12.18.2016

The Ashes of Orestes // a tribute poem to Constantine Cavafy

I want you to send in
your heart
into the promise.

Touching its tip,
roll up its long sleeve
pause the film of the circuit.

Avoid self-flattery.
Eavesdrop the prophets.
Be somber Alexander waiting,
The Alexander who stops
And knows not conquest.

Deep in questions and in answers
you know whom it was promised to.

I once was a baffled horse.
I felt my teeth gripping the light.
The close God locked itself
In my uncertain steps.

And when I threw him down,
the fall persuaded him
that God was near.

O, be the Alexander dazzled
by countries and languages,
Be the fake gems on the fake crown,
Be the horse and the rider and the horse
Who drowned in the speechless God.

For there is a season to ride
And a season to convert.
A season to preach,
And a season to blaspheme
A season to man up
And a season to man down
A season to shoot
And a season to hit
A season for God
And a season for doubt
And a gilded season
For the horsemanship of heresy -

To thank and to think is to tell them apart
The cloudy from the misty from the foggy
From the nebulous mind of the Knowers.

You adjust your sight
To horizon and mirage
And to the urging bolt,
Reluctant and jealous of thunder.

Know then your hopes and learn
Of the people of the steppes
Who are saddle and rider and horse
Who are arrow and khan and apostle
Who know the waiting
And who know the waiter
Who will arrive after time itself has waited.

And when you think of them,
Think of the empty desert.
Think of islands of loam and
Think also of mountains
Rising on the unseen side of the earth,
Think of the overheard muttering of seers after prophecy,
Uncertain, God-shaken,
High on fumes and gift,
Their voices selfsame to yours
Their words just as afraid as you
That secretely they might be true.

They will not come until you've settled,
Until you've become their foe,
And inhabit the Sumerian cities
That the soul puts together in dream.

You will till the land
Your daughters and your sons
Will till the land.
You will sacrifice oxen
And your daughters and your sons.

Until the furrows of your brain
Are the sand dunes of your waiting,
You will see no horse and you will see no rider.

Still you may wait and tell of your waiting.

11.30.2016

Geoffrey Hill in memoriam // a poem

Days and times of days have gone,
You interrogate, interrogate,
Then curl your fingers down the locks
Of power, of recited words, of force.

Your voice, your ring, your link,
To me. When you speak you string
The chords and cuts of Gungnir, you string
Them up. You hallow torts and twist Andenken.

Yet we pray for princes, we praise
All prayer, and we protest and burn.
You want it back? You want Saturn's
Golden scythe guillotining optimates?

Good luck. Good speech! Good Lord,
If I have to hear another word,
I swear I will just do it all myself,
I swear I will just say it all myself —

The fruit of mercy rolls unsteady
Down the tongue, rashing
Regret, down by Amnon's
Known outrage — We are ready,

So let us sit. And let us now break bread,
Slice it cuneiform. I know you want to say,
If peace is at all possible, then we must engage,
Win and lose at once. If only I could get a gett

From all the tripe of Jewish Christianity.
Yet God is the husband,
And we'd be husbandry. Grab him by the wrists.
Fight him again. Get your damn name back — Hinneni.

11.15.2016

contra tyrannos


Of the personality as a mask;
of character as self-founded, self-founding;
and of the sacredness of the person.

Of licence and exorbitance, of scheme
and fidelity; of custom and want of custom;
of dissimulation; of envy

and detraction. Of bare preservation,
of obligation to mutual love;
and of our covenants with language

contra tyrannos.


Sobre a personalidade como uma máscara;
sobre o carácter como auto-fundado, auto-fundador;
e sobre a sacralidade da pessoa.

Sobre a licença e a exorbitância, sobre esquema
e fidelidade; sobre hábito e falta de hábito;
sobre a dissimulação; sobre a inveja

e a detracção. Sobre a nua preservação,
sobre a obrigação ao amor mútuo;
e sobre as nossas alianças com a linguagem

contra tyrannos.


Geoffrey Hill. Scenes from Comus. Penguin: 2005. (Tradução minha.)


Neste texto, verossimilmente a abertura mais arriscada e exposta dum livro de poesia que jamais li, voltamos ao modo épico - frontalmente opondo-se ao coro demótico de Speech! Speech! que denunciava "heroic verse a non-starter, says PEOPLE". (Haverá invocação? Numa República que se queira de seres humanos a esperança posta em deuses é a maior das traições, é a farça na tragédia.) O propósito é o mesmo, porém, que em Speech! Speech!, como aliás talvez seja sempre o propósito em toda a poesia do Geoffrey Hill, principalmente naquela que achamos após a 'derrocada' que lhe cinde a obra em dois: Denunciar todo o falar rendido, traidor, através da honestidade cáustica que é o direito e a licença da poesia, comburir as simplificações e lugares comuns que que faz a própria voz pública metamorfosear-se em tyrannia cíclica ("language / is the energy of decaying sense; / that sense in this sense means sensus communis"), isto é, o new-speech que nos ocupa refolgadamente e que nos rouba da aliança entre dignidade humana e palavra, desolando ambas uno ictu. A rememoração do Auden, que em September 1939 assume a mesma missão ("All I have is a voice / to undo the folded lie, / The romantic lie in the brain / Of the sensual man in the street"), rememoração essa do famoso verso famosamente mudado ("We most love one another or die", aqui mudado em "obligation to mutal love"), revela que o Hill seguirá os vestígios desse outro guerrilheiro da honestidade incondicional. Auden creu naqueles instantes em que "o justos trocam as suas mensagens". O Hill acredita também que nem toda a palavra está já podre. "Common sense bids me add: not / all language", ousará ele poucos poemas adelante.

Mas condenara esse exacto senso comum linha apenas uma acima: Será esta expectativa assente apenas em mais uma mentira, uma esperança plantada, uma distração? Será a poesia um isco para poetas e seus leitores se iludirem, como acontece com a personagem de 1984, pensando que estão a lutar e a fazer a revolução? Há versos como "That this is no reason for us to despair. The tragedy of things is not conclusive; rather, one by which the spirit moves. That it moves in circles need not detain us." que nos trespassam da convicção de que todo o cerco montado a esta estirpe de prophecia - que é a mesma da de Amós, da de Jeremias -, não fará outra coisa que torná-la mais perigosa por isso. Esta é a arma, a única talvez que não seja devorada ou contagiável, para restituir a rem publicam: ope vocis, contra tyrannos.


Marvel at our contrary orbits. Mine
salutes yours, whenever we pass or corss,

which may be now, might very well be now.


(texto de 2012)

11.03.2016

Mahmoud Darwish & Paul Celan

أأنا أنا؟
أأنا هنالك ... أنا هنا؟
في كل "أنت" أنا,
أنا أنت المخاطب, ليس منفى
أن أكونك. ليس منفى
أن تكون أناي أنت. وليس منفى
أن يكون البحر والصحراء
أغنية المسافر للمسافر:
لن أعود, كما ذهبت,
ولن أعود ... ولو لماما

Mahmoud Darwish
(do poema قال الُسافر للمسافر - لن تعود كما, "Um viajante disse a outro: Não regressaremos como...")

Am I me?
Am I there . . . or here?
In each "You" — I.
I am you, the second person. It is no exile
for me to be you. It is no exile
for my I to be you. And it is no exile
If the sea and the desert
are a song from traveller to traveller.
I will not return as I went.
I will not return, no, not even in secret.

Schwärzer im Schwarz, bin ich nackter.
Abtrünnig erst bin ich treu.
Ich bin du, wenn ich ich bin.

Paul Celan
(do poema Lob der Ferne, "Elogio da Distância")

Blacker in black, I am more naked.
In betrayal alone can I keep faith.
I am you when I am I.

Traduções minhas.

10.08.2016

Moral Letters to Lucilius // a poem

A translation of a poem of mine.


My dear Lucilius.
Once again I encourage you to ponder
The virtues of temperance
And tranquillity.
My dear Lucilius.
Long have I written to you incessantly,
And told you tales of brave souls
That you might copy them.
We are both making great progress.
My dear Lucilius.
Our friends tell me
That in your party nights you pass by my house
And sing just a bit lower
So as not to wake me up.
I have indeed a light sleep,
Though not from cares,
But from the light electric the gods
Planted inside me,
In my spirit,
And that keeps me up at night
While I write to you.
My dear Lucilius.
Tell me news. Some say
That every night you sing
Until your lips stiffen and numb.
I have trouble believing this.
You do not sing, you pray.
Always have you kept the two apart.
And be that as it may I do not think you could sing
Without me there to give you the tone.
This is true,
Is it not?
My dear Lucilius.
Once again I ask that you direct your body
To just deeds, that you conform your soul
To the super-celestial gods.
If I repeat myself, if I search for you,
If I insist and see myself in you,
That is because I know that God that spins everything
Spins us both in unison,
If I take your hand He
Takes mine in turn,
And with the other He takes yours.
My dear Lucilius.
Try to dull your love.
Dull it and smoothen it,
The love for people,
The love for the beautiful statues in your palaces,
Dull the love for philosophy,
The love for music,
The love for the gods of Love and the others.
Love instead the dulling itself.
But even that in a way that's tame and faint.
Let it dry and gather it once more the following Summer.
Thin it until it fits,
Like a papyrus sheet,
Between the closed beak of an ibis.
My dear Lucilius.
Once again I encourage you to ponder
The virtues of temperance and resignation.





































Imagem: Jusepe de RiberaSeneca (?), 1625-1650 @ Londres.

9.27.2016

A Kiss With a Fist

Some people exercise patience. I exercise my wrath. As the docile person that I am (by long training, let it be said, not quite by temperament), living in Israel has provided me ample opportunity to insert in my diet a daily supplement of ire. Two things have factored into this equation, the first thereof being my by now famous through lamentation incessant lost of luggage. Vueling, the brave Aragonians, decided to place the luggage of everyone who was in the plane in another plane. When trying to describe such an enlightened feat, words fail me mystically —for surely we must acknowledge the sheer genius that must go into the avant-garde and non-chalant disregard for little England convention that consists in refusing to let the bags of an entire crowd fly to the same destination of the owners thereof. An insightful choice, an artist's hand can here be spotted.

Still, years of adhering austerely to the precepts of Roman Stoicism have made ill-fitted to react. I let it pass the first days, faithful in my disbelief of human nature, and even when three or four sunrises had tanned my back it still took me a significant effort to muster the appropriate tone of voice with which to jolt the guiltless call-center operator on the other side of the line, only to regret it and inescapably apologize and confess that I was indeed aware that the fault lie in something bigger, something bigger than either of us.

The weeks thence passed, and I have seen Seneca's words fly away from ears and heart. Israel has taught me rage. I am grateful, being as I am a believer that we should drink life to the lees, and moreover that a sin it is, if we should die still unknown to anything that is human. Beam me up, Achilles.

But something else, more insiduous yet meeker and tamer, gentler and fuckeduper, has branded my days with its flower. Let queuing be the subject of the following chapter. I will be forgiven for the affectation of British poshness involved in the use of this vocab. The British do, after all, use a different word. But being as I am in soul and substance closer to that North American exceptionalism than I am to the British, it would not beseem me their word to employ, for what happens here in Israel will scantly suffer to be called queue anyway.

Whatever. Consider the following proposition. You, hypocrite lecteur, stand. Yet not in vain you stay. Futile is not your wait. You hold your ground, because there resides in your id's desire a command that you buy coffee. Or toothpaste — nay!, even a pen (* "The following film is based on true events"). But how could you be mistaken thus, ever to believe that such a milquetoast thing as your unassuming heart could ever stand in the way of the minotaur élan and valiant heart of the Israeli? Who will clash against you, not human against mere human, but ensouled body against ensouled body, a live prefiguration of Holy Ragnarök, when shields and ailes galore shall be cloven, ere sink the shops and supermarkets of this mortal earth?

"Cloven" stands here to wit in the typological schema of course in place of the old lady's who has just arrived foot placed with a courage as grandiose as strategic in front of yours, that she may burst her loaf of bread before you dare set down your milk. The old lady, with Iliadic force, will be, whatever it takes, the best. She will be superior to all.

A heroic age for a heroic people, whose values perish not with them. The crone is the sacred relay of her own valour, a dragon's step in the tradition that's passed over to the young man, who proudly treads the footsteps of his elder. And who in turn shall lovingly teach the daughter how sweet it is, to forge your own fate, to cut the line, in the souq as in life.

As a great Greek poet once wrote,
«And we who have nothing shall teach them rage.»
("ἐμεῖς ποὺ τίποτε δὲν εἴχαμε θὰ τοὺς διδάξουμε τὴ γαλήνη.")

9.26.2016

Jerusalem // a poem

This is not the place where hope
caves in to time. It races. It flees
from piety, from Justice
and caprice. Where each mitzvah
has leases on that great commandment.
Whose word you breathe in.
And choke out
so it roughens your throat
til it's sour from sorrow. How you miss
when it was bloody from glee! God has crushed
Love into souls. And God will grant, provide.
You will not hang
from either horn of the Crescent.
As for the land,
let it swing wide round your neck,
hushed like
eloquence. The Lord
has promised. There is only one
who may regret that now.




8.21.2016

ad juga cur faciles populi?

Lucani Pharsalia Libri II 284-325
                                      sic fatur; at illi
arcano sacras reddit Cato pectore voces.
'summum, Brute, nefas civilia bella fatemur,
sed quo fata trahunt virtus secura sequetur.
crimen erit superis et me fecisse nocentem.
sidera quis mundumque velit spectare cadentem
expers ipse metus? quis, cum ruat arduus aether,
terra labet mixto coeuntis pondere mundi,
complossas tenuisse manus? gentesne furorem
Hesperium ignotæ Romanaque bella sequentur
diductique fretis alio sub sidere reges,
otia solus agam? procul hunc arcete furorem,
o superi, motura Dahas ut clade Getasque
securo me Roma cadat. ceu morte parentem
natorum orbatum longum producere funus
ad tumulos jubet ipse dolor, juvat ignibus atris
inseruisse manus constructoque aggere busti
ipsum atras tenuisse faces, non ante revellar
exanimem quam te conplectar, Roma; tuumque
nomen, Libertas, et inanem persequar umbram.
sic eat: inmites Romana piacula divi
plena ferant, nullo fraudemus sanguine bellum.
o utinam cælique deis Erebique liceret
hoc caput in cunctas damnatum exponere pœnas!
devotum hostiles Decium pressere cateruæ:
me geminæ figant acies, me barbara telis
Rheni turba petat, cunctis ego pervius hastis
excipiam medius totius volnera belli.
hic redimat sanguis populos, hac cæde luatur
quidquid Romani meruerunt pendere mores.
ad juga cur faciles populi, cur sæua volentes
regna pati pereunt? me solum invadite ferro,
me frustra leges et inania jura tuentem.
hic dabit hic pacem jugulus finemque malorum
gentibus Hesperiis: post me regnare volenti
non opus est bello. quin publica signa ducemque
Pompeium sequimur? nec, si fortuna favebit,
hunc quoque totius sibi jus promittere mundi
non bene conpertum est: ideo me milite vincat
ne sibi se vicisse putet.' sic fatur, et acris
irarum movit stimulos juvenisque calorem
excitat in nimios belli civilis amores. 

7.19.2016

La casa de Asterión [Latine]

DOMUS ASTERIONIS
(Georgio Ludovico Borges auctore)

ἡ δὲ [βασίλιεια] Ἀστέριον ἐγέννησε.
at [regina] Asterionem genuit
 APOLODORI Bibliotheca, III, 11


Scio me accusari superbiæ, fortasse misanthropiæ, vel etiam quis scit dementiæ. Omnes accusationes tales, quas opportune castigabo, cassæ omnino sunt. Verum est, me domo non exire, nec tamen minus verum januas domus, quarum numerus infinitus est, patere semper, et noctu et interdiu, et non modo hominibus, sed etiam animalibus. Cuique venia datur ingrediendi. Pompæ muliebres non hic invenientur, nec magnificentia palatiorum, sed quies dumtaxat solitudoque. Nihilo setius invenietur domus talis, qualis nulla alia exstat in toto orbe terrarum. (Dicunt quidam in Ægypto quandam similem sitam esse, mentiti.) Vel ii qui me accusant fatentur ‘tantum unum armarium in tota domo inveniri.’ Ecce aliud ridiculum, quod proferunt, ‘me, Asterionem, esse captivum.’ Num rursus dicam ‘nullam januam clausam esse’, num addam ‘neminem clave includi’? Ceterum, vesperi interdum exiens ambulo per vias; si ante noctem reversus sum, id fuit ob timorem vultuum hominum in turba faciem gerentium sine colore nec notis peculiaribus, faciem sicut manum apertam. Quamquam sol jam occiderat, debilis planctus puerilis et rudes preces plebis plane fecerunt ‘me ab eis agnitum esse’. Orabatur, fugiebatur, prosternebatur. Erant qui scanderent stilobatum Templi Securum, erant qui lapides colligerent. Etiam fuit homo, qui sese occultavit prope litus maritimum. Non frustra habui matrem reginam; non potui confundi cum vulgo, etsi propter modestiam id prorsus fuerat quod volebam.

Negare non possum me esse unicum. Non credo doctrinam posse tradi ceteris hominibus. Sicut philosophus ille, arbitror ‘nihil posse communicari scripturâ.’ Laudes turpes, et minutiæ triviales sedem non obtinent in animo meo, qui modo grandibus aptatur; nunquam valui servare discrimen inter aliquam litteram et aliam. Propter quandam impatientam magnificam, nunquam legere didici. Interdum id me pænitet, sunt enim et noctes diesque longinquæ.

Certe, otia non mihi desunt. Per porticus lapideas curro usque ad solis occasum arieti similis arietanti, idque donec vertiginem patior. Sub umbra cisternæ genua flecto et mihi ludum propono, in quo aliquis me quærit. Sunt etiam tecta, de quibus me projicio donec sanguis effluit. Quandocumque volo, licet mihi ludere “Dormiendo,” claudens oculos et fortiter animum ducens. (Interdum vere dormio, interdum, quum occulos aperio, jam dies in noctem mutatus est.) Ex tot tamen ludis, mihi dilectissimus apparet “Alterius Asterionis”. Fingo mente me ab eo visitari, et ei domum meam a me monstrari. Magna cum religione, Nunc, inquam, revertimur ad præteritum trivium, sive etiam, Nunc ducimur ad aliam plateam, aut, Sciebam fore ut tibi dispositio domus placeret, aut, Nunc cisternam videbis arena plenam, sive quoque, Videbis quemadmodum hypogæum dividatur. Nonnumquam ipse fallor, et uterque nostri ridet abunde.

Non tantum hos ludos excogitavi, sed etiam domum ipsam consideravi. Omnes partes ejus plus semel inveniuntur, omnis locus est alius locus. Non est una cisterna, una platea, unus alveolus, unum præsepium; sunt quattuordecim (sunt infinita) præsepia, alveoli, plateæ, cisternæ, domus ipsa est tanta quantus totus orbis terrarum; dico melius: ipsa domus est totus orbis terrarum. Tamen, postquam tot plateas, cisternas, et pulvere oppertas cinereo colore porticus funditus exploravi, viam tandem consecutus sum, et conspectum habui Templi Securum, marisque. Hæc non intellexeram, donec visio nocturna mihi ostendit quattordecim etiam esse (infinita sunt) maria et templa. Omnia apparent multipliciter, quattordecim vicibus, tamen duo exstant in mundo, quæ videntur semel modo exstare: supra, inexplicabilis sol; infra, Asterion. Fortasse ipse fui, qui astra et solem et hanc ingentem domum creavi, sed non jam recordor.

Nonno quoque anno, novem homines intrant domum meam, quia volunt me eos ab omni malo liberare. Voces eorum exaudio gradusque per porticus lapideas et lætus eos quæsitum curro. Ritus ipse paulisper tantum durat. Cadunt ordinatim, neque opus est mihi cruore sordescere manus. Manent ibi, ubi ceciderunt, et cadavera fiunt signa, quibus alias porticus ab aliis distinguo. Qui illi sint ignoro, modo scio unum ex eis vaticinatum esse ‘olim redemptorem meum venturum.’ Ab eo tempore, solitudo non jam me lædit, scio enim quod redemptor meus vivat et in novissimo de terra surrecturus sit. Si auditus meus perveniret ad sonos orbis terrarum, ego gradus ejus perciperem. Utinam ducat me ad locum paucarum porticuum et paucarum januarum. Qualis erit redemptor meus?, interrogo me ipsum. Num taurus erit an homo? Forsitan taurus vultu hominis? Aut erit sicut ego?



Æneus fulsit matutino gladius sole. Jam nullum vestigium sanguinis erat videre.
—Potestne credere, Ariadna?, inquit Theseus, Minotaurus vix se defendit.



Gratias ago Ludovico, qui in textu erudiendo mihi opem tulit.

6.19.2016

in magnis et voluisse sat est

Herman Melville. Moby Dick, or the Whale. Capítulo 104 - The Fossil Whale.
One often hears of writers that rise and swell with their subject, though it may seem but an ordinary one. How, then, with me, writing of the Leviathan? Unconsciously my chirography expands into placard capitals. Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius' crater for an inkstand! Friends, hold my arms! For in the mere act of penning my thoughts of this Leviathan, they weary me, and make me faint with their outreaching comprehensiveness of sweep, as if to include the whole circle of the sciences, and all the generations of whales, and men, and mastodons, past, present, and to come, with all the revolving panoramas of empire on earth, and throughout the whole universe, not excluding its suburbs. Such, and so magnifying, is the virtue of a large and liberal theme! We expand to its bulk. To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.

6.14.2016

Werner Jaeger

William M. Calder III. Preface in Werner Jaeger Reconsidered. Illinois Classical Studies (1992)
Werner Jaeger (1888-1961) held the chairs of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, and Paul Shorey. A University Professorship, above all departments and requiring small teaching and no administrative obligations, was created for him at Harvard University. He enjoyed the finest education available in the history of classical studies. He founded two journals and what Eduard Spraigner first called "The Third Humanism." He published widely in the fields of Greek education and philosophy and the Greek church fathers. He stressed Christianity as the continuation of Hellenism rather than its destroyer. His students included men of the rank of Richard Harder, Viktor Pöschl, and Wolfgang Schadewaldt. Today what was acclaimed as his most famous work is read only by dilettantes too naive to perceive its defects. The Third Humanism has become a passing fashion, an aberration of the dying Weimar Republic, of as little abiding influence as its rival the George Circle. His name is rarely cited in the footnotes of the learned. Modern students of his own subject no longer recognize his name.
[...] C. H. Kahn remarked at the end of the conference, "I came admiring him; I departed pitying him." This was the feeling of most of us. Similar reactions were evoked at the Eduard Norden conference held in Bad Homburg in June 1991. The gulf between the ideals professed by Jaeger as the prophet of the Third Humanism and the petty compromises and betrayals that his Sitz im Lebel elicited from him caused difficulties for some. Ten years ago when I published with her permission Wilamowitz' Latin Autobiography, the nonagenarian Schwester Hildegard von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff with great wisdom said to me, "Wilamowitz was my father; for you he is a Forschungsobjekt. I understand that." Many do not, alas, understand the difference between funeral panegyric or a disciple's pietas and scholarship. Those who do not should deal with the long dead, Homer, Plato, or Aristotle. Jaeger, like his teacher Wilamowitz, is great enough to survive his indiscretions, and, indeed, becomes more interesting because of them.

6.07.2016

τὴν δὲ τῶν βιβλίων δίψαν ῥῖψον



Numa livraria online apareceu-me este livro, que já há muito considero das melhores capas que um livro já teve a graça de ter. Lembrei-me de ir procurar a passagem, embora um erro de memória (lembrava-me de σαρκίδιον, também frequentemente atestado no Marco Aurélio, em vez de σαρκία, o termo do texto) me ter desviado do percurso. Seja como for. É dos poucos livros do mundo que só se pára porque se tem de parar.

Marco Aurélio, Meditações. II. 2-3
Ὅ τί ποτε τοῦτό εἰμι, σαρκία ἐστὶ καὶ πνευμάτιον καὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ἄφες τὰ βιβλία· μηκέτι σπῶ· οὐ δέδονται. ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἤδη ἀποθνήισκων τῶν μὲν σαρκίων καταφρόνησον· λύθρος καὶ ὀστάρια καὶ κροκύφαντος, ἐκ νεύρων, φλεβίων, ἀρτηριῶν πλεγμάτιον. θέασαι δὲ καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ὁποῖόν τί ἐστιν· ἄνεμος, οὐδὲ ἀεὶ τὸ αὐτό, ἀλλὰ πάσης ὥρας ἐξεμούμενον καὶ πάλιν ῥοφούμενον. τρίτον οὖν ἐστι τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ὧδε ἐπινοήθητι· γέρων εἶ· μηκέτι τοῦτο ἐάσηις δουλεῦσαι, μηκέτι καθ᾽ ὁρμὴν ἀκοινώνητον νευροσπαστηθῆναι, μηκέτι τὸ εἱμαρμένον ἢ παρὸν δυσχερᾶναι ἢ μέλλον ὑπιδέσθαι. 
Τὰ τῶν θεῶν προνοίας μεστά, τὰ τῆς τύχης οὐκ ἄνευ φύσεως ἢ συγκλώσεως καὶ ἐπιπλοκῆς τῶν προνοίαι διοικουμένων. πάντα ἐκεῖθεν ῥεῖ· πρόσεστι δὲ τὸ ἀναγκαῖον καὶ τὸ τῶι ὅλωι κόσμωι συμφέρον, οὗ μέρος εἶ. παντὶ δὲ φύσεως μέρει ἀγαθόν, ὃ φέρει ἡ τοῦ ὅλου φύσις καὶ ὃ ἐκείνης ἐστὶ σωστικόν. σώιζουσι δὲ κόσμον, ὥσπερ αἱ τῶν στοιχείων, οὕτως καὶ αἱ τῶν συγκριμάτων μεταβολαί.ταῦτά σοι ἀρκείτω· ἀεὶ δόγματα ἔστω. τὴν δὲ τῶν βιβλίων δίψαν ῥῖψον, ἵνα μὴ γογγύζων ἀποθάνηις, ἀλλὰ ἵλεως ἀληθῶς καὶ ἀπὸ καρδίας εὐχάριστος τοῖς θεοῖς.

Em suma


6.06.2016

Trivium

Randolph Starn. Who's Afraid of the Renaissance? in The Past and Future of Medieval Studies (John van Engen ed.) University of Notre Dame Press (1994).
There is some risk that histories of "Old Europe" would become merely accumulative, antiquarian, and annalistic, or like the new ethnic republics, fiercely separatist and partisan. Histories post-modern style, where everything wrought in the past is at once indiscriminately and historical and available in the present, have no anachronisms, and this would put historians out of work. Then too, the absence of overarching narratives promotes a kind of historiographical horror vacui and the proliferation of any number of particular tales. I don't know which prospect is more alarming: that historians will run out of new topics or that they will come up with ever more trivial ones.

the great tradition of medievalism

Randolph Starn. Who's Afraid of the Renaissance? in The Past and Future of Medieval Studies (John van Engen ed.) University of Notre Dame Press (1994).
Both medieval and Renaissance studies and their specialized constituencies have more or less distinct traditions, institutions, canonical texts, pedagogical styles, and so forth. I suspect that many scholars would gladly bid good riddance to some of these, though we would probably not agree about which were expendable. We sometimes take on the attributes of the people we study (and vice versa); the fact is that the stock medieval roles do not appeal to me very much, and I can imagine that, say, the persona of the Renaissance prince has limited attractions. Whether or not this is a liability or a virtue, Renaissance studies has fewer technical requirements, supposing that medievalists still do train in the languages, paleography, diplomatic, codicology, and other "auxiliary sciences" of the great tradition of medievalism. Many Renaissance scholars are like medievalists with insufficient training, but medievalists for their part, owe some of their impressive scholarly discipline to the fact that they have so little material to work with.

Mediævalia

Lee Patterson. The Return to Philology in The Past and Future of Medieval Studies (John van Engen ed.) University of Notre Dame Press (1994).
I want to suggest, in other words, that the uselessness of philology  —its indefensible unjustifiability— scandalizes contemporary literary studies because it represents its own greatest fear: that the whole enterprise cannot be justified in terms of social effectiveness. If social transformation is our goal, then is teaching Toni Morrison really more effective than reaching Chaucer, especially when compared with a direct involvement with social problems? It is my own hunch that direct social activism is probably of more importance than most of the things we do in our classrooms and certainly than all of the things we do in our studies. Is it not possible, in other words, that the institutional neglect of medieval studies derives in some measure from a guilty conscience? That the medievalist is an awkward reminder that the social changes so many support and desire will require something other than intellectual work?
If these are unpersuasive words coming from a medievalist, let me cite a more acceptable source. "As writers, teachers, or intellectuals, " writes Henry Louis Gates,
Most of us would like to claim greater efficacy for our labors than we're entitled to. These days, literary criticism likes to think of itself as "war by other means." But it should start to wonder: Have its victories come too easily? The recent turn toward politics and history in literary studies has turned the analysis of texts into a marionette theater of the political, to which we bring all the passions of our real-word commitments. And that's why it is sometimes necessary to remind ourselves of the distance from the classroom to the streets. Academic critics write essays, "readings" of literary, where the bad guys (for example, racism or patriarchy) lose, where the forces of oppression are subverted by the boundless powers of irony and allegory that no prison an contain, and we glow with hard-won triumph. We pay homage to the marginalized and demonizes, and it feels almost like we've righted a real-world injustice. I always think about the folktale about the fellow who killed seven with one blow.


6.05.2016

Reino Neovisigótico

Fonte: Observador: Há um problema com a nossa Constituição? 
Nos termos de um conceito fundamental de constituição, a elaboração de uma nova constituição pressupõe a transição para um novo regime ou forma de convivência política, em princípio desencadeada por uma revolução, um processo de integração federal ou um fenómeno de desagregação política. A transição tanto pode dizer respeito aos valores constitucionais ― por exemplo, a substituição do Estado de direito democrático por um Estado autoritário ou totalitário ― como à forma, estrutura ou existência do Estado ― por exemplo, a integração de Portugal numa «União Federal dos Povos Europeus» ou a desagregação do Estado português numa constelação de entidades políticas menores (tais como a anexação da região sul pelo Estado islâmico, a formação de uma «República Popular da Madeira» ou a criação nas regiões centro e norte de um «Reino Neovisigótico»). 

Os Académicos

W.B. Yeats. The Scholars.
Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love’s despair
To flatter beauty’s ignorant ear.

They’ll cough in the ink to the world’s end;
Wear out the carpet with their shoes
Earning respect; have no strange friend;
If they have sinned nobody knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

Neste tempo

Lady

6.04.2016

No, prima a lei tocca!

Samuel Fleischacker. What is Enlightenment? Routledge (2013)
The debate between [the views of Rawls and Habermas] continues to this day, with their followers elaborating their respective positions in great detail. What interests me about the debate is not so much who is right as the fact that two of the most important contemporary schools of political philosophy are competing with one another to show how modest their claims are. In the middle of the twentieth century, philosophical competition went in the opposite direction; the Young Hegelians fought over who could draw the most extreme demands from the nature of reason. There remain, of course, contemporary philosophers who resemble the Young Hegelians more than they do either Rawls of Habermas, and insist that just one conception of the universe and how to live in it follows from reason properly pursued. [...] But on the whole there seems clearly to have been a great cultural shift, in what philosophers aim to do, over the past century and a half.

6.03.2016

systema systematum

Samuel Fleischacker. What is Enlightenment? Routledge (2013)
[...] It is essential to the Hegelian dialectic to dissolve anything apparently outside thought into a manifestation of thought once we reflect n how we achieve consciousness of it. Turning matter into an externalization of reason was indeed the prime test case for Hegelian dialectic, and although Feuerbach's insistence that Hegel failed to "overcome the contradiction of thought and being" will resonate with any reader who has felt puzzled or irritated by the Hegelian dialectic, it is hard to see how Feuerbach can succeed in establishing this point within the Hegelian system, without simply refusing to allow the dialectic to play itself out. And indeed Feuerbach's repetitiveness and bald proclamation that, for instance, Hegel misuses the indexical "this" in the sense-certainty chapter of the Phenomenology suggests that he really has no argument that will convince a reader not already disposed to reject the Hegelian system. It is not clear that one can reverse Hegelianism with Hegel's own tools.

Optativo Passado (Henry Purcell)

Do seu poema de nome 'Henry Purcell', em honra do epónimo, Gerard Manley Hopkins comenta:
‘“Have fair fallen.” Have is the sing. imperative (or optative if you like) of the past, a thing possible and actual both in logic and grammar, but naturally a rare one. As in the 2nd pers. we say “Have done” or in making appointments “Have had your dinner beforehand”, so one can say in the 3rd pers. not only “Fair fall” of what is present or future but also “Have fair fallen” of what is past. The same thought (which plays a great part in my own mind and action) is more clearly expressed in the last stanza but one of the Eurydice, where you remarked it." 1883.
A estrofe a que ele se refere é a seguinte:
And the prayer thou hearst me making
Have, at the awful overtaking,
    Heard; have heard and granted
Grace that day grace was wanted.
The Loss of the Eurydice

6.02.2016

Religião ∧ Atheísmo ∧ Fé

Paul Ricœur. Religion, Atheism, and Faith in The Religions Significance of Atheism (com Alasdair MacIntyre), Columbia University Press (1969).
The subtitle I have chosen — "Religion, Atheism, and Faith" —expresses my intention fairly well. I have placed "atheism" in an intermediary position; for I wish to consider it as both a break and a link between religion of faith. I am aware of the difficulties of this viewpoint. We must not take for granted the distinction between religion and faith for granted. Nor should we use atheism as an indiscreet form of apologetics to save faith from the disaster of religion, an artful deception designed to regain from one hand what the other hand has been forced to yield.

Christus Heideggerianus

Alasdair MacIntyre. The Fate of Theism (The Debate about God: Victorian Relevance and Contemporary Irrelevance). in The Religions Significance of Atheism (com Paul Ricœur), Columbia University Press (1969).
Bultmann's revision of the Christian doctrine of salvation consists of identifying the Christian choice between redemption and damnation with the Heideggerian choice between authentic and inauthentic existence. Kamlah, Bultmann's student, has in turn argued that, if Bultmann's identification is correct, then Jesus Christ is important only because he happened to anticipate Heidegger in uttering a true doctrine, the truth of which, and our ground for believing in the truth of which, is quite independent of the truth of Christian orthodoxy.

I Am The Very Model of a Biblical Philologist

6.01.2016

secundum ordinem angelorum

Moshe Barasch. Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. New York University Press (1992)
Why, one cannot help asking, is John of Damascus so interested in angels or in souls? He is here trying once again to justify the icon. What is the significance of these spiritual beings in his doctrine of sacred images? It is not difficult to find the answer. The "spiritual creature" — whether angel, demon, or soul — offers "empirical" proof, as it were, that the image can reach further than the tangible, material reality. In the very existence of the "spiritual being" the apparently absolute connection between the tangible and the visible, the heavily material and the visually perceptible, is denied; the human eye can perceive what dwells beyond the limits of matter. The very existence of the angel, the demon, and the soul constitutes a sanction of the spiritual image.


Crucificação no regaço do Pai. (Cristo Crucificado, Seraph, Alma de Cristo)
— Tu es sacerdos in æternum.
Ícono russo. Inícios do séc. XVII. @ Moscovo, Museu de Ícones de Recklinghausen

objectivum transcendens

Moshe Barasch. Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. New York University Press (1992)
[John of Damascus] wishes to show that the bodily and the visible are not inseparably linked to each other; they can, and should, be separated. In fact, in the domain of the transcendent there are beings that are altogether immaterial and yet visible. These bodiless beings can be visually experienced, without our having to ascribe to them a material nature. If they can be seen, it follows, they can also be represented in a painted image. 
In John's thought, it should be kept in mind, the transcendent world, the domain of the bodiless and the invisible, is neither vague nor ill defined; it has not the general psychological quality of blurred outlines that, since Romanticism, this notion so frequently carries. On the contrary, the transcendent world is characterized by a clearly outlined order that we can retrace. Speaking in human terms we could say that the nature of the transcendent world is, in a sense, "objective."

ὑπὲρ μίμησιν

Moshe Barasch. Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. New York University Press (1992)
For centuries it had been taken for granted (mainly in the culture of Antiquity) that the aim of painting is the representation of what can be visually perceived in the world around us. In defining painting as the rendering of perceived nature, one also set the limits of the art. It is only what we actually see that can become the subject matter of painting. But if you believe that the icon shows what otherwise cannot be seen, you enlarge the scope of painting as compared to the views held earlier. A new dimension is now incorporated, as it were, into the domain of the image.

o paradoxo byzantino

Moshe Barasch. Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. New York University Press (1992)
In commenting on an early Christian text, John [of Damascus] explicitly says, "Devils are in fear of saints, and flee from their shadow. A shadow is an image; therefore I make images to terrify the demons." Here John's intellectual conscience seems to have awakened. He continues, as if speaking to himself, "If you say that only intellectual worship is worthy of God, then take away all corporeal things: lights, the fragrance of incense, prayer made with the voice." Adding an example, he comes back to the image, and quite specifically to the relationship between archetype and copy in the image of the divine: "Purple cloth by itself is a simple thing, and so is silk, and a cloak is woven from both. But if the king should put it on, the cloak receives honor from the honor given to him who wears it." Note that the cloak receives honor not because it means the king, or reminds us of the kind, but rather because the king has worn it, because there was some kind of bodily meeting and thus a flow of subtle matter, as it were, from the king himself into the cloak. 
The constant interaction between conceptual reflection of a highly intellectual character and the almost tangible reification of bodiless, spiritual beings is typical of John's complex personality. A modern student may find it difficult to reconcile the sophisticated distinctions made in John's theological views of the image with the crude beliefs in its miracle-working power. How can a thinker, one cannot help asking, who subtly unveiled the complex dialectical nature of the image as a spiritual revelation of the invisible also believe that the painted icon drives off almost tangible demons? This incongruence, as I have said, is a pervasive characteristic of John's thought, and perhaps also of Byzantine culture as a whole. It is found in the reflection on many themes.

5.31.2016

yet in my flesh I will see God

Moshe Barasch. Icon: Studies in the History of an Idea. New York University Press (1992)
Sceptics and philosophers of the critical tradition, who so violently denounce idolatry and even the production of idols, seem hardly to have asked in detail why these images are made, and what it is that moves people to making and worshiping them. Philo [of Alexandria] seems occasionally to have departed from this inherited limitation; he did wonder, at least from time to time, what might be the reason for such production. In one of his most interesting essays, On Drunkenness, we read,
Man, who is devoid of any consideration, who is blinded as to his mind, by which alone the living God is comprehensible, does, by means of that mind, never see anything anywhere, but sees all the bodies that are in the outward world by his own outward senses, which he looks upon as the causes of all things which exist. 
On which account, beginning to make gods for himself, he has filled the world with images and statues, and innumerable other representations, made out of all kinds of materials, fashioned by painters and statuaries, whom the lawgiver banished to a distance from his state.
Philo uses passionate language to describe humanity's desire to see God. Of Moses he says that he "so insatiably desires to behold" God that "he will never cease from urging his desire," and though he "is aware that he desires a matter which is difficult of attainment, or rather which is wholly unattainable, he still strives on." But people who do not have the spiritual powers of Moses, we understand, attempt to substitute images of their own making for the true God they cannot attain. People, then, make idols not simply out of stupidity, but because of profound desire that will forever remain unfulfilled. In modern parlance one could say that images are the product of humanity's tragic limitation.

5.28.2016

o que te os deuses dão, dão no começo

W. J. T. Mitchell. Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. UCP (1986)
Perhaps a simpler way of saying all this is just to note that æsthetics is Marx's blind spot, the one major philosophical topic that remained relatively undeveloped in his writing, the one topic on which his opinions tend to be conventional and derivative. Lessing, Diderot, Goethe, and Hegel were his aesthetic mentors, and however much he might quarrel with their idealism in the sphere of political economy, his fragmentary opinions on the arts reflect basic agreement with the Enlightenment idealization of art. That is why æsthetics and the Marxist tradition have always confronted each other in a state of mutual embarrassment. Marxism is embarrassed because, if it follows the logic of Marx's economic thought, it seems inevitably to fall into a vulgar reduction of the arts to mere commodities, or to "mechanical reflections" in the camera obscure of ideology. If it follows the idealism of Marx's actual opinions about the arts, sustained by the humanism of his early writings, then "Marxist æsthetics" seems to become soft, neo-Hegelian, and un-Marxian.

5.25.2016

iconophobia II

W. J. T. MitchellIconology: Image, Text, Ideology. UCP (1986)
Lessing's wanderings from his first principles into subjects like idolatry and fetishism help us to see finally, the source of the curious power his text has had over all subsequent attempts to comprehend the difference between poetry and painting. This power does not stem only from the surface rhetoric of reason and necessity, but more deeply from Lessing's cunning exploitation of the iconophobic and iconoclastic rhetoric that pervades the discourse we call "criticism" in Western culture. Lessing rationalizes a fear of imagery that can be found in every major philosopher from Bacon to Kant to Wittgenstein, a fear not just of the "idols" of pagan primitives, or of the vulgar marketplace, but of the idols which insinuate themselves into language and thought, the false models which mystify both perception and representation. By literalizing this iconoclastic rhetoric — by applying it, that is, to painting and sculpture rather than to figurative "idols" or icons — Lessing may help us to expose some of the dangers that lie hidden in our iconophobia. He may help us to measure, for instance, the extent to which we have made a fetish out of our own iconoclastic rhetoric, projecting the very idols we claim to be smashing. An idol, technically speaking, is simply an image which has unwarranted, irrational power over somebody; it has become an object of worship, a repository of powers which someone has projected into it, but which it in fact does not possess. But iconoclasm typically proceeds by assuming that the power of the image is felt by somebody else; what the iconoclast sees is the emptiness, vanity, and impropriety of the idol. The idol, then, tends to be simply an image overvalued (in our opinion) by an other: by pagans and primitives; by children or foolish women; by Papists and ideologues (they have an ideology; we have a political philosophy); by capitalists who worship money while we value "real wealth". The rhetoric of iconoclasm is thus a rhetoric of exclusion and domination, a caricature of the other as one who is involved in irrational, obscene behavior from which (fortunately) we are exempt. The images of the idolaters are typically phallic (recall Lessing's account of the adulterous serpents on ancient statues), and thus they must be emasculated, feminized, have their tongues cut off by denying them the power of expression or eloquence. They must be declared "dumb," "mute," "empty," or "illusory." Our god, by contrast — reason, science, criticism, the Logos, the spirit of human language and civilized conversation — is invisible, dynamic, and incapable of being reified in any material, spatial image.

Nunca me esquecerei que no meio do caminho / tinha uma pedra

If Elvis (minus Dylan) is the definition of rock, then rock is remembered as showbiz. Like Frank Sinatra, Elvis did not write songs; he interpreted songs that were written by other people (and like Sinatra, he did this brilliantly). But removing the centrality of songwriting from the rock equation radically alters it. Rock becomes a performative art form, where the meaning of a song matters less than the person singing it. It becomes personality music, and the dominant qualities of Presley’s persona — his sexuality, his masculinity, his larger‑than‑life charisma — become the dominant signifiers of what rock was. His physical decline and reclusive death become an allegory for the entire culture. The reminiscence of the rock genre adopts a tragic hue, punctuated by gluttony, drugs and the conscious theft of black culture by white opportunists. 
But if Dylan (minus Elvis) becomes the definition of rock, everything reverses. In this contingency, lyrical authenticity becomes everything; rock is somehow calcified as an intellectual craft, interlocked with the folk tradition. It would be remembered as far more political than it actually was, and significantly more political than Dylan himself. The fact that Dylan does not have a conventionally “good” singing voice becomes retrospective proof that rock audiences prioritized substance over style, and the portrait of his seven‑decade voyage would align with the most romantic version of how an eclectic collection of autonomous states eventually became a place called “America.”
Chuck Klosterman. Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? NY Times. 23/05/2016

5.24.2016

Pôr as coisas em perspectiva

The effect of the [invention of artificial perspective, first systematized by Alberti in 1435], was nothing less than to convince an entire civilization that it possessed an infallible method of representation, a system for the automatic and mechanical production of truths about both the material and mental worlds. The best index to the hegemony of the artificial perspective is the way it denies its own artificiality and lays claims to being a "natural" representation of "the way things look," "the way we see," or (in a phrase that turns Maimonides on his head) "the way things really are." Aided by the political and economic ascendance of Western Europe, artificial perspective conquered the world of representation under the banner of reason, science , and objectivity. No amount of counterdemonstration form artists that there are other ways of picturing what "we really see" has been able to shake the conviction that these pictures have a kind of identity with natural human vision and objective external space. And the invention of a machine (the camera) built to produce this sort of image has, ironically, only reinforced the conviction that this is the natural mode for representation. What is natural is, evidently, what we can build a machine to do for us.
W. J. T. Mitchell. Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. UCP (1986)

iconophobia

. . . a book which began with the intention of producing a valid theory of images became a book about the fear of images . . . 


W. J. T. Mitchell. Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. UCP (1986)

5.21.2016

Arianismo e Mariologia

It was the lifelong obsession of Athanasius to insist that to be the Mediator between Creator and creature Christ the Son of God must be God in the full and unequivocal sense of the word: "through God alone can God be known," as the refrain of many orthodox church fathers put it. On the other hand, the Arian opponents of Athanasius, with their unstinted praise for Jesus as the crown of creation and as the supreme created embodiment of human nobility, were attributing to Christ as creature the kind of mediation that, according to Athanasius, only the Creator could exercise. In the words of Henry M. Gwatkin, they "degraded the Lord of Saints to the level of his creatures," but in the process they did make of him the supreme creature. Yet no creature, howsoever sublime metaphysically or exalted morally, could qualify as the Mediator who had saved the world; for to be a creature meant to be "subject to decay, corruption [phthartos]." Being itself subject to decay and corruption, no creature could make another creature "incorruptible [aphthartos]" or confer on it the gift of "incorruption [aphtharsia]" and of authentic participation in the divine nature. By drawing the line between Creator and creature and confessing that the Son of God belonged on God's side of the line, Nicene orthodoxy made possible and necessary a qualitative distinction between him and even the highest of saints. When the church, after several false stats, finally made its own this position of Athanasius that the Son and Logos of God now incarnate in Jesus Christ was the uncreated Mediator between God and the human race, that act of doctrinal legislation left the position of supreme created mediator vacant. Now that the subject of the Arian sentences was changed, what was to become of all the predicated? And so, in a sense quite different from that implied by Harnack, "what the Arians had taught about Christ, the orthodox now taught about Mary." And that was the position that the Mary of orthodoxy came to occupy, in place of the Christ of the Arians: the crown of creation and the supreme created embodiment of human nobility.
Jaroslav Pelikan. Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons. Princeton University Press (1990)

5.18.2016

ob und wie der Tag des Heiligen dämmert

In dieser Nähe vollzieht sich, wenn überhaupt, die Entscheidung, ob und wie der Gott und die Götter sich versagen und die Nacht bleibt, ob und wie der Tag des Heiligen dämmert, ob und wie im Aufgang des Heiligen ein Erscheinen des Gottes und der Götter neu beginnen kann. Das Heilige aber, das nur erst der Wesensraum der Gottheit ist, die selbst wiederum nur die Dimension für die Götter und den Gott gewährt, kommt dann allein ins Scheinen, wenn zuvor und in langer Vorbereitung das Sein selbst sich gelichtet hat und in seiner Wahrheit erfahren ist. Nur so beginnt aus dem Sein die Überwindung der Heimatlosigkeit, in der nicht nur die Menschen, sondern das Wesen des Menschen umherirrt.
Martin Heidegger. Brief über den Humanismus.

5.06.2016

A piety without a home

I am not afraid to say that a devout and God-fearing man is superior as a human specimen to a restless mocker who is glad to style himself an "intellectual," proud of his cleverness in using ideas which he claims as his own though he has acquired them in a pawnshop in exchange for simplicity of heart. Besides, it seems to me that we are born either pious or impious, and I would be glad were I able to number myself among the former. Piety has no need of definition—either it is there or it is not. It persists independently of the division of people into believers and atheists, an illusory division today, since faith is undermined by disbelief in faith, and disbelief by disbelief in itself. The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions—the bread on the table, the rough tree trunk which is, the depths of "being" I can intuit in the letter opener lying in front of me, entirely steeped and established in its being. My piety would shame me if it meant that I possessed something others did not. Mine, however, is a piety without a home; it survives the obsessive, annihilating image of universal disjointedness and, fortunately, allows me no safe superiority.
Czeslaw Milosz. Religion in Space in To Begin Where I am. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux (2001)

4.30.2016

Times

De mim não escondeu Deus nada
Em mim infligiu o seu rosto.

Mostrou-me o Tudo e o Nada.
Como se abraçam!
Pulverizou o pó
Divinizou os deuses
Tudo isso fez
E eu, amando,
Com a mão sobre a dele.

Vi-o recitar as gerações das estrelas, ou
Vi como as sílabas longas se alternam às sílabas breves.

Tens medo. Mas o Senhor está contigo
Mesmo quando as grutas não ecoam
Mesmo até na dor dos justos
Louvado seja o nome do Senhor.

4.26.2016

Paradoxo de Newcomb


in Robert Nozick, Reflections on Newcomb's Paradox. 1986

poema a partir de uma linha de Píndaro*

Deus,
maior em força que o patriarca dos ursos
maior em tamanho que a grande baleia
maior em poder que o imperador dos Romanos
com esforço derrotou-os a todos
com esforço esculpiu os teus ombros.

Deus é até mais brilhante do que muitas das estrelas.
Se o vês com a alma não dormes,
se o vês com os olhos cegaste,
e perigo é que seja para sempre.

Que mais há de perigoso no mundo?
Quando lançou a Tifão seus relâmpagos,
quando a maldição o pendurou duma árvore,
ou quando lutou contra o poderoso Israel
tememos que nunca voltasse.

E nós, terríveis humanos mortais,
caçámo-lo quase até à extinção.

Refugiou-se nos bosques
nos ermos das montanhas
no coração e na virtude.


*
θεὸς ἅπαν ἐπὶ ἐλπίδεσσι τέκμαρ ἀνύεται,
θεός, ὃ καὶ πτερόεντ' αἰετὸν κίχε, καὶ θαλασ-
σαῖον παραμείβεται
δελφῖνα, καὶ ὑψιφρόνων τιν' ἔκαμψε βροτῶν,
ἑτέροισι δὲ κῦδος ἀγήραον παρέδωκε.

4.23.2016

Autotomy
Halinæ Poświatowskæ in memoriam

In danger, the holothurian splits itself in two:
it offers one self to be devoured by the world
and, in its second self, escapes. 
Violently it divides itself into a doom and a salvation,
into a penalty and a recompense, into what was and what
will be. 
In the middle of the holothurian's body a chasm opens
and its edges immediately become alien to each other. 
On the one edge, death, on the other, life.
Here despair, there hope. 
If there is balance, the scales do not move.
If there is justice, here it is. 
To die as much as necessary, without overstepping the bounds.
To grow again from a salvaged remnant. 
We, too, know how to split ourselves
but only into the flesh and a broken whisper.
Into the flesh and poetry. 
On one side the throat, on the other, laughter,
slight, quickly dying down. 
Here a heavy heart, there non omnis moriar,
Three little words, like three little plumes of light. 
We are not cut in two by a chasm.
A chasm surrounds us.

Wisława Szymborska. Czeslaw Milosz (trad.)

A Quarrel with Classicism

[…] The audience expects no surprises from the poet, since it knows from The Iliad what occurs after the curtain goes down. The audience expects only good poetic craft in a work on a given topic. 
A given topic, and topoi polished by long use like pebbles in a stream: that’s what both fascinates and irritates twentieth-century poets. For us classicism is a paradise lost, for it implies a community of beliefs which unite poet and audience. No doubt the poet was not then separated from the “human family,” though obviously that was a family of a modest size since the illiterate rural population, comprising the vast majority of the inhabitants of Poland and Europe as a whole, was perfectly indifferent to that system of allusions to Homer and Horace. But even if we take the small number into account, there was still a sense of belonging — thus a situation radically different from the loneliness of the bohemians, who could at best find readers among their peers and whose descendant and heir is the poet of today. Perhaps there is a good craftsman concealed in every poet who dreams about a material already ordered, with ready-made comparisons and metaphors endowed with nearly archetypal effectiveness and, for that reason, universally accepted; what remains then is to work on chiseling the language. Were classicism only a thing of the past, none of this would merit attention. In fact, it constantly returns as a temptation to surrender to merely graceful writing. For, after all, one can reason as follows: all attempts at enclosing the world in words are and will be futile; there is a basic incompatibility between language and reality, as demonstrated by the desperate pursuit practiced by those who wanted to capture it even through “le dérèglement de tous sense”, or by the use of drugs. If this is so, then let us respect the rules of the game as adopted by consensus and appropriate to a given historical period, and let us not advance a rook as if it were a knight. In other words, let us make use of conventions, aware that they are conventions and no more of that. 
[…] I have not permitted myself to introduce into my lecture a tragic and harsh element, seemingly ill adapted to a literary discussion, to belittle the importance of such charming poets as Kochanowski or La Pléiade. Whoever invokes genocide, starvation, or the physical suffering of our fellow men in order to attack poems or paintings practices demagoguery. It is doubtful whether mankind would gain anything if poets stopped writing idyllic poems or painters stopped painting brightly colored pictures just because there is too much suffering on the earth, in the belief that there is no place for such detached occupations. No, all I want is to make clear to myself and to my listeners is that, roughly described, a quarrel exists between classicism and realism. This is a clash of two tendencies independent of the literary fashions of a given period and of the shifting meaning of those two terms. These two opposed tendencies usually also coexist within one person. It must be said that the conflict will never end and that the first tendency is always, in one variety of another, dominant, while the second is always a voice of protest. When thinking of what is beautiful in the literature and painting of the past, what we admire and what fills us with joy simply because it exists, we must wonder at the power of nonrealistic art. Mankind appears to be dreaming a fantastic dream about itself, giving ever new but always bizarre shapes to the simplest relations between people or between man and Nature. This occurs because of Form, which has its own exigencies only partially dependent upon human intentions. Form favors a penchant for the hieratic and the classical; it resists attempts to introduce realistic detail, for instance, in painting, the black top hat and the frock coat that so incenses the critics of Courbet or, in poetry, such words as “telephone” and “train”. This makes for a long history of skirmishes around existing forms which are overcome but then immediately coagulate into forms just as “artificial” as the preceding ones. 
[…] A glass wall of conventions rises between a poet and reality, conventions never visible until they recede into the past, there to reveal their strangeness. One may also ask whether the melancholy tone of today’s poetry will not be recognized at some point as the veneer of a certain mandatory style. Not unlike ancient mythology and the Trojan War for the poets of the Renaissance, a vision deprived of hope may often be just a cliché common to the poetry of our time. And other habits limited freedom of movement. When it is not the perfection of a work that is important but expression itself, “a broken whisper”, everything becomes, as it has been called, écriture. At the same time, a sensitivity to the surface stimuli of each minute and hours changes that écriture into a kind of diary of sore epidemics. To talk about anything, just to talk, becomes an operation in itself, a means of assuaging fear. It is as if the maxim “It’s not we who speak the lgnauge, but the language that speaks us” were taking its revenge. For it is true that not every poet who speaks of real things necessarily gives them the tangibility indispensable to their existence in a work of art. He may as well make them unreal.
Czeslaw Milosz. A Quarrel with Classicism in The Witness of Poetry. HUP (1983)

Quando não se tem nada para dizer

What I am maintaining is, that the first effort of the poet should be to achieve clarity for himself, to assure himself that the poem is the right outcome of the process that has taken place. The most bungling form of obscurity is that of the poet who has not been able to express himself to himself; the shoddiest form is found when the poet is trying to persuade himself that he has something to say when he hasn't.
T. S. Eliot. The Three Voices of Poetry. CUP (1954)

4.21.2016

une philosophie serait dès lors toujours «platonicienne»

Devrait-on dès lors s'interdire de parler de la philosophie de Platon, de l'ontologie de Platon, voire du platonisme? Nullement et il n'y aurait sans doute aucune erreur de principe à le faire, seulement une inévitable abstraction. Platonisme voudrait dire, dans ces conditions, la thèse ou le thème qu'on aura par artifice, méconnaissance et abstraction, extrait du texte, arraché à la fiction écrite de «Platon». Cette abstraction une fois surinvestie et déployée, on l'étendra au-dessus de tous les plis du texte, de ses ruses, surdéterminations, réserves qu'elle viendra recouvrir et dissimuler. On appellera cela platonisme ou philosophie de Platon, ce qui n'est ni arbitraire ni illégitime puisqu'on se recommande ainsi d'une certaine force d'abstraction thétique à l'œvre, déjà, dans le texte hétérogène de Platon. Elle travaille et se présente justement sous le nom de philosophie. S'il n'est pas illégitime et arbitraire de l'appeler comme elle s'appele, c'est que sa violence arbitraire, son abstraction consiste à faire la loi, jusqu'à un certain point et pendant un certain temps, à dominer, selon un mode qui est justement toute la philosophie, d'autres motifs de pensée qui sont aussi à l'œvre dans le texte: par example ceux qui nous intéressent ici par privilège, et à partir d'une autre situation — disons pour faire vite une autre situation historique, bien que l'histoire dépende le plus souvent dans son concept de cet héritage philosophique. Le «platonisme» est dont certainement un des effets du texte signé de Platon, pendant longtemps l'effet dominant et pour des raisons nécessaires, mais cet effet se trouve touhours retorné contre le texte. 
[...] La réversion violente dont nous venons de parler est toujours intéressée et intéressante. Elle se trouve naturellement à l'œvre dans cet ensemble sans limite que nous appelons ici le texte. En se construisant, en se posant sous sa forme dominante à un moment donné (ici la thèse platonicienne, la philosophie ou l'ontologie), le texte s'y neutralise, engourdit, auto-détruit ou dissimule: inégalement, partiellement, provisoirement. Les forces ainsi inhibées continuent d'entretenir un certain désordre, de l'incohérence potentielle et de l'hetérogénéité dans l'organisation des thèses. Elles y introduisent du parasitage, de la clandestinité, de la ventriloquie et surtout un ton général de dénégation qu'on peut apprendre à percevoir en y exerçant son oreille ou sa vue. Le «platonisme» n'est pas seulement un exemple de ce mouvement, le premier «dans» toute l'histoire de la philosophie. Il le commande, il commande toute cette histoire. Mais le «tout» de cette histoire est conflictuel, hétérogène, il ne donne lieu qu'à des hégémonies relativement stabilisables. Il ne se totalise donc jamais. En tant que telle, effet d'hégémonie, une philosophie serait dès lors toujours «platonicienne». D'où la nécessité de continuer à tenter de penser ce qui a lieu chez Platon, avec Platon, ce qui s'y montre, ce qui s'y cache, pour y gagner ou pour y perdre.
Jacques Derrida. Khôra. Gallilée (1993)

4.20.2016

T. S. Eliot: The Last Classic

Happy Birthday, Kamile.
The ideas of the city and of the province are inseparable, and while provinciality is clearly a version of exile, that condition can also exist in the city, just as traces, imitations, relics, parodies of metropolitan culture are to be found in the province. Within the limes or boundaries of empire there will be simulacra of Rome that are not Rome, that do not speak its language or even a derivative language. They are associated with the Ovidian tristia as well as the Virgilian imperium. Hugh Kenner, in a fine essay on the manuscripts, has stressed the Virgilian elements in The Waste Land, saying that Eliot, impressed by Joyce's use of Homer, "may well have had in mind at one time a kind of modern Aeneid." And it has been pointed out that the Virgil of the early poems is not quite the figure represented in Eliot's later essays about him, with their emphasis on his relation to Dante and the Christian world. Aeneas was an exile, and he never did found a city. The cities in which we see him, Troy and Carthage, are cities famous not for the manner of their foundation but for the completeness of their destruction, just as those cataloged in Eliot's poem have been or will be; so that Augustan Rome is an example not solely of a glory to which other capitals may aspire, or with which their ignominy may be contrasted, but also of the apocalyptic terrors Virgil associated with the eternal city and its empire.
It may be that after his conversation Eliot read Virgil by the light of Dante, and in a long tradition of interpretation which included the pax Augusta and the idea of Christian Empire. He developed his rich and complicated idea of the classic on this basis; he settled for a vernacular and provincial Catholicism (the Reformation, too, was a sort of exile) as the world had settled for vernacular versions oft he classic. But in so doing he did not forget the metropolitan terrors, nor that what the province took from the metropolis — images of the center entertained at the periphery, pride in partaking of the values of the urbs antiqua, and the classic authority — it repaid with the inescapable idea of exile; the more so now that the modern metropolis was itself deviant from the central image of Rome, and so itself an exile.
The sense of perpetual exile, doubtless in its orgin origin very personal, is thus associated with a religion and with a theory of history and culture; and we can see that the St. Louis and Boston, the Paris and London of the poetry ar logically connected with the idea of the classic, and of the more or less perpetual exile of literature from the classic. It would be hard to discover a poet or critic now living who shared these views, or held to any that even slightly resembled them; they are more likely to say to the classic "I banish you." And that is why we may think of Eliot as the last classic, at any rate until some new civilization should construct its own idea of the classic, and its own canon.

So here we confront yet another form of exile. Eliot was conscious of it, so often meditating the classic, so suspicious of its apparent opposite, the romantic, with which he nevertheless had such interesting relations. The more extreme modernisms were programmatically anticlassical, and Eliot knew and was affected by them. Later varieties assumed some connection between classicism and oppressive political prescription, in short, between classical and fascist order. With many aspects of these modernisms, though of course not with all, the early Eliot had a wary sympathy; they coexisted with a classicism he would not abandon, however its political implications might be deplored. The times seemed to insist on so many conflicting tendencies: the reconstruction of the past, the destruction of the past; the modernism of Dada that destroyed, or of Surrealism, associated with psychoanalysis, with what Hulme called "split religion", and a classicism that deplored everything that had happened in the world since the Renaissance. Both were of the city, the city of the political emblem of civility and the classic, but also the immonde cité of Baudelaire; a spiritual desert, yet the symbol of the urbs aeterna. In consciously holding together, as metoikos, these diverse ideas of an ideal eternity and a decadence in time, Eliot was unique among modern poets — and again an outsider, an exile from easy opinion, banished and banishing, honored and deplored.

Frank Kermode. T. S. Eliot: The Last Classic. in An Appetite for Poetry. HUP (1989)

3.30.2016

Dilige et fac quod vis

Keeping the Law 
Disciples asked the maggid of Zlotchov: "In the Talmud we read that our Father Abraham kept all the laws. How could this be, since they had not yet been given to him?" 
"All that is needful," he said, "is to love God. If you are about to do something and you think it might lessen your love, then you will know it is sin. If you are about to do something and think it will increase your love, you will know that your will is in keeping with the will of God. That is what Abraham did."
Yehiel Mikhal of Zlotchov. in Tales of the Hasidim (Martin Buber ed.), Olga Marx (trad.) Schocken Books (1947)

3.28.2016

Quando Deus falava Persa

Nor is Allah referred to as 'Our Father, who art in heaven', because, as a truly transcendent deity, he must transcend gender as well. The God of Islam encompasses both traditionally 'male' attributes such as those of generation and domination and 'female' attributes, such as those of loving-kindness and nurturance. Allah is called 'He' only because of the nature of the Arabic language, which assigns make or female to all nouns and pronouns. Indeed, it is probably not coincidental that so much mystical poetry in Islam has been written in Persian, a language with no gender markers to convey unintended theological limitations.
V. J. Cornell. Tawhid: The Recognition of the One in Islam in Islam: A Challenge for Christianity. SCM Press (1994)

3.26.2016

Distinções

[Estrangeiro] De facto, meu caro, fazer todos os esforços para separar tudo de tudo o resto não se limita a ser antes de mais algo que destoa, mas ainda por cima é a obra de alguém totalmente desprovido quer de música quer de filosofia.
[Teeteto] Então porquê?
[Estrangeiro] Separar cada coisa de tudo o resto é a forma mais segura de fazer desaparecer todo o falar, pois se há fala em nós isso deve-se ao entrelaçamento de ideias umas com as outras.
Platão. Sophista 259d9-259e6 Tradução minha
{ΞΕ.} Καὶ γάρ, ὠγαθέ, τό γε πᾶν ἀπὸ παντὸς ἐπιχειρεῖν ἀποχωρίζειν ἄλλως τε οὐκ ἐμμελὲς καὶ δὴ καὶ παντάπασιν ἀμούσου τινὸς καὶ ἀφιλοσόφου.
{ΘΕΑΙ.} Τί δή;
{ΞΕ.} Τελεωτάτη πάντων λόγων ἐστὶν ἀφάνισις τὸ διαλύειν ἕκαστον ἀπὸ πάντων· διὰ γὰρ τὴν ἀλλήλων τῶν εἰδῶν συμπλοκὴν ὁ λόγος γέγονεν ἡμῖν.

3.24.2016

Proselitismo e a Rota da Seda

It is only possible to bring things or discoveries to China, while it is impossible to bring faith.
Perhaps that is the way it is because the Jesuits brought their faith to China on sea trade routes?
Perhaps they needed to look for special routes – perhaps routes of faith?
After all, it’s said that Khan Buddhism was brought to China by one man.
On foot.
Undinė RadzevičiūtėFish and Dragons. Jayde Will (trad.) 2013.

3.22.2016

Curso da Vida // um poema do Hölderlin

Curso da Vida

Tu querias algo maior, mas o Amor empurra
nos para baixo, o sofrimento curva-se violentamente,
Mas não é em vão que nosso arco
Se vira para lá donde veio.

Para cima ou para baixo! ou já não impera na noite sagrada,
Onde a muda Natureza a sucessão dos dias medita,
Já não impera nas profundezas do Orco
Uma Medida, uma Lei?

Por isto passei eu. Pois jamais, como os Mestre mortais fazem,
Vós, Celestes, Vós que Sois Sempre,
Que eu tenha sabido, com precaução
Me haveis guiado no caminho certo.

Tudo o Humano põe à prova, dizem os Celestes,
Para que, poderosamente nutrido, aprenda a dar graças por tudo,
E compreenda a liberdade
De partir para adonde deseja.


Friedrich Hölderlin. Tradução minha.


Lebenslauf

Größeres wolltest auch du, aber die Liebe zwingt
All uns nieder, das Leid beugt gewaltiger,
Doch es kehret umsonst nicht
Unser Bogen, woher er kommt.

Aufwärts oder hinab! herrschet in heiliger Nacht,
Wo die stumme Natur werdende Tage sinnt,
Herrscht im schiefesten Orkus
Nicht ein Grades, ein Recht noch auch?

Dies erfuhr ich. Denn nie, sterblichen Meistern gleich,
Habt ihr Himmlischen, ihr Alleserhaltenden,
Daß ich wüßte, mit Vorsicht
Mich des ebenen Pfads geführt.

Alles prüfe der Mensch, sagen die Himmlischen,
Daß er, kräftig genährt, danken für alles lern,
Und verstehe die Freiheit,
Aufzubrechen, wohin er will.

3.20.2016

Sinal da Cruz

§1
»Βαδίσωμεν,» ἔφην, «ἐπὶ τὸ τῆς Ἰλιάδος Ἀθηνᾶς τέμενος». Ὁ δὲ καὶ μάλα προθύμως ἀπήγαγέ με καὶ ἀνέῳξε τὸν νεών, καὶ ὥσπερ μαρτυρόμενος ἐπέδειξέ μοι πάντα ἀκριβῶς σῶα τὰ ἀγάλματα, καὶ ἔπραξεν οὐθὲν ὧν εἰώθασιν οἱ δυσσεβεῖς ἐκεῖνοι πράττειν, ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου τοῦ δυσσεβοῦς τὸ ὑπό μνημα σκιογραφοῦντες, οὐδὲ ἐσύριττεν, ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνοι, αὐτὸς καθ' ἑαυτόν· ἡ γὰρ ἄκρα θεολογία παρ' αὐτοῖς ἐστι δύο ταῦτα, συρίττειν τε πρὸς τοὺς δαίμονας καὶ σκιογραφεῖν ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου τὸν σταυρόν.

Juliano o Filósofo. Carta XIX. Tradução minha.

"Vamos ao templo de Atena Ilíada", disse-me ele, abriu-o e guiou-me com muito entusiasmo até ao interior. Como se estivesse a dar testemunho de algo mostrou-me todas as estátuas intactas, e tudo isto sem jamais agir da maneira que os ímpios [i.e., os Cristãos] costumam agir quando desenham sobre a sua testa descrente aquele seu sinal, e sem silvar, também isso contrário deles. Isto porque a teologia deles consiste exclusivamente dessas duas coisas, silvar face aos espíritos e desenhar a cruz na testa.



§2
οὗτος ἡμῖν δέδοται ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου, ὅν τρόπον τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἡ περιτομή · δι'αὐτοῦ γὰρ οἱ πιστοὶ τῶν ἀπίστων ἀποδιιστάμεθά τε καὶ γνωριζόμεθα. οὗτος θυρεὸς καὶ ὅπλον καὶ τρόπαιον κατὰ τοῦ διαβόλου. οὗτος σφραφίς, ἵνα μὴ θίγῃ ἧμῶν ὁ ὀλοθρεύων, ὥς φησιν ἡ γραφή. Οὗτος τῶν κειμένων ἀνάστασις, τῶν ἑστώτων στήριγμα, ἀσθενῶν βακτηρία, ποιμαινομένων ῥάβδος, ἐπιστρεφόντων χειραγωγία, προκοπτόντων τελείωσις, ψυχῆς σωτηρία καὶ σώματος, πάντων κακῶν ἀποτρόπαιον, πάντων ἀγαθῶν πρόξενος, ἁμαρτίας ἀναίρεσις, φυτὸν ἀναστάσεως, ξύλον ζωῆς αἰωνίου.

João Damasceno. Exposição da Fé. Capítulo LXXXIV. Tradução minha.

Este [sinal] na testa foi-nos concedido da mesma forma que a Israel foi concedida a circuncisão. É por ele que nós os crentes nos distinguimos dos descrentes. Ele é um escudo, é uma arma, é um troféu contra o Demónio. É um selo para que o Destruidor jamais nos toque, como diz a Escritura. É ele o ressurgir daqueles que caíram, o sustento dos que se mantém de pé, o bastão dos doentes, a vara dos pastores, o trazer pela mão daqueles que voltam para trás, o destino final daqueles que avançam, a salvação da alma e do corpo, o talismã contra todos os males, o patrono de todos os bons, a destruição do pecado, o rebento da ressurreição, a árvore da vida eterna.




§3

A partir de [10:58]

3.17.2016

Theologia e Etymologia

John [Damascene]’s Christology, and the nature of his response to Monophysitism has, however, long been the subject of misunderstanding, a misunderstanding created by Friedrich Loofs (following on from the presentation of Christology by certain Protestant scholastic theologians), and popularized in the English.-speaking world by Maurice Relton. This misunderstanding is the doctrine of enhypostasia, the notion that the human nature of Christ is ‘anhypostatic’, and finds its hypostasis in that of the assuming Word, so that the Word, by becoming incarnate, accomplishes an ontological process known as ‘enhypostatization’. The error underlying this is very simple, and also typical of the etymologizing style of theology of the first half of the twentieth century, according to which words, and their supposed etymologies, had a kind of life of their own. But in fact, as Brian Daley has argued, the adjective enypostatos is not formed from the preposition en plus an adjective formed from hypostasis (suggesting the idea of being inward to a hypostasis); it is rather the simple adjective from hypostasis, the prefix en affirming the qualify designated by the root, in contrast to the prefix an, which denies it (cf. emphonos/aphonos, enylos/anylos, entimos/atimos): enypostatos, therefore, means ‘real’, and anypostatos ‘unreal’, or sometimes, more precisely, possessing (or not) concrete reality. There is no mysterious process of ‘enhypostatization’.
Andrew Louth. St John Damascene: Tradition and Originality in Byzantine Thought p.161. OUP (2002)