I was away from here for a little while, working and concerned with other stuff. But now I am back, and so is Geist magazine, in a beautiful Summer edition, that you can read online or purchase in print from our shop. Since I prefer reading in paper, I recommend the print version, of course.
It took a while, but I think it’s worth it. Let me know your thoughts.
I would like to wish all readers and whoever visits this website (it can’t be too many) a Happy Easter. It’s a nice sunny day here, I hope it is too wherever you are.
As a Easter message, I give you here Strindber’gs words from a book I recently edited and published:
“All the errors and mistakes which we have made should serve to instil into us a lively hatred of evil, and to impart to us fresh impulses to good; these we can take with us to the other side, where they can first bloom and bear fruit.
That is the true meaning of life, at which the obstinate and impenitent cavil in order to escape trouble.
Pray, but work; suffer, hut hope; keeping both the earth and the stars in view. Do not try and settle permanently, for it is a place of pilgrimage; not a home, but a halting-place. Seek truth, for it is to be found, but only in one place, with Him who Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
(August Strindberg, “The Blue Book“)
August Strindberg, by the way, also wrote a wonderful little play called “Easter”, it’s one of his least known works, but it’s very good. It’s one of his least gloomy plays, even with some humorous moments. You can find it at Gutenberg.
People who know me know that I have been very critical almost from the very start of the whole global reaction to “Covid” and the unprecedented use of authoritarian measures such as forced masks and “lockdowns”, among other measures which have proven to be not only useless, but harmless.
I am also very wary of this strange mass vaccination campaign with a new technology whose long-term effects we do not know, and ideas such as “vaccine passports” (to my mind, vaccinations should be optional and never forced, directly or indirectly).
Now, many people are hoping that as the pandemic eventually subsides, things will get back to “normal”. But will they? Hasn’t “normal” already changed by the imposition of such norms and such technology?
Let’s say the pandemic ends, everyone is happy, we don’t hear so much about “Covid” again. Great. But then, some other virus comes up, or perhaps it’s “global warming”, or “bio-terrorism”, or some other natural or artificial accident. Won’t governments and authorities immediately go into the same, or perhaps even worse, measures?
Once they have been deployed, things like constant surveillance, almost total digitalization of money, education and entertainment, imposition of “social distancing”, etc, won’t go away. Just like having to take off your shoes or not being able to bring a water bottle before boarding a plane have never gone away, even if there was only one (very suspicious) case of a “shoe bomber” and, as far as I know, no cases of “water bottle” bombers.
So, no, I don’t think we will go back to “normal”, we are already in “normal”, this is “normal” now. Whether you like it or not.
(For more about where this “new normal” can take us, read my short story “The Great Unvaxxed” published at the Off-Guardian.)
My short story “You don’t know what real loneliness feels like” was just published at the New English Review, April 2021 edition (they shortened the title to “Loneliness”, which I don’t like so much, but it’s OK). The story “The Great Unvaxxed” was also recently published in the Off-Guardian (March 29).
I may be publishing other stories and articles in the near future, so keep a look for that. I will post the links here.
P. S. Also “Scenes from 2030” was published now at the Off-Guardian. That one is more humorous, check it out.
We recently had a little event commemorating the first edition (Winter) of our “Geist” magazine of literature and art, which was very nice. The magazine is still available for sale at our web shop (we already had a few orders!) in the print version, or to be read or downloaded in pdf format for free here.
We are now planning a second number for Spring, to be published by the end of May, so if anyone wants to send either texts (short stories, poems or articles) or art (paintings, photographs, illustrations), just contact us at our email.
The theme is free, although it can be related to Spring, either directly or indirectly. Contributions are unpaid, but you get a free copy of the print magazine (There will also a free web magazine available for all).
Thanks! Happy Easter!
A new book of original short stories is now available. All the stories (except two) were written during the recent “pandemic” that started on February 2020 and is still going on. A few of the stories are thematically related to current events, but others are not. Some are science fiction, some are humorous, some are a bit dark. Still, they all seem to match together somehow. The book can be purchased on Amazon in both print or ebook format, or at our own little shop.
I am not usually a great fan of contemporary poetry, but here’s a pretty nice poem by American poet Christine E. Black about living under lockdown. Republished from here.
Ragamuffins in Lockdown Time
I want to be the child
In my neighborhood,
Kicking a ball down a wet street,
Dirty snow and ice crusting cars,
And a pile of bikes in the yard,
His little brother
And a gang of more children,
Trailing behind. One bangs a stick
On the ground, all their clear
Brown faces shine, eyes dance
In the cold. His immune system
Wrestles earnestly, playfully
With wondrous germs of the air,
And on the skin of his little brother,
In the slobber of the dog,
The grime on the ball
From the corner of the basement
Next to the crumple
Of his father’s work clothes,
His mother’s nurse’s aide uniform,
Blood splattered on a sleeve.
I want to be their parents,
Gathering at a neighbor’s house
For Holy Communion.
They made a hand-lettered
Church sign for the yard,
Invited the priest to hold Mass
In the living room
For all the neighbors.
And after taking the body and blood,
Those words made flesh
By breath and speech,
I kiss an old aunt, press my cheek
To hers, smell her hair and skin,
Remembered from childhood.
My breath deepens, quiets the cells,
Bathes them in strength and health.
I want to be one of the Boys and Girls
Club children, still driven
To the closed school
Because her mother has to go work
At the chicken factory each day.
The mask they make the girl wear
Drags her chin while she plays
With twenty or so other children
In the abandoned school gym
Or outside behind the vacant building.
She sits in the grass across from a friend,
Clapping patterns, telling stories,
Their caretaker, reading her phone.
I want to be one of the children,
Following behind their father,
Who can’t have them inside
One more day this winter, playing
Video games, watching TV.
They head into the trampoline park,
Dark for months, but now somehow
Open, a few cars in the lot.
Inside, high school and college students,
Who have to have the job
Are face-masked seven or eight hours,
Like all the others, delivering Dominoes
Or Grub Hub, waiting tables
In half-capacity restaurants,
Stocking Walmart shelves, scanning,
Bagging at grocery stores, their glasses
Fogging, acne worsening, minds dulled
From low oxygen, wondering what
In the world may happen next.
I want to be a child piled in the family car,
Driving narrow, steep West Virginia roads
To a mountain cabin, where they’ll meet
Maybe a dozen or more family and friends.
Some will forage for mushrooms
Or bow hunt, they’ll tell stories,
Wade in cold streams, build a fire
To cook meat at dusk. I want to be
One of their parents in a sleeping bag
With my husband, by the fire
After everyone else has gone to bed.
The first number of our magazine is now in its print version, in very limited number, but high quality. With A4 size, 250g glossy paper, and full-quality colour images, it is really a sight to behold.
It contains short stories and poems in different languages (all translated to English), plus illustrations and photographs by several very talented artists.
Art and literature – to combine them in a beautiful way was the idea behind this project. I hope you like it and read the magazine, be it in print or online (we recommend print – it’s always nicer to read in print).
I have to admit I never liked Dr. Seuss’s books. I don’t know why, but neither the illustrations nor the poems were attractive to me either as a child or as an adult, and they were not part of my childhood in any case. I was reading other stuff, such as Tintin, Asterix and classic fairy tales.
That said, the current announcement that the company now representing Dr. Seuss’ work will no longer publish some of his books because they can be “offensive” for readers is a bit troubling. The modern mania of changing the past to accommodate to the present’s preconceived ideas, as if we were somehow more enlightened or wise than any people in the past, is a form of insanity; in that case, we should “cancel” almost all literature written before the 20th century.
The books “cancelled” are not the most well-known or Dr. Seuss’s biggest best-sellers, so perhaps the publishers just wanted to discontinue them anyway, and this was just a good excuse. It is a bit suspicious that, while the books are characterized as “offensive”, none of the news articles explain exactly why. I had to search for the actual text of the books, and even then, the only thing I could find was that one of those books mentions, once, the word “Chinaman”, which has fallen out of favor. In other books, it appears that the problem is the illustration of foreign cultures in stereotypical clothes, but again, nothing particularly very “offensive”, except to modern sensibilities.
A recent study by John P. A. Ioannidis and others, published at the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, seems to indicate that stay-at-home orders and business closures do not work or make little difference in containing the spread of COVID.
This together with the Chinese study showing that asymptomatic transmission is low or inexistent should put the final nail in the authoritarian measures taken in the name of health. I say should, but of course this won’t happen, and methods such as the “vaccine passports” such as the ones provided now in Israel are the way that will be chosen.
So now, besides masks and lockdowns, you will also have to be vaccinated, but even the vaccine won’t stop lockdowns and masks for a while.
“Educação para todos” (Education for all) is the first book in Portuguese published by Contrarium. Focusing on education in Brazil, the book discusses success stories from Germany, China and the United States in both schools and universities, and how they can be applied to Brazil. It also discusses several important themes such as IQ, research and publishing.
The author, G. J. Creus, studied at Yale and has been an Engineering professor ad UFRGS and ILEA for more than 40 years. The book is a very valuable contribution to an important theme. It can be purchased on Amazon for a very cheap price of 0.92 USD for the Kindle version, or 4.99 USD for the print version.
The first edition of our literature and art magazine, “Geist”, is just out, and you can read it for free. A multilingual magazine with texts in English and German, Portuguese, French and Italian translated to English, and artworks by several international artists.
Poems, short stories, photographs, paintings and illustrations – it’s all there. Please check it out here: Geist Magazine.
Martin Scorsese has just published an article about Fellini at Harper’s magazine, but which also discusses a bit the current sad state of cinema. Today, he says, everything has become merely indistinct “content”, and the magic of cinema and its artistic auteurs has been lost.
I tend to agree. When I was a teenager, I used to go to the now defunct street cinemas, or to specialized art cinemas, to watch films by Fellini, Truffaut, Renoir. Granted, in the 80s and 90s this was already a culture in extinction, much farther from the golden age of the 1960s and 1970s that Scorsese mentions, but there were still a few remains of that era.
Then the local cinemas were replaced by the multiplexes, which would show mostly super-hero movies or other blockbusters. Auteur or art cinema became an even smaller niche. And then cinema was replaced by television and streaming.
Going to the cinema is a social experience, closer to going to the theatre or to church; watching a film on television or VCR reduced this experience to a smaller screen and the familiar unit. People no longer paid so much attention to what was on the screen, it became a sort of mere background for other activities. Fellini was already very critical of television; he mentioned it in several interviews, and his “Ginger and Fred”, one of his last works, from the 80s, is a satirical view of the medium.
Today, of course, it’s even worse in some ways. Television was replaced by streaming, and the familiar unit was further reduced to an individual, watching it most likely on a cell phone screen. The reduction of the screen size and of the viewing public reflects the growing social atomization that took place in the last decades, culminating in the current “corona” lockdown where people are “social distancing” and locked in their own homes.
It was the final nail in the coffin of cinema as a social spectacle, and who knows if it will return? Even if the lockdown is lifted and people start going again to the cinemas, it is unlikely that the auteur era will return. This doesn’t mean that cinema as an art is dead, but its golden age seems long past.