Posted by: Mo | May 5, 2011


Being away from the ocean is being away from the energy that seems to imbue me with some undefinable vibrations. The air stagnates further into the city, but this creates a restlessness. The streets and houses climb up the hill, the favelas tower, overlooking all those who pass underneath. And the streets do seeth with activity. Every corner has items to purchase, the pedestrians move more aggressively, less patient in making their destination; to finally see a friend and achieve some pleasure after a day of toil. Is this better than mixing with the classes of leisure? It’s dead there in a different way because that’s what safety looks like: visible wealth, segregated garbage, manicured streets.

And that’s the struggle with travel: readjusting and transitioning to the different levels and kinds of energy; learning to appreciate all things for the thing in itself and not denigrate its difference. During this trip I’ve avoided more remote areas because I’ve been worried about being bored. But it’s really just a matter of positioning yourself so you’re receptive. And it’s hard to make these constant transitions, since we’re so often stuck in our singular mode of perception/reception that we often miss things, but it’s not just observation. It’s not just missing seeing that child peeing out of a car window. We miss the feeling of a place, we miss the scent of a place, the way it sounds. The ubiquity of the camera, the encouragement by the ever present snapshot on a postcard is leading to a certain degree of sensual retardation. When or why did this geometrical mimicry become the mode of “capturing” experience. As though we should desire something so static; me by a monument is one of the more creepy images I could take from my trip. I don’t like this isolated image of my trip because it transforms it into something banal, perishable, subject (and gaining meaning only in its ability to please) to the fickle attention spans of an overstimulated public. And maybe I’m missing the striving in the photograph, the movement, the life. I don’t intend to say it isn’t there, but the camera has become a despot. Kodak has created a tyranny over the other senses– the other modes of reception no longer seem practiced or of value. It’s harder to own smell, how could they know? The photograph seems a neutral presentation, a democratic platform to display your experience in a way that someone else can similarly experience the moment in the way you were experiencing it at that time. Seeing me in the desert at least partially captures how it was in the desert. What it looked like, even if the image cheapens to totality of the experience. But how can someone even begin to know what a city smells like in a morning? Or what it sounds like?

My gritty skin, texturized by my visits to the beach; will I remember this? Will this feel like Brazil to me or will it lose this specificity and whore itself to some other location, some new memory? I wonder if I’ll continue to be stared at when I get back home. But maybe that’s why photography is appealing: because the memory is unique, even if artificially presented. Because what is it, but artifice? This picture of Thailand will only remind me of Thailand. The waves sound like the waves in Arica, which sound like the waves in Hawaii, which sound like the waves in Rio. The aural memory is no longer specific, but that might be permissible. Is it really better to “capture” memories or let them organically blend from experience to experience, since the medium of perception– my brain– is still present in all these circumstances. It should be able to borrow. Will this gritty spoon remind me of Lapa when I encounter another gritty spoon? Or will this fibrous mango shake become Ipanema for me or will I block this out?

Will I remember these kids practicing futbol on the beach at sunset? The beach at sunset? This profound feeling of happiness and gratitude? When I experience tears of joy again, will a part of this moment in Ipanema come back? When I watch footage of Vidigal will my beach experience deepen the resonation?

The beach resounds with “Acai!” “Limonata mate!” Will I remember this? When I have Açai in the future will this come back? Or will my memory let it go? Or is the experience of memory not so clear? The past shouldn’t be expected to be presented as a replica. The experience fades– the visual image of it– but maybe the feeling of the experience, the absorption of the surrounding energy remains as it was even then. And remains a part of us. We don’t lose any of it, even as its new form no longer resembles the way it was first experienced. Because how can we really expect a present moment to be accurately captured and preserved in a past moment? When has the future come to us as the future we are imagining in the present? It’s always mildly altered, usually for our benefit since we can’t ever seem to wish for things in a realistic sense (“be careful what you wish for” comes to mind).

I’m jumbled. My brain hasn’t had the sleep it needs in order to actually process thoughts or communicate them in any sort of poetic way. I’ll be off for the time being. As it is.


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