“Isso é água”, por David Foster Wallace


postei o trecho do clássico discurso “This is Water” do David Foster Wallace aqui anteriormente e há pouco reencontrei o vídeo que o destaca. Por isso, aproveito o calorão do verão 2015 para republicá-lo e, quem sabe, vê-lo traduzido para português. Se alguém se dispor, basta postar a tradução abaixo.

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in day out” really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to manoeuvre your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”

“This is water.”

Mujica sensacional: “Não se compra vida no supermercado – então lute para vivê-la!”

“Não tenho vocação para herói”

Tire 20 minutos para assistir a esse discurso sensacional do grande José Mujica, em seus últimos dias como presidente do Uruguai, ao receber uma condecoração no Equador no início deste mês. Uma fala sobre política no sentido bruto, sobre a intensidade apaixonante do viver, como deixamos este sentimento ficar em terceiro plano e como só depende de nós para deixarmos de sermos vistos como mercadorias. Um texto apaixonante, inspirador e otimista, para que a depressão de fim de ano (e seus intermináveis jingle bells) não se abata sobre nós:

Colei a transcrição do La vida es… Ahora! abaixo, se alguém se dispor a traduzir para o português, basta postar nos comentários que eu colo aqui.




Richard Feynman inspirador


Falei outro dia da animação Ode a uma flor, feita a partir de um trecho de uma entrevista do físico Richard Feynman à BBC, e a Rita (valeu!) me disse que o Gavin Aung Than, do Zen Comics (já falei dele aqui no Sujo ao mencionar trabalhos feitos a partir de discursos de Neil Gaiman e Bill Watterson), já havia transformado o mesmo trecho num quadrinho (reproduzo-o abaixo). Na visita ao site de Aung Than, encontrei o pôster acima, feito a partir de outra frase de Feynman: “É muito mais interessante viver sem saber do que ter respostas que podem estar erradas” – e perceba o quanto a frase “não sei” liberta.


Wayne Coyne: “Crie sua própria felicidade”


Em 2007, o líder dos Flaming Lips, deu uma entrevista à NPR falando sobre como ele descobriu, feito uma revelação, a beleza da simplicidade da felicidade, e como ele trouxe essa sensação para sua vida.

A Aline traduziu o texto pro português:

“Eu acredito que nós temos o poder de criar nossa própria felicidade. Eu acredito que a mágica de verdade no mundo é feita pelos humanos. Eu acredito que a vida normal é extraordinária.

Eu estava sentado no meu carro em um semáforo, ouvindo o rádio. Eu estava, eu acho, perdido no momento, pensando em quão feliz eu estava por estar aquecido dentro do meu carro. Estava frio e ventoso do lado de fora, e eu pensei ‘a vida é boa’.

Agora, era um semáforo demorado. Enquanto eu esperava, eu notei duas pessoas amontoadas no ponto de ônibus. Aos meus olhos eles pareciam desconfortáveis; eles pareciam pobres. Seus casacos pareciam ter vindo de um brechó. Eles não estavam vestindo roupas da Gap. Eu sabia disso por que já estive naquela situação.

O casal parecia estar fazendo o seu melhor para se manter aquecido. Eles estavam amontoados, e eu pensei comigo mesmo ‘ah, essas pobres pessoas nesse vento tão ruim’.

Então eu vi seus rostos. Sim, eles estavam amontoados, mas eles também estavam dando risada. Eles pareciam estar dividindo uma ótima piada, e de repente, ao invés de sentir pena deles, eu os invejei. Eu pensei ‘ué, o que é tão engraçado?’. Eles não haviam percebido o vento. Eles não estavam preocupados com suas roupas. Eles não estavam olhando para o meu carro e pensando ‘ah, como eu queria ter um desses’.

Você sabe quando um simples momento parece durar uma hora? Bom, naquele momento eu percebi que havia achado que aquele casal precisava da minha pena, mas eles não precisavam. Eu assumi que as coisas estavam ruins para eles, mas não estavam. E eu entendi também que nós temos o poder de fazer os momentos de felicidade acontecerem.

Agora, talvez seja fácil falar, para mim. Eu me sinto sortudo de ter fãs por todo o planeta, uma casa com um teto e uma esposa que está sempre ao meu lado. Mas eu me senti daquela maneira quando eu estava trabalhando no Long John Silver’s. Eu trabalhei lá por onze anos fritando coisas. Quando você está num lugar por tanto tempo você vê adolescentes em seus primeiros encontros; depois eles estão casados; depois eles estão trazendo seus filhos. Você testemunha seções inteiras da vida das pessoas.

No começo, parecia um emprego fadado ao fim. Mas pelo menos era um emprego. E na verdade, era bem fácil. Depois de duas semanas eu sabia tudo que precisava saber, e isso libertou minha mente. Aquele emprego me permitia sonhar com o que a minha vida poderia vir a ser.

No primeiro ano que eu trabalhei lá, nós fomos assaltados. Eu deitei no chão. Eu pensei que ia morrer. Eu não pensava que teria alguma chance. Mas tudo deu certo. Um monte de gente vê a vida como um monte de histórias sobre tarefas miseráveis, mas depois disso eu não não era mais uma delas.

Eu acredito que isso é algo que todos nós podemos fazer: tentar ser felizes em qualquer contexto da vida que estivermos vivendo. Felicidade não é uma situação para ser ansiada ou a convergência do acaso da sorte. Através do poder de nossas próprias mentes, nós podemos nos ajudar. Nisso eu acredito.”

Abaixo, a transcrição original, em inglês:


Michel Gondry + Noam Chomsky

“O que te deixa feliz?”
“Eu não penso muito sobre isso”


Gondry ligou sua câmera e deixou Chomsky falar – depois ilustrou a conversa com suas animações.

O resultado é o filme Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? e basta conhecer o mínimo do trabalho de cada um dos envolvidos pra saber que vale assistir a esse experimento.



Calvin e o pássaro morto

Perdoem-me pela tira estar em inglês, mas Essa intromissão no seu dia-a-dia (agora com a tradução feita pelo Fernando, logo abaixo) vale:


– Olha, um pássaro morto!
– Ele deve ter se chocado na janela.

– Ele não é bonito? tão delicado.

– Poxa… só quando é tarde demais que você aprecia o milagre que é a vida.

– Você percebe que a natureza é impiedosa e nossa existência é muito frágil, passageira e preciosa.

– Mas pra seguir em frente com seu dia a dia, você não pode realmente pensar sobre isso.

– E provavelmente é por isso que todos presumem tudo como algo garantido e agimos sem refletir.

– É bem confuso.

– Suponho que tudo isso fará sentido quando crescermos.
– Sem dúvidas.

Se alguém quiser traduzir, é só postar nos comentários que eu colo aqui em cima. Ela é uma de uma lista de várias tiras sensíveis de Bill Watterson reunidas pelo Buzzfeed dia desses.

Louis CK e como smartphones esvaziam a sensibilidade humana


Filosofia fingido-se de humor.

Os 40 anos do Dark Side of the Moon, do Pink Floyd, texto de Tom Stoppard e animação da Aardman


Há 40 anos, quando o clássico Dark Side of the Moon foi lançado, um amigo do dramaturgo Tom Stoppard sugeriu que ele escrevesse uma peça que pudesse usar o disco como trilha sonora. E no aniversário de quatro décadas do disco, a BBC retomou este insight e produziu não apenas o cenário para tal versão como convocou os animadores da Aardman (os gênios criadores do Wallace & Gromit) para traduzir visualmente esta viagem sobre a natureza da loucura, dinheiro, tempo, filosofia e o sentido da vida – uma celebração aos grandes temas do próprio Dark Side of the Moon. Olha o trailer aí embaixo:

E da forma mais britânica possível, a íntegra do programa pode ser vista no site da BBC por tempo limitado. Então aproveite enquanto é tempo – ou até que alguém consiga ripar e publicar online em algum site de torrents.


Vale também conferir todo o especial que a BBC está fazendo em homenagem ao aniversário deste disco mágico.