Sunday, 20 November 2016

Álvaro de Campos' Tavira

"A few more notes on this subject… I see before me, in the colorless but real space of dreams, the faces and gestures of Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. I gave them their ages and fashioned their lives. (…) Álvaro de Campos was born in Tavira, on October 15, 1890… Campos, as you know, is a naval engineer (he studied in Glasgow) but is currently living in Lisbon and not working. (…) Álvaro de Campos is tall (5 ft. 9 in., an inch taller than me), slim and a bit prone to stoop. All are clean-shaven; (…) Álvaro de Campos, after a normal high school education, was sent to Scotland to study engineering, first mechanical and then naval. During some holidays he made a voyage to the Orient, which gave rise to his poem “Opiary.” An uncle who was a priest from the Beira region taught him Latin. 
How to I write in the names of these three? (…) Campos, when I feel a sudden impulse to write and don’t know what."

--From a letter by Fernando Pessoa writing to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, 13 January 1935 (in The Book of Disquiet, Penguin Classics, 2002, p. 474.)

(photos with text best viewed in full-screen - left-click the picture and press F11)

After over 80 years since this letter was written, Tavira, a town located on the south coast of Portugal, in the region of Algarve, is still haunted by the imagination of Álvaro de Campos - one of the heteronyms used by Fernando Pessoa, reported by Pessoa to have been born in the town in 1890.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Language and Cognition

Linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis or Whorfianism, is a concept-paradigm in linguistics and cognitive science that holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers' cognition or world view.

It will take time before another director tops the use of linguistic relativity concepts of Denis Villeneuve’s new film Arrival. Weird fiction, visionary literature and horror cinema also have their examples where language, (mis-)communication and cognition play an important role. There is also a recurring theme of language contagion. To all of these, I will be devoting a series of entries on Confusio Linguarum in the future.

EDIT: I hereby expand the scope of this blog to visionary cinema.

Some articles of reference on the film:

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Georg Trakl - the harbinger of a hushed apocalypse

A collection of poems and prose poems by Georg Trakl in Polish, translated by Krzysztof Lipiński

There is no better time than autumn to lose oneself in the poems of the great Austrian poet Georg Trakl whose works are curiously evocative and haunting. Trakl excelled in depicting scenes of serene imagery full of contrasting colours. His blank verse, rich in adjectives, has this enchanting power of suggesting a world beyond our own. It works like a dark, ineffable charm whispered into the reader's ear. Through descriptions that at first seem ambiguous and defying logic and through his magically suggestive lyricism he has managed to grasp the fleeting impressions of a secret quietude just moments before the impending doom.

What follows is my visual tribute to Trakl and the autumnal imagery from his poems followed by a photographic journey to the garrison hospital in Cracow where Trakl committed suicide by cocaine overdose. On the wall surrounding the hospital one can find a commemorative plaque with a quote from his poem “Song of a Captured Blackbird” dedicated to Ludwig von Ficker, who was the last person to visit him before his death:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

House of Leaves and The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada


“My father was a filmmaker. In the 50s, live television. Later avant-garde. Eventually he got into documentaries. (...) My father will be remembered for a lot of things but by some, TZD--as some of my friends called him--will be forever known for his passionate consideration of the art of cinema." 

"My intention had been to present this piece of writing as a gift to mY father."
Mark Z.Danielewski interviewed by Kasey Carpenter

One of my favourite pieces of fiction from Nemonymous magazine, edited by D. F. Lewis, whom I had the pleasure to interview for Confusio Linguarum last month, is "The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada", which appeared in the second issue. This phenomenal story centers on a forgotten Brazilian film-maker who mysteriously disappeared while making a film entitled "Nos Olvidamos?" and whose works started falling into complete oblivion, as if they never existed in the first place. The piece is written in the form of a non-fiction article and treats Escobada as a real person. Earlier this week its author confirmed that he would like to remain anonymous forever.