Today, the ninth day of the ninth month of 2010, I went to the beach.
I went to the beach. And I’m not simply bragging. I know how such a sentence may spark a whole set of mixed feelings – some slimy emotions somewhere between envy and contempt. But, believe me, this was the most rational thing I could do in the middle of this training day.
Going to the beach is always therapeutic because, other than sinus, it is good to measure your smallness against the breadth of the ocean. I’m no surfer but, as you’ve gathered by now, I like to catch waves without the help of any stiff board. The Portuguese call this “fazer carreirinhas.” I suddenly realized this could be a most ironic metaphor on professional life.
Today, going to the beach was therapeutic because I had an early start in the Consulate of one of the stupidest States in the planet. And, no, this time this was not Portugal. (Even if Portugal frequently competes for the position of the stupidest country in Europe – no wonder televisions and newspapers are now giving so much airspace to a convicted pedophile.)
Now – you must understand that stupidity makes me really nervous. Like that Woody Allen’s character that couldn’t understand mimicry, in the face of stupidity I start to get cold sweats and spasmodic attacks. I can’t help it.
So, I must go to the beach.
This unfortunate condition is probably why I can’t really understand Diesel’s current media campaign that cleverly advises us to Be Stupid. The motto is itself stupid, unless these guys are really being smart asses and saying that in the face of major institutional and state stupidity we must, per force, play dumb.
As a major poet said around here, there are indeed places in which, if you want to be king, you must take one of your eyes out… You know the saying… It was actually Erasmus’ saying that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
One must not forget that these people are the same who have outrageously produced one of the best future scenarios we have seen in a long time in any ad – another of those images that was patiently seating on my desktop, waiting for the right moment to fit into some kind of unexpected train of thoughts.
I mean, this scene is bound to happen exactly as depicted somewhere along the next 1000 years. The cycles of history so dictate. However, as The Smiths used to sing, you just haven’t earned it yet, baby.
But, I mean, be stupid? I can still believe that being stupefied will very eventually make you more creative. But being plain stupid?
Anyways, stupid of me – or of my damned curator nature – because I thought I could be a sort of an idle cultural tourist in the middle of a sort of ongoing post-war zone. Rem Koolhaas has done it with Lagos, true. But what did really come out of it apart from his own enlightenment out of a near-death experience?
Only yesterday, the author of the wonderful “The Tourist Destination” had already sent some revealing vibes in that direction. But that was yesterday. That was when I still believed that I was going to discover something inspirational in one of the world’s most dramatic emergent megalopolis.
Today, faced with a sort of bureaucratic stupidity that was only a pale version of the dark reality in which I was about to immerse, I finally gave up on my strenuous efforts to potentially offer some perspective on what was going in this oily place. And the airplane tickets were already in my hands.
I don’t deny that the fascination will still be there for someone who is interested in how cities develop out of the chemistry of chaos – someone who is moved by how people actually survive and are creative in the midst of such chaos.
However, in some way, this is only another story in which failure is able to trigger a fair amount of reflection. Sometimes is indeed better to fail – or, as Seinfeld famously put it, it is wiser to say “I choose not to run.”
This is why I am now starving to hear what Mr. International Curator has to say about “The Future of Curating,” this coming Saturday, in Lisbon. Indeed, when the luxury of conspicuous cultural consumption will come to a moment of arrested development, what is to become of this nice activity of showing beautiful and intelligent things to the people?
There other good reasons to go to the beach, of course.
Some of these reasons come straight out of this wonderful and rather young profession of “curating.” Once I stood in front of a museum director and I had to tell him that I would rather go to the beach than to accept the despicable conditions that his stiff board was suggesting so as to organize an exhibition.
Happily, bygones are always bygones. Especially after a 45-minute fight with the Atlantic ocean. As another pop band sung, this is only life, and how to live it.
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