Monday, March 23, 2009

Lotado de Pessoas

The title of this post means "full of people." As in, the theatre was full of people. But I can't say "O copo esta lotado de aqua." (the glass is full of water) I must say "O copo esta cheio de aqua," with cheio meaning "full." I think I am grasping the distinction when I say lotado = things, people, books, cars, toys... objects. Cheio = water, sand, joy, sadness, etc. Two words for full. While English is full of many synonyms, the word full basically encompasses both distinctions made by the two words in Portuguese. I am beginning to realize the truth in what my girl said about Portuguese, that it is a very precise language. I am reading this aloud to her, for her comments, and she just added: "Precise, sim. Just like German." I am reminded, too, that some of our greatest philosophers were German, and that Western Philosophy begins in Ancient Greece, in another exacting group of languages. 

For crying out loud, Portuguese has two words for "to be." Ser, which denotes a noun's essential being or identity: I am Kevin, I am a man, I am a human being, I am a poet. Estar denotes things that can change: I am happy, I am sad, I am hungry (although the phrase for this would be estou com fome, I am with hunger). Now, French has two unique conjugations for verbs based on this same distinction. There is the passe compose which deals with things that did happen at a specific time, and the imparfait dealing with ongoing actions. The link above goes into detail about that. But French only has etre meaning "to be," although in certain phrases avoir and faire can also mean "to be." 

What I am getting at is that, in the Portuguese language, the age-old dilemma of Being v. Becoming is embodied in the language itself. I know no German, but am aware of Heidegger's explorations of Dasein as a way to explore Sein. Admittedly, it's all mostly over my head. 

Ser (getting back to Portuguese) seems to express the age-old proclamation that everything IS, the arrow never reaches the target, etc. Estar agrees with the equally old assertion that everything is in flux, becoming, you never step in the same river twice, etc. But not exactly. The existence of these two verbs reveals a willingness, I believe, to entertain both notions. In the world, there is both being and becoming. 

Of course, I have no clue what I am talking about. My reading in this subject, as well as my knowledge of any language (including English, honestly) is miniscule. Please, dear Reader, share your insights... and please correct any errors I have made! 

All of this just to get to a pointless vignette: yesterday we were going to take a bus from Garanhuns to Arcoverde. Instead, we took what is called a Lotado ... basically a large van that takes passengers on the same routes as the bus. Lotado, meaning "full." Yes, they stuff as many people into their van as they can. The driver claimed he would get us there quicker than the bus. I had my doubts, and my doubts were confirmed. The trip was about the same duration as a bus trip -- two hours -- due to many little stops along the way. Would you rather ride in a crowded van or a crowded bus? Bus, believe me. It wasn't my idea to take the damn Lotado. And we never will, again. 

In Garanhuns we haggled with the driver. Or, I should say she haggled with the driver. I kept saying, in English of course, we should take the bus, but I did not explain why. Frankly, I trust a bus more than I trust some dude in a van. I was sure his business was as legitimate as any Brazilian venture (if you have a cooler and a supply of popsicles, you have a business here). But I had my doubts that his service held any advantages over the bus. I hate being right all the time. 

The trip was not unenjoyable, mind you. We admired a brilliant sunset over the hills, and our view was probably better than it would have been in the bus. And I don't necessarily hate being crowded in with a bunch of people. I love people. Our fellow passengers were courteous (each one, as she was leaving, said "tchau" to people I presumed were strangers... although in this country, everyone seems to know everyone else, for better or for worse). I can honestly say I "rubbed elbows" with the natives. 

Ah, the sunset. A various fire of rich roses, oranges, mauves, lilacs all scorched with looming clouds. Let me compare it with the Visualizer in iTunes only to say that those programers have a lot of catching up to do with the stratosphere. 

It was a wonderful ending to a pretty blah weekend. Sunday was hell. I was startled awake by the barking of Tio Abrahao's dogs. Tio had left for Recife this weekend, leaving us to care for them. I fed them, but could not go back to sleep, and spent much of a cranky day addictively browsing the internet, catching up on what I had missed throughout the week. Seth Abramson's blog was a happy discovery. I enjoy his poetry very much, although his theoretical statements often have me scratching my head. But I should add that when anyone starts talking theory, I usually walk the other way. Especially when said theory involves reinventing or creating a new poetics. I guess I don't give much conscious thought to these matters. What surprised me about Abramson was that a poet of such fine accomplishment could leave me utterly cold when discussing the art. I wonder if I'm missing something. I think it ultimately has to do with style as much as the current critical lexicon. For instance, I could read essays on poetry by Anthony Hecht all day long. 

Different strokes for different folks, that's what I'm always getting at. And, the more I think of it, I do agree with Abramson (if this is indeed what he was getting at): the metaphor ought to be taken down a peg. 

I've just skimmed over this post--what a damn mess. And yet it's one big mess, not a bunch of little ones. Should be easier to sweep up.  

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