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

Monday, June 27, 2005

my bio

Today I wrote a brief biography for the Blogher conference taking place in Santa Clara, California on July 30th. I'm part of a session on "When globalisation is good for women". I had real difficulty in writing this bio. The language and style of the conference is very upbeat and positive and everything I wrote seemed stuffy or boring. Every participant's blog I check out is full of wonderful graphics, lots of links and ... well ... racey and advanced.

My little slow moving corner of the world, where things emerge in their own time, seems a galaxy away from the bubble of activity going on in the blogher sphere.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I would like to have taken my son to a meeting in Geneva I've just come back from. I wanted him to feel how it is in a situation where people move between languages and where everyone speaks at least two and understand more. Conversations flow through languages, with never less than two languages being spoken at any one time. With at least two languages in operation there is a whole other level of sensitivity, listening and sense-making going on, which you don't normally see in a multi-lingual group all using one language, let alone a mono-lingual group.

In my team of eight people, we were working in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English. Around the table at the meeting were people from Belgium, France, Argentina and Portugal. Some people spoke in Spanish, others in Portuguese - although a number of concepts could only be expressed in French or English.

Completely bi-lingual, Nuri feels self-conscious about speaking English in front of his Portuguese friends and uncomfortable about having to translate to Portuguese for English visitors. He doesn't acknowledge that he speaks French, but fluently takes over in France when he gets tired or embarrassed of me struggling through some interaction. He doesn't like feeling unusual because of his language skills and he's also intolerant of people (including himself) making mistakes. So I wanted him to be in Geneva where he would have been normal in terms of operating in different languages and where he might also have understood how language mistakes are the least of your worries when your aim is to communicate!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

To my neighbour, guardian of Portuguese poetry

Whenever I begin a search for poetry, sooner or later google brings me to the page "As Tormentas". Nothing strange about that except that the photo is the view from outside my appartment block. Apart from his name we know nothing of the creator of the page, guardian of Portuguese poetry, and someone who is concerned about the Arrábida - as am I in my other blog.

As I engage in dog-talk with neighbours when walking my dog, or as I nod at my neighbour in the lift, or as I buy my bread in the café in the morning, I am sometimes tempted to ask: "Excuse me, could you be the person who is keeping me nourished in the best of Portuguese poetry?"

Sensual, strong and gracious

Two of my favourite Portuguese artists died on the same day this week.

Álvaro Cunhal, who did this drawing, was a national hero after the dictatorship and also long-time leader of the Communist Party. His drawings are not normally what he is remembered for, but I love his interpretations of the strong, corageous and gracious women in the struggle against the military regime.

Eugénio de Andrade also died on Monday. He was a simple poet of sensual, pagan works which resonate deep inside me. Here is one of them, beautifully translated by Alexis Leviti.

Corpo Habitado (Inhabited Body)
by Eugénio de Andrade, translated by Alexis Leviti

Body on a horizon of water,
body open
to the slow intoxication of fingers,
body defended
by the splendour of apples,
surrendered hill by hill,
body lovingly made moist
by the tongue’s pliant sun.

Body with the taste of cropped grass
in a secret garden,
body where I am at home,
body where I lie down
to suck up silence,
to hear
the murmur of blades of grain,
to breathe
the deep dark sweetness of the bramble bush.

Body of a thousand mouths,
all tawny with joy,
all ready to sip,
ready to bite till a scream
bursts from the bowels
and mounts to the towers
and pleads for a dagger.
Body for surrendering to tears.
Body ripe for death.

Body for imbibing to the end –
my ocean, brief
and white,
my secret vessel,
my propitious wind,
my errant, unknown,
endless navigation.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

em duas linguas - metaphorically speaking

Sometimes people ask why I don't write more em duas línguas. It occurs to me that em duas línguas is a metaphor for playing with identities in different communities which are represented by different languages. So blogging em duas línguas isn't only restricted to the physical act of writing in two languages.

Recently at two different conferences which represent two different international communities I belong to I was aware of the genre boundaries we are crossing in our work on communities, technologies and learning. The combination of different modes and technologies and a focus on emerging processes and diversity changes the whole nature of communication. It also changes our ways of of working together, what gets done, whose voices get heard, and where power lies. To survive it you have to develop a Zen-like robustness with the unsettling effects of communicating and learning in ways that expose your fragilities and the precariousness of human relationships. It deeply challenges all the securities that come with fixed roles, linear relationships and clear objectives.

Meanwhile, in my local community I have to develop another Zen-like robustness to help me through the quagmire of rules, norms and fixed expectations. The complexity of my universe here is to be found in the discovering or revealing of nests of relations and realities - unlike the complexity of my other world which revolves around designing or creating them. In fact, in this my segunda língua I see that technologies and learning are seen as ways of bringing solutions and imposing a new order on an existing world. Nowhere do I hear any discourse that acknowledges that their success lies in the disruptions to human relationships and hierarchies and all the implications of these disruptions.

So back to operating em duas línguas where I have two different worlds, two different identities and two different languages. And where "two" is only a metaphor for "more than one".

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A private thought

When I first started writing a blog it was more like a sort of diary. It felt very straightforward.

I also started getting comments on my blog entries - as many comments from strangers as from people I know, including neighbours in my my bairro. Some friends read it even without understanding the English very well.

Then as I started reading other people's blogs I saw that real bloggers integrate lots of links and used their blogs for networking. Sharing and giving links and information are crucial. Things like RSS feeds and Tecnorati profiles are almost passé.

The Portuguese blogs I follow are more like social-political commentaries, which I can read but don't feel permitted to write.

Anyway, just to say that the confusion in my mind about who I'm writing for and for what purpose blocks me from blogging. It's not enough to say that I am only writing for myself. I can't disentangle myself from real and imagined audiences who are the people I'm in dialogue with.

It's something related to my identity and it feels important to work through.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Two days in Milton Keynes

With all due respect to the people who live in Milton Keynes (UK) it is a strange city to visit. I had imagined suburban buildings and greyness but found myself in what looked like countryside. I gasped at lush green fields with country trees, wild flowers and bunnies. And gasped again I saw that the grass in the fields was neatly cut. Everything, even the nature and countryside carefully manufactured to be ... to be, nice. Very nice. The people were polite and nice. The streets and all things public were immaculately clean (except the ladies toilet at the coach station) and every amenity and service was carefully signposted and well-organised. The city centre takes place some in large buildings containing all the big name stores.

The planners of Milton Keynes (back in the late sixties/seventies) were influenced by Melvin Webber's ideas of a plug-in city where everyone would have access to education, private transport and communication technology. The idea was that there would be no more local neighbourhoods but just a city with lots of different choices from which everybody could select their ideal lifestyle. Employment and services were spread out to reduce traffic conjestion - so there has been no reason for developing a good public system and taxis charge a fortune.

I can't put my finger on why, but despite the objectives of modern Milton Keynes, like high quality of life for all, sustainable lifestyles; choice of movement, dynamic, knowledge based economy, diversity and innovation and so on ... I was happy to come back to my chaotic, unorganised , wild, even dirty, home environment of the Arrábida and Setúbal - with all its local neighbourhoods.