Yes, yes, I can certainly claim it to have started in that disastrous conversation with the German woman. But has it not been there for some time now, quietly resting, imminent, callous, unavoidable like a dragon in a cave?
It certainly seems so, at this point. There has been this link, this unexpected and uncalled-for memory reminding me of my lack of humility, the potential intentionality in a would-be crisis of estrangement. But more, more profoundly, can it not be traced further back, up to an unconfessed desire of world fame, of recognition? Waves of thousand of readers rushing to that blog of a Brazilian amateur writer, transpiring creativeness and inspiration in his Beckett revival?
It might be so. It would certainly be so, had I been lying in a couch searching for the most profound and unintended secrets of mine. Would I not lie this to myself, if I could? Certainly would. Confessing unintentionally, for the sake of method, unveiling, more profoundly, my unbribable dignity and character, my punishing and surveiling consciousness. I am a man of valour, willing to go far, but oh, no, not as far as it would seem inappropriate or arrogant. Oh, no, these uncommitting desires I have ripped out of myself through merciless confessions, and I can declare myself clean, now. All hail purity of mind, renewed through a double-sided confession of unguilty guiltiness, unpure chastity. Mighty, mighty confessions of mine, cast myself clean of the worst in myself, for I intend no harm. Hail, hail.
The German lady most certainly started it. Ha!, now I cling myself in even more childish grounds, ‘she started it, mummy, I did nothing’.
She did, though. You might be wondering now what this is all about. Well, as much as possible I might try and make myself understood.
All marched as expected, skies clear, all good, all normal. In an already dreamlike atmosphere, however, the need to speak in German and English after years of cultivated monolinguisticality were imposing an awkwardness, a pounding of unexpected awareness of the presence of the tongue, the snail-like creature tongue, forcing itself known, recognized. Such awareness made it all impossible, though, and it seemed curious that this animal might have kept to itself the traces and memories of these particular moves and dances it had not had the opportunity to practice in long years.
This slight, indelible weirdness installed itself there – just like the dragon aforementioned. It lay there, creeping, warmly breathing. I’m forcing a little Beckett tone to it, but it most certainly had some of it – and the first ‘it’ refers to the time, at the time, thought at this point the time is no longer existant and I need to refer to the memory, which is certainly no good. Hail, hail, move on.
Then came the talk. Weird talk, elevator talk with the German. They had been there, German-speaking folks, more numerous than us Brazilians, which makes me wonder why that german-speaking fellow in particular would look lonely and needy to the point of propelling me into these long abandoned territories. She might have been boring to those who could actually get in touch with her, which makes it all much more reasonable and pedestrian, and makes my existential contortionisms a little ridiculous. She might as well have just seen me talking something brief to someone and therefore deduces I spoke English, I don’t know. How would I know? Hail, hail…
As the image casts it, as it so appears now, as I have it in me, so it goes: there we were, strangers completely, sharing due to lack of alternative the living room of the hotel. Fearlessly she wakened the dragon: petty, dull elevator-talks, ‘are you Brazilian?’, ‘that rain today, huh?’. Petty talks. Brazil, and wherer are you from, and how are you enjoying your stay, and there it was: the snail dancing, the dragon awakened, oh such poor images, no luck for the English head as a writer.
And so I let it out, unwillingly as it forced itself in me. The thing is, the dragon, the dance of the snail, it all comes down to the obnoxious fact that I found myself a much more boring, conservative, and dull person as an English-speaker as I consider myself when speaking Portuguese. It reached a point where I took notice of myself saying something, and realizing just then that it was a horrible idea for a person to sustain. When it all came to an end and we came back to our initial anti-social positions I had to live with this unbearable guy, thinking ridiculous poorly developed reactionary positions, and to my utter amazement that dude was me.
Well, not me, and this is how it goes. He was not me, absolutely: he was something in me that became attached to the language, to English as a language. Something like an escargot that tastes like the things it eats (so it is said, I never ate escargot), like pearls envolving and embracing some antique and estranged intolerable infection to the whatever-thing that produces pearls (no pearls involved here, though, just the awkwardness). And I came to it, the dragon in the cave: it had laid hidden from myself this part of me that thinks things I wouldn’t think in a million years, that stands grounds I wouldn’t stand, and somehow it lay there unnoticed for years. And I kept, nourished and fed – or at least kept, for it might have not fed and not have needs nourishment, like a virus or a tic – someone else within me, and he came out when I wasn’t watching.
So I had to do something, and I devoted myself to these thoughts that could find him, unveil his disguises and get me rid of him, or it. And I devoted myself to theses thoughts on the subject, and to the vehicles through which this conservative fellow came to express himself. At this point I came back to the sayings of Salman Rushdie, who I absolutely ignore but who wrote the introduction to a copy of Beckett’s complete works (actually just the novels, the complete works are divides into three books of which I own only one) I have at home. Rushdie said at some point of his introduction that Beckett spoke English and wrote in English, but he chose (in some works, I believe he didn’t do it everytime – it would make no sense) to write some of his works in French, which – and I quote: “which he speaks with greater difficulty, so that he is obliged to choose his words carefully, forced to give up fluenc and to find the hard words that come with difficulty”.
I understand it will be obvious why it rushed to my mind at this point of the situation: Rushdie somehow speaks of the dragon, speaks of how Beckett came to know he had a dragon and could put it to his interest. My experience, nevertheless, has brought me through a different experience with it: in my case it was not the need to find the hard words that come with difficulty, but more so that the troublesome features of the trail, of the path itself forced me to detour, and to reach regions unknown to my fluent flows of consciousness.
Can it be? Cam it be we are not free?, says Molloy, which I remembered now by chance. Anyway, can it be so that the use of a language I know less well has served me as a mediocre vehicle, forcing me to express therefore “worse” ideas, or ideas I wouldn’t express if I had been better served by language? Can it be that the precarious conditions of my English allowed me not my more domestic, long cultivated ideas?
If I lost track of some sort of my vocabulary, would I be someone else?
Some people state that we inhabit language, and that therefore language molds our very being – which means our being is less spacious and less definite than language itself. Would that be so, if I had to excuse myself on the use of some words that carry out my modes of thinking, pathways that get me to the ideas I believe to be mine – would I not be able to think those ideas again?
I do not know. Nevertheless it seemed worthwhile to get myself to this effort in English, which I speak with greater difficulty, not to coin out a better and improved Portuguese, for I feel no such need and crave for no such great deeds, but because I thought consistent to hunt and track down the conservative fellow where I first came to meet him. I have no means, nevertheless, to judge for myself if I crossed his path or not, for he and I would not bump into each other – or so I believe. It would take some awfully strange encounter to make myself unknown to myself, and nevertheless aware of myself, and still able to discern where I cross my own borders and reach that part of the thing being that is no more self to me; it would take some bizarre measures for the thing that grows pearls to unfold them layers and layers, and defining to itself through some undefinable criterion what materials belong to itself and what belongs to the grain of sand that made it come out.
Could it be? Could it be we are not ourselves wholly? Holy selves, wholly selves, we are no selves to ourselves, that would most likely be it.
And the wheels go round and round; I will not find him. Somewhere amidst the caves and the dragons, somewhere inside myself a conservative fellow has an ill impression on the airport official, and thinks Brazil is developing and gaining on the major sports events, for they bring money and investment to our borders – could I only get rid of him, and I would be more of myself to myself than I found out I am right now. Unfortunately enough, though, I have no power over these conservative, and who knows which other bizarre-thinking selves I nest in caves within, and so they dwell within, and at bay, and on the borders.
Had I kept t myself more of the original plan, it would seem appropriate to translate it back into Portuguese, where I would coin something new or whatever. It does not seem the case now – I’m lazy, and somewhat tired.