The grace of metaphysics

Valter Hugo Mãe

  1. Art is a pure manifestation of metaphysics, an essential dimension that alludes to what is insinuated in the matter, but it is above all longing for spirit, some kind of simulation of the soul to give us the true size of existence and possible transcendence. I begin by noting this brief possibility because the “machine for stealing metaphysics” invented in my novel comes to mind, through which I meditate about that certain spirituality of those who are not believers, but who inevitably conceive how the essence of the deepest idea of life necessarily becomes a stronghold of the immaterial. “The machine of making Spaniards” is a study for the disappearance and it is by moderating the anguish that tries to accept that much of what we mean and do is aimed to the eternal (to the physical, present, current and even useful) except for ourselves. We are the perishable, ephemeral side of the idea of eternity. We are the raw matter of eternity and its fuel and waste. But it is in this narrative that endures and surpasses time, even if only for some time, that we read what can grant justice to the evidence of being alive and what can bring revelation to appease our drift and even offence due to no cure nor guarantee of wholeness or happiness. There is no possible way not to die and suffer until then.
  1. I wrote this novel as a bizarre response to my father’s death, which happened on January 9th, 2000, when he was almost 59 years old. I wanted to make up the rest of time and transcendence for him, which is that of taking a little longer in this narrative that precedes us and will survive us. And I wanted what we want from all artworks, that the book would make up a fantasy to accompany me, a sort of father made of pages and that would still speak, still have an address, still be an active equation, impossible to despise. Of course it worked. This novel, which does not tell my father’s life but imagines an older man like my father might have been, is Mr Jorge Lemos with a title on the cover, a body of paper that multiplies on demand.
  1. For an author, his own books are thought of as indistinguishable from the rest of reality. They are truly seasons of life. They behave as profound periods of meditation and growth, they correspond to an education and an expenditure of life that we come to identify with. They turn out to be all autobiographical, events from our most genuine biography that disregard the factual lie they can tell and give themselves away as a whole, another truth, which no longer can be a lie because it exists, it is summoned in the text. The reader is someone who seeks to observe that vast, I would say infinite, mental and emotional space that the book evokes, and he needs to meddle, confuse, with the author so that the reading is also possible, plausible, making his biography too. However, it is in the intrusion of another creation that the work finds its most extensive dimension, its most fearsome and appetizing effect at the same time. When the work is material for another work, unfolded by the sensibility of another creator, the author is placed before his own life and death. He is brought to the place where his effect operates and, in a way, surpasses it. This exhibition is, therefore, in some sense, a sign of my death.
  1. I saw a face drawn by Juan Domingues on a website and couldn’t believe the way the hair was three-dimensional, rising above the glass of the screen as if the light could actually be touched. It was the profile face of a young, beautiful woman, and there was some wetness effect, the wet hair passing in front of her eyes. It was a long time ago. I wrote, in the sentimental balance I proposed to do at the end of December, that that image of Juan Domingues was the one that most struck me that year. The work that most inscribed itself in my spirit, asking for an answer as if it were asking me something, even though I may never understand what. I remember thinking that the hair in Juan Domingues’ drawings could only be related to that of Salomé drawn by Master José Rodrigues.

Today, it is with profound wonder that I witness Juan Domingues’ giant vision from my novel. The same inexplicable capacity, the poeticism of the line, the emotiveness in the looks, Juan Domingues’ figures are all proof of humidity, there is almost a sweat in their skins so present, intense, made of what convinces us that they are real people. It’s pretty amazing how he does it. I see the height of the great masters of yesteryear, the timeless options, the rigour of forms, the fearless sincerity in human representation. My book is more than magnified by the opportunity to become visual, it is alive. It has come out of the word and is closer to the physical, to that longing, as I was saying at the beginning, of being present, material, being forever.

There is something calligraphic about the way Juan Domingues approaches the image. Drawing is a very assumed structure, we see it and sense it in the bones of all the pieces and this is an immediate relative of the same gesture that seeks the letter, the word. The mastery of drawing is the mastery of all forms as if it were the precise engineering perception of the world. It is much as one would wish the power of a sentence to reveal with all possible lucidity all that is hidden and to be, after all, an agent of the world. I feel we are searching for the same mystery.  Creating our poem but using the rigour available in our ideas. As if we armed ourselves with doubts to risk conquering even the slightest certainty. Even if only the certainty that it was all worthwhile.

Valter Hugo Mãe