Saudade has been called one of the most difficult words to translate in the world. 30 de Janeiro is Dia de Saudades in Brasil: roughly translated, “the day of remembrance” or “the day of longing,” but these brief translations trivialize the word and its meaning.
A childhood memory of a summer’s day. The hottest day of the year, when you climbed a tree to escape the unrelenting sun. There, in the shade, you ignored your mother’s calls to come home, instead savouring the brief respite from the oppressive heat. You were thirsty, though, and rather than climb down and go home to do chores, you reached out into the branches before you. You didn’t recognize the little yellow fruits, you’d never seen them at the market before. But driven by thirst or curiosity or simply by your naive lack of wiles, you bit into it. It burst into flavour on your tongue, quenching your thirst, juicy and tart and sweet, the taste of summer, the taste of home, the taste of childhood.
No matter how many loquats you eat in adulthood, nothing will ever taste like that again. Even if you could somehow go back in time and taste that exact fruit again, it would never taste the same, because the memory of your first loquat has been tempered by decades of experiences, placed into perspective by a lifetime of sadness and love and loss and victory and accomplishment and friendship and grief and wonder.
The place in your soul where this memory lives, that is saudade.
I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy last weekend, and despite my high IQ and expansive vocabulary, nearly all I can say about it is “YES YES YES!”
This movie has EVERYTHING. Characters with personalities and development, a plot with a sense of urgency, knee-slapping humour, independent strong female characters with agency, and a truly AWESOME MIX soundtrack that made me feel like I was a kid again.
The film was two hours, but felt too short, perhaps because we didn’t get the 90 minutes of disaster porn I’ve come to expect from comic book movies. It was epic but lighthearted, and I walked out of the theatre in a fantastic mood that’s stayed with me all week long– and when that does wear off, I’ll just go and see it again.
I can’t describe how happy it made me that the leader of planet Xandar was a woman, and that her title was not “princess” nor “empress” nor any other kind of aristocracy ostensibly inherited from a male, but “Prime” That’s right, the female leader’s title was gender neutral, “first among us.” Just one of the many factors that contributed to how easily this film soared to the top of my list of cinematic appreciation. Guardians of the Galaxy is, far and away, my #1 film EVER.
Recently, German football fans donned blackface for Deutschland’s match against Ghana. There’s a big hullabaloo, as many found this to be offensive.
A friend of mine asked, “How can this be racism when we didn’t even know that blackface was a thing?” He wondered how, when Germans largely are unaware of the historical context of blackface, the actions of these particular fans could be construed as racist. My initial response had been that racism is a question of intent, but offensiveness is about the impact of our actions, not the intent. I said that because blackface has a historical context, wearing it is offensive, even if the people doing so do not inherently feel that brown skin is inferior. His response: “…[M]ust we not also separate that when it comes to white people who have no history of enslaving Africans? …how can a German painting his face black be racism when we lack that context absolutely?”
That’s when I had to think harder about the question. And what I realized is that while overt racism is about intent, pervasive racism is subtle and often lacks intent. Much like a straight man who uses the term “gay” as a pejorative does not consciously consider himself to be superior to homosexual males, a white person who mocks Ghanaian citizens by wearing black paint on their face IS participating in racism, regardless of whether they’re familiar with how blackface was used to belittle and stereotype African-Americans.
When you paint your face black, you’re marginalizing Ghanaians, and all dark-skinned peoples, by reducing their cultural identity to the colour of their skin.
In short… yes, it’s racist, even if it wasn’t intended that way, and even if they lacked the historical context with which to understand just how offensive they were.
I’ve been sitting on this domain for almost a decade and a half. Since my dreams of selling it to HBO for bajillions of dollars are now dashed, I might as well use it!
So… I have a blog now. Now I can verbally regurgitate whatever is on my mind, only, I don’t have to spam all my facebook friends with it. Hey, this is actually a great idea! Now if only everyone else on social media would follow suit, the interwebz would be a much quieter place.