Letters to V.: Profanations, comme il faut

November 13, 2011
Location: Rotterdam
3:31 am

I see you in the scooter through the countryside ahah the cloister creeps me out as I told you before… I don’t like religious environments; that heavy stuff, I don’t feel hospitality. But the image you described is beautiful. It is also strange the dichotomy between the place where you’re staying and the poverty of the village that you describe. All your descriptions make me think of ritual and sacred. I don’t know about templates, architects are normally the ones who know about that stuff… I will try to remember to ask my friend Sílvia, she is an architect… I always like to know the root, even from the words; I often check the etymology of words. From what I hear from you, I don’t think you are interested in memory, but in historicity of thinks. It’s different, I guess. You really have to read “Profanations” by Agamben really. I leave you with an excerpt… (I take my time going through the book… had forgotten how much I love this book!) Look this paragraph (love it!) and it meets the question of rules: 

“It is not disbelief and indifference toward the divine, therefore, that stand in opposition to religion, but "negligence," hat is, a behaviour that is free and "distracted" (that is to say, released from the religio of norms) before things and their use, before forms of separation and their meaning. To profane means to open the possibility of a special form of negligence, which ignores separation or, rather, puts it to a particular use.”
(Agamben, p. 75)

This guy is amazing! A teacher of mine used to tell the story of some cakes in Italy, whose origin comes from the story of a very beautiful girl that had this amazing eyes and one day a guy fancied her eyes and because she was a goody, she took her eyes off, not to be an object of temptation. God was very impressed by her attitude and elected her as a saint. Now they make these cakes, which are supposed to symbolize her eyes and that people eat in this religious event (I don’t know the name).  Religion is for me such a hard issue… Before going to Kanaleneiland, I though buying a fake wedding ring, so that the guys there wouldn’t mess around with me. I got a ring that looked like a wedding ring. But then someone told me that Catholics use the wedding ring on the left hand and protestants use it on the right one and so for a couple of days I was trying to decide whether I wanted to pretend being catholic or protestant. Finally I couldn’t choose and I didn’t use the ring. . This week a guy came to me after aerobic class. Ah, I forgot to tell you! So it was: I arrived super early, the teacher invited me in. She is a lady in her fifties, Albanese origin. Doesn’t speak English. I speak German, she speaks Dutch. She can’t quite understand the fact that I go from Rotterdam to Kanaleneiland to have aerobic class, she gets surprised. Super sweet and careful, she speaks very slowly so that I can understand.  The rest of the women from the group arrive and there’s this very beautiful moment when they come and take the women’s turban (my Turkish friend told me they call it “turban kadin” in Turkish and the direct translation is “women’s turban”, I must check if it’s right), I know this is very naïve, but I had never seen before. And they start to talk, all very curious to know Sílvia and me, one of them speaks English, V. a feminine complicity that I had never seen before, apart from shopping and kitchen: I go shopping alone and don’t know much about cooking, so I didn’t know this. Suddenly, the music starts all rocking. The teacher is fantastic, the music is very kitschy, but all really fun, I liked a lot, you know, they all trying to burn energy. Suddenly, everyone was talking to everyone, very relaxed, a very familiar atmosphere.  It was the first time in two years in the Netherlands when I really felt like to learn Dutch by the extreme need, because I really feel like to talk to them and language is a barrier. But they were really careful, talking very slowly, really protective. See, I liked. I have to plan a new schedule with the part-time and Zurich’s project but I really consider starting learning Dutch.

André’s Tasca was also great, Eduardo, Agostinho and their friend Paulo all came and it was great to meet them in Kanaleneiland!! At this moment it seems that all the routes lead to Kanaleneiland! I also met a guy that is doing research in Lefebvre’s kind of mood, seems interesting. Today I invited a Turkish friend that is a composer to come for a tea so she told me lots of things about Turkey. Sílvia told me that the lady from the Buurtcentrum here is Portuguese and she is married to a Moroccan man and she uses a Turban and so she always has problems going back to Portugal, although she has a Portuguese ID card, I should go there to meet here the coming week.

It takes me a while to make the translation. Actually, last letter were 5 letters together and it was crazy! But it made me think that by coincidence and to obey the rules of facts and join all the letters maybe it became nice in terms of writing, the overlap. Do you think that that’s how Lobo Antunes started? It would be good… Well, in fact it takes me longer to translate then to write. I take some days to write and others to translate, not to loose the track of my English version of things, or better saying, my mediation of things into English language. But at the same time it makes me read your text really careful and try to find an equivalent way of transmitting it. Today I changed Bach’s Prélude by Ravel’s Bolero that I started to love since I’ve seen Raimund Hoghe’s choreography, do you know it? It’s curious because it also has a lot to do with difference and integration, but it’s not the reason why I like it, it’s because gestures are really beautiful, masculine strength/vulnerability/exposure at the sound of epic music, how audacious. I hear the music with this image on my head. He even worked with Pina.

How carefully you write and talk about your project. Sometimes we need to jump to a project like if jumping out of the train in movement (if not always!) and do things. And follow on, jumping and stopping every now and then to think at the same time. But don’t hesitate. I guess… now, in this moment, when you make me think… that the monument evokes a memory; although the memory is not past, it’s something that happens in the present always influenced by the past and even by the perspective one has from the future on that instant. Like as if these times would always be connected like a string and it changes as we like our lives to be told to ourselves. To preserve something that evokes memory…I guess it is…it will be the first condition to be a monument: evoking memory… do you think we can make a monument to the future? It would always be a monument to a possible future that existed in the past. Like 2001 space odyssey in the monument to the future space? V. this is fucking amazing! We have to develop this idea. Not now, it’s late and my brain is working in slow motion. I also feel an excess of information, so many things that I still cannot synthesize to develop…

I might have found a part-time job. I will have an interview on Monday. It’s a shit job, but probably it will be the second topic from our letters or even my first novel. I have no idea what kind of work will come out of this, but this strange constellation of events might bring something interesting. So he crouched because it was important for him not to spit standing but for me to spit is to spit and it wouldn’t be very different if I hadn’t seen them in Senegal crouching to piss next to the gutters… what to say… sometimes we are so fast making interpretations of such secondary gestures that might be more than anything else aesthetic gestures, no? What do you say? I say it’s great. And that these things really struck me. And that I have to read Onfray. And that it is very liberating not to know the rules, sometimes. In “Profanations”, he talks about an image by Daguerre that represents a scene in traffic hour, so there is so much movement from the people that all you can see is a crouched figure, that in fact was a man greasing his shoes, that stood still for a while, his leg stretched over the little bench, and it’s the only perceptible thing from the image. He mentions this scene in a chapter where he talks about the relation between gesture and photography.

November 13, 2011
Location: Rotterdam
3:23 pm

I keep on with the letter after a night of sleep, I went out of the shower running to tell you this idea, I can’t resist: I was thinking about how peacefully I accept the part-time thing and how it somehow makes me comfortable, as it destroys the image of the princess wearing comme il faut, that you described and that doesn’t make me feel comfortable. Or better saying, the princess is not me, I don’t like princesses. And I think that getting a job here I will actually realize how it is like to be here as an immigrant and not as a student, without speaking the language. And that will also be good for the project. I thought with a smile that my story in best-case scenario is Cinderela, but I don’t expect a prince to come and save me from a shit job, knocking on the door to try some comme il faut that can only fit me. If that would happen, I’d probably think it was someone asking money for the church and I wouldn’t open the door or, can you imagine, if someone would knock the door and say “I’m a prince and I have this shoes for you, you have to try them”, I’d probably think that it was some sort of psychotic guy and would tell him to fuck off ahah! Do you think I’m very sceptical, V. =D? I remember last year when I was looking for a place with Lara, a very weird guy came to talk to us in the street; he could only talk about shoes. First thing he asked was our shoe size. And then he kept on and on about shoe sizes. We were speechless. Do you know that book: “Psychoanalysis of fairy tales”? It must be double bullshit: psychoanalysis+fairy tales =) now seriously ”maybe it’s nice. But apart from Sex&the city, where I’m trying to get is here: I imagined opening a comme il faut shop in Kanaleneiland; it would be beautiful, wouldn’t it? To register that fantastic experience that you described in this neighbourhood, with Argentinean tango shoes. You know something? I made a proposal for an application with this project some weeks ago, the proposal talked mainly about the methodology of worked that I intended to apply, I hadn’t been to the neighbourhood yet at that time and I was quite far from these thoughts, but anyway the name of the project was: Walk, Walk, Tan - Go – Close: It Takes Two to Tango. My neighbour used to say that you always need two to Tango, in the sense that all relations between people develop around a shared responsibility of actions and I was thinking about it in the sphere of host and guest dynamics. But following on: the shop wouldn’t be fancy; it would be a tent at the market. A tent where women would go to try comme il faut shoes. And then you would see in the neighbourhood not me, but all the women walking some comme il faut. Beautiful, isn’t it? Maybe it’s worth to design the project, even if it’s not conceivable. Yesterday I went sleeping thinking that since I arrived to Rotterdam I’m going more and more out of my comfort zone in terms of work, but with this project even more: public space, gentrification, complicated neighbourhood, an exclusive feminine space, writing you the letters, now the comme il faut… But I also believe that we can only surprise ourselves when we get out of our comfort zone and jump out of the train in movement, as I told you the other day, but you must have the guts! Back to the “ACCEPT THE RULES” I think that my unconscious is a tacky conceptual artist and suddenly it comes to my head: ACCEPT THE RULES, comme il faut!!!Ahah pretty good isn’t it? I flirt with this idea that fills my day with colour.
A thousand kisses, comme il faut!