Arquivo para a ‘Libraries’ Categoria

Painless society and the midnight library

19 Jul

Byung-Chul Han wrote the Palliative Society, not only about the Pandemic, but also and above all about the search for a world without pain, we are even capable of suffering and great efforts due to narcissism and personal aesthetics, what Peter Sloterdijk called of “the exercise society”, but a despiritualized asceticism.

The novel by English writer Matt Haig: The Midnight Library, tells of a 35-year-old woman full of talents and few achievements, regretting her bad choices in life, she wonders if she could have lived differently, after losing her job and his cat is run over, he decides to take his own life, in the stage between life and death he finds the Midnight Library (picture illustration brazilian cover), with the possibilities of lives he could have lived.

With the help of an old friend, she decides to move to Australia and renew old relationships, discovering that it is possible to review life and undo something that we regret, to have hope.

Among Nora’s initial dramas, I highlight the part where she says: “I get a headache looking at… cell phones”, it’s not just her, it’s a lot of people, this takes away the capacity for reflection and silence that Byung-Chul Han claims, the one that can make us reflect on life and our actions.

Palliative society, according to Byung-Chul Han, has nothing to do with palliative medicine, explains the Korean-German philosopher: “Thus, every critique of society has to carry out a hermeneutics of pain. If pain is left solely to the burden of medicine, we miss its character as a sign” (Han, 2011).

It reminds me of a saying by Ernest Jünger: “Tell me your relationship with pain, and I will tell you who you are!”, so every social or social suffering must precede and precede moments of reflection, or as Byung-Chul likes it, a “Contemplative Life ” another essay by the author.

“The survival society completely loses the meaning of the good life. Enjoyment is also sacrificed to health elevated to an end in itself” (Han, 2021, p. 34), that is, the very absence of a “hermeneutic” of pain can lead to the end of the meaning of life.

It also clarifies Agamben’s meaning of homo sacer and via nude: “Without resistance we subject ourselves to the state of exception that reduces life to bare life” (Han, 2021, p. 34).

Anguish, loneliness and depression do not only have social causes, but what we feed our souls on, in the biblical passage that the prophet Isaiah goes to visit Ezekiel who is stricken with a deadly disease (Is 1,1-6) after the supplications of Hezekah through the word of Isaiah God frees him not only from the disease, giving him another 15 years of life, but also “I will free you from the hands of King Assyria, together with this city, which I place under my protection” ( Is 1:6).

Of course, the social solution is not magical, but we face it better if our pain is understood.


Haig, M. (2020) A Biblioteca da meia-noite (The midnight library). Translation: Adriana Fidalgo, Brazil, RJ: Editora Record, 2020.

Han, Byung-Chul. (2021) A sociedade paliativa: a dor hoje (The palliative society: pain today). Trans. Lucas Machado. Brazil: Rj, Petrópolis: Vozes.


Affection and empathy heal wounds

13 Mar

Alberto Manguel is an Argentine writer well known in university circles, both due to his relationship with Jorge Luis Borges, whom he met as a teenager and read books to him, as well as as the author of several anthologies and novels, including a book that I highlight as mandatory is A history of reading, in the original A History of Reading (1996).

A man of the world, in 1971 he lived in Paris and London, in 1972 he returned to Argentina but as foreign editor of the Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci, in 1976 he moved to Tahiti, in 1982, Alberto moved to Toronto, Canada, where he lived until 2000.

He didn’t stop there, he moved to the Poitou-Charentes region, in France, where he bought and renovated a medieval monastery with his current partner Craig Stephenson, one of the renovations carried out was to accommodate his library of 40 thousand books.

In 2020 he donated the entire library to the future Center for the Study of the History of Reading (CEHL), and started living in Lisbon and is a columnist for the Canadian magazine Geist.

One of his famous phrases is “the banal belief that time heals wounds is a mistake: we get used to them, which is not the same thing”, but his phrase about reading seems to be a strong influence of Borges for whom the library was a paradise, it is about reading:

“The love of reading is something that can be learned but not taught.

In the same way that no one can force us to fall in love, no one can force us to love a book.

These are things that occur for mysterious reasons, but I am convinced that there is a book that awaits each of us.

Somewhere in the library there is a page that was written just for us.”

The phrase is also his: “Reading is always an act of power. And it is one of the reasons why the reader is feared in almost all societies”, there are others of course, but for this I invite my reader to read: “A history of reading”.

Manguel, A. (1996) History of Reading. New York : Viking.


Testimonies and humanism

09 Aug

True humanism is what allows the evolution of the civilizing process, preserving what is essential that every man has, which is his Being, this goes beyond the conditions of economic, social and political survival, he must include the Other and give this testimony.

Testimonies range from cases in which someone needs information and turns to someone or some epistemic means (organized knowledge) to new scientific reports that reveal the most intricate mysteries of life and the universe.

Epistemologists agree on the importance of testimony as a source of justification, along with perception (cognitive and beyond), memory (all means of information and dissemination) and reasoning (beyond the logical, physical and metaphysical), The divergence lies in how falsely justified testimonial beliefs can arise from justified beliefs.

This is due to the fact that not only beliefs considered in the religious aspect, but also them, but the fact that it is possible that testimonial beliefs involving perception, memory and cognition (my addition) are reliable from previously justified beliefs, this is the current called reductionist, because regardless of the testimony, it is already justified.

Anti-reductionists argue that the justification of testimonial beliefs is straightforward: we are justified in believing something simply because someone testifies to something even though there are no reasons not to do so, there are different tentative responses to this debate.

Outside of this epistemic debate, we must think that we live in a time when it is difficult to think and organize information in order to reach the testimony as a source of truth, one can defend peace even by making war, one can defend democracy by limiting the civil rights and divergent ideas, justice can be defined by changing the rules of law to give rise to injustice, one can proclaim a belief even while limiting oneself to a partial practice.

Thus, what is at stake is not the testimony of beliefs, but often their own denial, and it can be a matter not just of bad faith or ill will, but of difficulty in cognition, which is why I made this addition to perception and memory, where the problem is the source of information.

A true humanism must presuppose testimony, otherwise we do not have a reliable reference for our arguments, dialogues and overcoming disagreements.

We can only test our way of life if we live up to what we witness.


Leonard, Nick, “Epistemological Problems of Testimony”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2023 Edition), Edward N. Zalta & Uri Nodelman (eds.), URL = , 2021.


Hearts that contemplate, love

28 Apr

Despite writing romantic novels in the sentimental romantic sense, the first look I looked at Nicholas Sparks, who is very successful with the American public, with translations of his books in more than 50 languages, the first contact was due to interest in the subject.

Rescue, published in 2000 ( in Brazil Corações em Silêncio, published in 2016 by Asa Editor), tells the story of Taylor McAden, a volunteer firefighter who, in his personal life, despite intense loves, are short-lived and does not like to take risks.

In an unusual situation he needs to help find a boy when Denise Holton’s car goes off track, Taylor saves her and from there another quick relationship is born, but another terrible situation occurs, after recovering his senses he asks for his son who has learning difficulties and I was in the car with her.

A search begins and Taylor is faced with a situation that he really has to love.

There is no way to do contemplation or meditation without silence, not only of the environment but also of the soul, of our established values and preconceptions.

A search begins and Nicholas is faced with a situation that he really has to love.

There is no way to do contemplation or meditation without silence, not only of the environment but also of the soul, of our established values and preconceptions.

Silence, meditation, contemplation are often caused by unexpected situations more of pain than of love, but also of love, in these situations we have to make some courageous decision in the face of life, commitments and the relationship with the Other.

The silence and the discovery of the true value of love led him to an action beyond what could justify Taylor as his “job”, even if it was voluntary work.

The biblical passage that can inspire this meditation and contemplation is the one that the disciples who were going to the village of Emmaus and “listened” to Jesus, who only later will they understand that he was the teacher and ask Him (Lc 24,29): “Stay with us, for the night is coming; the day is nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.”

The night is symbolic in the sense of dark and difficult moments in our lives, which require meditation, silence in order to listen to “that voice” of wisdom and common sense.

Sparks, Nicholas. The Rescue. New York: Warner, 2000. (versão brasileira Hearts in Silence, Editora Asa, 2016).  


Coldness: from essence to appearance

18 Apr

Empathy, patience, true love and true feelings seem distant, bodies adorned, made up and tattooed, minds distant and cold, empty and lacking in inspired ideas.

I read in the book “The book thief” (2005): “perhaps this is a fair punishment for those who do not have a heart: only realizing this when you can no longer go back”, is a harsh sentence, but it was important to analyze my social, personal and friendship context.

My inspiration to read, write and search within institutions, environments and social media for something intelligent, inspired and sweet, productive where I can find different paths from what I see and feel around me, made me understand and admire Markus Zusak’s book, at least unless I remember the 2013 edition (year of film), she was looking for a refuge, an escape from the contextual situation.

I wonder if this situation about the tension of a possible large-scale war is different, I see a lot of hypocrisy and manipulation in the air, while innocent people die in a stupid war, others prepare for an even bigger confrontation that slowly spreads across the globe.

I remember a biblical passage (Thessalonians 1,5:3) when they say: “There is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them, like birth pangs on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape”, but for those in a hurry I remember that it is written that this will not mean the end.

Sincere efforts for peace are lacking, armed spirits cannot promote any peace, they want allies for their temporal power, a timeless message is lacking, beyond immediate interests.

This is how hearts walk, and schools and the everyday life of the simplest and most fleeting life have already arrived, I saw a housewife from a small town excited in the supermarket speaking against that politician who ruined everything and a child who cried over a political situation that I didn’t quite understand.

You can’t put out a fire with gasoline, says popular wisdom, but poetry is no longer in the air, there are no songs that speak of pure love, only immediate interests of an erotic drive, in a society that actually lives “The agony of Eros”, a profound book by Byung Chul Han.

It is not a certain popular singer who speaks against teaching and good education, society echoes these hymns and there is almost no way to succeed without emotional and passionate appeals out of tune.

The dismantling of the human vision as Being and its transformation into the utilitarian vision of Having had a historical origin in Western thought and now penetrates and tries to destroy its meaning.

Zusak, Markus. (2005) The book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Leaked documents and rhetoric of tension

10 Apr

A leaked document that would contain alleged US secret information about the war between Ukraine and Russia may contain part of the information true and some false, according to US military sources, the assessment of the death toll in the war in Ukraine would be false.

Newspapers like The New York Times, on the other hand, assess that it is an effort by Moscow to provoke more disinformation than news already known as the anticipated deliveries of weapons, as well as the formation of troops and battalions according to war strategies, however this already shows that there are some gaps in US intelligence in the effort to support Ukraine.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, “We are aware of the reports of social media posts, and the department is looking into the matter.”

The US Department of Justice opened investigations into these disclosures, which also included information from important allies such as Israel, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

American rhetoric and Western leaders continue to assert that Russia has committed war crimes, including the “deportation” of Ukrainian children to Russia, condemned by the Hague court, while Russian rhetoric continues to be one of insecurity at its borders.

What the documents reveal, although without precise data, is a probable Ukrainian offensive next month, Finland’s official entry into NATO creates another frontier of conflict and some Russian response is also expected there.

In terms of peace, the Brazilian proposal to cede Crimea, which was already Russian territory before the war, in exchange for the resumption of territories occupied in the current war, was not accepted by Ukraine.

So both Russia and Ukraine seem to be taking the war to the limits of attrition, the death of countless soldiers and the economic consequences that have begun to appear in the world economy.

China has hit back at rhetoric that it is not making enough effort for peace, saying the “West are not in a position to dictate what we should do”, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told Izvestia.

The hope that negotiations can move forward from countries outside the conflict remains.



The gap between rich and poor

23 Sep

The most varied studies, we commented on some in this week’s posts, point to a practically stable separation between rich and poor when not growing in some countries, this model can never guarantee sustainable social human development, wars and pandemics increase this gap even more.

The most serious problem that is extreme poverty, we have already analyzed and published in February this year an analysis of global poverty, and also, in another post, the social problem after covid 19.

The sustainability of human economic and social development depends not only on increasing wealth and social production, it is necessary to find a balance where both social mobility of classes and ethnic mobility provide sustainability and overcome inequalities.

The problem of sustainability is not secondary, many models distribute wealth but impoverish the country as a whole, this is because the investment aspects and safer strategies of economic models are only thought of around income distribution, the opposite where there is only an increase without distribution is less sustainable.

For this model, the biblical parable of Lazarus and the Rich man, the poor man who lived on the margins and when the rich see himself condemned, here the parable is valid both personally and socially, asks that he be allowed to warn his relatives of this risk, but says the biblical prophets already said and you didn’t listen, how many people and political actions have already denounced the serious social gap.

For those who don’t know, the biblical parable says (Lk 16:19-24): “At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees: 19 “There was a rich man, who dressed in fine and elegant clothes and held splendid parties every day. A poor man named Lazarus, full of wounds, was on the ground, at the rich man’s door. He wanted to satisfy his hunger with the leftovers that fell from the rich man’s table. And besides, the dogs came to lick their wounds. When the poor man died, the angels took him to Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In the region of the dead, in the midst of torments, the rich man lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham from afar, with Lazarus by his side. Then he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me! Tell Lazarus to wet the tip of his finger to cool my tongue, because I suffer a lot in these flames”. 

The rich man also asked to warn the living relatives, and he was reminded that they had (and have) the prophets.


Libraries and Wars

31 Aug

In the 1950s, shortly after the Second World War, the Brazilian documentation magazine translated and published an article by Carl Hastings Milan on the Wars and the loss of documents and libraries.

He had been director of the Birmingham Public Library, where he opened the first branch of services for African American authors and readers, the article is available online and shows a face of the war for libraries in reference to the previous post we made on this blog.

The transcriptions into Portuguese were made by Sylvio do Valle Amaral and the original article follows the war in September 1944, published in The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science in Philadelphia.

The article begins by indicating the interruption and discontinuity of journals and publications during wartime, in addition to the material loss and lack of exchange of many documents.

The author emphasizes this loss where: “London publishers and booksellers lost millions of volumes in 1940-41. Several famous British scholarly libraries, and dozens of public ones, were damaged or destroyed. Several European countries, Russia, China, in addition to the Philippines, have suffered or are now experiencing a similar fate, but the saddest is yet to come” (MILAN, 1950, p. 50).

In advance many works were taken or hidden from German libraries, but the destruction and looting represent a cultural attack according to the “infamous” author who was credited to Hitler, it is important to look at this for history so that it does not repeat itself now.

Among the author’s denunciations is that also in the defeat: “Newspapers recently reported the burning of books in Naples, before the withdrawal of the Nazi army” (idem, p. 50), and thus a part of history is erased, regardless of of what those documents represent, they are an important cultural testimony of a time, which, because it is outdated, is subject to criticism, but there is no right to erase it, they are cultural documents.

It reestablishes the role of libraries, now also in crisis due to a distorted view of digital technology that we also post here, but the author says for that time: “Basic to the reestablishment of intellectual activity throughout the universe, is the reorganization of libraries” and ignoring this is a crime against the cultural preservation and memory of the people.

After emphasizing cooperation and support for libraries in Latin America and elsewhere, countries discuss the training of librarians:

“Despite the common recognition, in the United States and abroad, of the imperfections of our methods in preparing young men and women for library work, a surprisingly large number of students from abroad come to this country at normal times to obtain what schools of this specialty can offer” (MILAN, 1950, p. 53)

Milan, C. H. As bibliotecas, os intelectuais e a Guerra, trad. Sylvio do Valle Amaral. Rio de Janeiro:  REVISTA  DO  SERVIÇO  PUBLICO, AGOSTO  DE 1950 (original in 1944).



History, the great clearing and parousia

03 Dec

Christmas is near and the birth of Jesus is a historical fact because the Census ordered by the emperor of Rome Caesar Augustus, regarding the date there is controversy for it would be between 4-5 BC, when Quininus was Governor of Syria as described in the Bible (Lc 2.2), but it is certain that the census was carried out and this was precisely the reason why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, where the prophecy said that from there the savior would be born, and thus he “was numbered among men”.

History is also punctuated by divine interventions, in the decadence of Rome the monasteries were born, where the culinary culture, the first guilds and offices and also an earlier stage of printed writing is carried out, through the copyists, the first schools and later the first universities, with a strong theological influence as it could not be otherwise, but this is all history, also in the renaissance art and culture had a strong influence (theological).

We enter modernity, the work that we read punctually in this week’s posts “all in the same boat” by Sloterdijk, mentions an important fact, in addition to citing the classic work of the Decamerão by Boccaccio as “small community in the midst of the big disaster” ( Sloterdijk, 1999, p. 75), makes an analysis of the Black Death (which happened in the 130’s) and which devastated Europe with more than 100 million people dead when the population was much smaller than today, and its political influence.

In a footnote he cites the work of Henrik Siewierki (translated by Estação Liberdade in 2001) “A mass for the city of Arras” where he analyzes the psychological and political consequences of the plague, also the psychologist Franz Renggli, in his book Self-destruction by abandonment , developed the hypothesis of the influence on modernity of the plague, and also of the degradation of the mother-child relationship that would have caused a kind of immunological, collective and psychosomatic weakness that favored the virus of that plague.

All this analysis is interesting in the midst of the Pandemic’s return to Europe, while it is undoubtedly a scourge, it can fuel a new clearing on our community, that is, the idea of ​​a mutual and solidary defense in view of a catastrophe even greater than the one we’ve already encountered.

All this analysis is interesting in the midst of the Pandemic’s return to Europe, while it is undoubtedly a scourge, it can fuel a new clearing on our coimmunity (category of Sloterdijk), that is, the idea of ​​a mutual and solidary defense in view of a catastrophe even greater than we have already encountered.

It serves to “make the paths smooth”, as the biblical reading says when John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, announced in the desert using the words of the prophet Isaiah: “this is the voice of the one who cries out in the desert: ‘prepare the way of the Lord , make your paths straight’” (Lk 3,4) and it seems favorable to our time of scourge and desert.

It is important to remember that the first two weeks of Christmas celebrate not the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem, but the Parusia, that is, the preparation for his second coming.



Falling, but the pandemic is not over

25 Oct

We mentioned last week the concern about evolving cases in some countries such as Russia and England, where a variant of the virus is being studied with concern, also the poorest countries have received fewer vaccines than promised by donation, and we already understand that Pandemic is global, that is, there is an influence of less vaccinated regions in others that maintain a high level of immunity, policies for future pandemics already take these factors into account.

Some countries continue with a high level of deaths, despite vaccination, in the US around 1700 daily deaths in the last week, in the rest of the world it is falling, but with the presence of deaths, in the graph above with deaths registered on the 23/ 10 (Saturday) in absolute number of deaths, Brazil, followed by India, Mexico and then Russia.

The major concern of WHO is with respect to promises of vaccine donations to the poorest countries that are not being fulfilled. the news is not from this blog, but from the WHO itself, as it has positioned itself against the third dose, as according to The People’s Vaccine report made on the BBC, an alliance of a charity institution reported that only one in seven doses of vaccines promised by companies and rich countries, in fact reached the poorest nations.

In the report, in the interview with Bruce Aylward he stated: “Do we really need to step up or do you know what’s going to happen? This pandemic will last another year than it needs to,” he warned, and this is due to the fact that even with isolation measures we are always connected, and any communication (not only of people, but of products and any biological material such as fruits and food) can be transmitter.

In Brazil, the number of vaccine doses is coming, a boost in the vaccination campaign against Covid 19, a batch of 1.7 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arrived on Friday (10/22) and other equal amounts had already arrived, totaling almost 5 millions of vaccines.

The inputs for AstraZeneca were also received by FioCruz (Brazil), which produces the vaccine in the country, the landing of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) arrived for the production of 5.6 million doses with arrival scheduled for 5:50 am on Sunday morning (25/10).

Vaccination in the first dose reaches close to 153 million doses, while the second dose (or single dose) reached just over 109 million vaccinated, the moving average of deaths is just above 300 daily deaths, with a downward trend we can assume that we will be below 100 daily deaths in early December.