the sign of lion

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By ALEXANDRE DE OLIVEIRA TORRES CARRASCO*

Considerations on Éric Rohmer's first film

In, The stars come down to earth,[I] when analyzing a set of astrology columns from the Los Angeles Times, Theodor Adorno indicates, right at the beginning of the text, the touchstone of his procedure: “Just as, in secondary communities, people no longer “live together”, nor do they know themselves directly, but relate to each other others through objectified intermediary social processes (for example, the exchange of commodities), also the people who respond to the stimulus we investigate here seem somehow “alienated” from the experience on which they could claim that their decisions are based”.[ii]

With a grain of salt, the truth of this “method” can be resumed synthetically in the way in which Adorno later restates the problem: “Wizards can no longer be seen working, nor is it allowed to hear them saying abracadabra.”[iii]

The two passages serve us in the following way: they indicate, approximately, the procedure and the problem, through which Theodor Adorno mobilizes his material and his exposition. Here, the example is worth the lesson. Now, through these analyzes of astrology columns, with their corresponding predictions and advice, it is very soon discovered that the investigation work does not intend to reveal, let's say, the presuppositions of alleged astrological reasoning, on the contrary, it intends to understand what would be the new presuppositions of the kind that, by becoming more and more mystified, do so precisely because of their excessive transparency.

What is hidden in deciphering the stars is not in the science that reads the lines that cross each other in the birth chart, but in the way in which, what Adorno rightly calls a “command”, the prescription inscribed in the predictions produces enchanted adherence and compensation in the readers. This command is the abracadabra of today's magicians, the typical topic that the phraseology of the culture industry always has at its (invisible) hand: identify yourself and act like one. O slogan Advertising is the ultimate genre of our time.

What strikes the eye, then, is not the occult of the heavens and constellations, awaiting the proper decipherment, which does not exist, much less there, in the place where one would suppose it: the ancient starry sky, with its powers to influence the sublunary humours. The old hermetic correlation of heaven with earth, “on earth as it is in heaven”, lost its place and meaning throughout the process of universalization of the abstraction of cash payments and market exchanges. The ancient occult has been replaced by a new grammar, which makes the daily advice of these newspaper oracles not only readable but enchanted, and comes from the very process of exchange that transforms this ancient and obsolete science of the stars, of the occult, the science of sorcerers , prophets, dervishes, shamans and such, in mere agency of the mode of production in what is less obvious, and more profound, its pseudo-rationality, if not its irrationality.

Let us summarize the argument: the “irrational” background of all experience, the properly energetic and instinctual, rubbed in us by the unconscious and what it gives us as images, is now objectified through the background irrationality of the exchange process, which assumes without more the place of the unconscious, so as to no longer allow these same images to resist the objectifications of the “I” in the form of censorship and adaptation. Inversely to what one would suppose, unconscious images become objects of their own objectification, as if captured by the hegemony of the exchange process. What the psyche still heroically resists runs the imminent risk of adapting and being sucked into the objective planning that devours everything. Suddenly, the unconscious becomes one of the agents of order, aligning the underlying asymmetry of the exchange process, the magic secret of accumulation, with the “non-rational” that was previously in us as subjective resistance, and now is in an Other, objective, requiring adherence.

The meaning of this process and the adhesion that is typical of it do not come from any other desire than that of “satisfying the desires of people who are entirely convinced that there are other people (or unknown agents) who are capable of knowledge about them and about what they should do that they could never achieve on their own.”[iv]

There is something else that interests us in this, beyond the faint light that Adorno's dialectical lenses photograph from these already extinct stars. The clarity of those prescriptions, object of Adorno's analysis, the obvious conformism, the permanent demand for adequacy, the peremptory advice, and the “wink of the eye” of someone who tells us the truth (“Be very careful with all the authorities. they have problems too December 18, 1952, Aries”[v]), all this is just one side of the issue.

The former occult, flattened, reduced and, why not?, “demythologized” to the level of adapted common sense, has as its consequent task that of “discovery” (when not “discovery”) of the “true” “I” as the one who gives himself at the end of a universal and unrestricted adaptation to the current state of affairs. Such a process implies the transfer – successful or unsuccessful – of unconscious images to the very objective market of false equivalences of debit and credit, and which has nothing to do with the individual for a long time. All of this transpires with the obscurity of reason that must oppose, with all difficulty, the clarity of the irrational.

In addition, there is the other side of this coin (the coin of damaged life), which perhaps calls our attention more in terms of our purpose: the fetishization and reification of fantasy, all of it captured from dreams that today, unlike the unconscious of In the past, they no longer allow the dreamer to indulge in so much madness. The clarity of newspaper forecasts obeys the editorial formula of buying and selling classifieds, the legitimate ancestor of life as a mere advertising appendix. Form and content totally contrary to the old oracular utterances, and not only because the future no longer exists, neither as a mystery, nor as a prediction that is not a reified repetition of the present, but also for the reason that, perhaps, not even the distension of time or No. time is allowed for the innocent fantasies of each day.

What is required of them is a permanent position of “objective things”. The true prophecy, which formerly was not allowed to be understood, becomes excessively clear today. For what is beyond the cognitive scope that the unrestricted planning of life produces, induces and demands, it communicates nothing. The "I" is petrified in objectivity or, if it is not, it needs treatment. The symptom may be resistance to objectivity, but it is an "alienated" resistance.

The astrological appeal, on the other hand, is a reification of this objectification, a way of confirming it: by virtue of improbable cosmic forces: either you adjust to what is always there, however, according to the prescriptions of these telluric waves – the very real fantasy that the low life damaged has a magical reason for being -, or will have to face the thirty days of notice, without the "enchantment" that the managed life allows.

It would still remain, at best, to assume that a little of everything remains, living fragments of dream, in the hope that we still dream, managing what of us is not limited or resigned to this “I”: I need the dream to still resisting and not submitting – submitting the I, and this is the only knowledge of oneself that matters – to reality. Now, however, even in dreams we can frankly trust. Benjamin already foresaw, in a text written on the eve of the tragic thirties of the last century: “The history of the dream still remains to be written, and historical study, by bringing this domain to light, would open a decisive gap in the superstition of the natural determination of phenomena. humans. The dream participates in history.”[vi]

As if to say: the oracular misery of our new prophets, who accumulate predictions and advice according to the maxim; everything that is there must remain, would be unable to find, despite the day's residues, the true stuff of fantasy that resists the ideological contamination of the "I" completely committed to adapting life to damaged life. This, I suppose, would be one of Walter Benjamin's hopes, which apparently did not come true, much in keeping with Theodor Adorno's almost positive sociology of these terrestrial stars.

Despite the fetishizing uses of the zodiac readings that have multiplied and become more sophisticated since Adorno wrote his essay, not simply the reification of fantasy through this permanently gray sky, also a moral alibi for all kinds of prosaic misery and an effective system of faith, the last resort of “personality” where there is no longer any personality, everything that goes for the transformation of all oracles into classifieds for buying and selling, is it not quite this little story – unpopular – that I would like to challenge to the followers of the stories that tell our stories? stars no longer light.

This comes on purpose, however, from another intention, perhaps unexpected.

the sign of the lion (The sign of the lion, 1962, Éric Rohmer) is Éric Rohmer's first film. Produced by Claude Chabrol, filmed in 1958, released only in 1962. The music is by Louis Saguer, and the photography is by Nicolas Hayer, and both references are worth noting. the sign of the lion it's a movie Sui generis, extemporaneous in Rohmer's filmography, even more eccentric when he realizes that it is his debut film. It also marks its difference in relation to the first films of the New wave, hence his character and personality, despite being filmed very much in line with the program of that generation. Formally, the images retain an agility and a freshness that is very specific and permanent to that new look, and it is a film, like other films of that wave, that does not properly age, for the reason that it does not simply see what it films: it, above all, looks .

First film and, simultaneously, the film unlike anything he will make later. It is not easy to approach The six moral tales (cycle that goes from 1962 to 1972) that will follow in his filmography, and will mark (and define) the ways of seeing and making cinema of Éric Rohmer, he who was the senior and the best trained, in formal terms, of the young critics who gathered us Cahiers du cinema, under the blessing of André Bazin.

If you look retrospectively at his filmography, however, it is possible to find clues to the images and scene sets that he chose as the center of his moral physics of the image, as well as the predilection through which he builds action through moral analysis, resuming, in the form of cinema, a long local tradition. the sign of the lion is a film in which, let's say, the action and the moral analysis, in the wake of Renoir's very specific realism, are shaped in a single movement, the center of which, in this case, is the wandering of the protagonist through Paris, seen by us from a privileged angle, after his fall which, being material, is filmed from a moral point of view. There is a subtlety in capturing the image that almost goes unnoticed: what you see of the plot is already its interpretation. This is the center of the film from the point of view of its material construction. At both ends of that middle, an accelerated beginning and an epiphanic ending, the advent of our hero.

The beginning really sets the tone for the film, in a way that is more oblique than it appears. The first plans announce Paris, the city that will be both figure and background of the story. Following, lying in an almost splendid cradle, Pierre Wesselrin (Jess Hahn) in his room, Qual des Grands Augustins, at the window, you will see right ahead, Our Lady of Paris, inside the room, a map of the sky at the head of the bed . Bohemian, shameless, musician in spiritual retirement, he sleeps when the postman calls him to the awakening world, with some insistence. The news couldn't be better: he has just received the long-awaited inheritance from his Swiss aunt, which will allow him to justify and extend the debauched and libertine life he had led until then.

The beginning, giving several hints, reinforces Pierre's expansive personality. Jess Hahn's scene presence is impeccable, completely adjusted to the character. Corpulent and agile, he is not exactly good-natured, but he also moves around this place. He appears, at that first moment, as a libertine, expansive, almost unstoppable. The frenzy at the beginning of the film combines perfectly with Pierre's scene presence, both accelerated, like the typical enthusiasm of the new heir, and defines the moral character of the key character: his humor contaminates and seduces the scene. Soon we will see that the opposite also happens, the scene and its surroundings will also be able to define it.

Being at least promised wealth and a long life, he calls his friend and, immediately, does not hesitate to ask for a good amount of money to celebrate the goods and capital he has not yet received. In a state of near elation, in a convertible car (we are in the golden age of the automobile), they drive around the city to prepare for the party. Paris is a party, let's stress it, and there he is meeting friends, acquaintances and strangers, it doesn't matter who, because the essential thing is to celebrate the grace achieved. At the party, the clumsy presence of Jean-Luc Goddard, one of Pierre's anonymous guests, almost an extra in Éric Rohmer's film. At a certain point, Pierre, in an accumulation of continuous and unstoppable enthusiasm, and also the effect of his sincerity, states the reasons for the blessings that fate has reserved for him: “I am a lion sign”.

This is the truth, only as an appearance of truth. Then comes the dialogue that closes the opening sequence and defines the plot: his friend, Jean François (Van Doude), a journalist for Paris Match, asks how much Pierre would be addicted to superstitions, to which he replies, indifferent to the suspicions that his friend casts. : Astrology is the oldest of the sciences, so I'm not superstitious. And, being of the sign of the lion, which reaffirms leoninely, solar and fortunate, he was born to dominate the forest. Behold, Pierre, in another leonine impetus, does not shy away from shooting out the window, in a kind of worldly ecstasy, in a scene, in fact, memorable.

This frantic opening of the film, draws the plot and the axis of the plot, the moral nature of the protagonist and the plot. Here it is worth noting: the astrological clue is evidently a clue that must take us to another place than the orbits of the planets. The film is not about astrology or about the moral and personality qualities that the signs reserve for us, nor is it about the luck and misfortunes of life. The film is as if decorated with this science, for observation purposes, because the issue seems to be another: how little our reasons have to do with the world's reasons. The heart of the moral problem, masterfully filmed here, is to find this mismatch and mismatch, the still visible space that remains between what appears to be the order of reason, and is within our reach, and its foundation, completely outside our limited possibilities.

In this way, the motive of the film is the moral fall of those who believe in one place and, suddenly, see themselves in another, and how human beings, embedded in their finitude, try to see themselves, without being able to see themselves. In cinema, the mechanical eye helps us to see what is beyond our reach. This is the subject of the images of this “moral” film. Our works and deeds and the impossibility of answering the question: what should I do? Being all in the tiny interval of finitude, as if prevented from acting for or against our own salvation, we cannot find any satisfactory answer. Misery belongs to all of us, since the transcendental fall that put us in this world and defined us. It is already here, implicit or not so much, the Jansenist construction of the moral problem that so much attracts Éric Rohmer.

Let's remember the religious services that open and close (practically) my night with her (Ma nuit chez Maud, 1969), one of the six moral tales films. Such crafts are quite remarkable in the framework of that plot. Among them, the mundane and profound conversation between Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintingnant) and Maud (François Fabian) is not enough to reverse the course of history already announced at the beginning, at the end of the first mass: the only connection that counts is the spiritual, already given, at the opening of the film, with the then unknown Françoise (Marie-Christine Barrault). The way this is interwoven in the world of humans, depending on the sentimental and material contingency that defines us, the difference, without possible human measure, between being and having to be, only allows us two things: to wait for grace (or chance) , and to be humble spectators of the moral spectacle in which we participate. This is what Éric Rohmer films, and he films very well. After all, the only wisdom that counts is that there is no wisdom: “true philosophy laughs at philosophy”.

What follows in the sign of the lion, with increasingly sophisticated and precise photography – in its simplicity, that is to say – , the effect of the refined moral gaze that guides the film, are the details of this moral framework. With the beginning of the film concluded, we are suddenly at the center of the drama of Pierre, who, contrary to predictions, did not receive the inheritance, which ended up with the only other heir.

From there, photography takes on key importance, bringing Pierre's features to the foreground, outlining in his features the movement of his fall and the misery that embraces him. It ends up inscribing it in the landscape, in open plans, making it almost an urban element, incorporated to a scale that escapes it. In the most dramatic moments, there is an even more significant use of closer shots, when Pierre, completely objectified, already transmuted into a beggar, is photographed by strangers and onlookers, as if he were a bizarre attraction in the city, part of a circus of curiosities. Along the way, he realizes the somewhat counter-intuitive maxim (for those who are not): one is not born a beggar, one becomes one.

Little by little, the consequences or effects of his sudden material fall appear in images, from the moment when, following the news of the inheritance, his denial and the consequences of the denial come. The material fall is of lesser importance, from the point of view of what is filmed, than the moral fall, because as we anticipated, what is filmed is not a fact, but its interpretation, even if the difference between the two points of view views is, at the limit, untraceable. The moral sense of the fall is that it makes visible the full extent of the material fall. Hence the lion sign, on the contrary: a man who no longer recognizes himself (morally) from the moment when the suppression of the expected inheritance will take away and deny the value he gave to himself.

The world will seemingly lie to the stars, tragically and almost vilely, at least at the center of the film. That initial enthusiasm will give way, at first little by little, but then, in a geometric rhythm, to an increasingly emphatic despondency. In new features, Pierre wanders in the urban landscape of an empty Paris, almost absent, on summer vacation. The city becomes a strange place for him, previously so used to that landscape, forcing him to new experiences with the city that previously escaped him. This, which is remarkable, is clearly translated by the clarity of Nicolas Hayer's black and white photography. Thus, the lion loses its mane and becomes increasingly dejected, head down, withdrawn, like those unfortunate animals that are reduced to the attraction of countryside circuses, a moment in which they are denied all the dignity of savage that symbolically constituted them.

Reduced to a situation on the streets, on summer vacation, in an empty city, without contact with his old friends, our hero will make the entire journey through the humiliations that lead him to definitive poverty. Increasingly pressured by an unexpected poverty (but indirectly feared from the beginning), and now apparently definitive, which comes right after the promise of an inheritance that almost comes true, without, in fact, taking effect, he he is reduced to wandering around the city as a typical character of the urban landscape, of the third or fourth echelon, looking for the next mock meal. At that moment, he is welcomed only by those who recognize him as an equal, and this is the entry into the scene of our Boudo, moreover, Toto (Jean le Poulain), an old member of the rabble and inhabitant of the streets, who accepts poverty and exclusion insofar as he takes them as his own comedy.

There is a wisdom in this, which Pierre resists accepting, but which, little by little, he surrenders to it: the others, the well-off, seem to be able to tolerate the misery of others only when it exists to make them happy. That open-ended secret, Toto has memorized. And he lives on that, insofar as living on that is living. This material fall, whose effective description will always be moral, is filmed almost in detail, and each humiliation is adding up and multiplying in Pierre's misfortune. Éric Rohmer recounts the details of the fall for a reason that only the end explains: faithful to his moral thesis, it is necessary to show with a special photographic clarity this irremediable loss of self as a value, which Pierre is going through, to give the enunciative force that the end of the film demands.

Between the middle and the end, the perfectly understandable Rohmerian god rearranges the plot. It's not quite the old two ex machina. It's God himself, with capital letters. For that is what it is about: history can only be explained by eschatology, and the city of men can only be explained by the City of God. Thus, Pierre's cousin, the new heir who took his place, will die in an unpredictable car accident. Another accident to add to the first, the inheritance skips a space to reach its recipient, according to the stars, our protagonist. Once the procedures have been formalized, at this point, however, nobody knows where Pierre is. He submerged himself in his own history. However, and the film shows this pedagogically, he is next to his old friends, practically shoulder to shoulder with them, and nobody sees him.

It is the photograph of the contingency of the world, in a small exemplary sequence, that prepares the end of the film: the fall in class produces a distance greater than that between two galaxies. So Jean François (Van Doude) and his girlfriend, Dominique (Michèle Girardon), in that same convertible, stop at a corner, for whatever reason. Right behind, Toto and Pierre, in a baby carriage, do their poor sketches, half drunk. Friends from yesteryear wonder where, finally, the new millionaire that no one else has any news about would be. It's right there, beside it, unrecognizable. Nobody sees him.

Everything, finally, prepared for the end. Pierre, already suited to his new role and new social place, completely outside the world in which he reigned until yesterday, true that with a cardboard crown and a wooden sword, he will make the nocturnal pilgrimage together with Toto, to exchange a mockery of grace and comedy for some immediate material benefit: cigarette butts, loose change, food, small gestures of appreciation. It will be “on duty” that Pierre will come across, by a unique chance, since everything is chance and contingency, with Jean-François (Van Doude) who recognizes him and gives him the news, in a sequence very rich in details, of his new and, so to speak, "old" condition. In an almost violent way, representing that clash between two worlds, there is a reunion and the news: he will finally receive the inheritance; his cousin, who had taken his place, died.

Pierre takes a moment to believe, he resists his friend and the news, until he concedes. In rags, and again in an astrological trance, he jumps into Jean François' (Van Doude) convertible. It is the triumphant return to the order of the beginning. He imperatively resumes his condition under the sign of the Lion, returning to the invincible mood of the king of the forest, roars, party, party, party, in a unique roar. The second inheritance party on the way, he leaves behind, looking lost, Toto, astonished, the only one who welcomed him, but, by all indications, he will be left behind, fulfilling his role and his place. The starry sky that marks the end of the film is clear, crystal clear: we have learned nothing, we can learn nothing – we can only contemplate the stars.

Apparently it would be a happy ending for everyone who followed Pierre's unexpected pilgrimage through misery in the broadest sense – material, moral and metaphysical – and which, at a certain point in the film, seemed definitive. Everything is reversed in a very particular ending, emphatic in form: Pierre, finally fallen – stretched out on the ground – is tormented by the news that the inheritance has finally arrived, which seemed lost. The astrological truth would have come true, even for us, unbelievers of the stars. That's not a good thing. The instant that goes from the cold ground to the convertible happens immediately, under our eyes. The impact is immense, and the time of misery, distended and slow, is superimposed on the time of redemption, instantaneous, almost absolute.

The “message”, however, is not exactly one of “hope” or a “happy ending” – there is something we see that neither zodiac predictions nor a lottery win could remedy. Another meaning appears as if behind the seemingly simple plot: much less than the story of someone inconsequential who, at some cost, receives the expected inheritance due to an outcome written in the stars, the film is about how one can see that. The effect, subtle, is to discredit the stars even more, despite the apparent success: what you see are not predictions that have come true, but the injustice and incongruity of the world. I would say, without wanting to sound pedantic, that is the whole dialectic of the film, the “clash” between what is filmed and the meaning of what is filmed. It shows what we don't want or expect to see: happy endings can produce unexpected heartbreak.

Well, what do we see? We see the non-sense for which the truths of the constellations serve as an empty signifier and even an alibi. Pierre's story does not adhere to them, it is not a question of the sign of the lion, but of the false truth that the sign tells and justifies: in the theater of the world, the best places go to the worst people.

The contingency is much greater, infinitely greater, than the reason that intends to assuage it, even magical reasons. Fall and redemption can only be understood as works of chance, otherwise nothing else can be understood. Perhaps there is another point of view, different from ours, another perspective, which explains this fatal mismatch of things. Here, the Pascalian wager, a recurrent Rohmerian motto. Which, in the end, is a rough consolation.

"Quand je considère la petite durée de ma vie absorbée dans l'éternité précédente et suivante, memoria hospitis diei praetereuntis, le petit espace que je remplis et même que je vois, abîmé dans l'infinie immensité des espaces que j'ignore et qui m'ignorent, je m'effraie et m'étonne de me voir ici plutôt que là , car il n'y a point de raison pour quoi ici plutôt que là, pour quoi à présent plutôt que lors. Qui m'y more? Par l'ordre et la conduite de qui ce lieu et ce temps at-il été destiné à moi? [vii]

[When I consider the short span of my life, absorbed in the preceding and following eternity, memory hospitis diei praetereuntis, the small space that I fill, and that I even see, in the abyss of the infinite immensity of the spaces that I ignore and that ignore me, I am astonished and amazed to see myself here rather than there, because there is no reason why here and not there, because in that moment and not in another. Who put me here? By what order and by whose conduct was this place and time assigned to me?]

Pascal impeccable, informs us of the plot that entangles us. Pierre prefers not to know, and follows the stars, which, by chance, comfort him, more than that, by chance of comforting him. “After all, science is worth what is within reach of our finitude, whose limit is narrow, but can be evaluated, as it never ceases to notice the precipitation to infinity engendered by the imagination”.[viii]

The turns that philosophy takes are many, but they do not exhaust the precision of Éric Rohmer's images, in this film in which the beauty of photography cleverly contrasts with the unreasonableness of the world.

Unexpectedly, we can bring Theodor Adorno closer to the Pascalian cut, between what we know and what we can know about what we know, like someone bringing the dawn of an era closer to its sunset: different reasons produce the same effect, Montaigne predicted – disenchantment (still how enchanted) of the world –, against whom Pascal did not spare his paints. However, it is worth measuring, in a rudimentary way, these different ratios. Different from what Max Weber thought, modern “rationality” is not a mere disenchantment of the world[ix]. The agency of the irrational and the incorporation of both subjectivity and subjective residues in the exchange process produces a new enchantment: the irrational becomes real, as long as it is adapted to the process of valuing value.

Pascal's effort to project reason outside of itself (like someone who projects a line segment onto a figure to extract its properties) can remain inadvertently critical, even when applied to a very different context from its origin (the apology for Christianity and the debate with the Jesuits in the French seventeenth century). How much it would be possible to disenchant the sorcery of fetishism by scrutinizing the non-rational element that constitutes reason itself, it is difficult to say, but Theodor Adorno never tires of mobilizing what reason is obscure, the measure of its non-identity, for such a task, what we will call, again, dialectic.

Pascal, at the dawn of the modern conversion, manages Pyrrhonism, strategically present in the formation of modern French philosophy, for eschatological and moral effects: the reason of reason can only be scrutinized outside of reason. Éric Rohmer shows us: the truth found, not infrequently, is not even of the order of probability, perhaps because it cannot be true. We do not escape this world, despite its unreasonable ways. Even if Pascal believes in another world, this is not enough for “the eternal silence of these infinite spaces to haunt me”.

In this exemplary film, the story of each one is on the eve of a brutal non-meaning, which accompanies and questions us. Despite what they say, the stars are too far away to interfere.

 

Post Scriptum.

On October 27, 2019, the following text by Marilene Felinto read: “October 27 is the exact date of the birthday of these two men: the writer Graciliano Ramos (1892-1953) and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , 76. Two scorpions, as another man with the scorpion sign, who was also born on the same date, October 27, once estimated. Very attentive to the designs of astrology, this third man said to me one day: “We are three scorpions of the same day, and three widowers still young, our karma”.

I've never forgotten the startling revelation - the coincidence, the superstition, whatever. The astrologer had, in fact, been left a widower with four small children. Same case of Graciliano, who became a widow at the age of 28, of his first wife, who died due to complications in the delivery of the last of his four children. As for Lula, widowhood came when he was 24 years old, having lost his wife, who was eight months pregnant, in a cesarean section that also killed the child. With the death of Marisa Letícia, Lula da Silva, in 2017, was widowed for the second time.

The supposed astrological plot paints the existence of these men born under the rule of Pluto, the god of hell and depths”[X]. After that anniversary, two more came. And here the stars do not serve to conform to established things, but to their contrary.

"Les choses ont diverses qualités et l'âme diverses inclinations, car rien n'est simple de ce que s'offre à l'âme, et l'âme ne se ever simple à aucun sujet. De là vient qu'on pleure et qu'on rit d'une même chose"[xi]

[Things have different qualities and the soul has different inclinations, because nothing that is offered to the soul is simple, and the soul does not offer itself in a simple way to any subject. Hence it comes that we cry and laugh at the same thing.]

Scorpio men and Scorpio women know what they're all about. They live under the continuous requirement of rebirth and redemption, as it is their habit to live from abyss to abyss. His star is intermittent, shines brightly, goes out, shines again, always at the risk of darkness itself. His destiny resembles that of everyone, in our passing days: we live in uncertain, very uncertain times, of dangers and deaths, and we cannot avoid invoking “Nagôs and Latins and the most severe inscriptions. Life surpasses us in such a way that we have to face it with powerful resources. There must still be sorceries to be invoked to resist the fatalisms of death and tyranny, the charms of buying, selling and cynicism, and the seduction of injustice. And what goes for Scorpios, goes: that our courage be humble.

Ancient Saiph and Rigel, today Alpha of Orion, stars of the constellation of Orion (the last, the brightest in the constellation, and the seventh brightest in the sky), are stars of the constellation whose particularity is that they can be seen in the two hemispheres of the planet. They resist and allow their (perhaps extinct) light to still shine across the sky. It is not exactly hope – nor the expectation of grace or the Messiah – it is memory: the extinguished light can still illuminate.

“Month of Our Lady crowned with roses, and of workers who die because of the eight hours of work in the world, cold month of the mountains of Minas Gerais, nostalgia for girlfriends and prayers, cartridges of almonds that the sister brought from the coronation in Matriz, which was a large illuminated ship, conversations in the churchyard, waiting for the auction of gifts, vague shudders of poetry, childlike forms of a dream that would later become restlessness and affection fringed with irony – all this springs from this commercial pen with which I write, and dance in the air and penetrates me – all of this is yours, it is the very substance from which your life is woven, you born and blessed in May! To whom this letter is placed in the unreal suitcase of a faerie mail”[xii].

*Alexandre de Oliveira Torres Carrasco is professor of philosophy at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).

 

Notes


[I] ADORNO, TW, The stars come down to earth. The Astrology Column Los Angeles Times. A study of secondary superstition. Trans. Pedro Rocha de Oliveira. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2008.

[ii] Idem, ibidem, p. 33.

[iii] Idem, ibidem, p. 35.

[iv] Idem, ibidem, p. 37.

[v] Idem, ibidem, p. 145.

[vi] BENJAMIN, W., Works, II, "Oneiric kitsch", P. 7. Trans. Maurice de Gandillac & Rainer Rochlitz & Pierre Rusch. Paris, Gallimard, 2000.

[vii] PASCAL, b. Pensions, opuscules and letters. Edition of Philippe Sellier, Paris, Classiques Garnier, p. 197 [fragment 102], 2011.

[viii] FIGUEREDO, V. The passion of equality. A genealogy of the moral individual in France. Belo Horizonte, Relicário, 2021, p. 85.

The same problem, from another point of view: “If this is how Pascal seems to apprehend skepticism, or rather to invent it, then one can begin by understanding the role played by skepticism in his thought. The skeptical method of opposition offers Pascal a dynamic model oscillation of philosophy between these two opposite poles, which allows us to understand the internal conflict that crosses philosophical reason. It seems to have escaped many commentators that the pure skepticism invented by Pascal crucially depends on this skeptical method of opposition: first, on its systematic and comprehensive application, and then, consistently, on its abandonment in favor of a religious position. Thus, philosophy would not only consist of an impasse or a neutralization of reason, but, by virtue of a movement that is inherent to it and that is explained by the skeptical method of opposition, it leads us out of itself, namely, through faith. ”. SMITH, Plínio J. The skeptical method of opposition in modern philosophy. São Paulo, Alameda, 2015, p. 110. What Pliny Smith calls the “dynamic model” of the skeptical method of opposition, or even “pure skepticism”, could, with a few corrections, also be taken as dialectic. Which is not a secret: the relations between Pyrrhonism and dialectics are not, after all, a secret, on the contrary, they are always fruitful. Dialectics, it is known, unfolds from the antinomies of understanding, the effect of “a” method of transcendental opposition, which Kant called transcendental dialectic. Pascal's effort seems to be, in detail, to overcome the antinomies, however, “on the move”, and not through the pacification – the immobility, that is to say – of an equidistant judgment. This does not imply that understanding Pascal's pure skepticism is unimportant. In further research we will investigate these possibilities.

[ix] FAUSTO, Ruy. Marxist dialectic, Hegelian dialectic. Capitalist production as simple circulation. Appendix “Dialectics, structuralism, pre(post)structuralism”. São Paulo, Brasiliense & Paz e Terra, 1997. Pp 146 and ff.

[X] Newspaper, October 27 from 2019.

[xi] PASCAL, b. Pensions, opuscules and letters. Edition of Philippe Sellier, Paris, Classiques Garnier, p. 189 [fragment 87], 2011.

[xii] ANDRADE, Carlos Drummond de. Island tours. Cosacnaify, São Paulo, 2011, p. 32.

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