The first intriguing thing about this place is the numbers. During the religious holiday celebrating Our Lady of Aparecida, up to 300,000 pilgrims visit the basilic during the weekend. People come from everywhere including across seas. The parking lot? 6,000 cars, but most of the visitors travels for a couple of days by bus to reach the Basilic.
The second and most intriguing thing to me is the faith and humiliation expressed by devotees paying tribute or bring their offerings to the saint. Some walk on their knees for about 4 km, others carry heavy figurines of Aparecida or a cross.
The take away:
* it is hard not to be touched by the atmosphere of this place. There are so many people desiring the good, trusting, offering their life, so humble …. it is indeed overwhelming
* beyond faith resides business. Catholic priest and admins, Jewish, Muslims which own a small – mostly informal – businesses … all of them make business life in Aparecida’s city really active. There is no single way of exploiting the devotees’ faith that hadn’t been used in that town. In the end, everything comes to money.
A while ago, movies about Nazism, slavery, and dictatorships would annoy me a lot. Facing the decision to watch them or not, I’d always think that I had had enough. The reason: I have a hard time coping with the segregation, suffering, and distress that people like me had. And the worst: it was also caused by people like me. I had a hard time feeling any sense of belonging to this humanity.
Today a tweet hit me like a shot. @JasonMitch was retweeted by @EdgeofSports in my timeline:
“When the color of your skin is perceived as a ‘weapon’ there is no such thing as being unarmed.” (@JasonMitch)
Today, it has been one year that unarmed black Mike Brown was killed with no evidences he could cause any harm.
Today, a song came to my memory: It’s called Angelica by Chico Buarque. The song talks about a woman that couldn’t bury her son that was thrown in the ocean by the Brazilian dictatorship. The song says: “How’s that women that sings the same chorus, she just wanna to cradle her son that lives in the darkness of the ocean.”.
I wish all those movies had a documentary appeal and that we weren’t living under similar segregation and distress.
These movies are indeed a mirror of our own current reality, which can be called into question through these movies. So, no, I hadn’t had enough. Apparently, the message was not caught yet.
Youtube has a good selection of movies about the Brazilian dictatorship. Some suggestions are:
Today, the rain was somehow so similar to snow. I could feel it. Listening to Godspeed, I could sense Montreal while waiting for the bus. My thoughts have been loose and I’m lost. Into the deepest of my own, I can barely stand the feeling that I don’t know what I’ve done or thought against what I’ve been dreamed about.
I’m late and this is a continuum. But I can’t tell I haven’t been able to prioritize. Buses are just so fucking horrible. It’s school break and I didn’t take this into account.
No. No umbrella for me. I like the feeling of this drizzle on my hair. It’s not enough rain to interfere on my phone’s touch screen. Fair enough. No bus. No bus. I’ll be damn late.
Time for a shelter. Fucking stupid public transportation. Fuckin mafia.
No. It was not.
Another one in the corner. Maybe….
I took it as I used to do everyday. How pretty and stressful commutes can be. It’s just a question of having time for it.
My hip is odd. Better, it’s just like any other humid day of pain. My back is on fire, distressed and unquiet. It talks to me every minute while I ignore it and try to dismiss this weird conversation and the alert.
Oh. I’ll be late. Godamn.
Weirdos alike, I feel safe. Godspeed, oh Godspeed, you give me explosions in the sky and Le soleil sort de la bouche.
It’s been a month since I’m back in Brazil for an indefinite period of time:
“Life is a lie with an infinite, and death is the only definite” (If I Should Die Tonight by Andre Prefontaine)
I left my home country a while ago. By that time, I had my eyes wide open to news ways of being and living. Since then I’ve seen and lived so much. Now, in a strategical return to the South continent, here I am: home sick in my own home. Home is a pretty indefinite concept for me now.
I found myself “lost in translation” on my ‘own’ country. I confess I’ve never had good writing skills on any language, but nowadays shit has gotten real. I can’t make myself understood using my written Portuguese. It’s frustrating and a real shame. Shame on me, oh yeah.
But the topic that has filled my evenings, my pillow debates, my discussion with friends and work colleagues (professors) is the famous and resilient “colonized mind”. Before going to Canada and the US, I’ve fought a billion times and fallen in love another billion times with it …. the colonized in me. In a colonized mind, you can only be the worst, you can only be mediocre, you can only make and build the minimum, you will never make something relevant. These are the silent but powerful thoughts of a colonized mind.
“The interesting—and complicated—thing about colonialism is that it encompasses not just politics and economics, but consciousness. Critical theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire have pointed this out.” (Peter D’Errico)
I have never fit it, ever. There is an exception, a really specific place where I am not a weirdo, I’m just a weirdo as everyone else: in Cambriville. Montreal falls behind, catching up on emotional aspects more than intellectual ones. But no matter where I find in Earth, I’ve broken the deal with the colonized thoughts that haunted me for years. My biggest fear back here is to deal with them again. The inside checkpoints are prompt but the battles with external colonized thoughts are brutal and miserable.
‘A colonized mind tends to reproduce the oppressor’ said Paulo Freire. These minds when worn with power can only diminish an entire culture and country. There is no critic mass to evaluate or even understand slightly outstanding or innovative thoughts. There is fear, pessimism, and inefficient competition.
A colonized mind can never receive a new idea with enthusiasm and optimism. Instead of getting pumped with an a-ha moment, and later list limitations, concerns, and a critic view on what could go wrong; the colonized mind will give you a quick solution for your creative distress: ironically, it will be really efficient on listing everything that could or certainly will go wrong. It will give you the quickest and simplest solution of not even bother trying. The result: mediocre projects, research, ideas, products.
My long-term friend and physician told me a wise anecdote:
“guy X had been in inpatient care for years and years, because he’d see and talk to a dog that didn’t exist. one day, he comes to the doctor and says: ‘hey, that dog thing was ridiculous, there is no dog!’. hence, the doctor discharges him. leaving the hospital, guy X says: ‘see, cute dog, we fooled him, now we are free.'”.
It seams that I need a lot of adaptation to my ‘own’ culture, including fooling myself. It is always a good time to learn new tricks, some of them are just really annoying to play. I’d say treats.
this story might be long, for me, has last long enough, enough!
age 14, I joined technical high school on Electronics. I think I was 15 when we were given a practical assignment in the Digital Electronics course. The open path to make it was chosen by all my colleagues, but I knew how do it using that component. I thought I could use another component. The professor said it was feasible but didn’t know how. Logically, as everything in Electronics, it would work but it did not. I watched all my colleagues getting that shit done, except me and the lazy ones. I don’t remember the teacher judging me or discouraging my “different way”. I think this was the key. He couldn’t understand why it was not working either. I finally found a pin priority function that was screwing things up. I remember I was so happy finding it out, finding something by myself, digging in and finding it out. I was not conscious at the time, but I understood that this was my jam.
Then, I went to study Electrical Engineering. Actually, in Brazil, there is a major admission exam for joining public universities. Public universities in Brazil are the ones that hold quality, research, and innovation. The private ones, with few exceptions, are not worth mentioning. When you register, you were given three options 1,1a,2. My choices were mechatronics, electrical eng, and industrial eng. I didn’t get a good mark to join mechatronics, and I was approved for industrial eng. man, I thought I went bad, third option. Actually, a year later, thinking on reapplying for the exam and already studying industrial engineering (which I hated), I discovered that actually industrial was my second option and not third. Then, I was informed there was something called “internal mobility”, which allowed students to transfer from one faculty to another. Electrical engineering had had several spots for internal mobility in the past semesters, so I decided to request a spot as soon as possible: after the 4th semester. By the 4th semester, I was already known for my political stands. There was never a single spot for internal mobility since my interest came out, all vacant spots were designated for external mobility (mainly students coming from private schools). I forgot the industrial engineering curriculum and I took all the electrical engineering classes, where I was segregated for being registered in an *inferior* engineering faculty (*not real engineering*), even if I took all the classes they took. A year prior to finish the requirements for graduation, I took the admission exam again, with no preparation. My chances were far from high: I hadn’t studied portuguese and chemistry for 4 years, and hadn’t had solid studies on biology, geography, history, etc since primary school (technical high school didn’t have those disciplines). I was approved, and they were obliged to take me. Of course, they made me do a lot of extra courses but I finally graduated with 4200 hours instead of 3500 like my colleagues.
Then, time for the masters. I was approved with scholarship for two programs I applied for, both in mechanical engineering, one in first place and the other in second. It was really hard to choose one, really. I decided to go for the one with less funding, less support, and a way less glitter than the other one, for a single reason: I could do what the hell I had in my fucking mind, I could have my own research questions instead of running research about the details of the detail of an industrial partner piece of technology. I took three instead of two years to finish as a butthole wouldn’t lend me the equipment to run my experimental studies and I didn’t want to deliver something theoretical. I finally delivered the thesis and the committee got super mad at me for two reasons: first, it was too long (I was stupid enough to have ~400 pages long dissertation) and I had really political acknowledgments (which I don’t regret at all). My defense took over 4 hours, and finished with a fight between electrical versus mechanical engineering professors. At some point, I was completely ignored while they were using the contribution of my thesis as subject for ego fighting. I was approved but had to reduce the text to 80-100 pages, which I sort of did in 120 pages total. Time to get that shit signed after all. The committee president, the guy I decided not to work with when I chose the master’s program, had to approve the final version. After rejecting version after version for four months, he clearly stated what the real problem was. He would flip the pages, reaching the acknowledgments, and then choose a random page and complain about something, saying “change it”. Again, all my colleagues were done at this point, except me. One of the professor from the committee said, your acknowledgments are in your way, I don’t know what else. I remember one day, after another batch printing of copies and another version reproved, I sat down in the side walk in front of the professor’s university building crying as a kid, short of breath, and not able to coordinate my thoughts. A professor that I had work with was taking his car out of the parking lot, saw me, and said, “c’mon Carol, what’s going on?” I showed the print outs. He said: “go home and take your time, you can think properly now”. As I couldn’t make sense of life, I follow his directions and went home. cried like hell and once more thought on leaving academia forever. I threatened my advisor saying I would give up on the title, and if he wanted it, he should at last do something. After yelling at him at his fancy administration office, he finally reviewed my text for the first time, and ask revisions, after which the committee president would approve. I did and finally got it signed.
I won’t even tell how much I’ve dropped to go to Canada for the PhD. After 4 years and 2 journal papers, I found another rock on my shoes. No matter if political, IP, technical, or ego related issue this person have with me (as I can’t prove), probably with my advisor, I found myself once more in the same situation. This time is even more ridiculous as I was way more dedicated with my work and no political stands were clear to the academic public. Besides that, giving my personal biomechanical issue, my work was directed to it and I was not able to differentiate work from life. When it happened, I felt something was taken from me, and this was my life. Fortunately, before any major harm, I realized my work is not my life. The reminder was given by my mom and by the risk that my biomechanical complications come from a rheumatic disease that is progressively making me loose my range of motion. Thinking on not being able to move and dance reduce my academia frustration to hell, where tell should live and die. I’m sure something good is reserved to me, and I’m ready. I’ve had enough, long enough.
“don’t say the song is lost” (Raul Seixas)
“don’t think that your brain stands it if you stop”(Raul Seixas)
Invade areas where nothing’s definite (areas – micro and macro – adjacent the one we know in). It won’t sound like music – serial or electronic. It’ll sound like what we hear when we’re not hearing music, just hearing whatever wherever we happen to be. But to accomplish this our technological means must be constantly changing.