Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for Em duas línguas

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Enfermeira Aura

Here is another of your poems Sally. When you first got cancer most people from Portugal, even (especially?) those who knew you well, were surprised that you didn't want to go back to your "terra". It was difficult for people to understand that your terra was the one you had created around you - a small space in Torre, near Tomar, Portugal.

One of the most beautiful things you inspired and challenged and brought out was the care and love of people in the village (Torre) that you had made your home. Every day people from the village, those with little or nothing, arrived with eggs, milk, bread and cakes to help your family survive. And with each basket of food, every person in the village had a story of suffering to share. And you listened carefully - to every one of their stories.

So rarely did you expose your own vulnerability - and when you did it was only to the doctors and nurses of Coimbra Hospital. It's a strange thing - how important the doctors and nurses were at making you feel at so safe and so cared about - and so at home.

Enfermeira Aura

In-firm-ayra Ow-ra
(Nurse Aura)

In a world of Marias and Fernandas
Her name already signals her difference

Quick and slight
With a quiet smile
Warming kind eyes

The first here to tell me
That it was all right
To cry

Perched on my bed,
Softly sharing
my pain and fear
Letting me glimpse
A life full of sacrifice
To giving

Caring for her sister
With cancer
Yet unfailingly
bringing her smile to work

Enfermeira Aura
An unsung celebration
Of the best of humanity

Sally Mavor
22nd January 2001
Coimbra Hosipital

Monday, March 21, 2005

Hey Sally ...

I was looking through my photos today and I found one you would have laughed about with me.
It was the poster we made at our first international conference. We did a "direita" (stayed up all night) to prepare a work of love, something that shouted loud the people we thought we were! So proud we were at how we managed to combine our ideas and our creativity for the conference - and in the poster mode!

Oh how we laughed a couple of years later at our ingenuity, our ridiculousness ... and our brazenness!

Now two years after you died I laugh and I cry at our ingenuity and wisdom. Mavor and Trayner in our papers. Mavor then Trayner for your son. Everything is really just one step leading on to the next. Nothing is ever a full stop.

As I contemplate the obviousness and paradoxes of life I also cry with joy and sadness as I bear witness to how we skipped and jumped, pirouetted and leaped, trotted and beat out warpaths, knelt and rolled in the grass, and splashed in glorious fountains glorying in all the myriads of dance at some really stuffy conferences in some of the cheapest hotels and with no institutional support - just in the hope of articulating our ideas!

There is nothing I do, Sally, that isn't for Joy.
There isn't a day I don't dance - physically or metaphorically.
My dear, dear friend.

A poem by Sally Mavor, Coimbra Hospital, 2001
- when the cancer got to your medula and you lost so much of your body, but none of your mind.

Dancing with Sally

Oh, my dear friends!

When you stride in the hills
Looking high over lake and forest

When you clamber down narrow paths
to reach that hidden beach

When you step out on the floor
with wild rhythm in your feet

When you stroll in shaded paths
with your arm around your loved one

When you dive in clear water
and kick the spray behind you

Then, dear friends,

Skip and jump
Wriggle your toes in the sand
Pirouette and leap
Trot or beat out a warpath
Kneel and roll in the grass.
Splash a glorious fountain
Glorying in all
the myriads of dance

Do it for Joy!
Do it for yourselves
And, yes, please do it for me,
so that I can dance through all your feet
sharing and laughing with dancing friends

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hans-Georg Gadamar

Three years ago today Hans-Georg Gadamar, a decisive figure in current philosophy died. He said things like "Nothing exists except through language" which, as well as his work on contemporary political and ethical issues, is just one of the reasons why his work (about hermeneutics) interests me.

Gadamar also talked about the "self-forgetfullness of language" - how it becomes invisible the more we live it. That's why operating em duas linguas is important. Not a day goes by when you don't feel "the living operation" that we are all involved in, but which becomes invisible in a monolingual existence. Speaking another language interrupts the naturalness and taken-for-granted assumptions of using only one.

(Here's another link to Gadamer's work - reminding me of how lucky some of us are to have such easy access to all this information.)

Who am I?

“Who are You?” said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I – I hardly know, Sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." “What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar, sternly. “Explain yourself!” “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.” (Lewis Carroll: 1960)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Some private sense-making ...

I've always been someone who starts by doing what feels right and then works out why I did it - rather than working out the right thing to do and then doing it. So I started a blog which felt important for my doctorate without knowing why or what I was doing! But today my epiphany began...

What is the point of my blog? Why is it part of me? Why is part of me who is doing a doctorate? Why isn't it like other people's doctorate blogs? Why is it part of me em duas línguas?

What I'm doing is a reflexive commentary of my own situatedness. And my situatedness is both part of my identity and part of me as researcher. It's also part of exploring the situatedeneness of my respondents. So my blog is both an interpretive space for extending my own understanding and it's a reflexive process that raises questions about me and about the power relations in my research process.

Now, I have a lot of difficulty saying that in Portuguese, not because of the language as in English/Portuguese - but because I haven't yet found an academic community I belong to in Portugal where i can use the discourse of interpretive/hermeneutic and critical theory paradigms rather than positivist/empiricist ones. So I can only say it in English because, in my mind, the community in which that "language" would be a legitimate part of my identity (rather than a language that framed me as an inglesa with manias) speaks English. But just because I say it in English doesn't mean that people who speak English will understand it, let alone relate to it.

In the meantime, that discourse belongs to only one of the multiple communities to which I feel accountable to - or in which I have an identity. For example, I also feel accountable to the respondents in my research and to local communities who may not speak that "language" - so I need to be able to find and use different languages and different discourses for the different communities in which I have an identity. But it's not just about language - it's about hearing, appreciating and dancing to the rhythms of different paradigms and epistemologies while also remaining committed to others. But what I feel I'm missing is a language and its sister state of being to be able to do precisely that.

And my blog is one of the ways in which I'm experimenting to try and find that language and that state of being. I've decided it's a bit like trying to find a synergy between promiscuity and betrothal!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


The music in the film "Mar adentro" sounded Celtic and it was intriguing to hear people speaking Galega (Galician) as it's so ... so Portuguese! Galega has a fascinating history as a bilingual language and one day with more time I must get more informed about it. As far as I know the Portuguese language originated in Galicia (an autonomous community in South-West Spain). It was brought south to Portugal in the fifteenth century when "the Moorish kingdoms" of Spain and Portugal was re-conquered by Christian rulers. ( remembering there are different interpretations of this time in history).

In fact that whole time of history and mixing of languages and culture (Celtic, Roman, Arab, Jewish .... ) in such a small area of the world is a fascinating one. So much to learn from ... not enough time!!

Mar adentro ...

This film by Alejandro Amenábar that won the oscar for best foreign film is just so good. Javier Bardem's performance as a man, who through his 25 years of tetraplegia fights - with humour and intelligence - for his personal right to choose euthenasia, is outstanding. All the acting is excellent, from his spotty adolescent nephew to his very realistic componese brother. The film is based on and dedicated to Ramon Sampedro, the man on whom the film is based.

Em nenhum língua

I'm not sure if I'm going into hibernation. The irony is that I can't find any language to express what I want to say.