ROSAURA PARANHOS
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TEXTS
 
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                                                        Writer’s texts
Excerpts of the book “A Caminho do Super-homem…” (On the way to the Super-man…)


We are facing a huge contraction in this new millennium and inhabiting an exciting world that could be referred to as “the superman’s world”; however, we are living through the same type of body as that of the cavemen, which means living out the extraordinary technological inventions that widen our limits through the sensations of lightness, fastness and speed, much like the fantasy of invulnerability and boundlessness, withal, enclosed in our bodies, limited by the weight, frailness and death.” 

“Nevertheless, any tiny failure in the gear moving this world forward — let us say, the nerve-racking experience of a bottleneck —, and we fall from cloud nine, pissed off and frustrated on account of the slowness on the streets and the harsh awareness that, in essence, we are not so different from our most remote ancestors.”
 
“This increasing intermediation seems to have reached its apex: our senses are no longer the witnesses of the reality we live in, since, for that, we count on the proper apparatuses for the accurate conferment. Nonetheless — it is important to repeat that —, the data obtained from the scientific measuring exceed in much the limitations of the flesh and, hence, we start to experience a reality beyond men, which is most appropriate to superpowered beings. This is how, on highways we achieve speeds that are amazing as compared to our natural capacity; we fall from high places by using supertoys in amusement parks; we go high in the skies, on board of huge apparatuses; we inhabit or work in skyscrapers, monstrous edifications, excessively disproportional in comparison with our bodies, as well as we face, in our daily lives, a chaotic traffic, full with metallic vehicles, which are big and fast enough and would terrify even the bravest of our ancestors. As though that would no suffice, it is mandatory for us to live with all that — in a rhythm that is much more accelerated than our own movements — as if it would be the most natural thing possible ever!”
 
“Yet, if we do not live consciously aware and scared to death for the risks included in the package of progress, life itself in this world most fit for supermen, as well as the observation of the results from the “big fat kill” cinematographically exposed by communication means on an everyday basis have the unbalance in the mind-body interaction as their natural consequence, mainly in those individuals that already prone to said disorders.”
 
“Still and all, if the current knowledge of interdependence between the physical and mental systems makes no sense any longer to look for the boundaries betwixt mind and body inside ourselves, who knows… by changing the perspective through which we observe the matter in reference, would not we be more successful? Instead of studying the mind-body relations inside the man or from the man himself, such as Descartes did, among others, I propose the investigation of these same relations by studying-observing the world that he (the man) has made up. For me, it represents a great finding; because, when trying to delimitate mind and body inside ourselves it is letting us entangled by the complex interaction, and we end up much more confused than ever before. If we might mention any mistake on the part of Descartes, this is the one. However, it is justifiable for the world in his time not to be favorable to said conclusion. The contrary is what happens nowadays. The proposal is – analyzing the world of the superman1, which, in fact, we have been doing since the very beginning. However, it is necessary to point out that better understanding the man as a being, by analyzing his world, does not inevitably mean that it shall render these tasks any easier, but only it has been made feasible. The subject matter in reference is a difficult one and, before anything else, it demands an attempt to set up a concept regarding what comes to be duality and monism.”
 
“The identification with our bodies, one that has always been precarious, has been substantial and decisively diminished with the invention of faster transportation and communication means. In the past, the uncomfortable reality of the flesh was daily confirmed by the difficult locomotion conditions, a situation that kept men with their feet on the ground, in a certain way, hindering him from completely surrendering to the irresistible attraction by the mental universe.”
 
“As a consequence of that, man in general was dematerializing himself at the direct rate of the increase in speed that the vehicles were reaching, and, soon the apparatuses destined to communication started to provide features that are similar to the mental ones, such as instantaneity, ubiquity and omniscience.
“In face of so many contradictions, what is left for us to conclude is that we should be talking about two different bodies, and hence, it seems timely to repeat the question that was the opening of this chapter: Of what body are we talking about? The body, which is also a person’s presentation card, is the ideal one. The world has moved on towards a growing process of individualization, which presupposes the obsessive cultivation of said body, but not limited to that. When herein the identification with the mind in detriment of the body is mentioned, the body in reference is that already identified in the first chapters, that is, the fleshy one and the one that has its sad survival needs, and not this latter, the ideal or idealized one, which the man uses for bodybuilding, perfuming, dressing up and thus walking up and down showing up himself to the world — as though the body were a glass display case —, it is a body comprising more fantasy than flesh itself.”
 
“A work of art is the flagrant testimony of the frustration relating to the physical limitations imposed to the full expression of the thinking being, and it is evidence of the conflict and, at the same time, the solution for the wish of having total freedom of movements, the wish of merging with the seen thing, the colors and the light. The real work of art sets the spirit free from the confinements the carnal prison imposes on us. The more the artist manages to compensate for him/herself and for us – who observe the picture – the frustrated urges due to the incapacity of said total freedom of movements, as well as the yearnings for flying and merging with the light, the more said artist’s work shall reach its plenitude.”
 
“In the Apostles’ Supper, Jesus, when taking the bread and wine, says those were his body and his flesh, and even nowadays the ritual of every mass repeats on this act in His memory. Why did Jesus allow to be remembered through the bread (body) and wine (blood)? And crucified, agonizing, why does he ask the Father to forgive the ones who have put him to the cross, since they do not know what they do? And Peter… the beloved disciple… why denying Him thrice before the rooster crows? How to get the meaning of all said signals? If we think that all these examples point to the human weakness of denying its own flesh, unknowing, as a consequence, of the needs of his neighbor in order to live around the inexhaustible desires of the ideal body consuming all of our energies, I think that we might then understand Jesus Christ under a merely human perspective and completely at the reach of our minds. For those who think it is hard to accept the transcendental in the man, maybe that is sufficient.” 

“Sancho may well symbolize Quixote’s body. Said declaration becomes clear in every page of the novel, especially in two excerpts, respectively transcribed in the openings of the first and fourth chapter of this book (A Caminho do Super-homem.../On the Way to the Superman...).  In the first one, the image of the cavalier and his esquire as a whole, formed by the pair ‘lord’ (head) and ‘servant’ (limbs), in addition to being magnificent, leaves no space for doubt regarding the following message: Sancho must suffer from the pains of the flesh, caused by the spirit. Therefore, he complains that his master is not subject to suffering from said pains, from which Don Quixote, in one of the most beautiful excerpts of the novel, defends himself: for the servant, he was tormented by major suffering in his spirit, that is, the moral ones, than Sancho, in his carnal condition. In the excerpt transcribed for the fifth chapter, the image is further a vehement one: the fidelity of the esquire towards his lord is total and absolute. Only the shovel and the mattock of the sexton may split them apart. In fact, only death definitely separates the close and dynamic union of body and spirit.”
 
"In chapter XX, volume I (Don Quixote), there is this cavalier, who may never close his eyes, not having then a total and complete repose, and yet he tells Sancho to go to sleep, since he, the servant, had been born for that. Well, the spirit, in fact, is almost never completely asleep. As the night comes in, the pieces of information collected during the day are reorganized in the brain; the operations necessary for the memory and learning are carried out. In addition to this, the dreams make things come true in the mind, they perform plays, show movies in according to the individual’s imagination and also in accordance with what pleases each one. Thus, if Don Quixote represents this spirit always involved in fantasies, there he is, one day, descended into the darkness of Montesinos’ grave, witnessing marvelous things, while Sancho, on the other hand, having unhappily and realistically fell into a big common grave, suffers from anxiety and dread, fearing for his own life. It is the way how, in this great Cervantes’ novel, we are represented as the opposed natures and at the same time complementing and harmonious of the mind-body pair, of which we are formed.” 

“The strongest image memorable from said Cervantes’ work was that of the windmills, the one that reminds us of the cavalier as being the most original and adorable insane character that the literary universe has already produced. Quixote became such a live and popular character that the words derived from his name serve to describe, in the several languages all around the world, situations that go from the romantic and naïve attitude of whom meddles himself into uncomfortable situations for solidarity towards his/her neighbor, even in the sense of the ridiculous act, also referred to as bluster and boaster. Although death does not seem to be in harmony with the good-humored memory of his comic adventures, I do not believe that by reading the final chapter of this novel one might become insensitive to the sadness of its end. Different from the bloody end of Hamlet, the death of Don Quixote — without letting even a drop of blood fall — painfully touches the core of our souls.”
 
“It was the German writer Friedrich Schlegel the one who first understood ‘Don Quixote’ as a dual work, in which the cavalier represents spirituality and Sancho is the reflex of the material side, both existing in human life. The insight of the interpretation in such a fashion popularized the double image in such a manner that, nowadays, we fail to understand how the interpreters before him could have not seen the duality inserted so evidently therein. As it could not just pass without my comment, I completely agree with the interpretation, but I have my own opinion that the intuition of this German wise man was not fully understood, or even properly unfolded. One thing is to vaguely and in a generalized fashion consider the two characters as being representatives of the spiritual-material pair, and another is that of emphasizing the personification of the mind or spirit in the cavalier, and the representation of flesh in Sancho. The novel itself leads us towards this line of thought.”
 
“If we pay attention to the words exchanged between Sancho and the cavalier, we comprehend that body and soul are dialoguing therein. He, who is deaf by nature, borrows the esquire’s voice in order to lament on the maltreatments. In its turn, his soul tries to enliven him with its mirages and fantasies, when it speaks of his vocation for adventures and heroic deeds and, as payment and excuse for the blows and suffers caused by the pranks, it promises him an island, the Paradise Lost. From my point of view, the close friendship uniting both companions, as well as the irresistible attraction on the part of Sancho for the madness of Quixote, represent the interaction and interdependence tween the body and the mind.”
 
“We are not accustomed to enjoying reality as it is – with no disguise at all. We accept the things of the flesh when they come focused through the sensuality lens or the humor lens, and only with a lot of willpower we demand from ourselves to seriously wonder about their severe condition. This is because, in thoughts, we are, most of the time, also pure spirits. Uncovered by the mediocre limitations of the flesh, we imagine a plot where we might feel ourselves as heroes. In this universe of mind, we fearlessly fight for liberty, honor and wounded dignity. In thoughts, we go unpunished with murders and never ever we die; but it happens only in this “make-believe”. We are the kings in their own domains and from the high point of our condition we enjoy judging the world and evaluate existence itself by means of the most sublime conceptions.” 

“The wisdom found both in the works of Shakespeare and in those of Cervantes evidences the reflection of mature spirits and extremely sensitive to the human problematics. The distinction that may be done betwixt both is that the first gives the impression of having been inspired more by the sufferings of the spirit than those of flesh itself. Whilst Shakespeare, from some solitary corner of his soul meditates on existence and its profound meanings, Cervantes dives deep into himself so as to extract in a painful manner the philosophy from a broken tooth by punches, the acute understanding that one gains through broken ribs, wounded hands and unusable ones. More than reflections from an onlooker, his wisdom arises from the affliction of a spirit becoming aware of the body when yearning for freedom, yet enclosed in a prison cell.”
 
“On the brink of Don Quixote’s death, we are all redeemed from our own insanities. Much more than only having polluted and rendered nature ugly with the technological machinery, we need to be absolved for having contributed, yet indirectly, so that many people have been almost literally eaten by the gears. The delirium, the temerity, the unreasoning and everything else that took us as their prisoners under the overpowering impulse of following on and on might be comprehended and justified at the end of the history of the cavalier. We get the meaning of the call from his death. The Quixote way floods our soul of light. Far is where we perceive another revelation in the long hope of his character: we had been wrong. Don Quixote does not renegade flesh. On the contrary, exactly for acknowledging it in its extreme frailty and finitude on the other (person) was that he had decided to wander the world out, defending the weak. And not those weak due to lack of inspiration — for those, the world has always made available an arsenal of exhortations, as well as strategies —, but yet those weakened on account of the real malignity and real dangers surrounding the very existence. The fragile physical condition of the other was recognized, although he had to relegate his own to a second level, in order to wander the world fighting in favor of the resistless. Now we may understand the overbold attitude of the cavalier in face of the dangers and hindrances confronted bravely in an apparently gratuitous fashion in his adventures.”
 
“Yet the magnitude of such wisdom is indispensable to the arrogant nature of our spirit, lifting us up in times of dismay; as seen from here below, the world seems more in need of wandering cavaliers than of princes. Those willing to a close observation of his/her own dramas and miseries and sorrows might become tempted to be inspired on the thought that: if in order to live it is a must to be mad, let us be mad, but having an ideal, such as had Don Quixote, and even praise the anger of the cavalier in face of so much unfairness, exalting arms as courageous as his, towards fragile beings and in need of protection...”
 
“Chaplin knew that his movies had to keep on being mute and he was covered with reason. Mimicry always was and shall continue to be the mute language of the body, the voice of the imprisoned soul in its inner self. Even so, the modern times, more than any other age, have started to pursue and prick said body in such a fashion, tormenting the soul inhabiting it, that the mute cinema in general represented an escape valve for said oppression. The vagabond expresses the muted scream of this repressed spirit. The choreography of abandonment and despair of a body face-to-face with the traps used to be prepared by the progress machine. In order not to become a thing, smashed and cracked in the gears or persecuted by the police system that always puts him, in the end, on the run, Carlitos turns his pantomime into the pathetic classic ballet of existence, leading us, so many times, to that unrestrained laughter and triggering the basic and profound emotions. Yes, the comicality, in Carlitos, is born from the unconscious perception of the drama subjacent behind an apparent slapstick. If we would be aware of the miserable condition of the flesh, instead of laughing, maybe we would cry when seeing it represented by Chaplin in the mute cinema.”
 
“Carlitos is a symbol for the body oppressed by progress. This body is the one that, in the lower social classes, within the misery of the little or no meeting of the vital needs at all, is represented in its essence. The vagabond and this body denied in its nature of a machine full of needs are one and the same only. Both Carlitos and the misérables know very well what means to occupy a place in space, a public space or privative to another, when one has no means for obtaining his/her own. These people feel under their skins the consequences of having to meet the basic needs, having no proper resources for doing so, having not even the minimal conditions of getting said resources on their own, which means, one way or another, creating confusion with the laws and, thus, irritating their legitimate representatives. The institutionalized society, as such, is only apparently equalitarian. It even makes an effort, within the modern capitalist and democratic systems, in order to accomplish and play the role of a protector of the human kind. However, since the original conflict is not recognized in the basis of the man himself, it is impossible for him to become aware of his identification with the individualistic and egoistic of the present being, when he thinks he is performing a beneficial and progressive work. This is the way how, paradoxically, in the end, modern society ends up reflecting the opposition to the body that it would before protect, a body that is in disadvantage in the lower layers of its organization, rendering the speech on the social become more and more distant from the actions themselves.”
 
“Let us take a close look at the character/figure of the vagabond. Chaplin’s tiny physical constitution itself, in the attire used by Carlitos, outlines a helpless and solitary silhouette; small, infantile and in the shape of a kind of a jug, with huge feet providing awkward walking, much duck-like, seeming irreparably rooted to the ground it walks on, as well as to the space he occupies. Yes, the vagabond is the opposed to the silhouettes of so many superheroes, as well as the American Superman himself, the figure of whom is a little long-limbed and triangular — on account of the strongly evidenced thorax, and adorned by a long cape — with the latter idealizing the overcome of human limitations, both in strength and even with capacity for flying on his own. The vagabond means, for his own material being, a constant menace to this institutionalized society and organized by and for supermen, with the first representing the scapegoat for his vague sensation of guilt, as we have already seen that. He, who is always occupying a space that is not his own; he, who is the living image of the human finitude.”
 
“Carlitos’ Rhythms — a reminder and at the same time a symbol of our awkward body —, confused by the machineries of progress, ever always trying to get rid of their traps made for him: these things belonging to the contemporary world. Things that trick him, and, likewise, we are accustomed to live out similar experiences. In all comic situations there he is: the mute body, in constant struggle with his weighing condition; occupying a certain place in space; being miserably visible, when an embarrassing situation or even a dangerous one would suggest him to do exactly the opposite – become invisible. Let us exemplify for this later circumstance – visibility — the example of the vagabond in the ‘The Adventurer’, quoted in the book itself of the French reviewer (therein, however, for another purpose, different from ours herein).”
 
“We laugh and burst into laughter since we deeply know the magical solution found by a repressed and fearing spirit in his carnal prison that, through a bunch of grains of land blocks the shoe of his persecutor, and makes the other disappear, or even represents the power of becoming invisible. By this time, we may affirm that we have started to get a good glimpse and understanding of the Chaplinian symbol, through these two sides: the childish and the tragicomic conditions. Well, tragedy is that of flesh existing in a world willing to deny it. Said flesh is represented in the fragile figure of Carlitos, and it is shown, this flesh, the one that faces its most critical stage during childhood. Tragic are both Carlitos, as a character, and the theme of his films. Comicality is born out of the pathetic attempts of the vagabond in occupying a place in the space in this world that denies and rejects his very existence...” 


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