Hell and Neutrality

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One of my favorite books of all time, Dante’s Inferno, no matter how many times I read it, I always find a new insight and lesson to be learned.

This particular passage caught my attention this 3rd time re-reading the book. Maybe because of the overall crisis Europe is facing and maybe because I believe values and principles are one of the few things that will make people and organizations succeed in the middle of this crisis nightmare.

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
were echoing across the starless air,
so that, as soon as I [Dante] set out, I wept.

Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements,
accents of anger, words of suffering,
and voice shrill and faints, and beating hands –

All went to make a tumult that will whirl
forever through that turbid, timeless air,
like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.

And I – my head oppressed by horror – said:
“Master [Virgil], what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”

And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.

They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.

The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them –
even the wicked cannot glory in them.”

And I: “What is it, master, that oppresses
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?”
He answered: “I shall tell you in few words.

Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.

The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass.”

And I, looking more closely, saw a banner
that, as it wheeled about, raced on – so quick
that any respite seemed unsuited to it.

Behind that banner trailed so long a file
of people – I should never have believed
that death could have unmade so many souls.

After I had identified a few,
I saw and recognized the shade of him
who made, through cowardice, the great refusal.

At once I understood with certaintly:
this company contrained the cowardly,
hateful to God and to His enemies.

These wretched ones, who never were alive,
went naked and were stung again, again
by horseflies and by wasps that circled them.

The insects streaked their faces with their blood,
which, mingled with their tears, fell at their feet,
where it was gathered up by sickening worms.

Resuming this into one sentence “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”.

Recomeça

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Recomeça….
Se puderes
Sem angústia
E sem pressa.
E os passos que deres,
Nesse caminho duro
Do futuro
Dá-os em liberdade.
Enquanto não alcances
Não descanses.
De nenhum fruto queiras só metade.
E, nunca saciado,
Vai colhendo ilusões sucessivas no pomar.
Sempre a sonhar e vendo
O logro da aventura.
És homem, não te esqueças!
Só é tua a loucura Onde, com lucidez, te reconheças…

Miguel Torga

 

E perguntavam-me porque passava tanto tempo colada aos livros de Português, porque é que andava sempre com uma obra debaixo do braço…

Como é que é possível não ficar viciado na poesia Portuguesa? Como é que não vêem que um simples poema é capaz de traduzir exactamente aquelas coisas complicadas que nunca conseguimos, nós próprios expressar? Como é que não percebem o poder que estas palavras têm no imaginário de um jovem prestes a tornar-se adulto…

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here

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It’s been awhile since I’ve last written here. The thoughts, theories and ideas continue to scream in my mind, but my time, unfortunately, leaves me little space to let them out. But you are not forgotten, I just need to get used to my new life and my new passe.

Nonetheless, today on my way back to Lisbon I had time to think about something that I haven’t thought about since 2004. Maybe because it’s Easter Sunday, today I was thinking about the concept of evil and the most terrifying image of the devil that I’ve ever seen in my life: the devil that in 2004 came to life in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ. Kind of ridiculous to think about this, right?

When the movie was released in 2004 there was a really big buzz about it: people said the images were too strong, critics said the argument was all wrong, people thought the actors were just amazing, and fans cried because Jim Cazievel deserved an Oscar nomination… you name it! Fuss aside, for me, the thing I found most impressive in the movie was satan’s representation and how Mel managed to portray it so realistically.

All our lives, religion beliefs aside, we have been haunted by stories, movies and testimonials about big red horned devils, spitting fire, with a bi-forked tale and with a really scary face and mean attitude.

Satan Image

But not in The Passion of Christ… here the devil has a human form: he talks, walks and looks like one of us. His face is as pale as ice and incredibly thin. His eyes are blue, almost white, completely empty in expression. You can’t really say if it’s a he or a she, it’s both! It has no hair or eye brows or anything that would make it look like a living being. His movements are fluid and ghost-like. In fact, although it has a humanoid form, you look at it and you know instantly that there is nothing human about that creature, it’s void, it’s dead, it’s empty, it’s cold… it’s just pure evil. I don’t know why I react like this when I see the character, but to me, never has evil been so perfectly portrayed in a character.

Another thing I found really curious, is that whenever the devil appears in the movie, he appears among people, he never appears alone, always hidden in the crowd. I find that surprisingly ironic and in some way really disturbing, because most of the times when we come to face evil, it doesn’t come in a horned scary figure, it comes in the form of people’s actions and behaviors. That is why, I think, I find that image so disturbing, because it’s probably the most realistic representation of Evil: it’s hidden among people, you can’t spot it easily because it’s among your equals, it can easily get to you, touch you and you won’t know it ’till is too late.

I’m not a very religious person, I’m kind of sceptic when it comes to Christ, Saints, Prophets and all those things, but as any other person, I know that evil exists, most of us have seen it and, unfortunately, most of us have experienced it and we know it doesn’t need Satan to exist. Like Shakespeare wisely put it  “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here“.

Mel Gibson did a great job, in my opinion, he portrayed the scariest and most disturbing devil in the History of Cinema.

Challenging Conventions

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Original post from The Molempire from the same author.

In 1863, for the first time in centuries, a guy named Edouard Manet challenged what it was then known as “Art”. An anti-academist who rattled a cage that was left to rest in peace for too many centuries. Manet would make way for the biggest artistic revolution ever seen: Impressionism, Dadaism, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Futurism were the cubs of this first step towards freedom in art.

Manet_Dejeuner_sur_lherbe

With his painting Le Déjeneur sur L’Herbe – also known as The Luncheon on the Grass – he caused one of the biggest scandals ever seen in the art world: he represented two characters dressed as bourgeois eating calmly on a meadow close to a naked young lady, the society saw itself represented on the painting with all its flaws and vices, and that, of course, was considered totally inappropriate.

Not only did the painting introduce a whole new thematic, but it also came up with a completely new technique: the painting was compact, without wasted strokes, without flourishes, clean compared to the baroque works that were reproduced to the minimal detail. This single painting opened ground for Impressionism.

With the Impressionism era, artists began to paint according to their feelings and their “impressions” of reality: they weren’t looking for realism, but for emotion and hidden meanings within the strokes. This revolution, freed the next generation of artists, they had found a totally new playground to explore: new perspectives, new meanings, new interpretations, new techniques.

A single painting managed to bore an endless number of art movements; a single man managed to create new horizons for art. Evolution as we know it, is made by Manets: people who rattle cages, people who break through conventions and defy standards, common men and women that dared to be different.

creation-of-adam-michaelangelo

The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo

“Man was created in the image of God”

Believe it or not, you all have the ability to create: your free-will, your creativity, your personality, your mind are powerful tools. You just need to have the guts to put them to work.

As Good As It Gets

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Not the best month of my life, specially the last few weeks…
As a good movie fan, I usually go to the cinema twice a week and today was the perfect day for my weekly fix! I was going to let go of all my problems and stress inside that magical little dark room where I can always relax and think clearly about all of life’s mysteries… Guess what happened?

I was talking on the phone while I was driving (I was talking to my mom about an emergency in the arrangement of my dog’s funeral), when a cop politely asks me to pull over. “This is my lucky day“… I got a beautiful and expensive ticket and the possibility of being forbidden to drive. So, right then I though “Well, I WAS going to get my weekly fix of peace and quiet… not anymore I guess”. And after this “pleasant” third degree encounter with the Police, without any control over my reactions I start crying. Fortunately, it didn’t last long,  my imagination got the best of me, and a memory of a movie just popped into my head, that movie was no other than “As good as it gets“. I love this movie because it basically puts out there every lousy aspect of your life and makes fun of it, slams into you face how ridiculous some situations are, how ironic this life can be and how the only way to get through it is with good humor and a dash of irony… Irony can be a powerful tool!

So what’s the lesson here? Well, no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse! Just kidding, now seriously… I think no matter how bad things are, you always have the power and ability to turning them around and making them better, you can make these things work FOR you and not against you. Through laughter, patience and strength you can turn your problems into lovely stories to tell your kids, free lessons and unique tools to build your own stairs to overcome those apparently colossal walls…


What if this is as good as it gets?” Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets

A Travessia

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Porque a mudança assusta e apoquenta, mas também dá vida…. É a peça crucial da evolução…

Há um tempo em que é preciso abandonar as roupas usadas, que já tem a forma do nosso corpo, e esquecer os nossos caminhos, que nos levam sempre aos mesmos lugares. É o tempo da travessia: e, se não ousarmos fazê-la, teremos ficado, para sempre, à margem de nós mesmos.

Fernando Pessoa

“Heads Will Roll”

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A couple a days ago I was talking with a friend of mine about favorite movies. My personal favorite is Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. I remember that when it was released in 1999, I saw it like 6 times when it was playing in the movie theaters (only paid for 2 tickets since back then I had a really close friend working at the movie theater). But where does my fascination with the movie come from?

First of all the Story itself – it’s based on a children’s novel by Washington Irving – the quest for the legendary headless horseman that suspiciously kills Sleepy Hollow’s inhabitants. This story manages to gather all the main plot genres (horror, mystery, adventure, fantasy, romance, action, comedy) in the most perfect and appealing screenplay I had ever seen.

The Scenario – Tim Burton once again proved his genius and managed to create the most magical scenario to help deliver this horror tale.

The Actors – the cast was brilliant: Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Walken, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Lee and of course the leading man Jonhy Depp. Definitely one of his best performances, he was just hilarious!

Last but not least the MESSAGE behind the story: although the movie is held on a fantasy environment, the characters dramas and the lessons they learn along the way fit perfectly into our reality.

We’re presented with 2 different realities and mindsets: the backward thinking of Sleepy Hollow’s citizens that believe in witchcraft, “ghouls and goblins” and the forward mind of New York’s Constable Crane, a science man that believes in nothing but “sense and reason, cause and consequence“. The arrival of Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow to investigate the mysterious murders by the Headless Horseman, generates a conflict between these 2 mindsets: sense and reason don’t seem to work in the backward town and Ichabod is forced to consider that there might be some things that go beyond our common understanding. As he unveils the mystery, he gets to know 2 lovely characters, Katrina and young Masbath, and his science is put to the test. The empirical knowledge from Sleepy Hollow’s citizens and the common understanding based on appearances are also put to the test: the citizens start to believe that the “scientific props” and theories might help them solve this dark mystery.

Well… I will not tell you how the movie ends (although I love to be a spoiler), but I can tell you that both parts learn their lesson through an equilibrium of forces.

Sense and reason are in fact the primary tools of evolution and knowledge, but life not always obeys those laws. There are things that happen without sense or reason, that go beyond our ability to understand what surrounds us and we must always be prepared to accept them and not be blinded by reason. As for empirical knowledge and appearances, well we all know how vicious appearances can be… “It is truth, but truth is not always appearance

“Are you so certain of everything?”