Crocodile tears

Right. This is the first chronicle of the year, and I’m already abandoning my best New Year’s resolutions. They didn’t last. What can I do?

During the holidays — in which, incidentally, I managed to lie in bed and just watch a bunch of movies, unable to read anything due to my advanced state of fatigue — I considered several interesting topics to address in the future in view of my firm intention to avoid, at all costs, the political discussion that has been poisoning my daily life as a writer.

Alright. This world is definitely not for beginners, and I’ve been trying to fit in the best I can.

Due to the recent translation activities that I’m planning to prioritize more and more, thanks in part to my own residential situation and my ongoing reliance on translation in order to survive, this was one of the subjects that I had contemplated. At the turn of the year, as I tried to escape reality’s voraciousness, while taking advantage of the fact that much of the mainstream media was resting like me, I resumed the old habit of reading scientific journals. One of the articles that caught my attention in Scientific American explained “how the language in which we were raised forges our personality,” or something like that; I confess that I haven’t read the full article yet, since my recent subscription will only allow me full access starting next week. But as of now I’m endorsing the idea, because I experience this on a daily basis: Emigration has its (high) costs, as you already know.

Another interesting subject was the issue of the adopted translations of our fondest traditions, such as the myth of Adam and Eve. According to an article published on Biblical Archaeological Review, Eve was made of “Adam’s penis bone,” not from his rib as we previously thought. But what the heck was this “penis bone” business, which I have never heard of?

Many mammals, it seems, have this bone in their anatomy — baculum — to keep their “primary tool” standing with minor effort; and when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, metaphorically speaking. After all, this is all about a metaphor of creation, right? First of all, men have no baculum to rely on (in my beloved Portuguese, “baculum” also means “staff, support, steadfastness”), so they have to apply their own energy and resources to keep it up, no pun intended. Secondly, while donating his precious bone to Eve, Adam also gave her the power to raise his “morale” whenever necessary, through the conjugal love that is supposed to guarantee the survival of mankind. We’ll leave out for now all the other sexual orientations, for which this essential support must come from other similarly boneless creatures, though this situation could bring down this new paradigm of creation in the blink of an eye.

The serious bone mistake could have been generated by a misunderstanding of the original Aramaic, the kind which abounds in our cultural everyday life, as in the case of “Red Sea” instead of “Reed Sea.”

It’s easy to understand why and how I could have lost myself in the sheer pleasure of such musings, but then another equally exciting theme came up: the convenience of the dilettantism to which I’m so diligently dedicated. After watching a video lecture that Alan had loved and emphatically recommended (the argument was that deep down, in their essential nature, all things in the universe are nothing more than “light,” or “light energy”), I reached the brilliant conclusion that the more we research, the more lost we get. And to avoid falling into this nothingness, there is nothing better than to stay on the surface, trying to know a little bit of everything without going deeper into anything, or rather, into the nothingness in which a deeper knowledge hopelessly transforms our existence.

Yes. Compulsion. (I could have written “confusion,” but decided not to.)

At any rate, last night I watched on TV — this contemporary mix of addiction and recreation that encourages us to stick to the couch, instead of indulging in healthier outdoor activities, especially when the weather is too cold or too hot — a 2-hour documentary about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It led me to conclude that, despite the feeble attempts of some columnists to convince us that politics sucks, that we’d be far better off focusing our attention on our own individual selves, political discussion, although mutant and temporary, is crucial to our understanding of this vast, senseless world.

The Frontline episode screenplay presented Netanyahu’s journey, from his childhood and adolescence in the US until his political “ascension,” let’s put it that way. Not only to the highest position in the State of Israel, which would per se motivate me enough, but to the status of today’s “sharpest politician,” as I have concluded recently. The documentary also offered a comprehensive perspective on the evolution — all right, some would say “involution,” which I quite understand — of the situation in the Middle East.

Oh, dear, how clear it gets that Obama was wrong from the very beginning! And me too! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!

In the first week of his first term, despite having been elected with the explicit support of the Jewish community (in which I include myself), the current President of the United States demonstrated his willingness to take “us” to “the other side,” moving away from our traditional loyalties, which are deeply rooted in our Gestalt since the great war that catapulted this country to the top of the global power structure. His inauguration speech made his Muslim ancestry very clear, along with his proclivity to assist this specific community, which would not constitute a problem, if…

Oh well. What hurts even more is that, despite his unorthodox and revolutionary disposition, Obama failed badly in his intent, and rather than improving the status quo in that explosive corner of the world, his support made the situation considerably worse for Muslim countries, et voilà, chaos was instated. Worse still, it is escalating in the onset of this new year, with neighbors attacking each other, ruptured diplomatic ties, beheadings and everything else. Quite promising.

Now, I could very well have managed to avoid this thorny issue, at least in the first week of the year, when all predictions and hopes for the future are still undergoing some level of adjustment. But then there came the already iconic Obama press conference in favor of gun control, in which the so-called “most powerful man in the world” was visibly moved, shedding two or three tears in public.

Let’s face it, every human in this world has the right to some lack of control when things get bad. Imagine that, on the same day that Obama wept, I had indulged in more than one hour of deep sorrow precipitated by a computer problem (I won’t even mention the serious blow to my self-esteem that led me to such a convulsive, uncontrollable cry, harshly criticized by Alan as usual. He never offers to me one gesture of solace). I might even confess that my confidence in Obama’s “high sensitivity” was the main reason why I rooted for him in 2008, in stark contrast to my husband’s recommendation and imposing opinion, which, by the way, ended up proving to be right in, say, 78% of the occasions. The disastrous election of Barack Obama being one of them.

Between you and me, to see Obama cry in public that way — for a well-justified reason, okay, but deep down at the bottom due to his own incompetence in most governmental matters — is like seeing one’s father fall to pieces in the most difficult moment, when his strength and support, even if they are fake, were badly needed.

Man, come on. That’s no good. The character at hand is not a “dear sensitive boy,” but the Almighty President of the United States.

Other political commentators, far more to the right than I currently am, did what they could to treat the president’s pain with kindness. “I have no doubt of the seriousness of his emotions,” one of them said. And then added: “Although his focus is completely wrong.” As for me, I apologize, but I’m not going to lend him my shoulder, offering comfort to this poor, miserable, most powerful politician in the world. No way.

If it’s any consolation, you can always account my traumatic upbringing for this lack of compassion and solidarity that I shamelessly exhibit, which is what Alan always does. Or perhaps it was the early loss of my father that turned me into this cold, hateful, manipulative creature, opposed on principle to any conciliatory proposition. So be it.

What I could never do is start all of a sudden to lie in public, or to my limited audience, for the sole purpose of pretending to be the good guy. On the eve of my 64th birthday, I feel I’m too old for this kind of stuff, sorry, folks. Though the heavens may fall, I’m not willing to concede my cherished honesty and commitment to the truth of my own opinion, whatever it may be. As did Obama, who in his thought-provoking electoral campaign promised total transparency of purpose and actions, which became one of the first moral pillars that our president unfortunately gave up.

Too sad.

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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