I have always heard about Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Spinoza and Kant, but I had never thought that “normal” people should read them. They lay in History, and whatever they had contributed to society was already embedded in our everyday lives, having already influenced whoever did whatever had to be done to create the technological era we live in and the chaotic pseudo-civilised society we live in. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t have to study Pythagoras — all I needed to know was how to calculate the hypotenuse. In fact, all we need now is to press the correct button in a calculator or to use the right command in any commonplace programming language. I have always been a practical man. I do stuff. I don’t sit at home engrossed in armchair thinking. Why should I read such complex arcane books? Moreover, I knew I wouldn’t understand much even if I tried.
Right from the beginning of my “scientific career”, I carried alongside another profession as a State Civil Police Officer. I’ve always had an adventurous spirit and I wanted to do some good to society. Since I had never been inclined for charity work, I thought that I could do some good by shooting bad people instead. Here, in Rio, I knew that wouldn’t be too difficult.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly how I got to Philosophy, even though it all began just a few years ago. Things weren’t good in the company (again) and I was consumed by unidentified feelings of anxiety (as always), so I finally took the courage, quit my scientific job and became just a policeman. I couldn’t keep living a life of lies, pretending I was internally what I appeared to be externally. All I knew was that I needed answers for questions I could hardly formulate.
With me it’s always pain or pleasure. Always fleeing or diving headfirst. I said that if I changed the plans, I would be accepting defeat. So what? I’ll say it as straightforward as possible: Ten years ago, I left my best friend to die on the battlefield. I never accepted that defeat. I simply evaded it. And now I want to do the same with this seemingly much more foolish situation. Now, it’s only about my character; there are no lives involved besides mine. I want to lose and not accept. This is pure evasion — again. Fuck it! I’m going to lose, but I’m going to change and adapt. I should have done it ten years ago. I’m going to start doing it now.
The problem is not now. The problem is when I begin things. I praise Reason above all else simply because men always covet what they lack. All I do is out of sheer enthusiasm — Bacchean enthusiasm proper, as if I were naked at the top of a mountain, participating in an orgy of blood, sex and wine, shouting at the gods, clamoring for power, vision, life, death. I disguise blind emotion through cold reasoning, and I lie — to myself, to family and friends, to you.
Parmenides was one of the great first philosophers. Ironically, for someone who preached immobility in his conclusions, he has pushed philosophy forward with his premisses. But I think of his conclusions now, when I look at my life. I wonder if the world — at least, my world — isn’t motionless, after all.
I am at my desk, very early in the morning, a cup of coffee in my hand and a blank page on the computer screen. The humidity in the air combines with the crusting in my eyes to make the view hazy, dream-like. In contrast, the dream itself is crystal clear in my memory, so fresh I can almost smell sulfur. It is not the prettiest of mornings, and it will be hot. I feel cold.