May 2005

With the recent rejection of the Constitutional Treaty by France and all the discussions about it that followed I can’t resist the temptation to add my opinion.

I think it’s good that this treaty is now done with. The French have at last done something that makes sense, saving other nations the trouble of shooting it down. Now we only have to see what would come next.

Another sunny, warm day here and I’m really enjoying myself. It has been fourth day in a row with the weather that I like best – 30C/90F, blue sky with just few white clouds, sun shining even into the basement (ex-garage) where 4pi is located. I just confirmed, again, that these are the conditions in which my body functions best. And I have been able to sleep with the window in my bedroom half-open, for the first time this year which means I slept better and even though I slept only 6 hours I don’t feel sleepy now. I definitely love this weather and I did everything to stay outside as much as possible to enjoy it.

Especially so since the forecasts are gloomy – a cold front is approaching, with rain and temperatures as low as 10C/50F during the day. Pity. I have to concentrate more on my Spanish. Definitely.

It seems that my last attempt at fiction (previous post) didn’t generate much interest, but I’m going to write on as I have a clear vision now of what the main character would do next. The only thing that hasn’t surfaced yet is how to mix the brunette from his dream again into the story and end it. But I think it will just come to me.

I wrote the first part of a short story, about a city dweller’s unusual day. It’s the first time I put some fiction on-line. Comments more than welcome, even if you would like to tell me it’s crap. Click more to read the first chapter.


I’m going to write about a book that is important to me – “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

I clearly remember the first time I’ve read it. It was in the spring of 2001, which was to be full of emotions and events I was yet unaware of. Tipped by a friend about this book I bought it in a small bookshop I happened to walk by on the lunch break. I started reading just as I left the bookshop, I read while waking back to the office and all the rest of the day spent there (I can admit it now having long left that company). I finished the first reading the very same day, late at night, deeply moved.

I’ve read it many times since. Last time was two months ago. My Spanish friend sent me a book as a gift. When I unwrapped it I rejoiced – it was “El Alquimista” – the Spanish translation. I was really happy, because somehow reading “The Alchemist” back then in 2001 was one of the small influences, small tips that resulted in my interest in Spain and subsequent studying of Spanish. Even despite the fact that Coelho is Brazilian and writes in Portuguese I connected his prose with Spain in my mind. And I always wanted to read it in Spanish. And so it happened, thanks to Miriam, that this was exactly the first book I really read in Spanish.

This Spanish connection is not totally absurd because The Alchemist begins in Andalusia and tells a story of a young Andalusian shepherd on his journey of self discovery. Great lesson of this book is to follow your dreams whatever they are. If you allow your dreams to die you’ll never forget it and your soul would become incinerated, charred shadow, devoid of joy of life.

It makes no sense to recount the story told in The Alchemist here. It is rather simple and serves more as a glue to connect a series of parables in which Coelho transmits his outlook on the world and life. It’s a rather unusual point of view of a Christian, Catholic mystic. But Coelho had a rather unusual life that included psychiatric treatment (thank to his parents), indulgence in the occult, political imprisonment by the Brazilian junta, then spiritual growth and unparalleled success as a writer in the recent years.

Coelho was accused of being shallow and overrated, mainly by critics in his native Brazil. Maybe I’m too shallow but I think in his books he skillfully touches the depths of what really perplexes us all – what is our life and what to do with it. It is, indeed, an overexploited theme in literature – but does it make it less relevant and inspiring? Go and check for yourself.

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