull ache in his belly made consecutive thought impossible. And it is the same, he perceived, in all seemingly heroic or tragic situations. On the battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until it fills the universe, and even when you are not paralysed by fright or screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth."

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Monday, 23 December 2013

Quote / Citação (32)

"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

(...)

They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming-period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice."


George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Quote / Citação (31)

"Under ground, under ground! Down in the safe soft womb of earth, where there is no getting of jobs or losing of jobs, no relatives or friends to plague you, no hope, fear, ambition, honour, duty — no duns of any kind. That was where he wished to be.

Yet it was not death, actual physical death, that he wished for. It was a queer feeling that he had. It had been with him ever since that morning when he had woken up in the police cell. The evil, mutinous mood that comes after drunkenness seemed to have set into a habit. That drunken night had marked a period in his life. It had dragged him downward with strange suddenness. Before, he had fought against the money-code, and yet he had clung to his wretched remnant of decency. But now it was precisely from decency that he wanted to escape. He wanted to go down, deep down, into some world where decency no longer mattered; to cut the strings of his self-respect, to submerge himself — to sink, as Rosemary had said. It was all bound up in his mind with the thought of being under ground. He liked to think about the lost people, the under-ground people: tramps, beggars, criminals, prostitutes. It is a good world that they inhabit, down there in their frowzy kips and spikes. He liked to think that beneath the world of money there is that great sluttish underworld where failure and success have no meaning; a sort of kingdom of ghosts where all are equal. That was where he wished to be, down in the ghost-kingdom, below ambition. It comforted him somehow to think of the smoke-dim slums of South London sprawling on and on, a huge graceless wilderness where you could lose yourself for ever.

And in a way this job was what he wanted; at any rate, it was something near what he wanted. Down there in Lambeth, in winter, in the murky streets where the sepia-shadowed faces of tea-drunkards drifted through the mist, you had a submerged feeling. Down here you had no contact with money or with culture. No highbrow customers to whom you had to act the highbrow; no one who was capable of asking you, in that prying way that prosperous people have, ‘What are you, with your brains and education, doing in a job like this?’ You were just part of the slum, and, like all slum-dwellers, taken for granted. The youths and girls and draggled middle-aged women who came to the library scarcely even spotted the fact that Gordon was an educated man. He was just ‘the bloke at the library’, and practically one of themselves."

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Friday, 13 December 2013

London Pleasures by Gordon Comstock [Quote / Citação (30)]

"Sharply the menacing wind sweeps over
The bending poplars, newly bare,
And the dark ribbons of the chimneys
Veer downward; flicked by whips of air,

Torn posters flutter; coldly sound
The boom of trains and the rattle of hooves,
And the clerks who hurry to the station
Look, shuddering, over the eastern rooves,

Thinking, each one, ‘Here comes the winter!
Please God I keep my job this year!’
And bleakly, as the cold strikes through
Their entrails like an icy spear,

They think of rent, rates, season tickets,
Insurance, coal, the skivvy’s wages,
Boots, school-bills, and the next instalment
Upon the two twin beds from Drage’s.

For if in careless summer days
In groves of Ashtaroth we whored,
Repentant now, when winds blow cold,
We kneel before our rightful lord;

The lord of all, the money-god,
Who rules us blood and hand and brain,
Who gives the roof that stops the wind,
And, giving, takes away again;

Who spies with jealous, watchful care,
Our thoughts, our dreams, our secret ways,
Who picks our words and cuts our clothes,
And maps the pattern of our days;

Who chills our anger, curbs our hope,
And buys our lives and pays with toys,
Who claims as tribute broken faith,
Accepted insults, muted joys;

Who binds with chains the poet’s wit,
The navvy’s strength, the soldier’s pride,
And lays the sleek, estranging shield
Between the lover and his bride."



George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Pela Sua Saúde de Pedro Pita Barros (Ensaios da Fundação #33)

A Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos tem publicado nesta colecção "Ensaios da Fundação" trabalhos sobre temas relevantes para pensar e repensar Portugal de uma forma informada. Fiquei logo com vontade de ler alguns, de várias áreas, com algum destaque para a saúde, a economia e o estado social. A Daniela ofereceu-me o Pela Sua Saúde, pelo que foi por este que comecei a explorar a colecção. O autor - Pedro Pita Barros - é um economista, professor catedrático e investigador nessa área e editor de revistas de Economia da Saúde, pelo que se propõe a olhar para o Serviço Nacional de Saúde analisando os seus problemas, as possíveis melhorias e os caminhos para a sua evolução, tendo particularmente em conta a limitação de recursos do estado português.
A leitura deste pequeno ensaio foi bastante enriquecedora, mesmo tendo em conta que já parti com bastante informação sobre o tema. O autor aborda de forma lúcida e relativamente isenta as principais questões de relevo na discussão da dita "sustentabilidade" de um serviço de saúde financiado pelo estado. O livro começa por uma descrição geral do SNS, segue para a análise directa da sua sustentabilidade financeira, examina a organização e funcionamento do SNS e por fim a relação entre o cidadão e o sistema, terminando com algumas considerações gerais.
Como ensaio curto, este não é um livro em que os temas sejam explorados à exaustão, com bases científicas e ideológicas explicitadas e bem destrinçadas. Um exemplo disto é a sua abordagem das taxas moderadoras, que discute tendo em conta o seu aumento e aplicação diferencial mas nunca analisando as provas (ou ausência delas) da sua eficácia como factor redutor de desperdício em saúde ou da possível criação de desigualdade e potencial impedimento de acesso a cuidados que se querem universais. No entanto, o autor consegue atingir o seu objectivo: fornecer ao leitor as bases e os pontos fulcrais para que possa pensar sobre o assunto, informar-se mais detalhadamente e participar activamente na sua discussão.
Assim sendo, recomendo a leitura de "Pela Sua Saúde" como ponto de partida para quem quer participar activamente na discussão eterna sobre o SNS, sabendo desde já que terão que progredir de seguida para outras leituras no sentido de criar e fundamentar opiniões. Pretendo ler mais livros desta colecção e agradeço recomendações a quem já tenha lido alguns.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Quote / Citação (29)

Something deep below made the stone street shiver. The tube-train, sliding through middle earth. He had a vision of London, of the western world; he saw a thousand million slaves toiling and grovelling about the throne of money. The earth is ploughed, ships sail, miners sweat in dripping tunnels underground, clerks hurry for the eight-fifteen with the fear of the boss eating at their vitals. And even in bed with their wives they tremble and obey. Obey whom? The money-priesthood, the pink-faced masters of the world. The Upper Crust. A welter of sleek young rabbits in thousand guinea motor cars, of golfing stockbrokers and cosmopolitan financiers, of Chancery lawyers and fashionable Nancy boys, of bankers, newspaper peers, novelists of all four sexes, American pugilists, lady aviators, film stars, bishops, titled poets, and Chicago gorillas.

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Quote / Citação (28)

"It was so rarely that he could attain the peace of mind in which poetry, or prose for that matter, has got to be written. The times when he ‘could not’ work grew commoner and commoner. Of all types of human being, only the artist takes it upon him to say that he ‘cannot’ work. But it is quite true; there are times when one cannot work. Money again, always money! Lack of money means discomfort, means squalid worries, means shortage of tobacco, means ever-present consciousness of failure — above all, it means loneliness. How can you be anything but lonely on two quid a week? And in loneliness no decent book was ever written. It was quite certain that London Pleasures would never be the poem he had conceived — it was quite certain, indeed, that it would never even be finished. And in the moments when he faced facts Gordon himself was aware of this.
Yet all the same, and all the more for that very reason, he went on with it. It was something to cling to. It was a way of hitting back at his poverty and his loneliness. And after all, there were times when the mood of creation returned, or seemed to return."

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Quote / Citação (27)

"‘Oh, leave me alone, for God’s sake!’ he said irritably, stepping out of Flaxman’s reach, and went up the stairs without looking back.
Flaxman settled his hat on his head and made for the front door, mildly offended. Gordon reflected dully that it was always like this nowadays. He was for ever snubbing friendly advances. Of course it was money that was at the bottom of it, always money. You can’t be friendly, you can’t even be civil, when you have no money in your pocket. A spasm of self-pity went through him. His heart yearned for the saloon bar at the Crichton; the lovely smell of beer, the warmth and bright lights, the cheery voices, the clatter of glasses on the beer-wet bar. Money, money! He went on, up the dark evil-smelling stairs. The thought of his cold lonely bedroom at the top of the house was like a doom before him."

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Friday, 29 November 2013

Quote / Citação (26)

"Gordon watched them go. They were just by-products. The throw-outs of the money-god. All over London, by tens of thousands, draggled old beasts of that description; creeping like unclean beetles to the grave.
He gazed out at the graceless street. At this moment it seemed to him that in a street like this, in a town like this, every life that is lived must be meaningless and intolerable. The sense of disintegration, of decay, that is endemic in our time, was strong upon him. Somehow it was mixed up with the ad-posters opposite. He looked now with more seeing eyes at those grinning yard-wide faces. After all, there was more there than mere silliness, greed, and vulgarity. Roland Butta grins at you, seemingly optimistic, with a flash of false teeth. But what is behind the grin? Desolation, emptiness, prophecies of doom. For can you not see, if you know how to look, that behind that slick self-satisfaction, that tittering fat-bellied triviality, there is nothing but a frightful emptiness, a secret despair? The great death-wish of the modern world. Suicide pacts. Heads stuck in gas-ovens in lonely maisonettes. French letters and Amen Pills. And the reverberations of future wars. Enemy aeroplanes flying over London; the deep threatening hum of the propellers, the shattering thunder of the bombs. It is all written in Roland Butta’s face."

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

World Philosophy Day

Vale sempre a pena falar da filosofia, em especial por ser uma actividade ao mesmo tempo transversal a muito do que é ser humano e muito mal compreendida pelas pessoas. Hoje, em celebração do Dia Mundial da Filosofia, deixo aqui uma lista de ligações interessantes que me foram aparecendo:

4 minutos de Zizek a falar sobre o que é a filosofia;

todo um podcast - Philosophy Bites - em que se pergunta a vários filósofos o que é a filosofia;

página da UNESCO dedicada a esta celebração.


__________________________________________________________________


Talking about philosophy is always worth our time, not only because it's transversal to much of what being human means, but also because it is widely misunderstood as an activity or area of interest. In celebration of the World Philosophy Day, I decided to post here some interesting links I came across today. 

4 minutes of Zizek talking about philosophy;

A podcast - Philosophy Bites - where a lot of philosophers try to define philosophy;

UNESCO's World Philosophy Day webpage.



"The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a theory but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’, but to make propositions clear. Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred."
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Universal Children's Day

Porque vale sempre a pena lembrar, não só a data em que foram aprovados, mas também os Direitos da Criança propriamente ditos.




And because we should never forget that we still fail children far more than we should, considering these were declared exactly 24 years ago.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Política portuguesa para totós (II)


toda a semelhança entre a realidade e o mundo dos pokémon é fruto do acaso, digo eu;
imagens retiradas de Bulbapedia;
Pokémon © 2002-2013 Pokémon. © 1995-2013 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Quote / Citação (25)

"It was queer, really. Even at the time it struck me as queer. I was a second-loot with hardly any Cockney accent left, I could already distinguish between Arnold Bennett and Elinor Glyn, and yet it was only four years since I’d been slicing cheese behind the counter in my white apron and looking forward to the days when I’d be a master-grocer. If I tot up the account, I suppose I must admit that the war did me good as well as harm. At any rate that year of reading novels was the only real education, in the sense of book-learning, that I’ve ever had. It did certain things to my mind. It gave me an attitude, a kind of questioning attitude, which I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d gone through life in a normal sensible way. But — I wonder if you can understand this — the thing that really changed me, really made an impression on me, wasn’t so much the books I read as the rotten meaninglessness of the life I was leading."

George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Política portuguesa para totós (I)


toda a semelhança entre a realidade e o mundo dos pokemon é fruto do acaso, digo eu;
imagens retiradas de Bulbapedia;
Pokémon © 2002-2013 Pokémon. © 1995-2013 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.

Quote / Citação (24)

"It struck me that perhaps a lot of the people you see walking about are dead. We say that a man’s dead when his heart stops and not before. It seems a bit arbitrary. After all, parts of your body don’t stop working — hair goes on growing for years, for instance. Perhaps a man really dies when his brain stops, when he loses the power to take in a new idea. Old Porteous is like that. Wonderfully learned, wonderfully good taste — but he’s not capable of change. Just says the same things and thinks the same thoughts over and over again. There are a lot of people like that. Dead minds, stopped inside. Just keep moving backwards and forwards on the same little track, getting fainter all the time, like ghosts."

George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Anatomia dos Mártires de João Tordo

Depois de ter lido e gostado bastante do seu conto Cidade Líquida na colecção do DN e dado ter lido algumas opiniões positivas sobre os seus livros (por exemplo no Metáfora de Refúgio), decidi prosseguir na minha leitura da obra de João Tordo. Escolhi o Anatomia dos Mártires porque gostei do tema que se propõe abordar, muito embora não soubesse ao certo o que esperar dele.

Este livro segue a vida de um jornalista em busca do seu "furo", de um artigo que comprove a sua qualidade de trabalho perante o seu editor (e, aparentemente, perante o próprio). Inicialmente é-lhe proposto entrevistar o biógrafo de um homem que, após ter cometido suicídio, parece ter-se tornado numa espécie mártir religioso. No seu artigo, por entre um tom jocoso em que fala do entrevistado, decide estabelecer um paralelismo entre esta história e a de Catarina Eufémia, ela própria uma suposta mártir usada como símbolo da luta do Partido Comunista contra a ditadura fascista. São as várias reacções a este artigo (do editor, de leitores, do entrevistado) que fazem avançar o enredo por várias linhas, culminando numa obsessão do jornalista pela história "verdadeira" de Catarina Eufémia. A busca por esta verdade e o seu paralelismo com a análise do que faz um mártir constituem uma segunda parte do romance.

A prosa de Tordo é em geral fluída, sem exagero de embelezamento mas com utilização suficiente e útil de figuras de estilo. Infelizmente é o assunto que a prejudica aqui. O autor começa por escrever uma história razoavelmente interessante, embora nunca excepcionalmente estimulante, dedicada à luta interior do jornalista e o seu paralelismo com os eventos, mas perde-se quando decide entrar pelo mito de Catarina Eufémia dentro. Se a primeira parte tinha alguns momentos mortos, a segunda parte é quase até ao final um tédio do ponto de vista da ficção. Nota-se por demais a extensa pesquisa que o autor fez em relação a esta figura e sente-se a falta de uma edição mais "intensa" nesta parte. Há ainda uma terceira e última parte - "Os Apoderados" - que funde o final do enredo com um tom de epílogo, num estilo mais surreal, simultaneamente interessante mas estranho em contraposição com o restante livro.

Assim, este foi um livro que não tendo correspondido às expectativas criadas pela leitura do conto que referi, manteve o meu interesse em ler mais obras do autor, em especial pela exploração da vida, mente e personalidade do jornalista, a sua relação com o pai e com o amigo, por alguns paralelismos inteligentes com as figuras mártires e pela terceira parte.
De acordo com o Jorge, autor do Metáfora de Refúgio, este será o menos interessante dos romances de João Tordo. Sendo assim, após recorrer às opiniões lá publicadas - e de acordo com as sinopses - decidi ler de seguida o Livro dos Homens sem Luz ou o Hotel Memória (provavelmente o primeiro que encontrar em promoção decente).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Quote / Citação (23)

"Every thinking person nowadays is stiff with fright. This is merely a chap who’s got sufficient foresight to be a little more frightened than the others. Hitler’s after us! Quick! Let’s all grab a spanner and get together, and perhaps if we smash in enough faces they won’t smash ours. Gang up, choose your Leader. Hitler’s black and Stalin’s white. But it might just as well be the other way about, because in the little chap’s mind both Hitler and Stalin are the same. Both mean spanners and smashed faces.
War! I started thinking about it again. It’s coming soon, that’s certain. But who’s afraid of war? That’s to say, who’s afraid of the bombs and the machine-guns? ‘You are’, you say. Yes, I am, and so’s anybody who’s ever seen them. But it isn’t the war that matters, it’s the after-war. The world we’re going down into, the kind of hate-world, slogan-world. The coloured shirts, the barbed wire, the rubber truncheons. The secret cells where the electric light burns night and day, and the detectives watching you while you sleep. And the processions and the posters with enormous faces, and the crowds of a million people all cheering for the Leader till they deafen themselves into thinking that they really worship him, and all the time, underneath, they hate him so that they want to puke. It’s all going to happen. Or isn’t it? Some days I know it’s impossible, other days I know it’s inevitable. That night, at any rate, I knew it was going to happen. It was all in the sound of the little lecturer’s voice."

George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Goodbye Lou Reed

I hope you got to have your very own Perfect Day before the end.



Just a perfect day
Drink sangria in the park
And then later, when it gets dark
We go home

Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later a movie, too
And then home

Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It's such fun

Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
Someone good

Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Victories Volume 1: Touched by Michael Avon Oeming

Eu conhecia Michael Avon Oeming do seu trabalho em Powers e também de uma ou outra ilustração para a Marvel pelo que comecei a segui-lo no twitter. Foi assim que acompanhei o processo de criação de The Victories, que o autor comentou frequentemente na rede social, e fiquei interessado em ler algo não só ilustrado mas também escrito por ele. Oeming não desiludiu. The Victories é uma visão pessimista de uma sociedade com "super-heróis". A história é-nos apresentada pelo ponto de vista  dos próprios "heróis" que, longe de serem indivíduos exemplares - epítomes das virtudes humanas - são afinal pessoas com imperfeições cuja posição civilizacional serve apenas para o autor as poder ampliar e explorar.
O contexto é uma civilização futurista mas algo distópica, em que as pessoas são vigiadas por câmaras em todo o lado mas a corrupção é ubíqua, a juventude está a tornar-se globalmente viciada numa nova droga e super-heróis parecem ser a única hipótese de limpar e salvar a sociedade. Parece tão familiar como a visão de um dia chuvoso quando olhamos pela janela (televisão?) de nossa casa com a devida atenção. De destacar aqui uma visão das drogas menos tradicionalista do que o habitual, dado que é aqui perfeitamente compreensível o apelo para a sua utilização. Faustus, a personagem principal deste primeiro volume, tem o interesse de ter uma personalidade em formação, parece algo incompleto, com assuntos por resolver (às vezes lembrando demasiado o típico anti-herói com passado doloroso) e em processo de auto-descoberta e auto-definição.
É assim que Oeming se propõe a explorar o papel que nós tendemos a dar a estas supostas figuras exemplares, ao mesmo tempo que lida com o que as pessoas têm de melhor e pior, com as suas reacções perante situações extremas e perante o risco de ganhar ou perder tudo. The Victories é uma banda-desenhada dirigida a leitores maduros e que a meu ver será de especial interesse a quem já passou pela leitura das BD de super-heróis tradicionais, mundos idealizados e épicos de auto-descoberta, porque verá aqui um contraponto inteligente.
A arte é tão adequada ao cenário criado que não lhe posso apontar um defeito. Quem gostar do desenho de Oeming não ficará desiludido com este livro.
A minha única crítica é que, como volume introdutório, há alguma perda de cadência por momentos de flashback e infodump que prejudicam ligeiramente a leitura.
Já encomendei o segundo volume.


______________________________________________________________________



I knew Michael Avon Oeming from his work on Powers and some Marvel stuff and that's why I started following him on twitter. Through his account I was able to follow the creative process of The Victories, because the author often spoke about it. He got me interested enough in checking something that he wrote and illustrated himself. Oeming didn't disappoint. The Victories is a pessimistic view of a society with "super-heroes". The story is told through the heroes' point of view, themselves far from the usual exemplary people one would expect, are after all quite flawed. The author uses their status as super-heroes to further amplify and analyse such human flaws.
The context is a futuristic and rather dystopian civilization, where people are constantly spied by drone cameras but corruption is still ubiquitous, young people are addicted to some new kind of drug and super-heroes seem to be the only hope of cleaning it all up and saving society. It's as familiar as if one was looking outside the window (television?) in a rainy day and actually paying attention. Of note is the author's use of the drug, which far from the traditional cliché is presented here as a substance with an understandable appeal. Faustus, the main character of the first volume is interesting to follow because the author left him with an immature personality, somewhat incomplete and with unfinished business (sometimes reminding me of the typical anti-hero with past issues), a young man in a process of self-discovery and definition.
This is how Oeming sets out to explore the place we give to these supposed exemplary figures, at the same time dealing with what people have best and worst, their reactions to extreme situations where they risk winning or losing everything they care for. The Victories is a comic wrote for mature readers and will probably be enjoyed the most by those who have read the more typical comics with their traditional superheroes, idealized worlds and self-discovery epics because they will see here a smart counterpoint.
The illustration is so adequate to the setting and tone that I can't really point anything wrong with it. Whoever knows and likes Michael Avon Oeming's art won't be disappointed.
My only negative criticism towards this book is that, as an introductory volume, the storytelling often looses momentum with the flashbacks and some infodumping that disturb an otherwise enjoyable read.
I'm now waiting for the next volume!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Quote / Citação (22)

"I was discovering what three-quarters of the blokes who’d been officers were discovering — that from a financial point of view we’d been better off in the Army than we were ever likely to be again. We’d suddenly changed from gentlemen holding His Majesty’s commission into miserable out-of-works whom nobody wanted. My ideas soon sank from two thousand a year to three or four pounds a week. But even jobs of the three or four pounds a week kind didn’t seem to exist. Every mortal job was filled already, either by men who’d been a few years too old to fight, or by boys who’d been a few months too young. The poor bastards who’d happened to be born between 1890 and 1900 were left out in the cold.

(...)

But there were no jobs for travelling salesmen — that’s to say, jobs with a salary attached. What there were, however, were on- commission jobs. That racket was just beginning on a big, scale. It’s a beautifully simple method of increasing your sales and advertising your stuff without taking any risks, and it always flourishes when times are bad. They keep you on a string by hinting that perhaps there’ll be a salaried job going in three months’ time, and when you get fed up there’s always some other poor devil ready to take over.

(...)

Selling things on commission is actually what I like doing, provided I can see my way to making a bit of dough out of it. I don’t know whether I learned much in that year, but I unlearned a good deal. It knocked the Army nonsense out of me, and it drove into the back of my head the notions that I’d picked up during the idle year when I was reading novels. I don’t think I read a single book, barring detective stories, all the time I was on the road. I wasn’t a highbrow any longer. I was down among the realities of modern life. And what are the realities of modern life? Well, the chief one is an everlasting, frantic struggle to sell things. With most people it takes the form of selling themselves — that’s to say, getting a job and keeping it. I suppose there hasn’t been a single month since the war, in any trade you care to name, in which there weren’t more men than jobs. It’s brought a peculiar, ghastly feeling into life. It’s like on a sinking ship when there are nineteen survivors and fourteen lifebelts. But is there anything particularly modern in that, you say? Has it anything to do with the war? Well, it feels as if it had. That feeling that you’ve got to be everlastingly fighting and hustling, that you’ll never get anything unless you grab it from somebody else, that there’s always somebody after your job, the next month or the month after they’ll be reducing staff and it’s you that’ll get the bird — THAT, I swear, didn’t exist in the old life before the war."


George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sem tretas ou as eternas notícias do futuro desemprego médico

Mais uma vez a comunicação social relembra que o desemprego vai chegar à classe médica em 2014. Há tanto que lutamos contra isto, mas notoriamente não fomos fortes o suficiente. Anos de vagas a mais nos cursos de Medicina não só têm vindo a piorar as capacidades formativas das faculdades como levam a um desemprego médico que só serve os interesses de quem quer arrastar mais uma profissão para a precariedade que cada vez mais caracteriza o mercado de trabalho português. Isto tem vindo a ser atrasado pela emigração dos médicos recém-formados, mas eventualmente, com o fim dos cursos que aceitaram o maior número de vagas dos últimos anos, desde 2010, o copo irá transbordar.

Digo isto por vários motivos. Um, sem tretas, porque quero proteger a minha qualidade de vida e as minhas condições de trabalho. Outro, porque me preocupo com o futuro dos meus colegas de profissão. Mas mais importante que isto, para mim e para todos, é que com a precariedade a alcançar os médicos perdemos uma das poucas classes profissionais que ainda servia para manter um certo exemplo de condições de trabalho, um padrão que permitia evidenciar a correlação entre a carreira e a qualidade. Os médicos eram neste país um dos últimos baluartes do que se quer e se exige de uma carreira na função pública. Eram profissionais liberais que podiam optar por trabalhar na função pública ou fora e que mantinham ordenados que, pelo menos comparados com o praticado nas restantes profissões públicas, estavam de acordo com a sua formação e carga de trabalho, uma carreira - mal ou bem - estruturada. Quem mais existe agora na nossa sociedade que simultaneamente ganha bem, tem poder social e político para fazer exigências e faz parte do dia a dia de todos, da normalidade, de cada cidade, de cada família? Com a destruição que se tem vindo a fazer da profissão médica em Portugal - sim, que se tem vindo a fazer e vai apenas ser facilitada por este desenvolvimento - desliga-se de vez o comum dos mortais, o povo, o trabalhador daqueles que têm poder, dinheiro, influência, qualidade de vida, condições de trabalho. Sim, estou a repetir-me. Talvez porque depois de tantos anos a repetir-me já não o consiga evitar ou talvez porque ainda me reste a esperança de que a repetição exaustiva possa abrir os olhos aos meus concidadãos.
Por fim, há um último motivo para querer falar desta notícia: a precarização da medicina irá, sem sombra de dúvida, associar-se à precarização do que sobra dos cuidados de saúde públicos em Portugal. Os enfermeiros, os psicólogos, os fisioterapeutas, os terapeutas da fala, os terapeutas ocupacionais ou não têm ou nunca tiveram poder político para fazer exigências gerais - sofrem por serem pouco reconhecidos pelo cidadão comum e ignorados pelas instâncias superiores, mas sofrem também porque são facilmente substituíveis. Há tantos profissionais destas áreas formados em Portugal que cada indivíduo se torna invisível aos olhos da tutela. Nem vale a pena falar dos administrativos e assistentes técnicos, esses nem vislumbram, infelizmente, esse tipo de poder. Os médicos, pelos muitos anos em que injustamente foram considerados quase uma casta superior, mas também porque ainda não existiam em excesso, eram os últimos profissionais de saúde com força para fazer exigências não só para a sua carreira mas para o Sistema Nacional de Saúde. Este, sem dúvida uma das coisas de que Portugal se devia orgulhar de ter construído e deveria querer assegurar como uma das condições base do Estado Social, vai sofrer uma machadada que, se não fatal, será pelo menos irremediavelmente castradora para o seu futuro.

O resultado disto pode ser catastrófico. Em vez de caminharmos para uma sociedade que reconhece a importância dos seus profissionais e suas carreiras, que valoriza a sua opinião, a sua compensação salarial e o seu enriquecimento técnico e académico, e que pugna por melhorar sempre que possível a qualidade de vida dos seus cidadãos (onde se incluí mas que não se limita à saúde), estamos a deixar que nos atirem para um fosso onde nada é garantido, onde cada um se amanha, onde o trabalho é quase um presente, o salário um privilégio e o Estado Social uma miragem. Arrepiaremos caminho ou definharemos.

Art (6)

Os Leões de Al-Rassan de Guy Gavriel Kay

Depois de muito recomendada, finalmente a edição d'Os Leões de Al-Rassan em português da Saída de Emergência foi-me emprestada e impingida a sua leitura assim que possível. Obedeci aos espíritos bibliófilos que populam a minha comunidade no twitter e li-o nos últimos 15 dias. Só lhes posso ficar agradecido. Se é verdade que este livro não se tornou num favorito instantâneo, como no caso delas, tenho que admitir que foi uma leitura muito interessante e recompensadora. Não tenho neste momento disponibilidade para lhe fazer uma resenha da qualidade e pormenor merecidos, mas partilho aqui, para os interessados, as opiniões de algumas pessoas que adoraram esta obra de Guy Gavriel Kay: a Catarina e a Célia. De qualquer forma, esta é uma fantasia histórica baseada na reconquista da península ibérica aos mouros, sendo Al-Rassan o teritório por eles ocupado, Asharitas os muçulmanos, Jaditas os cristãos, Kindates os Judeus e há até um personagem baseada no El Cid.

Sendo assim, vou limitar-me a referir alguns momentos e temas que não só fazem a leitura atenta valer a pena como me convencem a querer ler outros livros do autor.
Começo pelo primeiro evento que me mostrou que esta leitura ia ser recompensadora, uma conversa entre Jehane e Velaz em que facilmente se percebe que o autor não se limita a fantasiar uma história alternativa, mas que vai procurar utilizar o enredo criado para deixar o leitor a pensar. Jehane é posta perante uma situação em que se opõem valores como a lealdade ao seu povo, a obrigação ou responsabilidade profissional e o seu sentido moral e ético individual. A conversa, em que Velaz tenta convencê-la a não se arriscar, chama à atenção para as consequências da neutralidade e da passividade perante a injustiça.
De forma a evitar spoilers, vou tentar apenas enumerar os restantes momentos chave, em que a prosa de Guy Gavriel Kay está especialmente bem conseguida, de forma a partilha-los com aqueles que já conhecerem o livro: o massacre em Orvilla - em que o autor contrasta a glória e a desgraça da guerra; o Carnaval de Ragosa - provavelmente o apogeu da prosa desta obra; e o incêndio em Fezana - pela tomada de decisão de cada personagem, pelas transformações que a situação opera em algumas delas e pela utilização do fogo como arma de purificação e de terror.
Por fim, é de destacar não só o prazer de ler o epílogo como finalização do enredo, mas especialmente pela forma como o autor foi fazendo acelerar a cadência da história com a aproximação ao clímax e depois, tal qual crise de ansiedade, faz com que o leitor "perca" alguns momentos e consiga analisar os acontecimentos finais somente em retrospectiva.

As temáticas que o autor explora bem com esta obra incluem, tal como esperado, a religião e as consequências da guerra, mas há também uma análise muito bem conseguida da história de uma pessoa tendo em contraste o seu referencial cultural, o seu contexto mutável e a sua auto-imagem e noção de valor e realização pessoal.
Quanto à religião, a história de Al-Rassan ilustra bem como por um lado ela serve para unir grupos e comunidades mas por outro lado por vezes o faz à custa de isolar ou maltratar outros. É também explorada a sua utilização como bode expiatório para a guerra, para motivar o povo a seguir a ganância ou busca por glória dos seus líderes. Há ainda tempo para as personagens serem forçadas a questionar as suas crenças, a sua cultura moral, pelos eventos que acontecem à sua volta.
Quanto à guerra, ela existe aqui, como esperado de uma interpretação da reconquista da península ibérica, como o motor das alterações geopolíticas, mas é explorada principalmente do ponto de vista do seu impacto nas pessoas, não como um grupo mas como indivíduos, como vidas, como histórias, planos, vontades, sentimentos.
Há muito mais a destacar na obra de Guy Gavriel Kay, como por exemplo a visão do médico como pessoa que trata o doente independentemente da nação ou religião, a pessoa que quer ser soldado pela glória mas perde a vontade quando constata a carnificina, a falta de glória inerente à chacina de outros seres humanos, a manipulação típica da guerra, quer quando são os indivíduos a manipular, quer quando são eles os manipulados pelo que acontece à sua volta, a escolha das personagens entre o sentimento de amizade e a honra, o juramento, a lealdade ou a crença e ainda pessoas que se vêem obrigadas a submeter-se ao inimigo, actual ou anterior, para viver, para salvar outros, para amar.

Uma nota final para a tradução (a cargo de João Henrique Pinto) que, se em geral me pareceu muito bem conseguida, teve óbvios tropeços agregados em determinados capítulos cuja leitura foi algo prejudicada. Tenho intenção de ler algo mais de Guy Gavriel Kay, talvez Tigana ou Under Heaven, mas, tal como é meu hábito com autores de língua inglesa, irei tentar obter a versão original.


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After being widely recommended, finally a friend lent me her copy of The Lions of Al-Rassan translated to Portuguese. I am quite thankful. Though it didn't become an instant favourite, as was the case with some of my friends, it still was a very interesting and rewarding book to read. This is often considered a historical fantasy work, for its indirect depiction of the wars of reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moor occupiers by the Christians of the north. Al-Rassan represents the Moorish Iberian territory, Asharites are Muslims, Jaddites are Christians, Kindath are Jews and there is even a character based on El Cid.
Because I don't have enough time to write a very detailed and thoughtful review, I'll try to talk about some moments and themes that not only make reading it mindfully worthwhile, but also convinced me to try another of Guy Gavriel Kay's works.

I must start with the first event that showed how rewarding reading this book would be, a conversation between Jehane and Velaz where one easily understands that the author won't just fantasize an alternative history, but will mostly use it to make the reader think. Jehane is in a situation in which she feels the opposing forces of loyalty to her people, her professional obligations and her individual moral and ethics. As Velaz tries to convince her not to risk herself, their conversation brings forward the consequences of being neutral or passive before injustice.
In order to share them with those who read the book, but avoiding spoilers, I'll just enumerate the other key moments where Guy Gavriel Kay's prose is specially well accomplished: the massacre in Orvilla - where the author explores the contrast between the glory and the tragedy inherent to war; the Carnival in Ragosa - probably the epitome of the book's prose; and the fire in Fezana - because of each characters decision, of the transformations forced upon them by the event and the use of the fire as a weapon both of purification and terror.
Last, I must highlight the epilogue, not only because it closes the plot beautifully, but specially for the way the author made the storytelling accelerate with the approximation of the climax and then, as if experiencing an anxiety crisis, makes the author loose some of the crucial moments, being only able to look at and analyse them in retrospective. A mark of a great writer.

As for the themes explored in The Lions of Al-Rassan, they include as expected, religion and the consequences of war, but there is also a well accomplished analysis of a person's story taking into account and confronting her cultural background, her mutating context, her self-image and her idea of valour and personal fulfilment.
On religion, the story of Al-Rassan illustrates quite well how it can unite groups and communities but on the other hand do it while isolating or hurting others. Its use as an excuse for war, as a motivation to get people to follow their leaders' greed and lust for glory. There is still time for the characters to be forced to question their beliefs and morality by all the events happening around them.
On war, its obviously all over the place, as expected of an interpretation of the reconquest, superficially as a motor for geopolitical changes, but more deeply explored from the point of view of its impact on people, not as a group but as individuals, as lives, as stories, plans, dreams, feelings.
There is still more to highlight in Guy Gavriel Kay's work, as for example the perspective of the doctor as a person who helps a patient in need with no regard for his country or religion; the person who dreams of becoming a soldier in search of glory but looses heart before the carnage inherent to real war; the manipulation typical of war, be it when the characters are the manipulators be it when they are the ones manipulated by events around them; the choice characters are put upon, between friendship and honour, oath, loyalty or belief; and people who are forced to submit to their enemies, current or past, in order to live, to save someone they care for, to be with those they love.
A final note for the translation (by João Henrique Pinto, published by Saída de Emergência) that is generally quite well done but with some mistakes mostly focused on few chapters which were slightly spoiled. As I said above, reading The Lions of Al-Rassan convinced me to read more of Guy Gavriel Kay's books, probably Tigana or Under Heaven, but, as is usual with English speaking authors, I'll try getting the original versions.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Quote / Citação (21)

"... Apenas te posso dizer que a partir de um determinado ponto, aceitar as coisas que Almalik fez, faz-me sentir como se tivesse sido sua cúmplice. Sentindo-me responsável por elas. Se ficar aqui e me limitar a abrir as salas de tratamento pela manhã, e depois voltar a fazer o mesmo no dia seguinte, e no seguinte, agindo como se nada tivesse acontecido, é dessa forma que eu me irei sentir - sua cúmplice."

Os Leões de Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay 2005
(tradução de João Henrique Pinto, Saída de Emergência)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Quote / Citação (20)

"Well, for several months I had an appetite for books that was almost like physical thirst. It was the first real go-in at reading that I’d had since my Dick Donovan days. At the beginning I had no idea how to set about getting hold of books. I thought the only way was to buy them. That’s interesting, I think. It shows you the difference upbringing makes. I suppose the children of the middle classes, the 500 pounds a year middle classes, know all about Mudie’s and the Times Book Club when they’re in their cradles. A bit later I learned of the existence of lending libraries and took out a subscription at Mudie’s and another at a library in Bristol. And what I read during the next year or so! Wells, Conrad, Kipling, Galsworthy, Barry Pain, W. W. Jacobs, Pett Ridge, Oliver Onions, Compton Mackenzie, H. Seton Merriman, Maurice Baring, Stephen McKenna, May Sinclair, Arnold Bennett, Anthony Hope, Elinor Glyn, O. Henry, Stephen Leacock, and even Silas Hocking and Jean Stratton Porter. How many of the names in that list are known to you, I wonder? Half the books that people took seriously in those days are forgotten now."

 George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Quote / Citação (19)

"The war did extraordinary things to people. And what was more extraordinary than the way it killed people was the way it sometimes didn’t kill them. It was like a great flood rushing you along to death, and suddenly it would shoot you up some backwater where you’d find yourself doing incredible and pointless things and drawing extra pay for them. There were labour battalions making roads across the desert that didn’t lead anywhere, there were chaps marooned on oceanic islands to look out for German cruisers which had been sunk years earlier, there were Ministries of this and that with armies of clerks and typists which went on existing years after their function had ended, by a kind of inertia. People were shoved into meaningless jobs and then forgotten by the authorities for years on end. This was what happened to myself, or very likely I wouldn’t be here. The whole sequence of events is rather interesting."

George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Steamworld Chronicles #1 by Steven Hoveke, Mike Scigliano, Ben Risbeck et al

Participei na campanha do Kickstarter que financiou o projecto e como recompensa recebi a versão digital do primeiro número de "The Steamworld Chronicles - The Constantine Quest: Part 1".



Esta é uma típica história de mistério e aventura posta num mundo em tudo familiar aos fãs de steampunk, com dirigíveis, comboios e helicópteros a vapor e uma personagem principal que lembra o Indiana Jones.
A arte é competente mas de certa forma banal, sem surpresas nem um estilo que a destaque ou a faça trazer algo mais à obra.
Sendo esta apenas uma parte introdutória deste "The Constantine Quest", é demasiado cedo para me pronunciar em relação ao desenvolvimento do enredo ou das personagens que têm para já um tratamento bastante superficial e limitado aos clichés habituais.

Sendo assim, The Steamworld Chronicles será um entretenimento de interesse essencialmente para os fãs do visual e contexto steampunk. O enquadramento é suficientemente indefinido para que haja potencial para muito mais e espero que ao longo dos próximos números a história se torne complexa e vá permitindo explorar alguns temas a que o steampunk de qualidade se costuma associar.
Mais informações sobre esta e as próximas histórias estarão disponíveis em steamworldchronicles.com.


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I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that financed this project and as a reward I got a digital version of "The Steamworld Chronicles - The Constantine Quest: Part 1".

This is a rather typical adventure and mystery story in a world quite familiar to steampunk fans - with blimps, steam trains and helicopters -  and a main character similar do Indiana Jones.
The illustration is competent but kind of trivial and unsurprising, with a commonplace style.
Being this just an introduction to "The Constantine Quest", it's far too soon for me to comment the plot's development or the characters, for now quite cliché and superficial.

The Steamworld Chronicles is entertaining, though of interest mostly for fans of steampunk visuals and context. The frame is still undefined so there is potential to use the next numbers or stories to make these chronicles ever more complex and explore some of the themes that good quality steampunk works usually tackle.
More information available at steamworldchronicles.com.

Art (4)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Quote / Citação (18)

"There was a temporary feeling about everything. In the old days, which as a matter of fact were barely a year old, the whole thing would have been an appalling disaster. With Father dead, the shop sold and Mother with two hundred pounds in the world, you’d have seen stretching out in front of you a kind of fifteen-act tragedy, the last act being a pauper’s funeral. But now the war and the feeling of not being one’s own master overshadowed everything. People hardly thought in terms of things like bankruptcy and the workhouse any longer."

George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Quote / Citação (17)

"It was like an enormous machine that had got hold of you. You’d no sense of acting of your own free will, and at the same time no notion of trying to resist. If people didn’t have some such feeling as that, no war could last three months. The armies would just pack up and go home. Why had I joined the Army? Or the million other idiots who joined up before conscription came in? Partly for a lark and partly because of England my England and Britons never never and all that stuff. But how long did that last? Most of the chaps I knew had forgotten all about it long before they got as far as France. The men in the trenches weren’t patriotic, didn’t hate the Kaiser, didn’t care a damn about gallant little Belgium and the Germans raping nuns on tables (it was always ‘on tables’, as though that made it worse) in the streets of Brussels. On the other hand it didn’t occur to them to try and escape. The machine had got hold of you and it could do what it liked with you. It lifted you up and dumped you down among places and things you’d never dreamed of, and if it had dumped you down on the surface of the moon it wouldn’t have seemed particularly strange."


George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (1939)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Quote / Citação (16)

"It's probably fair to say that in all the years of Hitler's reign, no person was able to serve the Führer as loyally as me. A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugliness and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing that I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die."


Markus Zusak, The Book Thief (2005)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Quote / Citação (15)

"And while of course it behooves a man to break the head of any Mexican kept in blind ignorance who's been shipped in to steal your job," preached the Reverend Moss Gatlin, who, never one to forgo a good fight, had been here since the strike was called, "we must also understand how eminently practical in the long term is Christian forbearance, if by it we may thus further the dumb scab's education, just as your own insulted heads at Cripple and the San Juans once got beaten into them the lesson that a job however obtained is sacred, even a scab's job, for it carries the ironclad obligation to resist from then on the forces of ownership and the mills of evil, with whatever means are available unto you all."

(...)

"I saw the Death Special, Ma." This was a rumored and widely feared armored motorcar, with two colt machine guns on it, mounted fore and aft, that the Naldwin-Felts "detective" agency had come up with for penetrating, controlling, and thinning down the size of ill disposed crowds.

(...)

... one look at these red faces and bulging eyes and he understood that if it should come down to it, he would not be able to save his life, or his mother's or Dunn's, by appealing to anything these grownups might feel for kids, even kids of their own.... Pretending to have a friendly chat with potential targets or their Death Special was a level of evil neither boy had quite suspected in adults till now.

(...)

"With a rifle it's too personal," one of the Guardsmen said, "when you're sighting 'em in one by one, gives you a minute to get to know them 'fore you do your deed, but this 'sucker  time it takes to get your finger off of the trigger it's already fired ten or twenty rounds, so there's no question of careful aiming , you just pick out what they call a zone you want to tear up, even shut your eyes if you want, don't matter, it's all done for you."
(...) 
"Even if they surrounded it, shot out the tires, we could hold out inside till help showed up."
"Or plow a path right through 'em and out the other side," added the other one, "and escape that way."


Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2006)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Cenas (6)

Para começar, algo verdadeiramente interessante, uma visão rápida da história geopolítica da Europa e arredores.

First of all, something really interesting, a quick review of the geopolitical history of Europe and neighbouring regions.





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Agora um projecto que me parece louvável: um website onde se enumeram as várias situações em que a Bíblia se contradiz, com direito a citação das frases em que isso se verifica. Já muita gente sabe que a Bíblia se contradiz, e nem é só nas diferenças entre o velho e o novo testamento, mas mesmo dentro de cada um. No entanto estes erros, por não serem só em detalhes "históricos", mas também de incoerência na mensagem transmitida, servem não para nos dar novidades, mas para contradizer os crentes cegos da "palavra" que têm a mania de cumprir e mandar cumprir à letra o que leram algures no livro que é para eles sagrado. O site permite a pesquisa das contradições por localização mas também por temática e ainda destaca na página inicial algumas situações mais graves de erros científicos ou indicações incoerentes a nível de discriminação de género ou sexualidade. É assim fácil mostrar o erro gigante que comete quem se propõe a seguir sem reservas o exemplo que retira da Bíblia, não só por poder enganar-se gravemente na sua interpretação mas também porque o livro em si não tem uma única mensagem clara e coerente para passar aos seguidores da religião que representa. Ler a Bíblia como inspiração ou até por interesse literário ou histórico-mitológico parece-me óptimo, mas querer encontrar nela uma base ou comprovativo para definir regras e comportamentos sociais é terrível.

Now for something completely different, a project that I must commend: a website where the multiple cases of contradiction within the Bible are enumerated and quoted. Of course it is widely known that the Bible has numerous contradictions and not even limited to the differences between the two testaments. However, these mistakes, not only in "historical" details but also showing incoherence in the message transmitted, are good arguments against those believers that seem to want to follow blindly what they read there and make other do the same. The site allows one to search by location along the Bible but also by theme and it also highlights some situations of serious scientific mistakes and incoherent indications in terms of gender or sexual orientation discrimination. Thus it is quite ease to demonstrate the enormous error that someone commits when following literally and without reserve or critique whatever example one takes from the Bible, not only because of the possible interpretation mistakes but also because the book itself doesn't even have a clear and coherent message to pass to the believers. To read the Bible as an inspiration or for literary or historical and mythological interest seems perfectly fine, but to try and use it to define the rules and right behaviours in human society is terribly wrong.

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Para terminar, algo que me fez sorrir. Não que eu esteja a preparar algum livro. Pelo menos não agora. Talvez um dia.

Something that made me smile. Not that I have any book to publish. At least not now. I might try it eventually. Just need to spend a few more years eating chocolate, raking leaves and buy a typewriter.

How to Publish Your Book
  Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Quote / Citação (14)

“So of course we use them,” Scarsdale well into what by now was his customary stem-winder, “we harness and sodomize them, photograph their degradation, send them up onto the high iron and down into mines and sewers and killing floors, we set them beneath inhuman loads, we harvest from them their muscle and eyesight and health, leaving them in our kindness a few miserable years of broken gleanings. Of course we do. Why not? They are good for little else. How likely are they to grow to their full manhood, become educated, engender families, further the culture or the race? We take what we can while we may. Look at them—they carry the mark of their absurd fate in plain sight. Their foolish music is about to stop, and it is they who will be caught out, awkwardly, most of them tone-deaf and never to be fully aware, few if any with the sense to leave the game early and seek refuge before it is too late. Perhaps there will not, even by then, be refuge.
“We will buy it all up,” making the expected arm gesture, “all this country. Money speaks, the land listens, where the Anarchist skulked, where the horse-thief plied his trade, we fishers of Americans will cast our nets of perfect ten-acre mesh, leveled and varmint-proofed, ready to build on. Where alien muckers and jackers went creeping after their miserable communistic dreams, the good lowland townsfolk will come up by the netful into these hills, clean, industrious, Christian, while we, gazing out over their little vacation bungalows, will dwell in top-dollar palazzos befitting our station, which their mortgage money will be paying to build for us. When the scars of these battles have long faded, and the tailings are covered in bunchgrass and wildflowers, and the coming of the snows is no longer the year’s curse but its promise, awaited eagerly for its influx of moneyed seekers after wintertime recreation, when the shining strands of telpherage have subdued every mountainside, and all is festival and wholesome sport and eugenically-chosen stock, who will be left anymore to remember the jabbering Union scum, the frozen corpses whose names, false in any case, have gone forever unrecorded? who will care that once men fought as if an eight-hour day, a few coins more at the end of the week, were everything, were worth the merciless wind beneath the shabby roof, the tears freezing on a woman’s face worn to dark Indian stupor before its time, the whining of children whose maws were never satisfied, whose future, those who survived, was always to toil for us, to fetch and feed and nurse, to ride the far fences of our properties, to stand watch between us and those who would intrude or question?” He might usefully have taken a look at Foley, attentive back in the shadows. But Scarsdale did not seek out the eyes of his old faithful sidekick. He seldom did anymore. “Anarchism will pass, its race will degenerate into silence, but money will beget money, grow like the bluebells in the meadow, spread and brighten and gather force, and bring low all before it. It is simple. It is inevitable. It has begun.”


Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2006)

Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Depois de ter adorado o primeiro volume, não tive dúvidas em encomendar o segundo e lê-lo mal chegasse. Continuando a história interessante iniciada no primeiro, este não tem no entanto o factor surpresa que tornou o primeiro espectacular. Gostei especialmente de conhecer os pais do Marko e da história com que este segundo volume termina. À parte disso, este livro dá uma sensação de ser essencialmente uma ponte entre a introdução e o próximo evento relevante. No entanto há que admitir Brian K. Vaughan e Fiona Staples conseguem ainda assim manter o interesse e entusiasmo com a história, de forma que mal posso esperar pelo próximo.
Continuo a recomendar a leitura de Saga sem reservas e estou especialmente interessado em ver como vão explorar aquela realeza com televisões em vez de cabeças.


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After loving the first volume, I didn't hesitate in ordering the second and reading it as soon as I got it. Is spite of being an interesting continuation of the story began in the previous book, this lacks that "wow factor" that made the first one spectacular. I specially liked getting to know Marko's parents and also enjoyed the final part of this volume. Other than these, this book does seem like a filler. However, one must admit that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples still manage to keep the reader interested and enthusiastic with their story.
I still recommend reading Saga with no reservations and I'm looking forward to finding out how they are going to explore that royalty with TV set's for heads.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Quote / Citação (13)

"I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance."


Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)

Great Pacific Vol.1: Trashed! by Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo

Foi-me dada a oportunidade de ler esta BD através do NetGalley. A ideia de uma história em que o protagonista decide fazer dum monte de lixo flutuante um país criou-me expectativas muito altas para um princípio que, ainda que longe de ser mau, não me conseguiu convencer.
Joe Harris tem muitas ideias para esta obra e talvez tenha tentado usar demasiadas logo nos primeiros números, de forma que antes de conseguir sequer perceber com que tipo de protagonista estou a lidar já ele foi exposto a um sem número de situações mais ou menos descabidas que apesar de tudo parecem nunca ter o devido impacto nele. Há, para além disto, uma mistura mal definida entre elementos de ficção científica ambientalista utópica e uma série de acontecimentos e elementos de dúbia credibilidade que me recordaram a minha recente experiência com o pós-modernismo. Esta mistura podia claramente originar uma BD genial, mas no caso, talvez por alguma falha na forma de contar a história, na fluidez do enredo ou da falta de um princípio mais consistente e convincente, simplesmente não me entusiasmou.
A ilustração, a cargo de Martin Morazzo, é competente, em especial a nível de background e mesmo de alguns elementos, mas é medíocre na caracterização de algumas personagens,  tendo painéis muito bons e momentos em que não está de todo bem conseguida e acaba por ser contra-producente para a leitura.

Sendo assim, esta é a meu ver uma BD mediana, que nem me faria prosseguir nem desaconselhar a sua leitura. No entanto, tenho visto na internet que os números seguintes - a ser coleccionados num segundo volume - são substancialmente melhores, pelo que pondero dar-he mais essa oportunidade, até porque quero muito que este conceito resulte.

Resta-me lembrar que o Great Pacific garbage patch existe mesmo e talvez devesse justificar uma alteração considerável da forma como nós fazemos uma grande parte das nossas actividades, não?


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I had access to Great Pacific Volume 1: Trashed through NetGalley. The concept of a guy trying to turn a heap of trash into a nation really raised my expectations ever since I heard of it, probably too much for a beginning that, though far from bad, didn't really make my day.
Joe Harris has a lot of ideas for this work and maybe he just tried to use too many right from the start, resulting in a protagonist that is exposed to too many odd situations before I even know who he really is and that seem to have no palpable impact on him. I also had some trouble with the strange mixture between ecological utopian science fiction items and a series of events and elements that reminded me of post-modern narrative, something that could have been awesome but ended up uninteresting, perhaps due to some failure in storytelling, lack of flow or of a consistent and convincing beginning.
Martin Morazzo's illustration  is competent, specially in terms of background and some specific elements, but is mediocre when considering some character's characterization, ending up with some very good panels and moments where it fails to help the storytelling.

This is an average comic, that would neither convince me to keep reading it nor really advise people to avoid it. In spite of this, I have heard that the next issues are much better than the one collected in Trashed, so I am actually considering giving it another go, if for nothing else, because I really want this concept to work out.

Last but not least, I must remind anyone reading this that the Great Pacific garbage patch is quite real and should probably, by itself, be making us change how we do a lot of stuff, shouldn't it?

Friday, 6 September 2013

Quote / Citação (12)

"His intent toward the child, he would protest, had never been to dishonor but to rescue. Rescue, however, had many names, and the rope up which a maiden climbed to safety might then be used to bind her most cruelly. In that instant he had become, awkwardly, two creatures resident within the same life - one conveyed without qualification into the haunted spaces of desire, the other walled in by work-demands in which desire was never better than annoying and too often debilitating - the two selves sharing thenceforth this miserable psychic leasehold, co-conscious, each at once respectful and contemptuous of the other's imperatives."

Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2006)

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

No dia em que este livro chegou às minhas mãos, o céu estava cinzento e chorava desesperadamente. A dona do livro trouxe-o junto com outro que tinha prometido emprestar-me, porque achou que eu devia ler. Ficámos os dois completamente encharcados. Ela estava mais certa do que alguma vez poderia imaginar.


Este livro conta a história de Liesel - A Rapariga que Roubava Livros (título da tradução para português) - uma criança alemã que vive perto de Munique na altura da Segunda Guerra Mundial, da Alemanhã Nazi e do Holocausto e que despertou o interesse do nosso narrador - A Morte. Através da vivência da rapariga e do olhar da Morte, o autor permite-se contar uma história que ao mesmo tempo é absolutamente credível mas que nos faz querer não acreditar nela nem um minuto. A vida extremamente difícil de Liesel e sua família vão ombreando na narração com episódios arrepiantes daquele período, desde a institucionalização do anti-semitismo associada às dificuldades económicas, à transformação dos judeus em criaturas inferiores aos seres humanos, desde a tentativa de convencer os alemães de que estavam somente a reconquistar o que era seu por direito à requisição forçada de gente para os campos de batalha. Ao mesmo tempo que seguimos a história desta rapariga que nos vai conquistando, não há como escapar de uma constante sensação de terror do que pode a qualquer momento acontecer às pessoas (não as consigo ver apenas como personagens) que já sentimos conhecer. Para além da alusão à guerra, The Book Thief toca mais de perto naquilo que afecta cada indivíduo, neste caso as consequências da dissidência política, a necessidade de manter uma aparência de total conivência com o regime, os problemas de querer ao mesmo tempo sobreviver e evitar perder aquilo que nos define como pessoa, ainda que ser quem somos seja arriscar diariamente o pescoço. A simbologia espalhada ao longo da narrativa torna a leitura uma verdadeira maravilha, desde a visão das palavras como ideias - a linguagem como libertação -, dos livros como esperanças, da escrita como salvação, das caves como factor de equilíbrio entre os judeus escondidos da Gestapo e os alemães protegidos dos bombardeamentos. Markus Zusak não entrega, no entanto, uma simples amálgama de situações dramáticas como seria certamente plausível dado o contexto da história. Há uma subtileza na forma como transmite as ideias e emoções e uma narração que intercala  os dramas com quotidiano e até com momentos de humor e doçura que eleva a complexidade de uma obra que entrou directamente para os meus livros favoritos.
Por fim, resta-me mencionar A Morte, um narrador com o qual me identifiquei desde logo, cujos comentários o autor destaca de uma forma gráfica e até cómica e que vão desde dados históricos a simples opiniões, por vezes revelando até acontecimentos futuros, muitas vezes surpreendentes seja na sua leveza seja na crueza com que acompanham a história.
Haveria, claro, muito mais a dizer sobre os eventos narrados, sobre a simbologia, sobre a escrita, mas parece-me melhor não dar mais pormenores. Espero que o que escrevi seja suficiente como recomendação para este livro, que estendo a qualquer pessoa que goste de ler.


No dia em que terminei a leitura do The Book Thief o céu estava azul, limpo com a excepção de algumas nuvens de fumo dos incêndios que circundavam Vila Real - quem chorava era eu.


"I am haunted by humans."



Obrigado Catarina.


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When this book got to me, the sky was grey and tearful. The owner brought it together with another one that she had promised to lend to me, because she thought I should read it. We ended up both soaking wet. She was right, much more at that than what we both could have guessed at the time.

This book shows the story of Liesel, a German child living near Munich in Nazi Germany as the World War II and the Holocaust unfolded that was able to pique our narrator's - Death - curiosity. Through her experience and Death's "eyes" the author tells a story that at the same time is absolutely believable but also has the reader wishing it wasn't credible at all. Liesel and her family's extremely difficult life are explored in parallel with terrifying episodes of that time, such as the general installation of anti-Semitism associated with the economic problems and the transformation of Jews into lesser creatures, the attempt to convince Germans that a war was needed to get what is rightfully theirs and even the forced conscription to the army. As one follows and falls for the girl, one can't escape a constant terror of what can at any point happen to these people (I can't bring myself to think of them as just characters) that we feel we know and like. Beyond the allusion to the war, The Book Thief explores in more detail what affects each person, in this case the consequences of political dissidence, the need to appear totally supportive of the regime, the problems of wanting to survive as much as wanting to be true to oneself. The symbology interwoven through the narrative adds to the reading experience, from the association of words, writing, reading and books with ideas, hope, salvation and freedom to the use of basements to place a parallelism between Germans taking cover from air raids and Jews hiding from Gestapo. However, Markus Zusak doesn't simply deliver a mesh of dramatic events, as the context might have lead him to. He has subtlety in how he conveys ideas and emotions and he knows to intersperse drama, everyday life and even humour and sweetness giving complexity to a work of art that is already one of my favourites.
Finally, I must write about Death, a narrator with whom I immediately related and whose comments the author emphasizes graphically and comically, that go from historical data to simple opinions sometimes even spoiling future events and often surprising be it for their easiness be it for their crudity.
There would be much more to say about the events, the symbols and the writing in The Book Thief, but I don't want to give more details. I hope that what I wrote is enough a recommendation to this book, one that I send out to anyone that enjoys reading.


The day I finished reading The Book Thief the sky was blue, clear but for some smoke from forest fires around Vila Real - I was the one crying.


"I am haunted by humans."


Thank you Catarina.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Quote / Citação (11)

"Droll thing life is - that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself - that comes too late - a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be."


Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)