Só despojados é que somos livres
Vergílio Ferreira, Na tua face, 1993.
The book is not ready yet. There is the most difficult part missing. To get rid of myself, my youth, things accumulated in 1993, in 1996, in 1998, in 2003.
I think about fat people, how difficult for them to get slim; and even if by any miracle they manage, how their empty skin falls helplessly down to their knees. Have I been a fat girl, intellectually, with all my Portuguese studies? Or just anorexic, staring to distorted shadow?
Be as it may, what matters now is to get rid, and be light and ready for new things to come. And nonetheless, I linger.
It is not like when I was writing Pokusa pustyni, but by no means lighter.
I linger, unable to detach from myself, my old self. And I know there is no future without it, and there is no time left any more. I should be searching for my new life now, buying new apartment in either Amsterdam or Berlin, all my stuff packed and ready to go. The worst option is to linger now.
And I'm like Ricardo Reis in Lisbon, in Saramago. Falling asleep over my own verses.
La belle au bois dormant. Sleeping in the palace where she had never been. I pace the National Library of Portugal up and down, that's a proud name, and I think I might just leave and never come back to this again. My work is done, and this might be the core of the problem. E agora?
I might leave right now just as I stay, and never come back to this place again. I've collected all my materials, read all the books that were missing. Hardly a couple of pages is missing to complete my work. Or in any case I might leave in two weeks, and never come back to this place again.
As I stay, the sensation that I'm back to 1998 is more and more consistent. There is the same mirror in the bathroom where I was admiring my slim body in 1998. Perhaps the secret of the country's misery is the way how things conserve themselves, not the way how they decay. No thing requires to be substituted. The matter is inert, and confers the same quality to people and ideas.
I'm sitting on my old chair, N14, and the sheets of paper in front of me are literally the same, I mean my original notes made in 1998. I only forgot to bring the same fountain pen. I must still have it, it is somewhere at home.
There was no Afonso Cruz at that time yet. But Afonso Cruz is essentially the same story. I feel the same smell of it, falling down to the same bottom of the hole, in Flores, 2015. With his golem of the revolution, that his Ulme didn't manage to make alive. All Saramago must be essentially about the same thing. Perhaps this is the only progress I achieved, they achieved. Now we are a little bit higher up to look down over the very same thing that mattered thence as it matters now. Perhaps I could write it down in my new book.
Yes I need a new book, all my new books. To get through to myself before it's too late. Otherwise my empty skin will always pend down to my knees, even if by any miracle I manage to get through later on. This is the price of lingering.
comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un paraplui
The day I met Eduardo Lourenço, then. I didn't really expect it. It was a surprise he came to our meeting at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, just because one of the project was to study & translate his Labirinto da Saudade.
At the first moment, I was just looking, not sure how to take the case on. I've been having those awful encounters with famous intellectuals, full of pretence and American habits, as it was with Markowski and others. But this one was completely Portuguese, shy and modest, and tiny in his manners, as if nothing. At the end I would say he was a charming person, as an intellectual should be, and clever to recognise his equal, as those Polish ones never are.
I talked to him quite a lot later on, during the lunch, but at the meeting, as I was sitting near him, I was staring with the corner of my eye, calculating silently and making a balance in my head. How much is Eduardo Lourenço? Certainly, as I write my book now, cutting down the footnotes, he is the last to remain, as a scholar. His vision of Portugal has been shaping mine; it's only quite recently that I've started to get rid of the repetitive aspect of this influence. And there is more than this. In the Empire and Nostalgia, he is one of the three heroes, the three dispatriants: it is Sena, Saramago and Lourenço. The tiniest, the shiest, the most localised of them, but necessary to make the balance and the triangulation. My topic would never exist without the three of them; between themselves, they make a country.
I waved the hand that triangulated a country, between empire and nostalgia. Should I rather have kissed it?