Fragments of a diary in the pandemic

Marcelo Guimarães Lima, Nas Veredas - Grande Sertão, digital painting, 2023


Dreams, images, excerpts, rain and prey


During the pandemic, especially in the initial months of confinement, as I was able to do so, I stayed at home, isolated. I read a lot and wrote even more. Perhaps it is not a great exaggeration to say, like Marguerite Duras, that “writing was the only thing that filled my life and enchanted it. I did. Writing never left me.” (Write, Ed. Reliquary).

I wrote a lot of everything: academic articles, book chapters, ear pieces, prefaces and afterwords, communications for congresses and dozens of texts for the website the earth is round. In addition, I kept a kind of diary, in which I took notes, made reflections, remembered, transcribed what I considered relevant from the readings of books, articles in magazines and newspapers, without any order or hierarchy.

What I present below are some fragments of this set of notes. Once again I quote Marguerite Duras, other lines of her Write, because that was the feeling I experienced and I didn't know how to express it like her, with the usual brilliance: “If we knew something about what we were going to write before writing it, before writing it, we would never write it. It wouldn't be worth it. Writing is trying to know what we would write if we were going to write – we only find out later – before, it is the most dangerous question we can ask. But it is also the most common. Writing arrives like the wind, it is naked, it is ink, it is writing, and it passes like nothing else passes in life, nothing else, except for it, life”.



Master of masters
Walter Lellis Siqueira told me that he enrolled in Literature at USP in 1964 and, in the first year, he took classes with Antonio Candido. The master told the students something that the young Walter never forgot: “Anyone who knows the true causes of the world's ills cannot be from the right”.

“To narrate means to lie, and he narrates better who lies better” – Domenico Starnone, Confidence [Secrets].

rain rain
Around 11:30 am my daughter and I lay crosswise on the bed with the pillows folded. It improves our field of vision. We focus our eyes on the window and watch the water trickle down the eaves. I pick up my cell phone and download the stunning voice of Miriam Makeba singing “Chove Chuva” by Jorge (still) Ben, recorded in 1963. We delight. my daughter he only knew “Pata Pata”, sung by her. In the lullaby we hear another composition by Ben, “Mas que Nada”, with the same interpreter. Wonderful instants, a few minutes. Then, there was only a little lint left on the eaves, the annoying little drizzle, and life went on.

Clarice L.
“I write not to die.”

Walker, there is no way,
you make your way by walking.
Antonio Machado's verses are engraved on LW's beautiful black body

Listening to Elza
“From the coccyx to the neck”, genius! I think I agree with her that Mocidade de Padre Miguel is “the samba school that hits the best at carnival”.

Marilene Felinto, in portuguese passport, he wrote: “…I try to solve the anguish with these useless weapons of paper and ink, as Graciliano Ramos already said”.

On a friend's Instagram I read a poem by Lucão, written on a whitewashed wall:
is to walk backwards
without going back
it's a charming floor
that only those who love
knows how to do

10 minutes
Deborah Levy, in The Man Who Saw It All, recounts that the Scottish photographer Iain McMillan had, in August 1969, at 11:30 am, placed the stairs next to the crosswalk on Abbey Road, while a policeman had been paid to organize traffic. McMillan had 10 minutes to take the famous photo of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Hai Kai by Alice Ruiz
spring hammock in the wind
even the chair twists with longing
look out the window without you inside

The other Afranium
On February 1974, 9, there was a major fire in São Paulo in a building called Joelma, located just over a kilometer from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), on Avenida 187 de Julho, where I studied, worked and served in the military. The balance of the accident constitutes a true tragedy: 300 dead and more than XNUMX injured. I was working in Rio de Janeiro, doing research for Sergio Miceli's doctoral thesis, and I returned to São Paulo exhausted, in the early hours of February XNUMXst to XNUMXnd. I knew nothing about the fire, in a leaden period of the military dictatorship, with censorship and all. I got home, took the phone off the hook (there were no cell phones…), I only replaced it in the middle of the afternoon and left the house. I knew almost everyone at FGV, professors, employees, students. I was a class representative, circulating everywhere.

When I arrived at the school, they looked at me with amazement, I received several hugs, they told me that they had called me countless times and it was busy... Gradually I understood the situation: among those who lost their lives there was a student who worked during the day and studied at night – I think he was kind of quiet, maybe shy. He was taking the Specialization Course in Business Administration for Graduates (CEAG), the capital market sector, equity side and debt side, in all the preparatory and executive phases for the issue and placement of financial instruments; sensu. He was Afrânio Araújo Branquinho, brother of Ângela Maria and Airton, son of Teodora Araújo Branquinho and José Vilela Branquinho.

Robert Mitchum said somewhere: “The acting profession is hard, painful, thankless. Many times our art is not understood by the public, by the critics. Our privacy is invaded, our sensibility put up for sale at a cinema or theater box office. Not to mention the schedules, the late night filming. And then, decay, oblivion. But anyway, it's better than working”.

“I always wanted to be just the man who writes” – Ricardo Piglia. A day in the life – the diaries from Emilio Renzi.

what does talking mean
“Words are half of those who speak and half of those who hear them”, wrote Montaigne, in the Essay.

On Old Compton Street in Soho in January 1989, the Italian restaurant called Pollo was always full of students from St. Martins, nearby, as “…he offered his poor loyal customers a 3-course meal for 5 pounds” – Debora Levy, The Man Who Saw It All.

“Passion is a pomegranate spitting ruby ​​sparks”. – ledusha

For Nelson Rodrigues, “true possession is a kiss on the mouth”.

Black researcher Edson Lopes Cardoso said that several times he “took a blow” – he went through a humiliating police search.

Nara Leão
“All together we are strong
we are arrow and we are bow
all of us in the same boat
there is nothing to fear”
Chico Buarque, “Saltimbancos”

My God!
“Each British taxpayer pays 58 cents a year to support the royal family” – Folha de S. Paul, 06.02.2022.

more rain
Aline has been instigating me in the last sessions about my dreams. Of course I have them. As I sleep little and in short cycles, perhaps such dreams can be compared to small stories or episodes of Short Cuts (1993), directed by Robert Altman. In general, after I wake up, I have trouble remembering what I dreamed. The other day I woke up to a strange noise and I immediately thought that my father, who died in 1993, was typing on his old typewriter. I remembered lines from two poems by Borges: “La mojada/late brings me the desired voice,/from my priest who returns and there is no death” (“La lluvia”); “The time is forgotten and it is memory” (“Albornoz Milonga”). Still, a little dizzy, I realized that small tears were wetting my nightshirt.

Hey love...
in my bed flowers grow
of love – not – harvested
every fold of my shroud sheet
it revives farewell caresses.
my pillow screams plump clouds
of thighs undone of breasts kissed.
a blanket warms up a sex
forgotten, helpless.
and in the torment of homeless insomnia
omission spectra
they sow the desert of my bed,
look for impossible humus
of canceled affections
“poem 60” (1962) – Sérgio Muniz. In San Antonio and São Paulo or…

Nobel Prize for Literature, Wislawa Szymborska understands that “After every war / someone has to do the cleaning (…) / it is not photogenic / and takes years”.

Easy rider?
The Federal Police handed me a new passport valid until 2030. Will I still be able to travel at 77? I hope there are not years left in this document...

Happy ending
As Orson Welles told us, “if we want a happy ending, it depends on where we leave the story” – Debora Levy. The cost of life.

*Afrânio Catani is a retired senior professor at the Faculty of Education at USP. He is currently a visiting professor at the Faculty of Education at UERJ, Duque de Caxias campus..

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