7 Things On My Mind This Week – Fun with Coffee, Politics and Sex


This is pretty much what it sounds like. Yes, I’ve sold my soul to the internet-fame demon. Deal with it. I can’t do posts like this every day.

1. Milan Kundera

I just finished reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Czech writer Milan Kundera. It’s a dark, nimble and thought-provoking novel about the Prague Spring and the subsequent Soviet invasion. Kundera is interesting in the way he relates sexuality to politics as different approaches to finding meaning in life. Sex promises a deeper understanding of the world by penetrating the social distinctions between us. Politics promises a deeper understanding of the world by denying the legitimacy of these same social distinctions. Neither activity fully delivers on its promise. It’s a fun ride. The dude is hooked on Nietzsche, but who isn’t? I’m debating whether to see the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis.

2. Modeling Portfolio

I’m working on a modeling portfolio to try to get work as a greeter at some events in São Paulo. A friend originally suggested the idea, and since I am in search of the absurd, I said why not? We’re all a little vain. Whatever happens I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and gain some interesting experiences. I just hope my younger idealistic self isn’t rolling over in his grave.

3. Rain in SP

It’s been raining a lot lately, which wouldn’t be so weird if it weren’t for all the catastrophic predictions about the city’s water running out. Extended droughts and political incompetence, you know how it goes. Now that it is raining, it’s shifted to the other extreme with water flooding some people out of their homes. At this rate Milan Kundera could probably write a book about rain and politicians. Plus I keep forgetting when I hang my clothes out to dry.

4. Art, Culture & the Weight of the Past

I was thinking about art and culture after reading a short story by a friend of mine. While visiting an art museum or a library, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the weight of our cultural heritage. Look at all these Great Writers and Painters! At the right time in your life, the experience is magical. But inevitably you leave these “sanctuaries of the past” and much to your disappointment, you return to your comparatively cold, empty contemporary reality. The Great Artists you loved suddenly seem inaccessible and out of touch. Were they wrong or are you? You’re faced with a choice: either preserve your heroes and be crushed by the weight of the past or rid yourself of your idols and suffer through, what our Czech friend calls, “the unbearable lightness of being”. In other words, the whole of modernity could be summed up with the question: politics or sex?

5. Coffee is never strong enough

Ever since I moved to Brazil, I’ve been drinking a lot more coffee. It really is tasty down here. We received a shiny red coffeemaker as a wedding present. Unfortunately, I probably have borderline narcolepsy, which means that whether I drink one shot of expresso or six, I still worry about chance encounters with the sleepy monster. At least it makes me feel artistic and intellectual when sipping on it. Maybe I should make another batch.

6. Torture in the CIA

So I haven’t read enough to write about the topic intelligently. But it doesn’t look good. The arguments in the US over what constitutes torture, whether torture is a useful tool for acquiring information and more fundamentally how you define an undemocratic use of force remind me of similar debates in Brazil (which also involve the CIA) on the fiftieth anniversary of the military dictatorship. How likely was it that deposed President João Goulart would have turned the country into the next Cuba? How dangerous and numerous were the leftist guerrillas? Who and how many were the victims? How much violence is permissible and/or necessary in the name of democracy? Brazilians seem to have made up their mind, reelecting Dilma Rousseff, herself a former Marxist guerrilla and victim of torture during the military dictatorship. Nonetheless there have been protests calling for her impeachment or even military intervention. We all tread a thin subjective line.

7. Looking at Honeymoon Photos

While preparing the modeling portfolio, my wife and I have been looking at photos from our backpacking trip around Europe. The experience was surprisingly intense, seeing which photos we did and didn’t remember, how our memories changed, how much we both wanted to go back. I’m not sure if I can adequately express it. There are some moments that are neither light nor heavy. How does one quantify looking at photos or sipping on coffee?