February 21.

See the blind man / shooting at the world. Jack stands up and makes his move. He’s a tactical guy. Start talking with the older one, the uglier one, the least attractive woman. Following the harsh merciless laws of nature. That way he transforms himself from a danger coming from outside the group into a protecting buddy. The technique is already described in the Kamasutra. Jack transforms himself easily and with great joy. In his world, going from one second to another is a transformation, a change of appearance hence a change a being, like the chameleon does to adapt to his surroundings. Jack lives like this, but he doesn’t deceive the other. He makes visible how they deceive themselves, permanently bridging longer timespans than our emotial wiring supports, and coping with it only by installing a body of lies within their minds. Jack cannot deceive, even if he wants to (and he would want to, believe me, just to get a kick out of it). The ability to deceive, to mislead, is one of Jack’s darker desires. What is natural for us who inhaled it during our upbringing, I mean the moral sentiments, the code that governs our human encounters, Jack sees it all passively shimmering before his eyes when he moves from one second to the next. He can’t get a hold of it.
Jack is successful. The beautiful girl he wants is now hugging him and he will press his lips against hers and exchange saliva with her and feel her tongue and press her warm sweaty body against his, and he will go with her and sleep with her and try to please her wherever he can. But let’s just let Jack be Jack. For me personally, it came in very handy anyway, because that way I could enjoy the carnival the way I had intended to many, many seconds ago. I could see the intensity of lifes lived in Rio, the social realities of the people living here, I could do that much better without Jack. He’s not much of an anthropologist. That way I could see the people selling iced drinks in the crowd pushing a heavy cart with a box filled up with ice cubes and beer cans, the old women who desperately roamed the abandoned streets for tin cans enduring the acrid smell of fresh urine, the melancholic smile on the face of a carnaval doll moving around surrounded by a frantic crowd, the woman with two little plastic penisses on their hats, wagging elegantly as they move their head, the woman who drinks beer from a tin can with a penis-shaped mouthpiece. I saw the hole in it, it was much bigger than the opening of a real penis. I could observe people who saw each other for the first time kissing, swimming through the crowd my hand carefully in my pocket on my camera and purse. The crowd is moving slowly and many people shout John Lennon at me because I must have some similarities. It is the long hair, I can imagine. I walked through the crowd and people were laughing at me “He John Lennon Imagine all the people”. Yes, let’s imagine that.
What is left to the imagination at the Carnaval? And is that the relevant question to ask? I didn’t see public nudity nor lewd behaviour conducted in the streets. People know their limits here. Sometimes, a fight breaks out and the crowd ripples apart like water when you throw a stone in it. The streetfighters are hold back by their friends. The climax is left to the imagination, the climax that – I imagine – takes place in small apartments in colonial beds with heavy honey words directed at the core of each other’s being at language’s end. And you can imagine what my definition of climax is: At language’s end.
The Carnaval is an amazing experience, it can be a source for inspiration like nothing else. Nobody talks about who they are, all communication is directed towards pleasure, mating that is, and eating of course. The crowd is my best friend. John Lennon! I saw funny hats in all colors, small butterflies, plastic bosoms, transvestites shivering their pimply buttocks to the intense drum rhythms, Mickey Mouses, a smiling beautiful girl with an unused condom in a purple wrap put in her décolleté. John Lennon! Huge guys with extraordinary biceps and abdominals, eager to show their physiological assets to the females dancing by; old people smiling, kids with foam spray having fun at their level, all colors of wigs, rastafari, guys with diapers, that is “Garment consisting of a folded cloth drawn up between the legs and fastened at the waist; worn by infants to catch excrement” on, taking a piss. He, John Lennon!

Mr. Modeste likes social photograpy. We saw a scene we were keen to capture. Two young kids were collecting cans for money. We shot dozens of pictures of the kids, of the huge transparent bags full of Skol beer cans, juice cans, cola cans; one of the kids with a pacifier in his mouth. A picture can say a lot. A woman came and asked us
“Why do you take pictures of kids?”
An allegation we’d better not think of lied hidden in that question. Well, we do have a good reason. This scene tells us something, this scene demands to be recorded, we are working in the name of Art, in the name of something higher than the transition between the seconds, everyone should understand that (paradoxically, Jack seems to be one of the few people who understand it). I like to take photographs. Taken in a dancing crowd, photos can be standstills, freeze the movement to our imagination. A good still is a cold still. It should freeze the beholder too, he should feel heavy and icy as his breath stays away. A good still is all about showing movement by showing its very opposite. The observer indulges in inertia, the unspeakable continuity of motion is expressed.

The Carnaval is a continuum: 24 hours a day of dancing on the streets, in bars, in parades, everywhere. It is an extraordinary experience. In order to serve cold drinks in the streets, large bags of ice cubes are used. Diligent men and women carry them along on their shoulders.
In the evening, I walked around on my own, observing the crowd. There were a few French people, I had a little conversation. A big-breasted hairy French guy danced francticly to the Samba beats, stepping around like a madman. Virginie was friendly, but our conversation was to meek for considering a closer introduction. So I was off, ran into some Swiss people who had booked their Rio Adventure a year ago, and were enjoying it now, thus working against the spiral of the financial crisis. They had nice, decent wigs and hats. They lodged in the Favela Chique that sounded interesting, it’s not dangerous and you get to see some real Favela while surrounded by all comforts a Westerner needs. Our conversation was, again, too lame to result in closer introduction. So I was off, and sat down for a while, observing a woman with a kid collecting tin cans. Gave her 2 Reais, don’t expect a humble “Obrigado”, expect a fierce nod of the head. A couple saw me and asked me if I was allright. If a Gringo sits on the pavement he is asked if he is allright. It was a funny couple: A Brazilian woman with her boyfriend from Arizona, a man in his forties listening to the name of Paul. He tried my John Lennon glassed but his view got all misty. The couple was looking – seriously – for a woman Paul could kiss. His girlfriend was actually organizing some kind of bachelor party for him! He asked random girls he found himself attracted to if they’d kiss him, and when he got a no they moved on. I followed the curious couple back to the Lapa aquaduct, we struggled through the crowd and ran into some Irish tourists. One of them was called Peter and I said he wait a minute, we’ve got Peter and Paul and up there is the Christ Redeemer, isn’t that funny? Isn’t that damn funny? But they didn’t think it was funny. We went further up, Paul asked some more women, a tiny man tried to sell peanuts and a very well-formed man danced up horny to Paul’s girlfriend. Suddenly, they were gone. Our conversation had been to lame to result in a closer introduction anyway. I indulged in solitude, and slid into a curious mood of all-encompassing happiness.

Jack walks around in the crowd, too. He feels horny and he is ignored. Suddenly he sees a woman sitting on a pole crying. He says bom dia why are you crying and starts a conversation which he has to conduct in his poor Spanish and even poorer Portuguese – but he is successful, because he knows that people who cry appreciate consolation and consolation sometimes can result in love-making, which we may assume Jack’s intention was that night. So they walk a bit and go to a veranda where she teaches him how to dance samba. They start kissing, Jack loves to gently stir around with his tongue, make the tips of two tongues meet in the unified cavity they for this instant share, expressing the person Jack is that second, expressing all the loneliness that lives in his throat. Jack likes kissing. So he gets a little wilder and bounces with his tongue, licking, plopping, sucking, biting – the woman pushes him away and says:
“Beijas como um negro. You kiss like a black person. Eeeh!”
Jack tongue is adjacent now to the tongue of a racist, to a tongue that has gone bad. Mr. Modeste is black. I hope Jack undertakes something to fight racism, I hope that it doesn’t leave him cold.
Indeed, Jack doesn’t like racism. He does not need any moral reasoning for that. It’s just annoying him, it gets in the way of his pleasure, he is reminded of a world where people have to work like hell to secure their negative identity (because it is negative, defined by its negation, they will never be satisfied), a world thus where people need to exclude the Other and live in a constant presence of that paranoid self-constitution, a world where people need longer timespans, yes years, decades, whole millenia as benchmarks for their identity, it gets in the way of Jack’s pleasure. His seconds are already stuffed with all-too-human vanity, he can’t take in any more. So he didn’t like the situation. But he couldn’t say no the the woman, who had started to explore Jack’s promising bulge. But Jack is creative. He could regain the paradise of his pleasure by showing the woman how damn equal all human beings are.Yes he can, he can do it, Jack can be more moral by coincidence than all the Popes since Saint Peter combined. In his case, there are no strings attached. We would call it pureness but I will be reluctant to use that word since it would make Jack puke. So Jack kept kissing the woman, dragged her with him through the crowd and every time they ran into a black person, he shook his hands, high-fived him, gave him his best smile and thereby showed the woman how cool that black person is. I hope Jack reached his goal (my goal, Jack hardly has goals), because racism is one of the most detestable things. So he walk on with the woman and it got light, the sun rises really fast in Rio, and they had fried coconut with cheese more like some sort of pancake it was not bad. The woman makes a proposal: ficar. In Portugal, that would have been an innocent though somewhat awkward thing to propose, apart from being grammatically not exactly correct. In Brazilian however it means to fuck but Jack doesn’t really want it she’s not that beautiful and the woman takes a taxi and Jack goes home too. He arrived when I was already in the hammock, dreaming about the beautiful Brazilian woman.

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Kamiel Choi

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

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