Category Archives: family

A carnalidade

Poem originally written in Italian for my great uncle Gilberto Grasso, who I lived with in Santarem, Brazil, over the summer. It is very special to me, as is my uncle Gil, who, at the age of 80, still burns with what Pasolini (one of his favourite Italian authors) would call ‘desperate vitality’. Thank you for overwhelming me with your immense love for life, literature, cinema, romance, fun, debate, and all the ups and downs this world’s got to offer.

Zio Gil and his friend Deonito, Language professor at the University of Santarém, helped me translate the poem into the beautiful language it deserves to be in. (Below a rough English translation for those who need it).


A carnalidade jogue tudo na brasa.

Eu, que sempre mergulhei nas gentes,
A procura de um tudo
que apagasse cada minha curiosidade.

E que sempre mais esvaziada me foi acordada,
Apagada-se a duvida
Que era a minha vitalidade.

Tu es demais incontrolável para mim,
Demais fora do lugar.
Eu, que cambaleio nas margens da loucura,
Ainda demais regulada.

E me pergunto se tu
és verdadeiramente livre,
Se o homem verdadeiramente
pode aprender em ser livre.

Quando o teu ser fica marcado daquele momento,
No qual tu abaixas-te para afivelar a bota
Ou em olhar uma linda mulher e não uma outra.

Aqueles momentos te acorrentam a este mundo
Que nos acompanha sozinhos,
dos vinte e quatro aos oitenta.

Quando penses saudoso ao passado,
Naquele que é, que não foi.
E quando procuras de viver desesperadamente
Para não te sentir apagar totalmente.

È bem verdade que nÓS poetas
somos calculadores – niilistas miseráveis.
È bem verdade que eu, sou espelho ornamental
Das emoções que me cercam.

Mas absorvo, te garanto que absorvo.
E estas vidas que cabem em mim,
Estas luzes que cabem em mim,
Saiam de mim mais coloridas, cheias.


Carnality turns the world to ashes.
A life spent diving into people,
Seeking fullness to quench curiosity.
Yet rising emptier each morning,
Extinguished the doubt, extinguished the clout.
You’re too unruly for me, too out of place.
I’m still staggering on the margins of madness
And yet I am still too restrained.
And I ask myself if you really are free,
if a man can truly ever learn to be free.
When you’re tainted by that moment
when you stopped to tie your shoelace
or lay eyes on a pretty girl and not another.
Moments like these glue you to this word,
that chaperones our lonely journey
from age twenty to age eighty.
When you think, with ‘saudade’, to the past
to what happened and what didn’t.
When you try to live desperately,
to not fade out entirely.
And maybe what you said is true:
Us writers are calculating, misery-breeding nihilists,
And maybe I am, indeed, just an ornamental mirror
Throwing back the life and emotions around me.
But I promise I sponge it all up
And these lives that soak in,
These lights that soak in
Come back out more colourful and full.

Post #14 – Incomprehensions, Reason and Grandiose Beliefs (featuring Edgar Lee Masters)

Today, dear friend, I realised I had become a faulty puzzle piece: incapable of communicating with you. The sound of my voice left the bubble of my mind with powerful distortion. And my magnified words, filtered by anger and resentment, would weigh heavily in your ears, incomprehensible. And of course you would confuse the strain on my face for disgust.

I think my words might have changed, grown darker. Maybe what makes perfect sense in my mind is gibberish to your ears. Was I really that simple, only five years ago? I wonder what happened during this time: I have not only lost my mind, but maybe my grasp on reality as well. Or rather my ability to settle and adapt to your reality. I envision myself as clever and thoughtful, and for this reason maybe I feel superior, to the likes of people who avoid preoccupation. But maybe I am delusional. The doctors say I’m delusional: they say my ideas are grandiose and impossible and, unlike everyone else, you seem to agree with them. If I’m delusional why am I like honey to all these clever bees? But who are they to deem me a role model, who are you to profess me unreasonable, who are any of you to judge? Every unexplored and unconventional field of science, knowledge or consciousness has been deemed grandiose at some point in time.

I am not convinced that there is a page for me in the annals of history. I’m not even sure I shall contribute to the world order in anyway. I am simply following my gut, which for once in my life seems to be in accordance with my ideas, with science and with progress. So what if my ideas are grandiose and unrealistic? If any of you could give me a semi-accurate description of what reality means to us all, I might take your arguments seriously. But you are all clinging with a vice like grip to what you know and you’ve been told. You call me irrational but even logic and reason are irrational! You are accusing me of deviating from a perception of the world that has been proved incomplete. Who is to say that mine isn’t more accurate?

Maybe this “psychosis”, “dissociative state” or whatever, has been the most realistic aspect of my life. I have no conscious grip on this part of me. And my conscious reflections are made up by all I have learned and stored. But what we’ve learned and stored may be wrong. Maybe my thoughts are too influenced, and I cannot see clearly. I am only ever certain of anything when I hear things and see things that others do not. I am certain then, that that is my reality. If only I can see it, it means no earthly phenomenon has put it there to change me and teach me. It is pure, immoral and inhuman. Maybe it is a very visceral and honest part of me and my essence.

I cannot know this at this point in history and certainly cannot claim such a folly through scientific logic. What I can do is listen to my gut a bit more, and do things that make me happy, whether they be clinically validated to do so or not. I may go through many ups and downs, critiques and miscomprehension’s, but never will I ever give up on a life of courage, love and beauty. I will not let fear control me or let apathy grasp me in it’s comfortingly numb tentacles. To understand and to accept the beautiful and dangerous beast that is life, but not to fight and push it away. To contemplate all with lightheartedness and childish curiosity, but not to empty my head of all that could potentially harm me.


On this note, here is a pretty awesome poem by Edgar Lee Masters:

I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me —
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbour.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire —
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

(George Gray, Masters E.L, 1916)

Post #13 – On Relationships

A person I love very much once told me: ‘if you want to be happy, you need to surround yourself with people who make you feel happy, and eliminate relationships that cause you negative emotions’. At the time I didn’t agree with this person. I believed that suffering for those you care for and sharing their pain was an act of love and affection. For this reason I have often put other’s happiness before my own. Today, after much consideration, I have decided to follow this person’s advice. The ironic element of my decision, is that it is precisely this person, or rather the world he lives in, from which I have decided to distance myself.

I still believe what I did a few years ago: the word relationship, whether it be referred to romance, friendship or family, implies a certain duality and interaction. If this interaction is one sided, it is not a healthy relationship. The world we live in is far from being perfect and I believe that everyone has their issues and their suffering. A relationship occurs when both parties are prepared the take a bit of the edge of the other’s pain, and take a bit of their weight upon their shoulders.

However when this weight becomes unbearable, and comes at the cost of severe personal unhappiness, the relationship is no longer healthy. I do not believe in long term obligations and commitments, or in forcing these to persist against all odds. Helping those we love, and sacrificing other aspects of our lives for them, ought to be an act that in some way makes us happy, and has a cathartic effect on our existence. Seeing the pleasure that our actions cause on another’s face ought to light us up and not drag us down. When our sacrifices put us in a place where we are angry, scared and become more of an obligation than a natural act of kindness, I believe our negative disposition may hinder rather than enforce the relationship, making the other even more unhappy and guilty for making us feel their pain.

Distancing ourselves from these negative environment is perhaps, the only way we can safeguard the relationship. I believe that fear makes us cling to situations we no longer have under control. Forcing relationship changes us, and can lead to anger and envy. Of a painless existence, of easy air to breathe. Today I have decided to recognise the forcefulness of this inauspicious situation and take a step back, not just for myself but for us and everyone involved.