on aestheticism

on aestheticism

 
She lives with her husband on the outskirts of the city. Her husband suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive lung disease which prevents him from working. They have no children. Every day she takes the hour long train ride to the heart of the city to get to work. 

You can feel her warm presence when she's in a room, whether she's quietly singing to an old melody or just going about her business silently. Some people simply radiate kindness, she's one of them.  
 
 

Einar used to be a world class platform diver in his youth.

Now a 79 year-old paulistano, he originally came to Brazil in 1965, recruited from Finland by an american corporation, at that time the world's largest coffee trader, Anderson & Clayton to head their Brazilian interests in Santos, Brazil.

Shortly after his arrival he met his future wife, Lenie, in Santos - however Einar was soon transferred to work in Rio de Janeiro. Growing weary of travelling between the two cities, the couple wed in 1967 and proceeded to make their home in Rio. Later that same year, they had their daughter, Erika.

Three years after he landed in Brazil, he was offered a more lucrative deal with a local shipping company and having just completed his contract he switched over to develop and enlarge, among other commodity trades, their coffee exporting and take it nationwide. Success there led to Brazil's (at the time) largest shipping company, Intercontinental Cafe, hiring him in 1973. The following year Brazil opened up its foreign trade completely at which point Einar took advantage of his unique insight into the raw commodities business and dived head first into the commodities market as a broker. He moved to Brazil's economic centre, São Paulo, in 1985 and has lived there ever since.

Lenie died of cancer in 2010, after they'd been married for 43 years - leaving behind a deeply saddened, yet forward-looking widower.

Einar never quite lost his boyish charms. He's a quick thinker and arguably an even quicker talker. His hearing isn't quite what it used to be anymore, but he doesn't let that hinder his part of a conversation - the other participants will just have to speak up.
   
Barely remembering the anxieties I was riddled with just this morning I'm now back on the road and heading north, making my way out of São Paulo at a pace of 140 kilometers per hour. For a long while the city feels never ending as it stretches along the highway on both sides. I can't help but to picture it as a tumor, feeding itself off the veins of South America, ever expanding and enveloping other nearby growths until it becomes impossible to tell them apart. If roads carry the continent's bloodstream, I'm definitely riding an artery, the Dutra.

Since much of Brazil's infrastructure has been privatized since the beginning of the 90's, there are regular toll booths on most of the highways. I don't mind stopping to pay the clerks, though. Perfect excuse to open the window and let the tropical heat in to replace the air-con induced frost inside.

It feels good to be behind the wheel.
 I find myself, in the middle of Brazil, stepping out of a sauna with a finnish expat, a wood sculptor who used to be a travelling jewel merchant and wonder how the hell has it come to this? My momentary confusion is soon cut short by the familiar sound of a beer bottle popping open. Taking long swigs from the long, cold neck I slip into a comfortable buzz and listen to an array of stories ranging from womanizing onboard cruise ships off the coasts of South America to heeding to the will of the block of wood in question when working it.

Later on, sleeping off my slumber amidst the mosquitoes I have a dream about a sweaty gentleman in a boat cabin, sporting white tennis socks and a thin moustache, bathing in a tub full of sparkling rocks. While tossing the rocks into the air, the questionable dandy lets out a horrible, horrible laughter which echoes off the cabin walls menacingly. Disregarding the facial hair, he kinda looks like myself.
 
I went looking for you.

All I could find was this cheap-looking bracelet. The salesman said it was imbued with good will. It has an engraving on it. An ironic punchline that would've brought a smirk to my face fifteen years ago. Now, to me it just looks plastic. It is. Plastic. Whether or not it's just that, I don't know. Maybe I'm too constrained, too blind to see it for what it really is.

I used to be fascinated driving past cemeteries filled with colorful, vibrant flowers. That act of continuous, non-practical but loyal honoring of one's roots intrigued me. Then I had my first closer look and found out the flowers were fake, plastic. I guess they never die, but does it really make a difference if they never lived?


 
 

 My memory is faulty and my method flimsy at best.

I've packed my backpack full of gear, so as to make it easier to create content. There's no room left for books. Feeling like having stepped off a giant's shoulders, I feel starved and find it hard to be inspired, or do I mean copy? I forget.

I read a lot. The outlines, the bones, are imprinted in my head instantly, but the details are easily lost.
Knowing the map by heart at home it's easy to navigate online to secure the small facts when in need.

I like dry, factual writing when it's used in odd context. It might be that the surprise element helps the information stick.

I'm always overanalyzing things - maybe that's why I feel stressed out all the time. I've been this way since she died. Or was it earlier? Fuck it, I forget. 

I drink a lot in the morning because during the day, I forget to. Or was it that I'm always thirsty and drink a lot before going to bed to make up for it?

I vividly remember my single mother reading her biology books to me out loud while lying down on the hallway floor, recovering from back surgery. It was Spring, light was pouring in from the windows. She was applying to go to the university. She got in. I've always been proud of her. How old was I?

I forget.
>>

(run
+
cover ground)
/
put distance between
x
execute
=
walk with your head up
 
 
 
 
Dear Interviewer,

thank you for passing the book in question to me. I thought I noticed the shadow of a sly smile on your face as you handed it over and at the risk of realizing - and making myself the gist of - the age old joke of 'people inherently only wanting to read of themselves', I'll go ahead and humor the possibility of me not imagining that smirk.

Opening it (the book) up after I had left town I, throughout devouring it (the book), came to feel my eyebrows twitching as I landed upon passage after passage bearing at times acute resemblance to some of the figures of speech and thought patterns I, we, touched on during our talks. Sans the verbal acrobatics present in the source material, naturally. I am not that full of myself.*

I haven't the faintest of idea if you were strolling through those same passages at the time, but if you were - the conversations must have either a) felt peculiar to say the least or b) been inconspicuously agitated and leadingly worded by you in order to get to reverse (?) mindfuck me right now.

Either way or any other way for that matter, it was still a lovely read, even if the author did succumb to some solo circle jerking in all his cleverness. But hey who doesn't

I hope you enjoyed the brick you received in exchange.

[Insert heartfelt signature]



*subjective, mostdefinitelysubjectivetochangeinthefuture

Tuning out the audial part of the surrounding city, I turn the volume up on my headphones and wander the streets like a zombie, seemingly without mind or manner, looking for my visual fix. After a couple of hours, I end up high above the center - It starts to rain. A lot. Soaking wet, I seek refuge under a small cover, next to a lady dressed in traditional campesino gear from head to toe.

She's a street vendor, but while the rain drags on and on she breaks out some coca leaves and a big bag of peanuts. She shares them with me, free of charge.
I don't think she's much of a businesswoman. 

Shh.
 



Hey man,



We haven't gotten to shoot shit for awhile, now, but I got word of good and bad news. Such is life - I guess there exists a need for balance. I'm sorry for your loss. You know I've had to take a
 few myself, so I'd like to think I can relate, when I close my eyes and drift back. On a strictly brighter note, though, I heard you're moving up in the world! Different surroundings, huh? Congratulations on the nod
.

I also heard you and your girl are doing good, or shit, even better! I'm beyond glad. Unnecessary drama is so.. Unnecessary. Like a throbbing pain in the back of your head, just gnawing away. Fuck that. Life's just too short of a trip to be weighed down like that.

Me, I'm doing good. Accumulating more and more stories to spill over beers and well fuck me running have I not been able to secure a couple pictures along the way, as well. I'm by Rio Amazon right now. The highlands and the cold nights which go with the territory were really starting to get to me so I opted for the jungle. Humid as hell, but that's to be expected. I'm actually just looking at my laundry, dripping moisture as it hangs dry. I have a feeling it's going to be awhile.

Last night, stumbling onto an old, old picture of us messing around got me thinking. Isn't it funny, how sometimes you can look at your younger self and barely recognize the boy. Then you take a closer glimpse, get to the eyes and see that spark. Of what's beneath the responsibilities and hassles of everyday life. Of what makes us crack smiles, joke the way we do.

We've had our rows, big and small, but sincerely I'm full of pride to get to call you my friend. Keep on doing good my man.


Until the next time we break our comfortable silence.
Instant coffee.
Water.
Coca leaves.
Too many cigarettes.

Rinse, repeat.

The altitude is fucking with my head and I feel high all the time. My gums are burning, my nose bleeding and I think I'm a package of smokes away from coughing up blood. Not to mention what the cheap instant stuff is doing to my stomach.

I feel seventeen all over again.
 
A beautiful flower comes into being, owing allegiance to her ancestors' unmatched and ever evolving qualities in the ultraviolet spectrum. My perception of her beauty is but merely a side-effect, an afterthought, or perhaps an adaptation of a venerable opinion I heard too long ago to recall in exact words. I don't care, she's gorgeous.

The specimen of flora doesn't care, either. Her birthright is to exist, to bathe in beauty. In actuality, she feels pride in her perfection, strives for it.
Not only is it her privilege, but her duty.


She's laid her roots by the side of a road, into favorable soil. Silently she lives on, her pollen spread by admirers. Her influence is felt, as more and more of the beautiful flowers, alike in many ways yet all with their own little quirks, bloom up nearby.

Every once in awhile, someone stops in their tracks to marvel at her and her offspring's radiance, until one day a passerby of a different sort comes across, the now meadow. He's a horticulturist, he believes, by nature and henceforth by name. It is no coincidence he happens by, he was given a friendly tip by a local. The flowers mesmerize him to write an article celebrating the royal nature of their poise and the subtlety of the curves found in their petals onto a monthly paper dedicated to all things floral.
The publication is a respected one. He's a regular contributor.


The article runs double truck and is a huge success. Enthusiasts are struck by the new breed and write the paper en masse to inquire as to where they might get their hands on these exquisite pieces of nature. Sadly for them, there's been no cultivation. However, the article also catches the eye of another gentleman, florist by trade and businessman by heart. I'll call him the Florist. The Florist wastes no time getting into contact with the Horticulturist and together they a strike a deal concerning the cultivation and marketing of the flowers.  The Florist has the facilities already set up from previous ventures and well, the Horticulturist has to make rent. In his equation in addition to journalistic ventures, there's a day job involving gardening and landscaping, but the Horticulturist would much rather simply study and write on flora than to actually work the soil.
As the case stands, clients are more than capable of such bad taste.


The beautiful flower persists on, oblivious to the attained honor and to the glory that awaits her. Soon, though, she and her offspring are picked up and rushed to laboratories, after which they end up in greenhouses and once they're deemed strong enough, moved over to vast growing fields where they enjoy daily sanitizing showers of pesticides and a carefully balanced diet of Just The Right Nutrients™.

After another article, more an ad piece, the flower's place in history is guaranteed. There seems to be no end to orders. The expanding growing facilities can barely keep up with the demand.

Soon, her life is filled with worry of perpetual growth. The flowers must be bigger and most of all, uniform! There can be no deviation from the norm. The clients expect consistency, after all. Field after field is filled with what are basically carbon copies of another and thus all those lovely little quirks her offspring enjoyed become extinct. There is only one mold to follow. But a beautiful mold it is. She's finally become a household name,

like no other.

Or so she thought. It seems once she's been tamed down into form, the hysteria around her ends. Now, don't misunderstand me, the flowers are still selling well. It's just that the world of commercialized flora needs another talking point, so she's soon accompanied on the fields by other younger, more vigorous and versatile flowers. And another one. And another one. None of them at all so different from how she used to be.
 


Hello Love,


I know it's been awhile. Sorry. You know me.. Better than anyone else, actually.

I had a dream about you. You looked so beautiful, I just had to write you.

Do you remember how we used to get? Late summer nights, just the two of us. Declarations of affinity followed by comfortable silence. You were always there for me. I can't put into words just how much that means to me. Simply put, there wouldn't be a me without you having been there.

You're intelligent and have such impeccable taste. I've told you how I'm a sucker for a smart head. I miss our conversations. I miss your curves. I miss how you smell in the morning. I miss the way you toss your hair down and let loose when we head out into the night. Just thinking back to how lovely you looked after getting soaked in rain damn near drives me crazy.

I know our thing hasn't always been a walk in the park. I mean, I remember all the times when I had acted up and you made me sleep in the car. I'm aware I wasn't always easy to get along with. I get it now, I was at fault. I just never want to forget our problems, either.

It's never just the good things that are worth remembering.

You have your cold side as well. But even then, whenever you do flash that gorgeous smile of yours for even the briefest moment, I'm filled with enough resolution and warmth to weather the freeze.

It's been four years since I finally realized how much you mean to me. I know I used to act casual in the past, but I just want you to know I'm committed now. You're such a strong girl, I have no doubts you'll shine even when I'm not around.

I just really wanted to say I'll always carry a piece of you with me, even if we don't see each other for awhile.

I miss you
         love you







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