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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Friday
Aug282015

In Which We Were Not Thinking About You

How Constantly And Insanely I Have Missed You

Being pleased with what they give you is proper of slaves. Asking for more is proper of children. Conquering more is proper of fools.

The Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa only wrote love letters to one woman. Her name was Ophelia Queiroz. She was a secretary at a firm in Lisbon where the 31 year old Pessoa worked as a translator. After trading a few notes and glances, he approached her with the appropriate lines of Hamlet in the office and kissed her. He wrote his first real letter to her shortly thereafter. She was 19.

1 March 1920

Ophelia:

You could have shown me your contempt, or at least your supreme indifference, without the see-through masquerade of such a lengthy treatise and without your written "reasons," which are as insincere as they are unconvincing. You could have just told me. This way I understand you no less, but it hurts me more.

It's only natural that you're very fond of the young man who's been chasing you, so why should I hold it against you if you prefer him to me? You're entitled to prefer whom you want and are under no obligation, as I see it, to love me. And there's certainly no need (unless it's for your own amusement) to pretend you do.

Those who really love don't write letters that read like lawyers' petitions. Love doesn't examine things so closely, and it doesn't treat others like defendants on trial.

Why can't you be frank with me? Why must you torment a man who never did any harm to you (or to anybody else) and whose sad and solitary life is already a heavy enough burden to bear, without someone adding to it by giving him false hopes and declaring feigned affections? What do you get out of it besides the dubious pleasure of making fun of me?

I realize that all this is comical, and that the most comical part of it is me.

I myself would think it was funny, if I didn't love you so much, and if I had the time to think of anything besides the suffering you enjoy inflicting on me, although I've done nothing to deserve it except love you, which doesn't seem to me like reason enough. At any rate...

Here's the "written document" you requested. The notary Eugenio Silva can validate my signature.

Fernando Pessoa

19 March 1920

at 4 a.m.

My dear darling Baby:

It's almost four in the morning, and I've just given up trying to fall asleep, even though my aching body badly needs rest. This is the third night in a row this has happened, but tonight was one of the worst nights of my life. Luckily for you, darling, you can't imagine what it was like. It wasn't just my sore throat and the idiotic need to spit every two minutes that kept me from sleeping. I was also delirious though I had no fever, and I felt like I was going mad, I wanted to scream, to moan at the top of my lungs, to do a thousand crazy things. It's not only my physical illness that put me in such a state but the fact I spent all day yesterday fretting over the things that still need to be done before my family arrives. And to top it off my cousin came by at half past seven with more than a little bad news, which I won't go into now, darling, because fortunately none of it concerns you in the least.

Just my luck to be sick right when there are so many urgent things to do - things that no one but I can do.

See the state of mine I've been in lately, especially during the last two days? And you've no idea, my adorable Baby, how constantly and insanely I've missed you. Your absence always makes me suffer, darling, even when it's just from one day to the next, so think how I must feel after not having seen you for almost three days!

Tell me one thing, love: Why do you sound so depressesd in your second letter - the one you sent yesterday by Osorio? I can understand you missing me, just like I miss you, but you sounded so anxious, sad and dejected that it pained me to read your letter and feel how much you're suffering. What happened to you, darling, besides us being separated? Something worse? Why do you speak in such a desperate tone about my love, as if you doubted it, when you have no reason to?

I'm all alone — I really am. The people in this building have treated me very well, but they're not close to me at all. During the day they bring soup, milk, or medicine, but they don't ever keep me company, which I certainly wouldn't expect. And at this hour of the night, I feel like I'm in a desert. I'm thirsty and have no one to give me a drink. I'm going crazy from this sense of isolation and have no one to soothe me, just by being near, as I try to go to sleep.

I'm cold. I'm going to lie down and pretend to rest. I don't know when I'll mail this letter or if I'll add anything to it.

Ah my love, my doll, my precious Baby, if only you were here! Lots and lots and lots of kisses from your always very own

Fernando

5 April 1920

Dear naughty little Baby:

Here I am at home alone, except for the intellectual who's hanging paper on the walls (as if he could hang it on the floor or ceiling!), and he doesn't count. As promised, I'm going to write my Baby, if only to tell her that she's a very bad girl except in one thing, the art of pretending, and in that she's a master.

By the way — although I'm writing you, I'm not thinking about you. I'm thinking about how I miss the days when I used to hunt pigeons, which is something you obviously have nothing to do with...

We had a nice walk today, don't you think? You were in a good mood, I was in a good mood, and the day was in a good mood. (My friend A.A. Crosse was not in a good mood. But his health is okay — one pound sterling of health for now, which is enough to keep him from catching cold.)

You're probably wondering why my handwriting's so strange. For two reasons. The first is that this paper (all I have at the moment) is extremely smooth, and so my pen glides right over it. The second is that I found, here in the apartment, some splendid Port, a bottle of which I opened, and I've already drunk half. The third reason is that there are only two reasons, and hence no third reason at all.

When can we be somewhere together, darling — just the two of us? My mouth feels odd from having gone so long without any kisses... Little Baby who sits on my lap! Little Baby who gives me love bites! Little Baby who... (and then Baby's bad and hits me...) I called you "body of sweet temptations," and that's what you'll always be, but far away from me.

Come here, Baby. Come over to Nininho. Come into Nininho's arms. Put your tiny mouth against Nininho's mouth... Come... I'm so lonely, so lonely for kisses ...

If only I could be certain that you really miss me. It would at least be some consolation. But you probably think less about me than about that boy who's chasing you, not to mention D.A.F. and the bookkeeper of C.D. & C.! Naughty, naughty, naughty, naughty... !!!!

What you need is a good spanking.

So long: I'm going to lay my head down in a bucket, to relax my mind. That's what all great men do, at least all great men who have: 1) a mind, 2) a head, and 3) a bucket in which to stick their head.

A kiss, just one, that lasts as long as the world, from your always very own

Fernando (Nininho)

ophelia

27 April 1920

My lovely little Baby:

How adorable you looked today in the window of your sister's apartment! You were cheerful, thank goodness, and seemed happy to see me.

I've been feeling very sad, and also very tired — sad not only because I haven't been able to see you because of the obstacles that other people have been putting in our path. I'm afraid that the unrelenting, insidious influence of these people — who don't censure you or express outright opposition but who work slowly on your mind — will eventually make you stop liking me. You already seem different to me. You're not the same girl you were in the office. Not that you've even noticed this, but I've noticed, or at least I think I have. God knows I hope I'm wrong...

Listen, sweetie: the future all looks hazy to me. I mean, I can't see what's on the horizon, or what will become of us, since you've been yielding more and more to the influence of your family, and you disagree with me in everything. In the office you were sweeter, more gentle, more lovable.

Anyway...

Tomorrow I'll go by the Rossio train station at the same time as today. Will you come to the window?

Always and forever your

Fernando

31 July 1920

Dear Ibis:

Excuse this shoddy paper, but it's all I could find in my briefcase, and they don't have any stationery here at the Cafe Arcada. You don't mind, do you?

I just received your letter with the cute postcard.

It was a funny coincidence, wasn't it?, that I and my sister were downtown yesterday at the same time you were. What wasn't funny is that you disappeared, in spite of the signs I made you. I was just dropping off my sister at the Avenida Palace Hotel, so she could buy some things and take a walk with the mother and sister of the Belgian follow who's staying there. I came back out almost immediately, and expected to find you waiting there, so that we could talk. But no, you had to rush to your sister's place!

What's worse is that, when I came out of the hotel, I saw your sister's window outfitted like a theater box (with extra chairs) to enjoy the show of me walking by! Realizing this, I naturally went on my way as if no one were there. The day I decide to play the clown (which my character isn't really suited for), I'll offer my services directly to the circus. Just what I needed right now — to serve as comic entertainment for your family!

If you couldn't avoid being at the window with 148 people, you should have avoided the window. Seeing as you didn't feel like waiting for me or talking to me, you might at least have had the courtesy — since you couldn't appear alone at the window — of not appearing.

Why should I have to explain these things? If your heart (presuming this creature exists) or your intuition can't instinctively teach them to you, then I can't very well be your teacher.

When you say that your most fervent wish is for me to marry you, you shouldn't forget to add that I would also have to marry your sister, your brother-in-law, your nephew and who knows how many of your sister's clients.

Always your very own

Fernando

I forgot as I wrote this, that you're in the habit of showing my letters to everyone. If I'd remembered I would have toned it down, I assure you. But it's too late, and it doesn't matter. Nothing matters.

 

15 October 1920

Little Baby,

You have thousands, even millions of good reasons for being irked, offended, and angry with me. But I'm not the one to blame. It's Fate that has condemned my brain — if not definitely, then at least to a condition calling for serious treatment, which I'm not so sure I can get.

I plan (with yet resorting to the celebrated May 11th decree) to enter a clinic next month, where I'm hoping for a treatment that will help me fend off the black wave that's falling over my mind. I don't know what the result of all this will be — I mean, I can't imagine what it could be.

Don't wait for me. If I come to see you, it will be in the morning, when you're on your way to the office in Poco Novo.

Don't worry.

What happened, you ask? I got switched with Alvaro de Campos!

Always your

Fernando

29 November 1920

Dear Ophelia:

Thank you for your letter. It made me feel both sad and relieved. Sad, because these things always bring sadness. Relieved, because this really is the only solution — to stop prolonging a situation that's no longer justified by love, whether on your side or mine. For my own part there remains an abiding estreem and a steadfast friendship. You won't deny me as much, will you?

Neither you nor I are to blame for what has happened. Only Fate might be blamed, were Fate a person to whom blame could be imputed.

Time, which grays hair and wrinkles faces, also withers violent affections, and much more quickly. Most people, because they're stupid, don't even notice this, and they imagine they still love because they got used to being in love. If this weren't so, there would be no happy people in the world. Superior creatures cannot enjoy this illusion, however, because they can't believe love will endure, and when they see it's over, they don't kid themselves by taking what it left — esteem, or gratitude — for love itself.

These things cause suffering, but the suffering passes. If life, which is everything, finally passes, then won't love and sorrow also pass, along with all the other things that are only parts of life?

You're unfair to me in your letter, but I understand and forgive. You no doubt wrote it with anger and perhaps even bitterness, but most people in your case — men or women — would write things that are even less fair, and in a harsher tone. But you have a wonderful disposition, Ophelia, and not even your anger is capable of malice. If, when you marry, you're not as happy as you deserve, it will be through no fault of your own.

As for me...

My love has passed. But I still feel a steadfast affection for you, and you can be sure that I'll never, never forget your delightful figure, your girlish ways, your tenderness, your goodness, and your lovable nature. It's possible that I fooled myself and that these qualities I attribute to you were my own illusion, but I don't think so, and even if they were, it did no harm to have seen them in you.

I don't know what you might like to have back — whether your letters or other things. I'd prefer not to give back anything, and to keep your letters as the living memory of a past that died (the way all pasts do), as something poignant in a life like mine which, as it advances in years, advances in disillusion and unhappiness.

Please don't be like ordinary people, who always act petty and mean. Don't turn your head when I pass by, and don't harbor a grudge in your remembrance of me. Let us be like lifelong friends who loved each other a bit when they were children, only to pursue other affections and other paths as adults, but who nevertheless retain, in some corner of the heart, the vivid memory of their old and useless love.

These "other affections" and "other paths" concern you, Ophelia, and not me. My destiny belongs to another Law, whose existence you're not even aware of, and it is ever more the slave of Masters who do not relent and do not forgive.

You don't need to understand this. It's enough that you hold me in your memory with affection, as I will steadfastly hold you in mine.

Fernando

After nine years of total and complete silence, Pessoa contacted Ophelia and she said she would be happy to hear from him if he wanted to write to her. She again became captivated by him. Below is one of his last letters from that period.

9 October 1929

Terrible Baby:

I like your letters, which are sweet, and I like you, because you're sweet too. And you're candy, and you're a wasp, and you're honey, which comes from bees and not wasps, and everything's just fine, and Baby should always write me, even when I don't, which is always, and I'm sad, and I'm crazy, and no one likes me, and why should they, and that's exactly right, and everything goes back to the beginning, and I think I'll call you today, and I'd like to kiss you precisely and voraciously on the lips, and to eat your lips and whatever little kisses you're hiding there, and to lean on your shoulder and slide into the softness of your little doves, and to beg your pardon, and the pardon to be make-believe, and to do it over and over and period until I start again, and why do you like a scoundrel and a troll and a fat slob with a face like a gas meter and the expression of someone who's not there but in the toilet next door, and indeed, and finally, and I'm going to stop because I'm insane and I always have been, it's from birth, which is to say ever since I was born, and I wish Baby were my doll so I could do like a child, taking off her clothes, and I've reached the end of the page, and this doesn't seem like it could be written by a human being but it was written by me.

Fernando

You can read more of the writing of Fernando Pessoa here. You can purchase The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa here.

"Sevenths and Ninths" - The Foreign Exchange (mp3)

"Asking For A Friend" - The Foreign Exchange (mp3)

 

Thursday
Aug272015

In Which We Feel Appropriately Subdued Until Dawn

The Telltale Towel

by JASON ARTIS-CHO

Until Dawn
Supermassive Games
Sony Computer Entertainment


When Sam (Hayden Panettiere) emerges from a long, hot bath at the winter escape of her friend Josh Washington (Rami Malek) her clothes are gone. She wraps herself in a towel, holding it together with one hand, and begins to go find a suitable outfit. Panettiere has never exactly been much of an actress, but it would be a lie to suggest she was not suited for this role.

Evening at the Washington lodge lasts about nine hours. No one eats or sleeps at all during this time, because when an intruder is not sedating them with sleeping gas, other strange events unfold. When she reaches the lodge from a decrepit cable car station, Sam immediately feels subdued. It was one year earlier that a cruel prank drove her friends Hannah and Beth out in the snow, where they were never seen again.


Tongue-in-cheek horror was appropriately retired by Joss Whedon with The Cabin in the Woods. There is not much to make fun of here anymore, so the only silly parts of Until Dawn, which released this Tuesday for Sony's Playstation 4 console, are watching the clearly older actors and actresses in the cast of the interactive game snipe at each other with ridiculous insults and lame flirtations.

Surprisingly, Until Dawn features no sex. The most nude anyone ever gets is that white towel, and a pair of intensely tight exercise pants that Sam puts on when she feels like the towel meme has run its course.

Instead the game is mostly focused on atmosphere. At first all the teen characters are incredibly selfish and unlikable, but moving through a series of bleak, gorgeous landscapes changes our perspective on them. Emily (Nichole Bloom) is a half-Japanese princess of entitlement when Until Dawn begins — by the end her facade is peeled away to something darker and more sympathetic. No film could accomodate the kind of slow, subtle character development accomplished through a game that is the actual length of the events described.

Although there is some noticeable frame hitching when the game functions under heavy load, for the most part the extensive motion capture with this talented group of actors allows Until Dawn's visuals to really shine. Some of the underground spaces become a bit generic, but the amount of locations is sufficiently diverse and impressive given that the initial expectation is one night in one house.


The main activity for the player consists of collecting clues to the year-old disappearance of Hannah and Beth Washington. The lodge was built in close proximity to a sanatorium and a set of no longer operative mines, both of which figure prominently in the game's mystery. One of the game's women has a tattoo meant to reference the butterfly effect.

It is not clear how the wings of a butterfly could ever cause a hurricane, and the choices you make in Until Dawn never emerge as very consequential. Like in similar games from Telltale and Quantic Dream, this aspect of the narrative is meant primarily to engage you with the story rather than affect the outcome in any specific way that would make the journey substantially different from what it might have been.


Given that, Sony has blocked Twitch.tv streamers from archiving their broadcasts of Until Dawn, feeling it will discourage possibly buyers of the game. It is possible to get a sense of Until Dawn from watching someone else play it, but the remarkably lifelike visuals are heavily impacted by the artifacts that streaming introduces at all but the highest resolutions.

The resolution of Until Dawn's story is appropriately satisfying, and the action at the end that results in the survival of some but not all of these teenagers makes for a nice payoff. Still, the outcome is nowhere near as memorable as the desolate landscapes of Until Dawn's abandoned buildings and unforgiving wilderness. These isolated moments deepen Until Dawn by providing the desperate echo of another experience, one that is primarily about fortifying yourself against loneliness.

Jason Artis-Cho is a contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Chicago. This is his first appearance in these pages.

"Birch Tree" - Foals (mp3)


Wednesday
Aug262015

In Which This Jonathan Fellow Disorients Our Sense of Well Being

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

My ex-boyfriend Jonathan is a very considerate and caring person. When I decided to move on from our relationship, I had an idea he would remain friends with a lot of my friends who we had interacted with as a couple. They enjoy Jonathan's company and I don't have a problem with the situation.

The problem is that I keep getting these pseudo-considerate e-mails and texts from him asking if it's OK if he shows up at a particular event, or meets up with a certain individual. I don't mind staying on good terms with an ex, but something is rubbing me the wrong way about his communiques. What should I do?

Ann C.

Dear Ann,

The reason that so many breakups are explosive is entirely self-preservational. It ensures that both parties can get sufficient separation to begin the process of forgetting. In what is apparently a very annoying fashion, Jonathan has denied you this.

At any time from the fifth to the fifteenth century this would have meant death or at the very least a light stoning, but now you need to use essentially the same means he is employing to eradicate this pestilence from your existence.

What Jonathan wants is for you to engage with him on his terms, so you must make sure that those terms are equally painful ror him as they are for you. If you start showing up to these places with a new guy, he will either start texting you or self-destruct. If you can't actually meet someone, hire a non-union actor and make sure his persona is the antithesis of everything Jonathan values in a person. Only then will you be free.

Hey,

Women often tell me I would make a great friend. I think that I am very respectful and confident when I go out on dates, so I am not sure what I am doing that gives off this impression.

Joseph P. 

Dear Joseph,

Probably it is the jean shorts.

The issue is not with you, it is with masculinity. Most boys either become sexist PUAs named Bobby or mincing nice guys with no concept of the fact that because a woman is not attracted to the former, she is no more drawn to the latter.

Most women respect only one thing: your complete lack of interest in them. There are a few rare human beings of both genders who can tolerate receiving affection and return it in kind, probably because they come from a great family.

This is a psychological weakness mostly individuals transcend in their mid-twenties, so I would just target slightly older women. When the younger women see you with your new, older experienced girlfriend, they will be turned on by this. They will assume you know sexual things to please a woman, when the reality is that you do not.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Purge" - Rrose (mp3)