Twice Teixeira Coelho



Commentary on the books “Colosso” and “O Homem que Vive”


As in other books by the author, it appears in colossus the demand for actuality that presides over his unique attempts to configure a relationship with time, the indeterminacy of moods and the imprecision of feelings: the unbearable of contemporary experience. In this horizon, this country, Brazil, is an always privileged motif. An instance, however, denied, with horror, this country is continually referred to – but stripped of the emblematic characteristics of official speeches and tourist images: beautiful, strong, fearless colossus.

In the form of a report, among facts and names, books, paintings and films, traces and vestiges of the history of this country are reiterated, remembered, falsified and projected on a surface in which the course of events indicates a movement towards something indeterminate. , which does not inscribe anything substantial. Under the sarcastic laughter of the story, the narrative is made up of digressions in pursuit of a frame that would contain the signs of this story made entirely of symptoms, in which anguish walks under the rhythm of the repetition of the same sad journeys.

In the writing, arbitrary marks indicate a time that descends on the characters without any fixation, indicating the absence of any depth: contextual references and lives are welded in feigned memories of adventures and mistakes – because the narrator refuses to tell the story of a person and reflect on him. Discontinuous blocks of supposed experiences, feigning a remembrance, whose effectiveness was in the search for a pupil that reflected them, represent a life that escapes any identity, any portrait of states of consciousness.

An operation of distancing, the narrative does not produce effects of personification or a unity of experience that could justify, that would give consistency, that, in short, would represent the present as a field of possible experiences in which an I in the process of becoming would inscribe itself in an image of history .

But the book can also be worth something else: the persistence of beauty, not as a kind of substitute for the end of the possibility of representing, of narrating the incommensurability of contemporary experience: it specifically problematizes the possibility of another order of beauty, that which infects the reality; the beauty that is insolent, sometimes abusive and cruel; always desirable. It seems to say that art does not save anything or anyone, but beauty arising from the indeterminate manifests the impossible.

Thought of opacity, irreducibility of the non-conceptual, this art descends on people like a cloud – said the author elsewhere – naming what cannot be seen. Thus: colossal is the affirmation of beauty, convulsive or indifferent, sparkling in the obscurity of the present. Quoting and deforming, it creaks the frames that circumscribe the representations of some random moments of a life: imagining the plausibility of past experiences, historical, loving, sexual.

In the perspective of the unthinkable, the unpredictable, the indescribable, deceit is installed as a figure of fiction, with which every imagined possibility of fullness or pacification that would have been possible in even glorious existences is eroded. Thus, the narrative intensifies the beauty, which, in the light of the world, attests to what can never be escaped.

Still: placing itself under the perspective of the present, the book asks if all this art that is repeatedly referred to in the reports does not only represent the drive that would have driven the actions of the characters. Because everything is later, everything that is narrated becomes interesting: that is, superficial, curious, sometimes spicy, not at all contemplative, exciting the imagination, even generating the impatience of police narratives: after all, one wants to satisfy, pack, the expectation that builds up in the plot, in the story of the characters, the intertwining of passions and the feeling of death, with the narratives of the history of that country.

And all this, and much else that appears in the accumulation of artistic references – which incite the imagination to fill in the unfinished reports set up, always opening up to another hypothesis of the outcome of events, which do not fit in the narrative –, ultimately constitutes reflection on the narrative's failure to tell a life: after all.



As in the previous three novels – Niemeyer, The Furies of the Mind, Natural History of dictatorship –, a certain discomfort arises in the reading of the man who lives; a certain irritation, which, perhaps, comes from the obsessive rhythm of the narrative, better said, from the repetition of gestures, from the tergiversation that postpones the conclusion of a movement, the certainty of a feeling, the clear perception of a sensation and a thought. Between maybe and despite, the difficult coincidence: the narrator, in an attempt to be contemporary with himself, hesitates, as if it were not possible to say anything definitive, because what happens only exists as a narrative.

In this evolution of the narrative, what is presented is a wager, a game, better still, an attempt to think about certain modern experiences projected on the horizon of an after what in some cases became a project, a posteriori of the emergence of the works, and which today , nowadays, have lost the critical virulence that saw them born as a necessity. And this is what is fundamental: one only creates out of necessity – and, nowadays, what need is there to write? After the great works that eroded intimacy, the tension with the social and the political, which functioned in the image of an existing or possible totality, what was left?

Hence, according to the modern lesson, if it is not the tyrannies of intimacy or the relations between subjectivity and the socio-political context that can still be tensioned with interest, since desubstantialized – even if they remain irreducible references, a kind of background that growls: the today's world, a country like this, the binding of history, the business of culture, the art craze and other things.

As a memory of acts or sensations, the interest is all in the ways of seeing and in the ways of enunciation (“Everything is in the how, everything is in the way, the secret is in the way, the trick is in the way”), in the look and its deformations, composing a literature of “objectivity”, centered on the materiality of the word. The difficulty of writing, which is also central to this book, is perhaps in the accentuation of the words highlighted graphically, finally in the hesitation, in the hesitation - which perhaps has a lot to do with the split between what is observed and what is feels, between thought and act, as always. The modern split of the self is evident.

Faced with all this, what appears in the reading is the attempt, through the attrition of language in experience, to take aesthetics as ethics. An ethics of language and writing is what stands out, hence the disappointment caused by the events narrated. Disappointed, the reader is compelled to reconsider his search for the narrated subject, which, however, escapes, is continually displaced and desubstantialized, which evidently causes irritation, discomfort. Perhaps, because what remains and imposes itself as a subject are not the events, but the prismatic analysis of feelings and sensations.

It is also important to note in this book, as in the previous ones, the process of repetition and the anguish it secretes, which is spreading like a corrosive device of identities, choices, decisions and objectives. The reader is faced with a sequence of symptoms, which are repeated, indicative of the true process, like life, which is constructed as language, – a clear materialization of the Freudian elaboration – Durcharbeitung –, evident even in the attitude of “recoleta”, of recollecting, which appears right at the beginning of the book. Hence the commotion: a moving writing that moves, throwing the reader into a singular sensation, which thinks the unbearable of the contemporary experience.

*Celso Favaretto is an art critic, retired professor at the Faculty of Education at USP and author, among other books, of The invention of Helio Oiticica (Edusp).



Teixeira Coelho. colossus. São Paulo, Iluminuras, 2015, 216 pages.

Teixeira Coelho. the man who lives. São Paulo, Iluminuras, 2010, 256 pages.


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