Back to basics: Walt Whitman

"BE simple and clear — Be not occult," the notes begin, and he then he wrote:  "I will not descend among professors and capitalists"

Emerson's Letter to Whitman 

21 July 
Concord Masstts. 1855 

Dear Sir,
I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of "Leaves of Grass." I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy. It meets the demand I am always making of what seemed the sterile & stingy nature, as if too much handiwork or too much lymph in the temperament were making our western wits fat and mean. I give you joy of your free brave thought. I have great joy in it. I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be. I find the courage of treatment, which so delights us, & which large perception only can inspire. I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which yet must have had a long foreground somewhere for such a start. I rubbed my eyes a little to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of the book is a sober certainty. It has the best merits, namely of fortifying & encouraging. I did not know until I, last night, saw the book advertised in a newspaper, that I could trust the name as real and available for a post- office. I wish to see my benefactor, & have felt much like striking my tasks, & visiting New York to pay you my respects.
R. W. Emerson 
Mr. Walter Whitman. 

*This letter, which is probably the most famous letter in American literary history, is in the Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress. It is reproduced in facsimile in Walt Whitman: A Selection of the Manuscripts, Books, and Association Items(Detroit: Detroit Public Library, 1955), a catalog of an exhibition held at the Detroit Public Library. It also appears in an accurate text in Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, ed. E. H. Miller (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1961),1, 41. 



‘Gasosa’ – The impact of corruption

Woman leaving home with her sons in N’dalatando, capital of Angola’s Kwanza Norte Province (Photo: PB)

Whilst traveling across around 800 km of Angolan roads, I noticed that one of the most effective “services” in Angola is the police roadside stop-checks. In a country waking up from decades of war and where gross inefficiency and incompetence are generalized, it is puzzling to see  overzealous policemen controlling the traffic. During the journeys between the capital Luanda and a small interior city we were stopped several times by heavily armed policemen.
Displaying machine guns and threatening facial expressions, they verified all the passengers’ documents and took a close look at the SUV we were in. On roads that are often badly rutted and bumpy, they made sure all the passengers had reflective jackets and things like that. They were clearly trying to find something to pick on and were even willing to make up infractions if needed.
Teixeira, the Angolan journalist who was driving, explained the proceedings:  If the cops find something to pick on they will threaten you with a heavy fine. The driver should then propose an “extrajudicial” agreement, meaning that he must bribe the police, or pay him what is known in Angola as ‘gasosa’ (soft drink).
If the driver is uncooperative the car will be towed and heavy fines will be applied. Most of the drivers prefer to pay the ‘gasosa,’ viewed as a fact of life. ‘Gasosa’ is therefore a national institution noticeable in all facets of Angolan society.
“Underlying the ‘sharing of the cake’ there is the phenomena of paying commissions and consequently the galloping corruption (…) Institutional solidarity doesn’t work and many millions are burnt out through the years, often in projects that are soon forgotten,” wrote journalist Victor Aleixo in the newsmagazine “Figuras&Negócios.”
Even with a censored press, the talk about corruption is all over the Angolan media. This reflects the scale of the issue, ranging from the petty corruption done in road inspections to the institutional corruption. ‘Gasosa’ is everywhere and nothing works properly because of it.
Corruption explains why sick people without the means or influence to be sent abroad can be left to die of curable diseases. It also explains why the supermarkets in downtown Luanda seem to be rationed (I supposed that not many multinationals are willing to enter such a market, except for Portuguese companies and Chinese deveelopers that seem to be seduced by Angolan oil money) and basic goods are unbelievably priced. For example, a bottle of milk costs 300 kwanzas, the equivalent to MOP25.
In a culture where corruption is rampant, people have the tendency to benefit their group to the detriment of others. In Angola, still a highly tribal society, many take for granted that the principle saying we are all equal before the law doesn’t apply.
Societies like these (and I invite readers to reflect on whether Macau could be included in this category) are divisive and lack solidarity.
Not even the Communist slogans adopted by the regime can disguise the blatant inequality between the haves and the have-nots in Luanda, where the notion of common good is almost inexistent. There are the privileged ones (meaning, the members of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – MPLA) and the others.
As nothing works properly, in order to get something done and cut through red tape, bribes (“commissions”) are needed. It’s the only way to proceed and Angolans have gotten used to it (for sure it beats civil war).
The Financial Times’ description of Angola allows us to draw some parallels with Macau, namely the overdependence on one industry and the lack of political progress: “The economic boom has not been matched by political progress. It is here that Angola displays many of the traits that show the flip side of the ‘Africa rising’ narrative. It is highly dependent on one commodity – oil accounts for about 80 percent of government revenue – and is ruled by a dominant political party, the MPLA. José Eduardo dos Santos, the 71 year-old president, has been in office for 35 years (…) Critics accuse president dos Santos of running an autocratic regime that is intolerant of criticism. As in other post-conflict countries ruled by former liberation movements, the MPLA – once a Marxist group backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba – dominates over a weak and fractured opposition and governs in a stiflingly bureaucratic and often opaque manner.”
ing across around 800 km of Angolan roads, I noticed that one of the most effective “services” in Angola is the police roadside stop-checks. In a country waking up from decades of war and where gross inefficiency and incompetence are generalized, it is puzzling to see  overzealous policemen controlling the traffic. During the journeys between the capital Luanda and a small interior city we were stopped several times by heavily armed policemen.
(Published in MDT, by PB)



MORRISEY, no seu último álbum, faz uma referência ao herói "beat" Cassady e a Allen Ginsberg

Não sei bem o que dizer da letra, mas a música soa muito bem:

Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s tears shampoo his beard
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s lips tighten and thin
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s hosed down in a barn
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s howl becomes a growl
Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ring’s [?] full of ringworm
Angel of disdain
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Mine is melanoma
Tikes full of gripe.
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me
Victim, or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?
Victim or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?

(Segundo a Vogue, "the song “Neal Cassady Drops Dead” references Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, spiraling through a litany of rhyming horrors (babies, rabies, scabies) at an excited pace, before landing on the final words: Victim? Or life’s adventurer? Which of the two are you? Play it loud, get up, dance . . . sway in that particular Morrissey fashion with all your friends somewhere, anywhere on a Saturday night. Things will be better.")




                                            BY Allen Ginsberg

Be kind to your self, it is only one
and perishable
of many on the planet, thou art that
one that wishes a soft finger tracing the
line of feeling from nipple to pubes--
one that wishes a tongue to kiss your armpit,
a lip to kiss your cheek inside your
whiteness thigh--
Be kind to yourself Harry, because unkindness
comes when the body explodes
napalm cancer and the deathbed in Vietnam
is a strange place to dream of trees
leaning over and angry American faces
grinning with sleepwalk terror over your
last eye--
Be kind to yourself, because the bliss of your own
kindness will flood the police tomorrow,
because the cow weeps in the field and the
mouse weeps in the cat hole--
Be kind to this place, which is your present
habitation, with derrick and radar tower
and flower in the ancient brook--
Be kind to your neighbor who weeps
solid tears on the television sofa,
he has no other home, and hears nothing
but the hard voice of telephones
Click, buzz, switch channel and the inspired
melodrama disappears
and he's left alone for the night, he disappears
in bed--
Be kind to your disappearing mother and
father gazing out the terrace window
as milk truck and hearse turn the corner
Be kind to the politician weeping in the galleries
of Whitehall, Kremlin, White House
Louvre and Phoenix City
aged, large nosed, angry, nervously dialing
the bald voice box connected to
electrodes underground converging thru
wires vaster than a kitten's eye can see
on the mushroom shaped fear-lobe under
the ear of Sleeping Dr. Einstein
crawling with worms, crawling with worms, crawling
with worms the hour has come--
Sick, dissatisfied, unloved the bulky
foreheads of Captain Premier President
Sir Comrade Fear!
Be kind to the fearful one at your side
Who's remembering the Lamentations
of the bible
the prophesies of the Crucified Adam Son
of all the porters and char men of
Be kind to your self who weeps under
the Moscow moon and hide your bliss hairs
under raincoat and suede Levi's--
For this is the joy to be born, the kindness
received thru strange eyeglasses on
a bus thru Kensington,
the finger touch of the Londoner on your thumb,
that borrows light from your cigarrette,
the morning smile at Newcastle Central
station, when longhair Tom blond husband
greets the bearded stranger of telephones--
the boom bom that bounces in the joyful
bowels as the Liverpool Minstrels of
raise up their joyful voices and guitars
in electric Afric hurrah
for Jerusalem--
The saints come marching in, Twist &
Shout, and Gates of Eden are named
in Albion again
Hope sings a black psalm from Nigeria,
and a white psalm echoes in Detroit
and reechoes amplified from Nottingham to Prague
and a Chinese psalm will be heard, if we all
live our lives for the next 6 decades--
Be kind to the Chinese psalm in the red transistor
in your breast--
Be kind to the Monk in the 5 Spot who plays
lone chord-bangs on his vast piano
lost in space on a bench and hearing himself
in the nightclub universe--
Be kind to the heroes that have lost their
names in the newspaper
and hear only their own supplications for
the peaceful kiss of sex in the giant
auditoriums of the planet,
nameless voices crying for kindness in the orchestra,
screaming in anguish that bliss come true
and sparrows sing another hundred years
to white haired babes
and poets be fools of their own desire--O Anacreon
and angelic Shelley!
Guide these new-nippled generations on space
ships to Mars' next universe
The prayer is to man and girl, the only
gods, the only lords of Kingdoms of
Feeling, Christs of their own
living ribs--
Bicycle chain and machine gun, fear sneer
& smell cold logic of the Dream Bomb
have come to Saigon, Johannesburg
Dominica City, Phnom Penh, Pentagon
Paris and Lhasa--
Be kind to the universe of Self that
trembles and shudders and thrills
in XX Century,
that opens its eyes and belly and breast
chained with flesh to feel
the myriad flowers of bliss
that I Am to Thee--
A dream! a Dream! I don't want to be alone!
I want to know that I am loved!
I want the orgy of our flesh, orgy
of all eyes happy, orgy of the soul
kissing and blessing its mortal-grown
orgy of tenderness beneath the neck, orgy of
kindness to thigh and vagina
Desire given with meat hand
and cock, desire taken with
mouth and ass, desire returned
to the last sigh!
Tonite let's all make love in London
as if it were 2001 the years
of thrilling god--
And be kind to the poor soul that cries in
a crack of the pavement because he
has no body--
Prayers to the ghosts and demons, the
lackloves of Capitals & Congresses
who make sadistic noises
on the radio--
Statue destroyers & tank captains, unhappy
murderers in Mekong & Stanleyville,
That a new kind of man has come to his bliss
to end the cold war he has borne
against his own kind flesh
since the days of the snake.


Em Macau: Em Lisboa:
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