Lucifer & the amazon

If Lucifer comes up to me and says “what do you desire?”

“Me? Right now?”

“Yes…’ he is a bit irritated with my lack of immediate response and insists ‘what do you most desire?’

His eyes burrow deep in mine, with that intense vampiric hypnotic look.

‘Well… in fact,’

‘Tell me, tell me your needs…’ he looks sexy.

I’m decisive now. I know what I want. ‘Many, many, many, reviews.’

‘Reviews?’ he is thrown off his game, forgets about the intense look. ‘For your soul, what do you want for your soul?’

‘I told you. Reviews. Amazon Reviews. Great, independent, unhinged, unbiased, uninhibited, five star, reviews.’

‘Fuck.’

‘That I can get, but reviews… seriously, no money can buy. And since I’m giving my soul for it, I want many, in all my books.’

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Veríssimo, o Diabo e a Amazon

Acordei pensando no Veríssimo, o filho, não o pai. Quer dizer, ele deve ser pai e até avô, mas digo, o Luis não o Érico, com mil perdões, mas os outros não me importam.

Estive no festival de escritores de Sydney no final de semana passado e eles fizeram um painel para você dizer qual o livro que tinha mudado sua vida. Eu fiquei pensando e pensando… mas são tantos livros na minha que não sei dizer, fiquei entre As Aventuras de Xisto, o meu primeiro amor, e o Senhor dos Anéis. Mas queria mesmo é ter uma resposta do tipo “a essência essencial do ser e as profundezas da alma”. A verdade é que não tenho. Hoje de manhã percebi que tem um conto do Veríssimo, o Luis Fernando, que me marcou mais que os outros. O conto em que ele tenta vender a alma ao diabo para poder abrir aquela capinha de plástico do CD. O que no momento já se tornou irrelevante, se o Diabo aceitou a barganha saiu ganhando. Se bem que essa habilidade ainda deve servir para abrir embalagem de chicletes, então não é totalmente inútil.

Hoje de manhã pensei no Veríssimo, e aí, no Diabo. O que eu queria mesmo, pela minha alma, é um monte de Avaliações cinco estrelas, nos meus livros na Amazon.

O diabo do Veríssimo (digo, o diabo criado pelo Veríssimo) iria ficar tão indignado quanto com ele, mas você pode ter tudo que o dinheiro pode comprar! Eu explicaria:

— Eu sei, mas o que o dinheiro não compra, são as avaliações, independentes, na Amazon.

A p@rr4 da Amazon deleta todas as avaliações dos meus parentes e conhecidos, e como o livro fica com poucas avaliações, pessoas que eu não conheço não são incentivadas a fazer avaliações… e vira uma bola de neve.

Acordei pensando em como resolver o problema e só achei uma solução:

— Lucifer!

The Brazilian Mess – how to explain it

Trying to explain what is going on in Brazil to my friends and colleagues here in Australia, has been a challenge and a bit of a long conversation. I am very far from an economic connoisseur, miles away from understanding politics, but I’m good at summarising situations, so here is how I see it…

  • Let’s start with the military coup of 1964 which lasted until the 80’s leaving Brazil with an eroded educational system (teachers and students were subversives) and an external public debt that would become evident only years later, but was about four times higher than it is now, and it was about half of Brazilian’s GDP.
  • Since then, Brazilian Politicians are trying to cope and recover from this hole.
  • Add a lot of corruption in all parties and throughout time with no consequence. With the free press, after the end of the dictatorship, a lot came to light but very few people felt the whip of punishment.
  • Then you have Collor, the president who resigned in 1992 not to be impeached, and was re-elected to the Senate in 2014. He is now part of the investigation for corruption, “Lava Jato” operation, that I will mention a bit more about. He was almost impeached because his main economical act was invading people’s savings accounts leaving everyone with the equivalent of AU$50 in the bank and taking whatever was extra to fix the economy. My grandfather, on my mother’s side, is counted as one of his victims, like him many didn’t recover of the emotional blow that measure landed them and died of health complications short after. Needless to say, he didn’t fix anything.
  • After some years Lula arrives at the presidency, in 2003, a worker with no education who had been fighting the noble fight for the poor for three elections unsuccessfully. He was to stay until 2011 in two four-year mandates. During his time he put a series of measures in place that were apparently fantastic but completely unsustainable. He “gave money away” to the people. He created supporting systems, I think they are similar to the Dole, that were given to various people who, no doubt about it, needed it:
  • Support for students
  • Support for unemployed people
  • Support for families with many children
  • Support for families of incarcerated people
  • Support for poor people to equip their housing commissioning houses
  • Support of students to study overseas

All these sound great, and to the receivers, it was great. The problem is that these same receivers were not generating value in the society to to refill the public coffers.

For a while these measures turned the economy and there was a sense of false prosperity. Salaries were raised in general, because people would prefer not to work and receive the Gov Support if the salary didn’t match at least what they would get if they didn’t work.

Brazilians are great in breaking payments in 10 instalments and overcommitting their income. There is a cultural element where my people tend to think they have to appear richer than they are, which makes for a lot of over-spending.

I believe that meanwhile, Lula, who was supposed to be for the people, became corrupt, he probably became tempted by the power, the money and the abundance he had never experienced before. His children became multi-millionaires in the span of ten years and their elevation is parallel with lobbying and political movements and benefits given to large corporations.

  • Dilma, the current president, is Lula’s protege, she managed her first mandate in the same spirit, in the wake of Lula’s policies. She was re-elected in 2014 but hasn’t been able to do much so far, because of all the corruption issues. I don’t see her as being as corrupt as Lula, I think she isn’t as smart, she seems to have a faint noble streak, but she is naive and frankly, I don’t find her smart at all.
  • In August 2013, the law that allows for reduction of sentences to convicted criminals for dubbing their fellow lawbreakers, was reviewed and signed by Dilma. That was something very important for what would come next, if she knew what she was doing!
  • Then came Operation Car Wash “Operação Lava Jato”, in March 2014, the investigation that caused all the mess started. Looking into the money laundering of one car wash, the first domino fell.  With the law I just mentioned above, one person caught started telling on the others. About 160 people have been put in jail so far, almost 3 Billion Reais have been recovered while about 22 Billion have been requested to be returned. Collor and Lula have been caught in this operation’s net and are being investigated.
  • Dilma, in an attempt to help Lula, offered him the Chief of Staff Ministry, to allow him to avoid preventive incarceration, and to allow him to be investigated by a higher level of justice, escaping the grasp of the Car Wash Operation; I believe that he would be able to manipulate the higher level judges and escape justice.
  • Lula hasn’t been allowed to get into this ministry so far, the justice system is fighting hard to avoid it. There is talk he is trying to run off to Spain.
  • This ministry and the release of some private conversations recorded between Lula and Dilma were the straw that broke the camel’s back, as I see it. They turned the public opinion, created the protests and made the impeachment process to progress.
  • This week, one instance of the impeachment process was voted and approved. In the next few weeks, the Senate should vote, if they approve it, Dilma will be removed from office temporarily, for 180 days, as the investigation moves forward.

With all that we also have the crazy mozzies, mysterious viruses, the new flu felling people by the bunch, the ecological disaster, the super polluted Guanabara Bay, falling bike paths, the infra-structure in Rio with its delayed projects AND we are 105 days from the Olympics…

PS.

I have to say that I’m still happy, because for the first time a lot of people are feeling the consequences of being corrupt, are being punished. I feel there is a sense of pride in being honest being recovered and although the short term from now should be dire, the long term has to be better than it has been.

PS2.

To help my writing, please buy and review my new book at Amazon. Find the book in the market you are registered at, search: Tania Crivellenti –  Sideways Reality” [at Amazon AU, US, BR]

Brazil – When the Pot Boils

I was born in Brazil, my Brazilian Brazil, as a song sings. I’ve decided to write about it today, this country where everything is happening. I feel a mix of complete unbelievability and a sense of hope, although I’m not sure about the Olympics at all.

Brazil is falling apart and at the same time creating the roots in which the country might get reconstructed. To my work colleagues, the protests of Sunday last, 13th March, look like big parties, and they probably were.

They were peaceful, there was dancing, I’m sure there was singing of political rants, booing the current president and the former president, both from the workers party; although most of these people on the streets, were the same who voted for them. They lost faith. The defence of the two presidents is to say that this is a scheming technique of the rich people and the opposition to burn them. It isn’t. What the protests are about: against corruption in all parties, about justice for all, rich and poor.

In 2013 there was a large scale protest, at the time I was disappointed because when I enquired what the protests were for, I saw each person was protesting for something they thought was worth it, there was no unified front. It was about the money spent for the construction of the stadiums for the Fifa World Cup, about the state of the health system, about the increase in the price of bus tickets, about the educational systems. These were all valid reasons, but without focus there is no strength.

Sunday, the story was completely different; it was about corruption and that brought record numbers, a protest as my generation has never seen. It filled my heart with happiness to see this movement, a pride I might not have the right to feel, since I’ve left Brazil 12 years ago to embrace the Australian ways. Because I felt like an alien in my Brazilian culture most of my life, more so when I became an adult and had to function inside the work force. I left, I found a place where the rules and cultural subtleties are closer to my heart.

Brazil released a big shout against Corruption! It was amazing to see, although there were different little points, they were about honesty, supporting the police, the federal courts, it was requesting Dilma’s impeachment (the current president) and crying for Lula’s arrest (the previous president).

The hope is that this movement will recover the pride in being honest. With low salaries that the investigators, the police, the lower legal echelons receive, the lack of resources, the poverty of the Brazilian government buildings and institutions, there isn’t much to incentivise them to keep being honest… but now, a million people here, a couple of hundred of thousands there, in love and pride, that might give them a mission bigger then themselves, anchored in something I thought was completely forgotten… patriotism.

All this chaos started with a single thread, a judge was given the investigation into a car wash which became the nick-name of the investigation (operação lava-jato). A new law was approved around that time that enabled prosecutors to offer reduction of sentence to condemned people who dubbed on others, if they had proof. That was the thread that pulled all others, they found a link between that and Petrobras, the petroleum state company, and then it never stopped.

In Brazil there is a high level of barely literate people, which makes very hard for them to understand white collar crimes, such as embezzlements and selling of flavours; but when they found that Lula had taken eleven trucks of goods from the governmental house, the Palacio do Planalto, and among them they found gifts of gold and jewels, presents from other countries to the Brazilian people (not the person, the President), the rugs from the house, priceless works of art from Aleijadinho and Portinari, THAT, they could understand, it was the lowest type of crime: thievery.

Ally to that were the ecological disaster in Mariana, which drowned a city and will have ecological consequences worldwide, and the Zica Virus or whatever is causing a spread of neurological diseases, added to the overspending in the construction for the Olympics and the result is that the pot boils.

And when it boils, it boils. It blew an amazing number of people, although I cannot be precise on how many, something between 3 million and 6 million people country-wide.

To every protest two or three head-counts were divulged, the police would publish a very low number, the organisers, a very large number and the researching institute of São Paulo gave us another even lower number, so we don’t really know anything. As always, and as part of Brazilian idiosyncrasies, finding the truth is often hard.

The numbers aren’t anywhere close; for example, for São Paulo’s protest, the organisers calculated 1 million people, the police said it was 500 thousand and DataFolha, the research institute, said 200 thousand. The only thing I can say for sure is that there were a lot of people.

Thank you all my friends and all Brazilians who made the effort, who left the house, who went to a place in green and yellow and shouted against corruption. To all who now feel pride in being honest, I feel this might be a change in the tide. If people can take this pride to their day-to-day lives, it will change the culture, change the country, change the future.

[Note, the text in Portuguese is completely different from this one, this is for everyone but Brazilians, I explain things here. The one in Portuguese is for Brazilians, another view of the situation.]

[Picture: http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/06/protests-brazil%5D

Brasil – Quando a Caldeira Explode

Ontem à noite entrei em estado de choque, de tristeza e alegria, assistindo e me inteirando dos protestos e acontecimentos do Brasil desde domingo.

Sou uma brasileira transformada australiana. Nasci no Brasil mas deixei-o há quase doze anos atrás. Saí porque sempre me senti um pouco alienígena no nosso país, com minhas idéias diferentes e a vontade de ler na hora do almoço várias vezes por semana, ao invés de jogar papo fora. Só não lia muito porque me sentia estranha.

E sentar na grama na hora do almoço, na empresa? Aquele gramadão bonito, macio, super bem cuidado, só para ver. Também, na minha imaturidade, não tinha coragem. Se fosse hoje

A outra idéia estranha é de que chefe tem que ser gente e tratar gente feito gente, não funcionário feito lixo. Que empresas têm responsabilidade com seus funcionários, mas que os funcionários também têm responsabilidade com suas empresas, entre muitas outras coisas.

Por isso, fui embora, emigrei para a Austrália, em busca de qualidade de vida e uma cultura mais próxima do meu alien interno. Achei.

Na verdade, ontem fiquei sabendo um pouco mais de tudo que gerou os protestos, as “tranqueiras” do Lula guardados no galpão, a extensão da operação lava-jato, as condenações, a escala da corrupção. Fiquei sabendo mais sobre o problema do Zica, o absurdo da Dilma oferecer al Lula um ministério, até um pouco sobre a lama de Mariana e assim vai.

De vez em sempre me reuno com dois outros brasileiros para assistir velhas séries e novelas brasileiras. Assistimos o Roque Santeiro, a Tieta, Decadência, Que Rei Sou Eu, estamos vendo Riacho Doce agora. Mas ontem ao invés de assistir nossa novela planejada, precisamos mergulhar no youtube e descobrir o que estava acontecendo.

Meu espanto foi tanto que achei que podia me jogar da sacada da casa da minha amiga que ia sair voando. Eu só podia estar sonhando. A gota d’água para mim foram o sumiço das obras de arte do Palácio do Planalto e — como não poderia deixar de ser para qualquer escritor — o mais penoso foi ler uma lista que dizia que o Lula tinha levado duzentos livros na mudança. Não consigo acreditar que os duzentos livros eram dele.

O Portinari, gente, o Portinari faz parte da história da minha família. Numa outra lista notou-se o desaparecimento de uma obra do Portinari, fico aqui com esperança de que isso seja uma mentira, ou que eles encontrem a obra no tal armazém que não é do Lula mas que guarda as “tranqueiras” dele. Que ofensa.

O sangue ferveu, o cérebro parou, o queixo caiu, possivelmente até babei.

Por outro lado, ver os protestos me encheu de felicidade, não só pelo movimento em si, o maior impacto para mim é no orgulho do brasileiro, no patriotismo, no apoio à polícia federal, ao poder judiciário. Deixou-se de lado a descrença de que alguma coisa pode ser feita. Vejo uma grande chance do brasileiro recuperar o orgulho e o conceito de honestidade.

O fato de que tanta gente foi condenada, está indo para a cadeia, que o ex-presidente foi obrigado a depor e pode ser preso, que existe uma saída, é muito encorajador. Estou cheia de esperança e alegria, pensando no impacto disso no dia-a-dia do brasileiro, que em um grande movimento passou a celebrar o que é certo.

Espero que o grito de milhões de brasileiros leve aos corações dos nossos mal pagos policiais e judiciários, um alimento que os mantenha na linha e que os que estejam fazendo ou pensando em fazer algo que prejudique os outros, se lembre que existem consequências. Esse eu acho que é o verdadeiro poder desses protestos, a semente que planta na idéia de cada um e especialmente das novas gerações: o fim da lei de Gerson.

[Nota: o texto em inglês é bem diferente desse em português, em inglês eu escrevi para o estrangeiro, em português para o brasileiro.]

[Crédito da imagem utilizada: http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/06/protests-brazil]

Inspiration Outside of Me

I have finished a Masters in Arts, Creative Writing, at UTS, in June 2015. At the time I didn’t feel the accomplishment, the excitement in finishing up, just a bit of relief. I loved the course most of the time, I loved almost all classes and felt inspired throughout. At the end I was feeling it was just a bit too much outside input into my writing and I was loosing myself.

When I completed the final assignment I was left with more questions than answers. I started the course to gain technique to write in English, but more specifically, the project I used throughout the course: my non-fiction, written like fiction, comedic, novel, about my friend who is a Brazilian, migrated Australian, who has been a belly dancer in Sydney, performing mostly in the middle Eastern Communities of the city.

As you can notice, it is a complicated project and I needed help to set it up. The inspiration and the stories are not a problem, how to link them, present them and frame them is my challenge.

I had hoped that by the end of the Masters I would have found this structure, but I found only the questions I need to answer in order to find this structure and a bit of a sense of being lost.

I gained a lot of technique and believe I am much better equipped now then before I started. I have a thicker skin and a knowledge of where to look for information too.

By the time the Graduation Ceremony arrived I was able to release the impressions of not getting as far as I wanted and had the most beautiful day  with my sister and my friend (the Muse, the Character).

The following day, it was Elizabeth Gilbert who made me realise why I felt and should feel happy and accomplished. We have TED Tuesdays at work and we watched Elizabeth’s talk that day.  She explained that a valid idea is to think of  divine inspiration as, well, divine, as is coming from outside you.

I remembered that when I was in classes no teacher would say: you chose the voice, the tone, the verbal tense, define the character and then you pray, or talk to your daemons, or to your genius, and ask for guidance. As it would be expected, we are taught to control, to wrestle with our internal intellectual gifts and bend the words into shape.

I realised that was the one thing I forgot during these studies, the thing I lost connection with, the part that lives outside of me: the sudden, potent, and magical inspiration that makes a text become funny with a few twists of words, or that make people love what you wrote even when it is imperfect.

When I heard Elizabeth talking about this part of the creative process that is not my own I was relieved of the responsibility to do it all alone, by myself, with my second language, happen. I was given the solution to all my problems and the certainty that it will come to me, and the book will be able to carry the immense fun that the stories are.

I have a super-power, an intuition capable of seeing through the veil of what is hidden to the naked eye. Sometimes I know things without an explanation and most times, when these things can be confirmed, they are as I predicted. I have an intuition about this book, I think it will be important.

The second thing the talk gave me was a confirmation of why I was feeling accomplished. Elizabeth explains that artists have one responsibility: keep doing what they love, keep sweating and showing up to their art. That is the only way your genius will find you. I also concluded that honing your technique and getting better and better at it will allow you to transmit the divine inspiration into shape. Imagine what would happen if Van Gogh was able to see the sunflowers in his mind but didn’t know how to paint. His genius would have gone somewhere else.

With these two thoughts — that an artist has to show up to her art and that technique allows you to make real your ethereal inspirations — I saw my new testamur as the proof of how much I am so committed to this art and that I am doing my part, I am showing up to my writing.

Inspiração Fora de Mim

Em Junho de 2015 eu terminei meu Mestrado em Artes, Escrita Criativa, pela Universidade de Tecnologia de Sydney. Naquele momento eu não senti uma sensação de realização muito grande nem fiquei muito alegre de estar terminando o curso, fiquei simplesmente um pouco aliviada. Durante a maior parte do curso eu adorei as aulas e me senti inspirada. No final, entretanto, eu estava sentindo como se tivesse recebido muita opinião alheia na minha escrita e eu havia me perdido um pouco.

Quando terminei o projeto final achei que acabei com mais perguntas do que respostas. Eu comecei o curso para melhorar minha técnica de escrever em inglês em geral, mas eu queria especialmente ser capaz de escrever esse projeto que foi o mesmo que usei para a maior parte dos trabalhos durante todo o mestrado: é um romance de vida real, escrito num estilo de ficção, com um tom de comédia, sobre a minha amiga que é brasileira, imigrada para a Austrália, e foi uma dançarina do ventre em Sydney, se apresentando principalmente nas comunidades de culturas do oriente médio da cidade.

Pode-se perceber que o projeto é complicado e eu senti que precisava de ajuda para prepara-lo. Nunca achei difícil ter inspiração ou encontrar as histórias, o difícil para mim era encontrar como apresenta-las, estrutura-las e organiza-las.

Eu imaginava que quando chegasse ao final do curso eu teria encontrado essa estrutura. Na verdade encontrei as perguntas que preciso responder para, ai sim, encontrar essa estrutura e, com isso, encontrei uma sensação de estar meio perdida.

Eu ganhei muita técnica e me sinto muito melhor equipada do que quando comecei. Também desenvolvi resistência a críticas e uma habilidade de saber onde procurar informação.

Quando chegou o dia da cerimônia de graduação eu fui capaz se me livrar da idéia de não ter chegado onde queria ter chegado e eu tive um dia magnífico com minha irmã e minha amiga (a Musa, a Personagem).

No dia seguinte, foi a Elizabeth Gilbert, quem me fez perceber que eu deveria sim me sentir feliz e realizada. Nós temos Terça TED no trabalho e assistimos a palestra da Elizabeth naquele dia. Ela explicou que é válido imaginar que a inspiração divina é exatamente isso: divina, e portanto vem de fora da gente.

Eu me lembro que durante as aulas nenhum professor me disse: você escolhe a voz, o tom, o tempo verbal, defini o personagem e aí começa a rezar, ou falar com os seus gênios, ou seus daemons, ou anjos e pede guiança. Como seria de se esperar, nós somos ensinados a controlar, a lutar com nosso intelecto e marretar as palavras até que tomem a forma que queremos.

Eu percebi que a coisa que eu havia esquecido essa uma coisa durante meus estudos, que eu havia perdido o contato com essa parte que mora fora de mim: a súbita e super potente, mágica inspiração que faz um texto virar engraçado com umas pequenas mudanças, ou que faz com que as pessoas amem o que você escreveu mesmo se imperfeito.

Quando ouvi a Elizabeth falando dessa parte do processo criativo que não é minha, fui aliviada da responsabilidade de fazer tudo sozinha, com essa linguagem que aprendi depois de adulta. Eu recebi a solução para todos os meus problemas e a certeza de que vou chegar lá e escreverei esse livro que será capaz de transmitir o quanto as histórias são divertidas.

Eu tenho um super-poder, uma intuição que é capaz de ver além do que está à vista. Algumas vezes eu sei de coisas sem explicação e na maioria das vezes, quando essas coisas podem ser confirmadas, elas são exatamente como eu predisse. Eu tenho uma intuição sobre esse livro, eu acho que ele vai ser importante.

A outra coisa que a TED me mostrou, foi porque eu passei a me sentir realizada. A Elizabeth explica que artistas têm uma responsabilidade: continuar fazendo o que amam, continuar suando e trabalhando em sua arte. Essa é a única maneira que o seu Gênio vai aparecer para você. Eu conclui também que continuar melhorando sua técnica é o que te permite transformar uma inspiração divina na obra de arte. Imagine o que aconteceria de Van Gogh pudesse ver os girassóis em sua mente mas não soubesse pintar. O Gênio dele iria para algum outro lugar.

Com esses dois pensamentos — que um artista tem que trabalhar na sua arte, e que a técnica é o que te permite transformar idéias em obras — é que eu fui capaz de ver o meu diploma como a prova de o quando estou comprometida com minha arte, que estou fazendo a minha parte, estou sempre presente e ativa em minha arte, a escrita.