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Ouriquense

25
Set12

Oh my...

Eremita
Não temos o hábito de divulgar a agenda cultural lisboeta, mas creio que estamos na presença de uma boa ideia. Saudamos já a ousadia que é fundir dois grandes títulos (Waiting for Godot+ Moby-Dick).  Conto enviar um representante de Ourique a este evento e será feito um relato detalhado. 
24
Set12

David Cameron lê Moby-Dick

Eremita

David Austen



...and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin like-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side.


 

Uma vez, em Nova Iorque, jantei com um homem que fez uma tese sobre Moby-Dick. Foi há muitos anos e entretanto li o livro (sem parir tese), mas creio que nunca mais encontrei ninguém com quem partilhar este culto. Há melvillianos no Alentejo? Duvido.

 

Nos tops continua um livro de um menino que viu o céu ou algo assim. Estamos a ficar doidos. Oiçam este podcast, leiam isto.  Salvemo-nos. 



21
Ago10

Epílogo

Eremita

 

 

"And I only am escaped alone to tell thee." JOB

 

The Drama's DoneWhy then here does any one step forth? - Because one did survive the wreck.

 

It so chanced, that after the Parsee's disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Ahab's bowsman, when that bowsman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day the three men were tossed from out the rocking boat, was dropped astern. So. floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the half-spent suction of the sunk ship reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another ixion I did revolve. till gaining that vital centre, the black bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin like-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirge-like main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

 

 

25
Jul10

The Carpenter

Eremita

 

 

 

Seat thyself sultanically among the moons of Saturn, and take high abstracted man alone; and he seems a wonder, a grandeur, and a woe. But from the same point, take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates, both contemporary and hereditary. But most humble though he was, and far from furnishing an example of the high, humane abstraction; the Pequod's carpenter was no duplicate; hence, he now comes in person on this stage.

 

Like all sea-going ship carpenters, and more especially those belonging to whaling vessels, he was, to a certain off-hand, practical extent, alike experienced in numerous trades and callings collateral to his own; the carpenter's pursuit being the ancient and outbranching trunk of all those numerous handicrafts which more or less have to do with wood as an auxiliary material. (...)


... This carpenter was prepared at all points, and alike indifferent and without respect in all. Teeth he accounted bits of ivory; heads he deemed but top-blocks; men themselves he lightly held for capstans. But while now upon so wide a field thus variously accomplished and with such liveliness of expertness in him, too; all this would seem to argue some uncommon vivacity of intelligence. But not precisely so. For nothing was this man more remarkable, than for a certain impersonal stolidity as it were; impersonal, I say; for it so shaded off into the surrounding infinite of things, that it seemed one with the general stolidity discernible in the whole visible world; which while pauselessly active in uncounted modes, still eternally holds its peace, and ignores you, though you dig foundations for cathedrals. Yet was this half-horrible stolidity in him, involving, too, as it appeared, an all-ramifying heartlessness;-yet was it oddly dashed at times, with an old, crutch-like, antediluvian, wheezing humorousness, not unstreaked now and then with a certain grizzled wittiness; such as might have served to pass the time during the midnight watch on the bearded forecastle of Noah's ark. Was it that this old carpenter had been a life-long wanderer, whose much rolling, to and fro, not only had gathered no moss; but what is more, had rubbed off whatever small outward clingings might have originally pertained to him? He was a stript abstract; an unfractioned integral; uncompromised as a new-born babe; living without premeditated reference to this world or the next. You might almost say, that this strange uncompromisedness in him involved a sort of unintelligence; for in his numerous trades, he did not seem to work so much by reason or by instinct, or simply because he had been tutored to it, or by any intermixture of all these, even or uneven; but merely by kind of deaf and dumb, spontaneous literal process. He was a pure manipulater; his brain, if he had ever had one, must have early oozed along into the muscles of his fingers. He was like one of those unreasoning but still highly useful, multum in parvo, Sheffield contrivances, assuming the exterior-though a little swelled-of a common pocket knife; but containing, not only blades of various sizes, but also screw-drivers, cork-screws, tweezers, awls, pens, rulers, nail-filers, countersinkers. So, if his superiors wanted to use the carpenter for a screw-driver, all they had to do was to open that part of him, and the screw was fast: or if for tweezers, take him up by the legs, and there they were.

 

Yet, as previously hinted, this omnitooled, open-and-shut carpenter, was, after all, no mere machine of an automaton. If he did not have a common soul in him, he had a subtle something that somehow anomalously did its duty. What that was, whether essence of quicksilver, or a few drops of hartshorn, there is no telling. But there it was; and there it had abided for now some sixty years or more. And this it was, this same unaccountable, cunning life-principle in him; this it was, that kept him a great part of the time soliloquizing; but only like an unreasoning wheel, which also hummingly soliloquizes; or rather, his body was a sentry-box and this soliloquizer on guard there, and talking all the time to keep himself awake. Cap. 107

05
Jul10

Queequeg in his Coffin

Eremita

 

 

Hélio J.S. Alves seleccionou textos de crítica literária de Fernando Pessoa e dei instruções para que comprassem o livro, pois ando há anos a tentar reencontrar um texto de Pessoa sobre literatura infantil que considero a melhor crítica escrita em português que alguma vez li. Infelizmente, Hélio J.S. Alves não é da minha opinião e esse texto não foi seleccionado. Mas isso nem sequer seria um problema se este livro fosse mais do que um apanhado de textos organizado segundo  critérios que, no fundo, são uma forma de baralhar para voltar a dar. Será que não vai sendo altura de os pessoanos deixarem de tentar vender gato por lebre?

 

De momento racho lenha para o Inverno e não há vagar para uma crítica detalhada, mas é inadmissível que um livro destes, destinado ao grande público, seja tão parco em notas de rodapé. E é inadmissível que o material seja publicado sem a menor atenção. Por exemplo, num texto que Pessoa abre com as qualidades que devem contar para um obra de arte (a originalidade, a construtividade e o poder de suspensão), parece haver uma transmutação do tal "poder de suspensão" para "poder de sugestão", visto que é esse o termo usado por Pessoa na parte final do texto. O leitor fica na dúvida se são termos sinónimos, embora seja muito fácil defender uma distinção entre poder de suspensão e poder de sugestão, ou se há no texto um lapso de Pessoa. Era obrigação do responsável pela edição prestar um esclarecimento.

 

Suspensão. Sugestão. Whatever. O episódio em que Queequeng morre é sublime. Aqui fica, abridged comme il faut e com anotações minhas de erudição inferior à que Hélio J.S. Alves decidiu não exibir.

 

(...)


Now, at this time it was that my poor pagan companion, and fast bosom-friend, Queequeg, was seized with a fever, which brought him nigh to his endless end. Be it said, that in this vocation of whaling, sinecures are unknown; dignity and danger go hand in hand; till you get to be Captain, the higher you rise the harder you toil. So with poor Queequeg, who, as harpooneer, must not only face all the rage of the living whale, but-as we have elsewhere seen-mount his dead back in a rolling sea; and finally descend into the gloom of the hold, and bitterly sweating all day in that subterraneous confinement, resolutely manhandle the clumsiest casks and see to their stowage. To be short, among whalemen, the harpooneers are the holders, so called.

 

Poor Queequeg! when the ship was about half disembowelled, you should have stooped over the hatchway, and peered down upon him there; where, stripped to his woollen drawers, the tattooed savage was crawling about amid that dampness and slime, like a green spotted lizard at the bottom of a well. And a well, or an ice-house, it somehow proved to him, poor pagan; where, strange to say, for all the heat of his sweatings, he caught a terrible chill which lapsed into a fever; and at last, after some days' suffering, laid him in his hammock, close to the very sill of the door of death. How he wasted and wasted away in those few long-lingering days, till there seemed but little left of him but his frame and tattooing. But as all else in him thinned, and his cheek-bones grew sharper, his eyes, nevertheless, seemed growing fuller and fuller; they became of a strange softness of lustre; and mildly but deeply looked out at you there from his sickness, a wondrous testimony to that immortal health in him which could not die, or be weakened. And like circles on the water, which, as they grow fainter, expand; so his eyes seemed rounding and rounding, like the rings of Eternity. An awe that cannot be named would steal over you as you sat by the side of this waning savage, and saw as strange things in his face, as any beheld who were bystanders when Zoroaster died. For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books. And the drawing near of Death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation, which only an author from the dead could adequately tell. So that-let us say it again-no dying Chaldee or Greek had higher and holier thoughts than those, whose mysterious shades you saw creeping over the face of poor Queequeg, as he quietly lay in his swaying hammock, and the rolling sea seemed gently rocking him to his final rest, and the ocean's invisible flood-tide lifted him higher and higher towards his destined heaven. [Porra!]


 

 

16
Jun10

A Squeeze of the Hand

Eremita

 

Quanto menos se souber de biologia de cetáceos, mais divertida esta passagem vai parecer. Em todo o caso, é apenas o segundo momento de contida sexualidade e estou quase a chegar à página 400.

 

While some were occupied with this latter duty, others were employed in dragging away the larger tubs, so soon as filled with the sperm; and when the proper time arrived, this same sperm was carefully manipulated ere going to the try-works, of which anon.

It had cooled and crystallized to such a degree, that when, with several others, I sat down before a large Constantine's bath of it, I found it strangely concreted into lumps, here and there rolling about in the liquid part. It was our business to squeeze these lumps back into fluid. A sweet and unctuous duty! No wonder that in old times this sperm was such a favourite cosmetic. Such a clearer! such a sweetener! such a softener! such a delicious molifier! After having my hands in it for only a few minutes, my fingers felt like eels, and began, as it were, to serpentine and spiralise.

As I sat there at my ease, cross-legged on the deck; after the bitter exertion at the windlass; under a blue tranquil sky; the ship under indolent sail, and gliding so serenely along; as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues, woven almost within the hour; as they richly broke to my fingers, and discharged all their opulence, like fully ripe grapes their wine; as I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma,--literally and truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that for the time I lived as in a musky meadow; I forgot all about our horrible oath; in that inexpressible sperm, I washed my hands and my heart of it; I almost began to credit the old Paracelsan superstition that sperm is of rare virtue in allaying the heat of anger; while bathing in that bath, I felt divinely free from all ill-will, or petulance, or malice, of any sort whatsoever.

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,--Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever! For now, since by many prolonged, repeated experiences, I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the intellect or the fancy; but in the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fireside, the country; now that I have perceived all this, I am ready to squeeze case eternally. In thoughts of the visions of the night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti.

Now, while discoursing of sperm, it behooves to speak of other things akin to it, in the business of preparing the sperm whale for the try-works.

First comes white-horse, so called, which is obtained from the tapering part of the fish, and also from the thicker portions of his flukes. It is tough with congealed tendons--a wad of muscle--but still contains some oil. After being severed from the whale, the white-horse is first cut into portable oblongs ere going to the mincer. They look much like blocks of Berkshire marble. Capítulo 94

 

14
Jun10

Strawberries

Eremita

 

The sperm whale, as with all other species of the Leviathan, but unlike most other fish, breeds indifferently at all seasons; after a gestation which may probably be set down at nine months, producing but one at a time; though in some few known instances giving birth to an Esau and Jacob:--a contingency provided for in suckling by two teats, curiously situated, one on each side of the anus; but the breasts themselves extend upwards from that. When by chance these precious parts in a nursing whale are cut by the hunter's lance, the mother's pouring milk and blood rivallingly discolour the sea for rods. The milk is very sweet and rich; it has been tasted by man; it might do well with strawberries. Nota de rodapé, capítulo 87

 

 


11
Jun10

Um autodidacta

Eremita

 

 

Neste nosso mundo imperfeito, o autodidacta é apresentado como uma criatura que faz um percurso de aprendizagem à margem do ensino tradicional. Num mundo perfeito, o ensino tradicional apenas existiria para formar autodidactas eficientes, tão depressa quanto possível. A verdadeira função do ensino seria colocar todo o indivíduo diante daquela floresta virgem onde ninguém lhe pode dizer "agora vais por ali", só lhe restando ir abrindo caminho à catanada. No fundo, um investigador é um selvagem na floresta tropical que é o desconhecido. Naturalmente, o verdadeiro investigador é um autodidacta, só se distinguindo do autodidacta amador porque este resolveu pegar na catana para desbastar caminho por entre as sebes ordenadas do jardim do Palácio de Versailles, o que geralmente não produz grandes descobertas para a humanidade, apenas satisfação pessoal. A incapacidade de perceber estas noções tão elementares criou duas figuras trágicas: o investigador que não é autodidacta, uma figura que nunca produzirá conhecimento,  e o autodidacta que não é um investigador, uma figura que só colecciona conhecimento alheio.

 

Um dos traços mais apelativos de Moby Dick é o modo como o conhecimento de um autodidacta nos é transmitido. Melville já era um autodidacta amadurecido quando escreveu o livro. Compare-se a sua sapiência com os rudimentos de fado à wikipedia que João Tordo debita no seu romance Hotel Memória, para percebermos a diferença. Melville estudou para escrever o livro, mas antes disso adquiriu bagagem, aparentemente sem grande propósit; Tordo surfou a web entre a escrita de dois capíitulos para sacar umas cenas de fado e compor uma personagem. Melville escreve como um nerd; Tordo tem a eficiência de um escriba da Lonely Planet. E quem queremos levar para a ilha deserta? A nerdiness de Moby Dick, claro. É uma nerdiness tolerável, porque genuína, e uma nerdiness essencial, pois prepara o caminho para a verdadeira literatura. O capítulo sobre cetáceos lê-se com o entusiasmo de quem, para leitura de mesa-de-cabeceira, só encontrou no quarto de hóspedes uma chave dicotómica de escaravelhos, mas muitos capítulos depois encontramos uma descrição do olho e da visão do cachalote que é provavelmente o que de melhor li até hoje sobre qualquer animal, sem excluir a mulher. E quando aí se chega, o capítulo sobre cetáceos faz finalmente sentido, como se a dissonância de um prolongado acorde finalmente resolvesse. Hitchens, Amis, McEwan, beat this:

 

Now, from this peculiar sideway position of the whale's eyes, it is plain that he can never see an object which is exactly ahead, no more than he can one exactly astern. In a word, the position of the whale's eyes corresponds to that of a man's ears; and you may fancy, for yourself, how it would fare with you, did you sideways survey objects through your ears. You would find that you could only command some thirty degrees of vision in advance of the straight side-line of sight; and about thirty more behind it. If your bitterest foe were walking straight towards you, with dagger uplifted in broad day, you would not be able to see him, any more than if he were stealing upon you from behind. In a word, you would have two backs, so to speak; but, at the same time, also, two fronts (side fronts): for what is it that makes the front of a man--what, indeed, but his eyes?

 

Moreover, while in most other animals that I can now think of, the eyes are so planted as imperceptibly to blend their visual power, so as to produce one picture and not two to the brain; the peculiar position of the whale's eyes, effectually divided as they are by many cubic feet of solid head, which towers between them like a great mountain separating two lakes in valleys; this, of course, must wholly separate the impressions which each independent organ imparts. The whale, therefore, must see one distinct picture on this side, and another distinct picture on that side; while all between must be profound darkness and nothingness to him. Man may, in effect, be said to look out on the world from a sentry-box with two joined sashes for his window. But with the whale, these two sashes are separately inserted, making two distinct windows, but sadly impairing the view. This peculiarity of the whale's eyes is a thing always to be borne in mind in the fishery; and to be remembered by the reader in some subsequent scenes.

 

A curious and most puzzling question might be started concerning this visual matter as touching the Leviathan. But I must be content with a hint. So long as a man's eyes are open in the light, the act of seeing is involuntary; that is, he cannot then help mechanically seeing whatever objects are before him. Nevertheless, any one's experience will teach him, that though he can take in an undiscriminating sweep of things at one glance, it is quite impossible for him, attentively, and completely, to examine any two things--however large or however small--at one and the same instant of time; never mind if they lie side by side and touch each other. But if you now come to separate these two objects, and surround each by a circle of profound darkness; then, in order to see one of them, in such a manner as to bring your mind to bear on it, the other will be utterly excluded from your contemporary consciousness. How is it, then, with the whale? True, both his eyes, in themselves, must simultaneously act; but is his brain so much more comprehensive, combining, and subtle than man's, that he can at the same moment of time attentively examine two distinct prospects, one on one side of him, and the other in an exactly opposite direction? If he can, then is it as marvellous a thing in him, as if a man were able simultaneously to go through the demonstrations of two distinct problems in Euclid. Nor, strictly investigated, is there any incongruity in this comparison.

 

It may be but an idle whim, but it has always seemed to me, that the extraordinary vacillations of movement displayed by some whales when beset by three or four boats; the timidity and liability to queer frights, so common to such whales; I think that all this indirectly proceeds from the helpless perplexity of volition, in which their divided and diametrically opposite powers of vision must involve them.

 

But the ear of the whale is full as curious as the eye. If you are an entire stranger to their race, you might hunt over these two heads for hours, and never discover that organ. The ear has no external leaf whatever; and into the hole itself you can hardly insert a quill, so wondrously minute is it. It is lodged a little behind the eye. With respect to their ears, this important difference is to be observed between the sperm whale and the right. While the ear of the former has an external opening, that of the latter is entirely and evenly covered over with a membrane, so as to be quite imperceptible from without.

 

Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare's? Capítulo 74

 

 

 

 

 

 

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