Reign of the Table

With a large part of the populus at war with various long-standing and once-believed-sensible institutions — government, the economy, even society itself — it comes as no surprise that our timeless scorn of bureaucracy hasn’t let up either. In fact, you could make a good case for this shared hatred to have the potential to bridge the political divide that has been growing in many Western countries. Finally, something on which we can all agree.

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De Gustibus

Coming Clean on my Relationship to Drugs

I used to say that with a smoker for a parent, fate leaves you two options: you either join them in their addiction (and it will feel oh-so-rebellious at the time) or you grow to become an evangelical non-smoker. I took the latter route, my brother the former.

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My Natural Idiom

I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. (…) Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.

— W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

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An Ode to João

Há novos muros de Berlim, novas cortinas de ferro, novas barreiras, ódios velhos renovados. Os famintos e perseguidos batem à porta dos prósperos — prósperos estes muitas vezes às custas dos que exploraram tanto tempo — e as portas se fecham. O diferente é visto com desconfiança ou desprezo. (…) A diversidade é a glória do homem, mas a rejeitamos pelo desejo de uma uniformidade castradora e falsamente segura. Foram quinze meses em Berlim. Storkwinkel 12, Halensee, pertinho da Rathenauplatz. Foi muito bom: temeremos menos, compreenderemos mais e, se Deus for servido, amaremos mais.

— João Ubaldo Ribeiro, Um Brasileiro em Berlim

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A Semi-Autobiographical Story*

*) The events in question are fictionalized only insofar as my brain failed to recall them in the correct order and context. So to stitch it all back together took some narrative embellishments here and there. I recommend that you check out the first post I made about summer camp before delving into this one, so click here if you haven’t read it yet.

Only a few days after I had arrived home from camp, I found myself walking up a hillside, wheezing audibly with each step. I had been going by bike for as long as I didn’t mind passing over asphalt but quickly resorted to hiking after I had spotted a more appealing route at the roadside: an opening in the woods. I locked my bike to a post that was also a bus stop, crossed the road, and sped up the incline.

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The Atrocity of Composition

I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or a gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. (…) Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing — a sunset or an old shoe — in absolute and simple amazement.

— Raymond Carver, “On Writing”

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Que Pena

Here we are: another university term of feigned confidence is drawing to a close. I’m officially done with exams, and semester break is holding me in its warm embrace. You know what that means: time to celebrate my freedom from the clutches of education by giving an unsolicited account of my intellectual progress!

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