Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fernando Pessoa

My Motherland is NOT the Portuguese Language

(This was supposed to be my first post, to explain my unpatriotic choice of English. My lack of experience got it published somewhere in the blogger's virtual space and I could only retrieve it, by chance, two days a go. There:

I liked a lot the Neurology of Language when I was in my finishing year at the Medical School and lectures on the subject took place in atmospheric rooms sacred by the (then) only Portuguese Nobel Prize, Egas Moniz. I keep thinking, from then on, that in the same way we need an "ether" in Physics to support weak interactions between particles there must exist a "Brain Language". A "brain language" (hopefully a little bit more romantic than binary code) to support how we store and manipulate thoughts and concepts in their whereabouts between neuronal highways, synaptic piazzas and neurotransmitters chill out rooms.

What makes a writer 'patriotic' is the motherland of his way of thinking not the language he chooses to write in. Dostoevsky is a Russian writer writing in Russian but Nabokov, when writing in English, is no lesser a Russian writer than when he writes in Russian. It's the end-product that reveals the identity. The national/patriotic identity cannot be ascribed to a language.

Fernando Pessoa, by far the most exceptional non-glamorous poet of all times (Pound's white shirts, Elliot's suits, Cavafy's carefully polished boots had some glamour - and they are the only poets on the same league), once wrote, unfortunately, that "A minha Pátria é a língua portuguesa" (What I take as my Motherland is the Portuguese language"). All mediocre politicians in my country have quoted that line at least once. Gives them the kudos of Men of Culture. (almost a contradiction in terms: a cultured politician). They use it to feel that their nationalistic claim is in a somewhat higher moral ground. They avoid both tribal history or (Goodness, no!) some bizarre DNA combinations, but stick to that unique feature, those particular words, that dictionary. That line from Uncle Fernando has become a ready-to-use feelgood soundbite at Lusophone gatherings. But does it mean anything? Is my identity - my roots, my tribal tears (=Motherland) - defined by use of Portuguese in the words I speak? Is the contact with literature an history as written in Portuguese more relevant than the substance of those books or the historical facts depicted? The masterpieces or the glorious episodes are there, aren't they? Irrespective of the language used in their making or description. My Motherland, therefore, must be all things which I have been told (and re-told) and read (and re-read) about both in Portuguese and in any other language I happened to have been told or read about those things. And all that, remember my first point, has been stored in my brain not in Portuguese or proto-Sanskrit but in "brain language" shared by all humanity.

A sunset in Praia Grande can be a patriotic landmark to me. If I attempt to describe it I'm sure I will betray my Portuguese identity. Whether those words are in Portuguese, or in English or in any other language I feel comfortable with, is totally irrelevant.

The idiosyncrasies of a national language are very important to explain certain things (in Pushkin or in Amos Oz or in Pessoa, if you want) but literary works are universal non-'national language' based achievements. Words are not that important, it's what's under them that matters. I'll write in English if I feel like it. That does not make me less 'patriotic'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[url=]рапунцель запутанная история смотреть онлайн[/url]
[url=]клинч смотреть онлайн[/url]

С самого момента своего появления профессиональное кино приобрело большую популярность, и стало настоящим искусством. К нему желали приобщиться все. С течением лет искусство кинематографии только развивалось и процветало, появлялись совершенно новые жанры и стили, способы создания кино, оригинальные спецэффекты. Можно отметить, что сегодня фильмы находятся на гребне своей популярности, и в спросе как старые киноленты, так и новые фильмы, только что вышедшие в свет, которые поражают кинолюбителя интересной развязкой и своими спецэффектами. Но наибольшим преимуществом развития кино является отсутствие необходимости платить немаленькие деньги за билет в кино либо приобретать дорогой диск с картиной, чтобы посмотреть в лучшем качестве. Сейчас все немного проще, достаточно зайти на страницу, чтобы посмотреть нужный фильм онлайн абсолютно бесплатно, не платя за данное удовольствие ничего, не отсылая никаких ответов, не регистрируясь.
На ресурсе представлены картины разного жанра, которые смогут удовлетворить вкусы любого киномана. На этом сайте можно посмотреть даже самые последние новинки, в супер качестве с большой скоростью.

[url=]королева проклятых бесплатно[/url]
[url=]двенадцать друзей оушена онлайн[/url]