Category Archives: regional and universal

On Girls and Books

Almost a year ago I was invited to talk about vampires in Literature in an event called “Psychoanalysis and Theater” held by the Psychology School on campus. When the organizer called me she said: we´d like you to speak a little about the Twilight phenomenon among teenagers, especially girls between ages 13 and 20.

We had a great discussion on whether Twilight was really about vampires or it was a love and coming of age story, and vampires were the selling trend. I believe the latter, although a lot of people are concerned about their children reading “those kind of books”, either because of the vampires or because it is not “high literature”.

Quite recently, in another discussion about Literature, a woman whose work I admire, said she had given The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir to her daughter, as a gift for her 13th birthday.

I´m sure she did that out of great love, given the person she is, and maybe her daughter enjoyed it more that her mother wishes her to be a free woman, than the reading itself. I don´t know, but it certainly got me thinking. The Second Sex was a great book for me, and I wish my daughter reads it one day, but I don´t think that giving it to her in her teens will make that happen. Maybe if I hide it from her then, she might be interested.

What should thirteen-year-old girls be reading, if that´s anybody´s business, other than their own? Should we really be “concerned” about what they´re reading? Should we try to intervene and provide them with liberating texts that might help shape the women they  come to be (in our vain imagination)?  Right now, my answer would be NO.

People choose to read certain books for many reasons, all of them having to do with whom they are as individuals. We need stories to take inner journeys, and depending on what´s inside each one of us, the stories will change. It might even be something temporary: a certain genre that helps us find some answers to immediate questions. Of course, we don´t realize it when we choose to read the stories. It happens naturally, if we have the opportunity to choose, that is to say, if books are available and within reach.

Should we recommend books to teenage girls? Yes, if they allow us to. If we´re able to see them as individuals full of life (and hormones), and not as empty canvases. If we´re able to establish a dialogue with them, where we should listen more than talk, then, yes, book recommendations might happen. Both ways.

I´m not very concerned about choosing the correct book to give my or anybody else´s girls as I am about listening to what they have to say, and about helping them look at their lives as their own doing. I want to help them become inquisitive, open-minded individuals.

And then they´ll be able to make their own choices.

Maybe the best thing we can do for our daughters – at any age- regarding books, is to let them read whatever they want to. There´s no experience more liberating than choosing a book with our own hands and savoring it by ourselves in a very special place. Allowing our girls to do that is to set them free. It´s love.



Filed under regional and universal

To Father, with Love

This past week I watched True Grit, the recent one, not the one with John Wayne.  A movie with that title has to be watched.

For the people who haven´t watched it, it´s the story of 14-year old Mattie Ross, who wants to avenge her father´s death by capturing his murderer, Tom Chaney. For that she hires a man with “true grit” , U.S. marshal Reuben, Rooster, Cogburn , and is also helped by a Texas ranger called LaBoeuf. I don´t mean  to spoil it, but Mattie is the one with true grit herself, and she ends up inspiring the men who were there to help her in the first place.

It´s not easy to lose a father, but I´m glad that, like Mattie Ross, I was left with enough to face life. I´m glad I had a father who was able to leave me love and courage by his example.  Although I was angry at death for taking him away, I was also thankful at life for having given me him as a father.

Some women are not so lucky, and it´s absolutely not their fault. Some men are not meant to be fathers. That´s all. They´ll hide when most needed, they´ll act as spoiled kings, they´ll beat up their children, they´ll kill them, in their rage.  The news are  full of them. From the man who threw his five year old daughter, alive, from the 6th floor to the one who shot his 18 year-old daughter to death to get the insurance money, there´s a whole list of abusers and killers.

Since today is Father´s Day here in this corner of the world, I´d like to say to all fathers with daughters who happen to stop by that you don´t need to be super heroes. You don´t need to be perfect, rich or handsome. You don´t even need to be young and successful.  But you need to be good enough. You need to be loving enough, and you need to be brave enough.

The best inheritance a girl can get from her dad is, after all, true grit.

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>The Universe Within

>Here´s another one, fellow blogger Vincent 🙂

Poem Da Minha Aldeia (From My Village) by Fernando Pessoa under his heteronomy Alberto Caieiro., from the collection of poems O Guardador de Rebanhos (The herd keeper).

From my village I see the universe.
That´s why my village is as big as any other one
Because I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height.

In the cities life is smaller
than it is here in my house on the hill.
In the city big houses block our view
hide the horizon, push our eyes away from the sky,
make us small, because they take away from us what our eyes can give us
and impoverish us, because our only wealth is what we see.

From my village I see the universe
That´s why my village is as big as any other one
Because I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height.


Filed under da minha aldeia, Pessoa, regional and universal