February 12. Sintra.

Sintra. A wonderful, sunny day. Portugal has been a monarchy but the coward royals went off to Brazil during the Napoleontic invasions. In Sintra, you can visit one of their flamboyant castles. It’s very beautiful as you can see on the pictures. The opulence of the crown was paid for by the poverty of the people. It’s really beautiful the rooms are stuffed with relics of the heighdays of the Portugese empire. There is a Chinese room, an Arabic room, an Indian room, a bathroom, a private chapel of the king, a monch’s refectory with the finest decorations, a dining room, another bathroom, an exhibition room (of course the exhibitions were not started before the royals moved their asses to more usual mansions). The outside of the castle looks like a fairy tale, like the wizard of Oz. The Moorish influence ont the architecture are noteworthy.
The train to Sintra costs you only 3,40€ roundtrip. In the small town itself we met a friendly watercolor painter who lured us into his atelier with a promising sign about the most beautiful view on Sintra. He showed us his technique. You just take a picture, copy it on a piece of paper and start working from light to dark with the paint. You can always make the color darker, never make the color lighter. The light in Sintra is spectacular. I also saw a pregnant woman in the train back to Lisbon and I thought she looks so alive, she is an epigone of life itself that I wanted to take a picture of her, to slurp her appearance through the lens of a camera. Big cameras pointed leisurely at her, sucking the life out of her like giant insects, consuming the new life in her womb. Everything that is visible must be conserved, made eternal, sterile. The abundance of life blossoming must be categorized, crystalized because that’s the reflex of our technological culture of life. Life is visible in all its aspects, so life is visibility. I didn’t want the photograph of the pregnant woman anymore. I want to make her invisible again, a phantom in the blind spot of my eye, sensed yet unseen.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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