Por Flávio Marcus da Silva
I’ve been reading A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. It’s a piece of heaven, a delicious reading. It’s about one of my dreams: living in Paris, in the Latin Quarter, near Notre Dame Cathedral… writing, visiting bookstores and museums, drinking wine, eating good food and meeting interesting people… in Paris.
But I’ve been reading Demons, one of Dostoievski’s masterpieces, too. This is a very different kind of reading: it’s desperation, terror, anguish; it’s really an invitation to suicide. I think Demons is a kind of nihilist book. A lot of young Russian nihilists are there, making reunions, discussing God and nothingness… The book is complex. Dostoievski is a very disturbing author. We don’t know exactly what he thinks about life, because he gives voice to everyone, even the craziest people…
The young nihilists… They talk about the destruction of everything, the non-existence of God, the void, the meaningless of life, suicide. And their voices are so powerful that I feel their cold anguish in my soul. They’ve touched me so strongly that sometimes I can’t stand seeing people doing normal things like working out their muscles in a gym academy, talking about soccer or other stupid things like cars, trips, parties, etc. I get depressed and ask to myself: What for? What’s the meaning of all this? Even my things… my books, my little stupid pleasures like wines, movies, French documentaries… What’s the meaning of all that?
Working hard to have money for living…. It’s so sad! And the poor people that do automatic and boring things all day to have a bad salary to survive… Is there a meaning on this? It’s terrible to see young couples showing their little babies on Facebook. The poor kids! How will be their future? All the suffering to pass through adolescence, to choose a profession, to work, work, work, to find a partner or not, to marry or not, to have kids or not, to be old or not, and finally to die FOR SURE. What’s the meaning of it? What’s the meaning of LIFE?
That’s what I think sometimes, influenced by Dostoievski. And it’s not bad, because when I have this sense of emptiness I don’t give a shit about what people think of me, if they like me or not, if I look like a prosperous man or not; I’m not worried if I’m not invited to parties or other social events; I don’t envy other people’s money, their material possessions, their influence, their power, their fame. Because WHAT FOR? Death is just here on the corner! And when I see some men or women showing-off themselves as prosperous, important and powerful kings or queens… Oh my God! It’s sad and funny at the same time! I feel sick.
But now I have Hemingway to save me from the dark void, because A Moveable Feast is pure pleasure, vivid life and passion. It’s Paris… Frenchness…
I’m happy today. I’m at home with my family, drinking a very good wine from Portugal and listening to a nice jazz band. My wife’s making some pizzas. What’s the meaning of it? I don’t want to know. And I’m not worried. I’m happy now. I want to live, to contribute… I’m in love with life, IN LOVE! Yes… Life is a feast!
Photo: scene from the movie “Babette’s Feast” (Denmark, 1987)