possess around dispossession

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“Because what if instead of a story told in consecutive order, life is a cacophony of moments we never leave? What if the most traumatic or the most beautiful experiences we have trap us in a kind of feedback loop, where at least some part of our minds remains obsessed, even as our bodies move on?” –Before the Fall, Noah Hawley

I Feel the Dead
Sophia de Mello Breyner

I feel the dead in the cold of violets
And that great vagueness in the moon.

The earth is doomed to be a ghost,
She who rocks all death in herself.

I know I sing at the edge of silence,
I know I dance around suspension,
Possess around dispossession.

I know I pass around the mute dead
And hold within myself my own death.

But I have lost my being in so many beings,
Died my life so many times,
Kissed my ghosts so many times,
Known nothing of my acts so many times,
That death will be simply like going
From inside the house into the street.

Original

Sinto os mortos no frio das violetas
E nesse grande vago que há na lua.

A terra fatalmente é um fantasma,
ela que toda a morte em si embala.

Sei que canto à beira de um silêncio,
Sei que bailo em redor da suspensão,
E possuo em redor da impossessão.

Sei que passo em redor dos mortos mudos
E sei que trago em mim a minha morte.

Mas perdi o meu ser em tantos seres,
Tantas vezes morri a minha vida,
Tantas vezes beijei os meus fantasmas,
Tantas vezes não soube dos meus actos,
Que a morte será simples como ir
Do interior da casa para a rua.

Chocolate tears and suck pipes

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A native speaker of a language, unless s/he is interested in such things, rarely thinks about the construction of words in his/her own language.

When I recently started reading Swedish-language books, I was delighted to see that the word for “straw” (that you would put into a drink) is sugrör. Despite never knowing or seeing this word before (I’ve never been in a situation where I needed to ask for or was offered a straw), I knew immediately from context and from its component parts that it means “straw”. But what do its component parts mean? Suck pipe.

I mentioned this to a few Swedes, and they were amused because they had “never thought about it”. But leave it to me to recognize a suck pipe when I see it.

I also come across these kinds of interpretations and misinterpretations when I see subtitles or closed captioning. I saw a video of the online news-opinion program, Young Turks, when Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency. They were trying to explain that Macron’s wife’s family is wealthy because of chocolate. Not, as they opined, from ‘dirty money’ but rather by being oh-so-innocuous chocolatiers. The subtitles, though, read “chocolate tears”.

Yes, I suppose if the Young Turks had been interested in presenting the true history of cocoa plantations, we might have some chocolate tears to talk about. But they made it sound like the money comes from fairy dust and Disneyland-like joy because of course chocolate is sweet. Sounds foolish, naive and not at all worldly to act like chocolate is somehow so clean. Cocoa plantations: wouldn’t this wealth be soaked in ill-gotten gains, labor of an exploited colonial workforce and child labor, as well as the whole dark side of land-resource management. It’s not as pretty and sweet as it all sounds (or tastes).