28 Dec 2009

23 Dec 2009


Problems with in-laws specially during X-Mas? You're not alone.
The following chronicle from the NYT is quite interesting.
Oddly enough, I couldn't find any photo or picture to go with it.


21 Dec 2009


 (photo: The Economist)


This article from The Economist reviews Nicholas Wade's: "The faith instinct. How religion evolved and why it endures".
Is religion an human instinct or a form of adaptability that has been useful for human societies for centuries?
Mr. Wade is a Darwinian  evolutionist and his book makes interesting reading.

20 Dec 2009



The article is about the different shopping styles. Apparently, it has to do with evolution. Men went hunting and with some luck they did. Women had to choose carefully among the food available (seeds, fruits,meat, etc).
Says Prof Kruger: "Women gained the skills of how to get the best quality food in cave man times because if they chose the wrong berry or nut it could kill". Women often did that with young children, while men were out hunting.
According to scientists, "the reason why women love to spend hours in shops while men prefer to be in and out of the high street in minutes is down to their hunter-gathering past".

Hmm... Food for thought.

(photo by rock_leonine)




An awesome video by AMNH!

19 Dec 2009


It's almost impossible to miss how the relationship between brands and consumers is changing. Traditional advertising in dying away while promotion on the net is increasing. Some brands have people monitorizing what is said about them in sites, blogs and social networks and trying to make ammends if anything is affecting their image.
Not so much in Portugal, I'm afraid. I've been propesting against the bad service Zon TvCabo is providing, specially in what concerns those new awful TV boxes but to no avail yet. Which is kind of amazing, since their CEO is someone who came from Microsoft. But then this country has ways of getting people soft.
With Dave Carroll things were different. During a trip with United Airlines, his most treasured guitar was broke. He complained, nobody paid any attention. So he decide to compose a song. It has already been seen by thousands of people in Youtube and it's a good song apart from being quite funny. Now the company is trying to make ammends, offering him reparations.

16 Dec 2009


"Anybody can be unhappy, but to make oneself unhappy needs to be learned, and to this end some experience with a few personal blows of fate simply won't do".
This paragraph was taken from Paul Watzlawick' s "The Situation is Hopeless But Not Serious" a great book written in the 80s but very actual.
Starting from a seemingly absurd point of view, Watzlawick gives special attention to issues like "why would anybody love me" and various self-fulfilling prophecies of the kind.  To sum it up, the book is about how we can make everyday life miserable and inflate small incidents beyond recognition.
A professor in Palo Alto, Watzlawick, who died in 2007, was a man of genius. You'll find this book both highly enjoyable and deep, two qualities that don't come together that often.

10 Dec 2009



I'm sure you familiarized with the technique of mystery shopping. it's world wide used, specially in services like banking, insurance, etc. The idea is that someone impersonates a regular customer, go to the bank and report their experience.
Malingering one’s way into a psychiatric ward to report on conditions within was first tried in 1887, when Nellie Bly, a journalist got herself admitted to the insane asylum on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
It was tried several other times. The article is about a recent experience in Amsterdam. Many questions are raised here, namely the secrecy and implicit trust between patients and carers.

9 Dec 2009


Look at what I found in Yoytube. The exact dialogue I was referring to in my comment on Ana's last post about movies.

7 Dec 2009

Movie quote

I know that it can be “corny” to quote a character from an everyday movie… But I always found interesting to look at everyday movies, everyday books, or news, and without judgment find that feeling that we all can relate to at some point in life… who never gave this same answer, even if to themselves…? Did you not?

“- Do you miss him…?
- Everyday.”

(Carrie in "Sex and the City")

6 Dec 2009


Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.


Yes, they exist. People who suck your energy up and leave you angry, depressed, confused, guilty or exhausted (or even all). The emotional vampires.
Sometimes they can be just acquaintances but unfortunately some of the time they are quite close to us. Too close four own good. And the closer they are, the more they can thrive on your energy and zap it out if you're not careful.
Judith Orloff  once wrote (in "Emotional Freddom") that there were five kind of vampires lurking around: the narcissist, the victim, the controller, the criticizer and the splitter.
The narcissistic vampire is always looking for admiration and is often charming and intelligent. The victimistic kind keeps complaining the world is against him. The kind is the kind of person who always knows what's best for you. The criticizer is always judging and belittling.The splitter is the most impredictable: you never know if he'll be raging against you or feigning the victim.
We need to establish firm boundaries against these people. You don't need to be too deffensive - I guess the most important thing is to make him (or her) understand you won't be manipulated.
I'm not saying these people cannot be friends. They can, and some of them will, as long as you set up clear limits. Don't idealize them. Be realistic about both their good qualities and their flaws.
Things get more dramatic when an emotional vampire is someone really close like, say, your own mother. In extreme and unfortunate cases like that, I can only suggest: be affectionate but firm and try to manage the relationship in small doses.

3 Dec 2009


It’s so good when we can finally open the door and invite someone in. But then, suddenly we realize we let our guest on the doorway… kind of awkward, kind of lost. Sometimes as the door is allowing the entry of others, the house is not yet prepared to do so… Then what shall we do…? Maybe one should forget formality, lay down the glass on the floor for a moment and ask that someone who is at the door to help pulling a couch and to offer some decoration tips…and ask that someone to sit, and – even though the glass is for now a plastic one –still enjoy a delicious drink and a good chit-chat…



Sensible advises about avoiding too much stress. Worth reading. We tend to forget these things in our daily life.
Publish Post

28 Nov 2009


Psychotherapy may be an effective way to boost happiness. That's what Drs. Chris Boyce and Alex Wood found. Chris Boyce and Alex Wood of the Universities of Warwick and Manchester, respectively, compared large data sets where thousands of people had reported on their well-being.

"We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation (...) at alleviating psychological distress", said Boyce.

You may read the whole article at:

27 Nov 2009



Still about books.  Not from this year of course, but some of them are great classics. You can download them for free. Some people can read on a PC I prefer an e-reader because it's lighter and you can enlarge the font, but the option is yours. Project Gutenberg also has lots of classics for free download.



100 notable books of 2009 according to the New York Books Review.

20 Nov 2009


(photo: © Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

I have been recently to France, more  specifically to the Vallée de la Somme (north of Paris) where raging  battles took place. In Péronne there is an interesting museum, although not very complete.

Here is a  beautiful poem by Patrick MacGill, who had been in that war: 


The night is still and the air is keen,
Tense with menace the time crawls by,
In front is the town and its homes are seen,
Blurred in outline against the sky.

The dead leaves float in the sighing air,
The darkness moves like a curtain drawn,
A veil which the morning sun will tear
From the face of death. - We charge at dawn.

19 Nov 2009


"...the extraordinary story of Tererai Trent, who grew up impoverished in northern Zimbabwe and was able — with the help of Heifer International and a number of other aid groups — to get an education. Next month she will receive her PhD from Western Michigan University"
by Nicholas Kristof (NYT)

This is the amazing story of a Zimbabwean woman, born in poverty. She had all "those" qualities: resilience, motivation, intelligence, interpersonal skills, etc etc. And generous on top of it all! (see the story of her first marriage). What an amazing human being.
To be read at:


18 Nov 2009



This news from the Standard may seem a bit bizarre but is quite interesting in the sense that makes you think what having a job means nowadays.
I don't think that in ten years there will be such a thing as a job. Young people maybe committed to "projects" and for their duration only - no strings attached as they say.
Rights that seemed acquired during the 20th century, like retirement when you're sixty something, salaries correspondent 14 months a year, subsidies, pensions, etc are in great danger.
We have to brace ourselves for a very tough future, specially the younger generations. Resilience is becoming  more important as a personal skill. These bankers seem, at least, to be capable of finding new ways in their lives.

14 Nov 2009


A man of genius, the best professor I ever had. This video is about systemic thinking vs analytical thinking. Thinking as a whole for short.


This is a photo of Midway island seen from the space (photo credit: NASA)

The NASA site has usually amazing images. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/hico_raids.html

13 Nov 2009



 (photo NYT)

With the help of new techniques like brain imagery neuroscience is making new discoveries about dreaming.

12 Nov 2009



A new tool to know your biological clock beforehand. These are great news for women who want to program their personal and professional lives. I didn't know about it when I wrote my last post, but I'm glad to know more tools are becoming available for women who want to be in control of their lives. The article also refers to the technique for freezing your own eggs.

11 Nov 2009


Mika Brzezinski: Don't Forget To Have Kids

This article is a refreshing aproach to the question of career versus having kids, and when.
I won't say I fully agree with the author, but it's a good starting point for a discussion.
More and more, young women have to put themselves the question.
They study for much longer than before and getting the firts job is getting harder and harder. however, the biological clock does not stop. Science hasn't still found a way of prolonging the fertile period. In an age when some women in their sixties look as if they are in their forties, this seems a bit ironic. But it's the sad reality.
Due to the longer studies and the delayed entry into the job market, which is more and more difficult, here in Portugal its not infrequent to be in one's thirties and still live with one's parents.
On the other hand, syatistics say young girls have their first sexual experience earlier and earlier.
Dies this make any sense? Hardly.
The fact is I don't have an answer for the dilemma. I don't think though, that staying at home raising kids, even when financially that is possible, is a good decision. Not good for the mother (work is an important part of our accomplishment as humans), not a good example for the kids.
I hear some young women up to are choosing to keep their eggs before they are 35, which allows them another 5-7 years to get pregnant. it may be a good idea, not for anyone though.

10 Nov 2009


When Falls the Coliseum » The sum of human knowledge is a small and fragile oasis

A very interesting article by Frank Wilson. What's knowledge? What's ignorance?
"A little knowledge, a pebble from the shingle,
A drop from the oceans: who would have dreamed this infinitely little too much?"

4 Nov 2009


"The specific problems we face cannot be solved using the same patterns of thought that were used to create them."
Albert Einstein



I'm not suggesting we all start running marathons but this is a quite interesting article on the human capacity to run long distances and how important it was in the primitive ages.

1 Nov 2009


(photo: Garance Doré)

A few days ago I put a post about women's faces in painting across the centuries. A magnificent work in digital art, as you may remember.
This time, I'm bringing something quite different but that has to do also with aesthetics. I's about feet and weird ankle boots.
They say they are selling very well in france. Aesthetics has its own mysterious ways.

30 Oct 2009


(photo: http://www.cbc.ca/)

According to a doctoral research carried in the towns of Oporto, Braga and Grenade, which inquired 1237 11-16 years old, the phenomenon of bullying is being more and more accepted.
It seems it's becoming banal. 84,5% of these youngsters have witnessed acts of violence among colleagues.
What's more, the victims of bullying are referred to as "passive, socially incompetent, anxious, depressive and insecure".
The aggressors are seen as "strong, extroverted, trustful, leaders".
It's no doubt alarming.
I read in the Times that in some areas of London young girls accept rape in order to be accepted by male gang (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6889829.ece)
These are sad times. We have to raise our children to be more respectful towards the other - this basic civilized notion has been more and more forgotten during the last decades.
Would we really like to go back to Neardenthal habits? I guess it was like that.

29 Oct 2009


happiness hat from Lauren McCarthy on Vimeo.

Smiling  is one  of the most mysterious characteristics of human behaviour. Why do we smile?
Some say that humans have always done that as a kind of apeasing gesture towards a menacing person. Science has shown that chimps also do something quite similar.
This video is about making you smile - whether you like it or not. Have fun.

27 Oct 2009


I have been today to Casa das histórias in Cascais to see the new Paula Rego's museum. It's a work of art. Beautiful architecture, amazing paintings.
The gardens are also beautiful designed and it's opened until 10pm. Free entrance.
You'll find below the presentation about Paula Rego's work that Prof. Paul Coldwell wrote for the Shaatchi Gallery in London.


22 Oct 2009

20 Oct 2009


You'd like to read this very interesting article from BBC News about awareness. Self-conscience seems to develop between 18 and 24 months (see the video.

As Prof. Gallup says,

Death awareness is the price we pay for self awareness

19 Oct 2009


When technique meets aesthetics. Female faces in painting across the centuries.

17 Oct 2009



Now I begin to understand why they blocked all my Google accounts for 4 days. With guys like these... Great fun. Hope you enjoy.

15 Oct 2009



Very interesting graphics about the state of the planet, from the BBC site.


Some people are afraid of the web 2.0, and maybe rightly so. I had all my Google accounts blocked for 4 days and couldn't even post. Let alone see my mail (past or present).
On the other hand, the web and the social networks allow us to connect to people and have access to information that we never had before.
Being not an expert, I think we must be very cautious, have backup programs and try to minimize the possible damages. Make the better of it. As usual.
(I tried to place a photo related to the subject but blogger doesn't allow for photos for the time being. Speak of the devil...)

11 Oct 2009



Remember these toys and plays?
(it's also fun to have a look at the professions of some of the people who used to play with these toys)

8 Oct 2009

NYC 1994 The Ghost Towers

I found this photo recently. I took it in NYC in 1994. The towers look already so fuzzy, it's creepy.

7 Oct 2009



This is a very interesting article from The New York Times about anxious babies and how they develop according to circumstances and internal (mental and emotional) experiences.
Have a look. It's worth reading the full article.

30 Sept 2009


This video by Ilana Yahav is a wonderful example of how far creativity can reach. Creativity pertains to a healthy mind open both to internal and external experiences. Freud said it was a form of sublimation of more primary impulses. Living in the human society demands creativity - and being able to communicate it.

26 Sept 2009

Music for the wekend


Oumou Sangaré, music from Mali!


I know it's a subject I refer to quite ofen but the fact is that it's so relevant for our well being. The site PsychCentral has a very good summary of the main points. Have a look at


The main "steps" are:

Step One: Become Aware of Acute Stress and Toxic Situations

Step Two: Create a Self-Care, Personal Renewal Program

Step Three: Surround Yourself with Four Kinds of Friends

Step Four: Recognize and Concentrate On Signature Strengths

Step Five: Examine Oneself and Accept Shortcomings

Step Six: Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Note the need for a balanced circle of different kinds of friends!

21 Sept 2009

20 Sept 2009


An hilarious news site.




I got this most interesting video on hallucinations from the blog Salpicos http://psisalpicos.blogspot.com/.

Certain hallucinations may be due to visual impairment and not psychosis.

18 Sept 2009


Another awful news about bullying, this time in England.

17 Sept 2009

Photos by Robert Polidori


What a great photographer!

15 Sept 2009



A sensible article published in the APA's journal.

13 Sept 2009

bonnie prince billy

bonnie prince billy

Shared via AddThis

Have a great song!


shining Lisbon
Originally uploaded by banana's views
I have lived most of my life in this city and have been a spectator to its slow destruction by different governments and mayors.
I took this photo from my window a couple of years ago.
Long live Lisbon!

17 Aug 2009

Great song performed by Diana Krall

http://blip.fm/~bv6rx">Public Enemies Soundtrack-Bye Bye Blackbird

Great song. Better than film in fact.

1 Aug 2009

The Solipsist

The Solipsist
by Troy Jollimore

Don't be misled:
that sea-song you hear
when the shell's at your ear?
It's all in your head.
That primordial tide—
the slurp and salt-slosh
of the brain's briny wash—
is on the inside.
Truth be told, the whole place,
everything that the eye
can take in, to the sky
and beyond into space,
lives inside of your skull.
When you set your sad head
down on Procrustes' bed,
you lay down the whole
universe. You recline
on the pillow: the cosmos
grows dim. The soft ghost
in the squishy machine,
which the world is, retires.
Someday it will expire.
Then all will go silent
and dark. For the moment,
however, the black-
ness is just temporary.
The planet you carry
will shortly swing back
from the far nether regions.
And life will continue—
but only within you.
Which raises a question
that comes up again and again,
as to why
God would make ear and eye
to face outward, not in?

Source: Poetry (January 2008).

David Reekie

"A Captive Audience", Victoria and Albert Museum
David Reekie is a glass sculptor.

30 Jul 2009

How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730111202.htm">How Children View And Treat Their Peers With Undesirable Characteristics

Shared via AddThis

Intersting findings if you're concerned with peer pressure and bullying among yougsters

24 Jul 2009

moon walkers

I took this photo a couple of years ago on the peak of a vulcano. People seem quite busy. I never knew where they were going to, crossing each other like on a busy road.
It was a very strange place.
I called the photo "moonwalkers" due to the lunar ambiance. The sunlight was very intense and white as if not permeated by any atmosphere.

11 Jul 2009



7 Jul 2009

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Lee Frost (courtesy of poemhunter.com)

4 Jul 2009

Caring for physical and mental health

I was wondering about the difficulty people have with dealing with the concept of mental health. The thought came to me after reading a comment a friend of mine made on my profile in Linkedin. I had mentioned somewhere a professional link to "mental health" and he commented the reference was a bit scary.

Is it?

I always thought we should care about our mind with the same attention we dedicate to our bodies. Both are precious and both can be strong or fragile.

Being mentally healthy doesn't mean one has to be all the time happy which of course is not possible. It means to be in touch with both your emotions and your thoughts and at the same time be able to listen to your body. It's about a delicate balance of our inner self we have to build during our entire life. In fact it's a life work. A hard life's work.

3 Jul 2009

A precious song: Lay Down by Mazgani

(the author and singer was born in Persia and grew up in Portugal Great combination.

2 Jul 2009



did you forget your statistics? How amazing the role played by randomness in our lives.

28 Jun 2009

Kadishman and the Jewish Museum in Berlin

Shalechet ("Fallen leaves" by Menashe Kadishman

I first saw his work in the Jewish Museum (Berlin), one of the most upsetting places I ever visited. You can feel the anguish by just walking the corridor! I was told that the architect, Daniel Libeskind, designed it with that purpose in mind.
You have to be there and feel it. In the meantime, go to:

25 Jun 2009

Fantasy vs. Reality

Fantasy, according to the complete and unabridged Collins Dictionary, means: imagination unrestricted by reality.

Interestingly, the word fantasy was spelled with a ph, its origins in the word 'phantom'.

It is more and more often the case that individuals confuse (ph)fantasy with reality. Fantasies are dangerous as they are often unconcious and hence, have unconcious influence over our behaviours. It is for this reason that fantasies are destructive. They have the capacity to haunt our minds and intefere with our realites just as if they were phantoms.

22 Jun 2009


Anger is a signal and is worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self- our beliefs, values, desires, or ambitions - is being compromised in a relationship. Our anger may be a signal that we are doing more and giving more than we comfortably do or give. Or our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expense of our own competence and growth!

Just as physical pain tells us to take our hand off the hot stove, the pain of our anger preserves the very integrity of our self. Our anger can motivate us to say 'no' to the ways in which we are defined by others and 'yes' to the dictate of our inner self.

The Dance of Anger

17 Jun 2009

Narcissism and Shakespeare

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Sonnet 62:1-4

Perhaps we are able to glimpse a bit of irony here. Is it really a sin to love oneself? A healthy and solid narcissism must be grounded inward in the heart so as to carry out its functions properly before the tribulations of existence.
However, at the same time that that is true, one who looks at oneself too often is lost. Becoming consumed with envy and the constant need to outdo the rest.
comments, thoughts?

15 Jun 2009

Hello London

My post of the 10th June seems to have triggered a few interesting comments. And one of them came directly (via web of course) from London! Londoner also comments on Helaine's post about the Republic and on expats creativity.

12 Jun 2009

The Republic

Have you never observed the mentality of those who spend all their time on physical education, to the exclusion of musical and poetic education?

Or those whose way of life is the opposite?

Savagery and hardness, in the one case. Weakness and gentleness, in the other.

I have noticed that those whose education is purely physical turn out more savage than they should.

Those who have only musical and moral education, on the other hand, do become softer than is good for them.

What is more, I said, the fierce element comes from the spirited part of their nature. Correctly brought up, it will be brave, but when it is developed to a higher pitch than is it necessary, it is likely to become harsh and unmanageable.

What about the gentle element? Isn't it a property of the wisdom/loving or philosophical nature? Undo relaxation makes it so soft, doesnt it, whereas the right upbringing makes it gentle and well behaved.

The soul of someone who is harmonized in this way is self disciplined and brave, isnt it? Whereas the soul of someone discordant is cowardly and uncivilized?

What about the person who puts a lot of effort into his physical training, and eats like a horse, but has nothing to do with music or philosophy? At first, because his body is in good shape, isnt he full of decision and spirit? Doesnt he become braver than before? But suppose that is all he does. Suppose he has no contact with the Muse. Even if he did have some love of learning in his soul, he gets no taste of learning or enquiry, and has no experience of rational argument or any artistic persuit. As a result, since he never wakes up and has nothing to feed on, and since there is nothing to purify its senses, it becomes weak and deaf, and blind, doesnt it?

Someone like this becomes an enemy of rational argument. He abandons any attempt at persuasion using rational argument, and does everything with savage violence, like a wild animal. He lives his life in ignorance and stupidity, without grace or rythm.

Comments, opinions?

11 Jun 2009

I'm moving from one apartment to another in Lisbon and it occurred to me that, besides being a very stressful ordeal (talking about stress again...) it's also an opportunity to rid ourselves of enormous quantities of ...things that we insist on carrying for years and years. Incredibly, I even found papers, etc that remained exactly in the same unopened bags since my previous moving. Like mummies in layers.
A friend of mine, who is emptying his old family house in the Azores, from where he comes, in order to sell it, used the following words to describe that painful process: "I must make thrash out of those memories and then get rid of it".
Perhaps we acquire and then keep too many things. We should make ourselves lighter. Old age may be that too: carrying an awfully heavy ballast to give the illusion of stability. It works in scuba diving - I'm not sure carrying all this weight around works in life.

8 Jun 2009

Managing Anxiety

There are two typical ways of managing anxiety. The first is an overtly reactive position, where much life energy (anger energy and/or worry energy) is focused on the other, in unsuccessful attempts to change or blame that person; th second is a covertly reactive one, where we avoid the experience of intensity by distancing from an individual or a particular issue. When these become ongoing rather than temporary ways of managing anxiety, we are bound to stay stalled.
What are your thoughts? Comments?

1 Jun 2009


I read a very interesting article in the Economist (www.economist.com) which by the way is one of the best journals there are.
According to a recent study, students who are either living abroad or had spent some time doing so are more creative and have better negotiating skills.
Apparently, there is a strong correlation between people living abroad and creativity., indicating that that, I quote, "it is something from the experience of living in foreign parts that helps foster creativity".
Expats in Portugal: what do you think?

28 May 2009

More Poetry: Robert Frost

Excerpt from the poem "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening":

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have a promise to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep"

Robert Frost, 1874-1963

(my photo)

22 May 2009


For these type of person the common feature is that control is highly valued over communication. Conscientiousness, tidiness, meanness, pedantry, rationality combined with cluelessness about human emotions. These can be the symptoms of an obsessional character. People who suffer with this pathology often self mutilate in a ritualistic unintentional manner and are also often phobic, and worry about cleanliness. Compulsive behavior is repetitive, sterotyped, ritualistic and supersticious.
Psychoanalytic technique usually is effective in treating these patients, however, it takes quite a while.
Sometimes patients keep attacking their analyst in search of something bad, they are sure that the analyst must have.


Ode To A Nightingale

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:---do I wake or sleep?

John Keats

20 May 2009


Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith (1902-1971)

17 May 2009

Islands again

(painting by Aivazovsky)

My friend Ewa, who doesn't care for writing online (one wonders why) but is an excellent writer and photographer (see her book "Surfaces", Caixotim Ed.), sent me a note about Peter Conrad's book "Islands: A trip through time and space", Thames&Hudson). The author was born on Tasmania (yes, the birthplace of the famous and devilish cartoon) and blames "that small, mrbid island" for his lifetime restlessness and feelings of isolation. He should know.
Could make an interesting reading for island-lovers around the world.

14 May 2009

Anther approach to poetry: Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.



(appearance on video David Lynch)

13 May 2009

Portuguese vs. English? Nah...

(photo of Fernando Pessoa)

We like poetry in every language (this is to Vanessa who wonders about it).

Poetry has such great metaphors for life!

Listen to Fernando Pessoa who also wrote in English:

Set open all shutters, that the day come in
Like a sea or a din!

Que se abram as janelas para o dia entrar
Como um estrondo ou um mar!

12 May 2009


(Photo of Freud)

I have been reading a paper by Adrián Liberman, psychoanalist (www.ipa.org.uk). Very interesting and deserving to be read in full by anyone who is interested in Psychoanalysis and its connection to life in general.
Anyway, let’s air some parts of it. The article starts by referring to the polarization of politics (no doubt more important in Venezuela than in Portugal – remember the author is from Venezuela):

“An inner world that is expressed through the fantasies of inclusion or exclusion takes on an ominous and sinister appearance when it is reinforced by the prevailing political discourse. And when this phenomenon appears on the couch we have to ask whether it can be dealt with via the familiar dynamic between projection and introjection”.

Lieberman goes on saying that the absence of the word is the path to mandness and de-humanization. And that our task as analysts/therapists is to to restitute the word, ie to make possibe the recovery of the copacity to think and speak as the road to the reaffirmation of human law.

“ [the] emergence [of political conflicts] in the form of hate throws into question the practice of psychoanalysis when the latter fails to take current events into account. In principle, I believe that this situation obliges the analyst to make an open defence of democracy, especially because, in the absence of the rule of law, compliance with the fundamental rule [neutrality and abstinence] becomes meaningless.
(…) One could think of this as a kind of democratic activism both within and outside our consulting rooms. Creating such a figure would also mean that psychoanalysts return to the polis, to the public arenas which the Greeks spoke about, and thus they would return to civil action and to having a deliberate presence in the public sphere so as to complement the above. Such an intentional shift would aim to blur if not erase the artificial distinction (not to mention dissociation) between the public and the private. Hate that is constituted in culture cannot be combated merely from within the four walls of our consulting rooms with our analysands, who will always be few in number compared to society as a whole. Rather, it requires the bringing together of an ethics of commitment with the ethics of desire. Freud, it has to be said, was never against this, and in fact always viewed such an idea favourably”.

In other words, the issue is the old one: What is the connection between psychoanalysis and society and culture and what is the role of analysts in citizenry.

10 May 2009

This is John Donne (1572-1631). He also wrote erotic poems (yes!) but more of it later.
He was born in a big island, Great Britain.

"No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Ha! Here's an island
(courtesy of National Geographic)


(Good site about John Donne, his poetry and his epoch)

I'm thinking maybe we should start collecting bits of poetry in our blog. Poetry has powerful metaphors that help much in grabbing the meaning of some emotions and thoughts.

Please contribute with your favourite poetry.

(I'm sorry I can't put a photo right away, I'm posting from another's computer. More of it later. In the meantime, go to the site above and enjoy!)

8 May 2009


What is it about islands? They seem to invite thoughts ans feelings of isolation and sadness.
There was recently a seminar about Antero de Quental, one of our main poets, who took his own life in his native island, in 1891. Listen to an excerpt of a letter he wrote to another well known writer:
(…) this isolation in a corner of the world, which is already a semi-death or a death by antecipation".
A very frequent emtional defence against the harsh reality is wthdrawal. People become introvert and estranged from freiends and family.
Let's not isolate ourselves. Please speak up.


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