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sexta-feira, 19 de outubro de 2007

The third realm

A primeira vez que ouvi falar de Steven Millhauser foi a propósito do filme The Illusionist, de Neil Burger, que se baseia no conto «Eisenheim the Illusionist», incluído em The Barnum Museum, volume que reúne alguns contos excelentes e outros que não acrescentam nada ao mundo.

Entre os contos excelentes está «The Invention of Robert Herendeen», que supostamente se inspira na experiência de vida do próprio Millhauser entre tentativas de doutoramento.
O protagonista já escreveu uma tese (intitulada «The Role of Metaphor in the Philosophy of Locke») e os pais concordam que ele fique a viver um ano no sótão da casa para poder decidir se vai seguir Direito ou Gestão. Este ano vai-se prolongando para além dos doze meses. Em vez de se ocupar com questões práticas, Robert Herendeen passa o tempo a desenvolver vários projectos literários ambiciosos:
«I began to invent a series of artists’ lives that I planned to assemble in a book of fictional biographies, but one night I noticed that all of them were failed artists and I abruptly abandoned the plan.»
«I began reading long books, which fired my ambition without leading to anything in particular: The Anatomy of Melancholy, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the complete letters of Byron in twelve volumes.»
«I began borrowing books on architecture from the library and invented in vivid detail gorgeous villas, gardens, palaces, country estates, amusement parks.»
«On December 31 I wrote a thirty-four page suicide note that I destroyed on January 1.»

Sentindo-se um artista falhado, reflecte sobre o tema, distinguindo dois tipos de esterilidade artística.
O primeiro caso aplica-se a artistas verdadeiramente impotentes:
«In one type, the imagination remains a horrible blank, its mechanism simply refuses to create images, or else produces hopelessly banal or dead ones, greenish little corpses with waxen features. Would-be artists suffering from this form of sterility can do nothing but admit defeat, turning their attention to less exacting pursuits or perhaps shooting themselves between the eyes, as the case may be.».
O segundo, no entanto, diz respeito a artistas dotados de potencial para superar a condição do fracasso mas que ainda não encontraram a forma adequada para concretizar o seu potencial criativo:
«In the second type, the imagination remains strong, perhaps too strong, and the sufferer’s torment consists in his inability to embody his meticulous imaginings in a medium. This type, though superficially resembling the first, since both issue in nothingness, is nevertheless far more hopeful, for its cure depends on the discovery and mastery of a medium.».

É esta reflexão que o faz pensar encontrar uma solução viável para a expressão do seu talento:
«I decided to invent a human being by means of the full and rigorous application of my powers of imagination. Instead of resorting to words, which merely obscured and distorted the crystalline clarity of my inner vision, I would employ the stuff of imagination itself. That is to say, I would mentally mold a being whose existence would be sustained by the detail and energy of my relentless dreaming. My ambition was to create not an actual human being or a mere work of art but rather a being who existed in a realm parallel to the other two – a third realm, obedient to the laws of physical bodies but utterly discarnate
Isto é só o início da história.

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