The present is an animal that lives in my stomach
- What do you search for?
- Did you find him?
- Sometimes. Not today. Not recently. Never when I would search for him.
- Where did you find him?
- In calmness and in desperation.
- ESo he is in everything?
- No, only in extremes.
“Where is God?”, one asks. But to find him one must align oneself with time, reject arithmetic, celebrate the absurd. “Where is God?” There is no definitive answer. God does not have past or future; he has present, infinitely. Which is why one should ask, repeatedly ask: where is God now?
- Is God eternal?
- God is.
- And what form does he have?
- All of them.
- Like the universe?
- No, like the abyss.
- So, in essence, you search for nothingness.
- Yes, and also its opposite.
To find answers, first, one needs to find questions. Some are rhetoric. Others, absurd – do you search for nothingness? Yet, others make sense only as verbs – what is God’s form? To which one can reply: God is an abyss or an inside-out ocean. With luck, one can attain beauty, not deliverance. Some questions are useless – what is time? or what is life made of? It does not matter, as long as one keeps moving. And, there is, still, the impossible questions – who are you? or what are you looking for?
For each impossible question there is an infinity of possible answers. None of them will ever be definitive and, because they are all correct, they are all insufficient. In this lies, precisely, the impossibility of these questions. And also their challenge.
Yes, the challenge: to answer the same questions each day, each instant. Who am I and what am I searching for? Who am I and what am I searching for? Who am I and what am I searching for? Until one perceives: I am searching for what I am and I am my search. This perception is not, in any way, an answer. It is simply the understanding that there is only one relevant question. A question that can be posed in at least three forms: who am I?, what do I search for?, and where is God now?
- Your search is vain and absurd.
- Yes, but to what else can one dedicate a life?
There are men who put their time to useful tasks. Sweeping the floor, for example. There are men who live to sweep the floor. When one thinks about it carefully, this is an impossible task. Time lays dust on the floor which men insist on sweeping, again and again. Time is eternal, men are not. But one should not confuse impossibility with failure – and for that a bit of generosity is needed. Men do not fail nor does time succeed. It is not a dispute, just a lesson: the impossible exists because we are mortal. And because there is movement there is repetition.
Creative repetition, as it were – even nature seeks to entertain itself, have you seen sunsets and tsunamis? – but, it is still repetition. Each life is unique and, hence, equal to all others. There is only one tragedy being played out eternally and the pleasure is always the same: only one pleasure to be redistributed among us.
The universe repeats itself, dividing our existence in measurable time units: we live in days, years, millenia and seconds. Milliseconds of seconds, even. And extremes are precisely what one should pay attention to: eternity is time’s greatest span. Its indivisible unity, the present. Again, when one thinks carefully, one notices that the present and eternity are the same thing. These – and only these – are the forms of time which in fact exist. The rest is arithmetic.
Men who perform useful and impossible tasks wake up in the morning and sleep at night. Between one thing and another, they work, love and for one hour they interrupt love and work to eat lunch. These men are made of bodies, which is why they eat. They are made of soul, which is why they love. If they work is because they believe in bills and in the end of the month. Therefore, in arithmetic. And arithmetic can easily be proven: the Sun is reborn every 24 hours and autumn always falls in the same months of the year. But it is difficult to prove eternity and, consequently, the present.
- Your words do not make any sense. How can, eternity and the present, be the same thing?
- It is quite simple and even obvious. Eternity does not contain the sum of all present instances; rather, it is the present that contains eternity. Awareness of the past is made of memory and ruins. Additionally: everything we see is the reinterpretation of what we have already seen. And there is no future except when it becomes present – and, thus, it too will be one more version of the past.
- Your logic is limited. Eternity is not life for just one person or even humanity, but also for the one who has not survived as ruin or memory. It contains oblivion and future potentials. It is beyond human consciousness. Beyond, even, the sum of all souls.
Life comes before love, work and lunch time. Utility is insufficient to fill a day, but banality is not enough to complete it. Human existence is replete with inhumane tasks: we must reconcile with time – dividing it in hours and minutes is but a vain attempt to tame it – and search for God.
To wake up every morning seems natural, but it is an almost barbaric act. Confronting life: day after day and night after night, again and again. It is not easy to be in the world therefore we sleep: so that our existence can become tolerable, so that we can return to the battle field rested. So that we can dream, until the alarm clock goes off.
There is a lot of talk about pleasure, but little or nothing is known about it. For instance, what sort of pleasure is felt by a man who dedicates his life to sweeping floors? This man makes love and eats. These are pleasurable activities, someone might say. But one has to be careful not to confuse pleasure with satisfaction. This man’s lovemaking or the meals he enjoys will luckly satisfy him. Pleasure, however, is always found on the other side of the abyss.
Even those who do not have command over the rules of arithmetic have certainly already noticed that the sun sets at night and is reborn before the break of dawn. But here is the danger: the certainty about tomorrow. Yes, danger, because consciousness about the future being inevitable is also and consequently consciousness about the logical unfolding of our actions. And this is why one fears the abyss.
- And what is the abyss?
- It is the courage to confront it. It is the present, only that and infinitely that.
- The present does not exist. Only the past, again and again. There is memory and there is movement. Their sum is what we call the present.
- Yes. But there is also the stomach and inside of it there is an animal. The present is an animal that lives in my stomach.
Luiza Fagá, 2013
Translation by Rosangela Maria Vieira
Editing by Dorianne Laux