But Berlin and Kay found a further surprising result. The order in which basic color categories enter languages is not arbitrary either. If a language has only two colors—and all languages have at least two—they are always white and black; if a language has three colors, the one added is red; if a fourth is added, it will be either green or yellow; when a fifth is added, it will then include both green and yellow; the sixth added is blue; the seventh added is brown; and if an eight or more terms are added, it or they will be purple, pink, orange, or gray. Considerable subsequent research on color classification has necessitated modifications in this sequence, yet basic color terms apparently evolve in a largely universal pattern (Witkowski and Brown 1978). Berlin and Kat (1969:159) dismiss “extreme linguistic-cultural relativism”, at least with respect to basic color term, as a “myth created by linguists and anthropologists”.

Donald E. Brown. Human Universals. McGraw-Hill. 1991.

saio hoje ao mundo,
cordão de sangue à volta do pescoço,
e tão sôfrego e delicado e furioso,
de um lado ou de outro para sempre num sufôco,
iminente para sempre

                                                 23.XI.2010: 80 ANOS
Herberto Helder. Servidões. Assírio & Alvim. 2013.

The Blacksmith

The Tuileries Palace,
about  August 10, 1792

One hand on a giant hammer, frightening,
Enormous, drunk, a massive face, and laughing
With all his strength, like a great bronze trombone,
Fixing the fat man with a threatening look:
A Blacksmith spoke to King Louis the Sixteenth, once,
When the People were present, shoving their way in,
Dragging their dirty clothes across the golden floor.
King Louis, standing behind his stomach, grew pale
As a convict on his way to be hanged,
And like a beaten dog he never moved,
For the blacksmith with the enormous shoulders
Kept talking, using old words, saying funny things
That hit him hard, like a fist in the face!

“Well, King, you know we used to sing tra la
And drive our teams in someone else’s field:
The Pastor said his Paternoster in the sun,
On bright beads strung top to bottom with gold,
The Lord of the Manor rode by us with his hounds,
And between the noose and the riding crop they beat us
Down, into the ground. Our eyes grew dull as cows’ eyes
And forgot how to cry. We kept on, and on,
And when we had furrowed up the land of France,
When we had sown our flesh in that black earth,
We got a little present in return:
They burned our rotten houses down at night—
Our kids were roasted to a turn. Oh, look,
I’m not complaining. I say what I have to;
Just tell me I’m wrong if you think so, go ahead.
Look now, isn’t it nice, in June, to see
The haywagons drive into the enormous barns?
To smell the smell of growing things, of the new grass?
The odor of orchards after the rain?
To watch the wheat, the ripe wheat full of grain,
And think of all the bread that it will make?
Oh, We’d go off more surely to the glowing forge
And sing our heads off, hammering the anvil,
If we were sure we’d get a bit—we’re only men,
After all!—of the stuff that God provides!
But you know, it is always the same routine!
I know what’s happening now! No one has the right
When I’ve got two hands, my head, and my hammer,
To come up to me with a weapon in his hand
And tell me: Boy, go out and plant my field;
Or come up where there’s a war on and grab
My only son from right before my eyes!
All right! So I’m a man; all right, so you’re a king;
You say to me: I WANT … You see how dumb that is …
You think I like to see your golden dump, Versailles,
Your gilded officers, your fat officials,
Your goddamn bastards parading like peacocks?
Your nest was filled with the smell of our daughters,
Your little tickets locked us up in the Bastille—
And we should say, all right! We’ll all bow down!
We’ll drown your Louvre in gold, we’ll give you our last cent,
And you’ll get drunk and have a big old time,
And your nobles will laugh and step all over us!

“No. That was the shit our fathers had to take.
Oh, the people are no longer whores. One, two, three,
And your stinking Bastille came tumbling down!
That stones sweat blood, it made us sick to see it
Hiding in the sky: its rotten walls said everything
And always kept us cowering in the dark!
Citizens! That was what the shadowy past that fell,
That screamed and fell the day we took the tower!
We felt within our hearts something like love.
We embraced our sons, and one another, that day.
And just like your horses, flaring our nostrils,
We walked around, strong and proud, and felt good right here!
We walked in sunshine, heads held high, like this,
Across Paris! They bowed before our dirty clothes!
Well, we were finally men that day! We were pale,
King, we were drunk with terrible hope:
And when we gathered before the black towers
Waving our bugles and branches of oak,
Pikes in our hands, we felt no hate, we felt ourselves
So strong, we wanted only to be gentle!

And ever since that day, we’ve been like madmen!
The hordes of workers grew, down in the streets,
And those black hordes wandered, swollen always
With dark apparitions, to howl at rich men’s gates,
And I went with them, beating up your spies;
I went to Paris, black from work, with my hammer
On my shoulder, killing a rat at every step!
And if you’d laughed at me I’d have killed you.
And then, believe me, you made yourself well liked
And your men in black, who took our petitions
And tossed them back and forth, and underneath
Their breath, the bastards! smiled and said: ‘What fools!’
To brew up laws, to plaster all the walls
With pretty pink edicts and trash like that,
To get their kicks by cutting people down to size
And then to hold their noses when they pass us by!
Our great representatives think we’re filthy!
And not afraid of anything—but bayonets…
That’s wonderful. The hell with all their speeches.
We’ve had enough of that, those empty heads
And god-bellies. Oh, That’s the stuff to feed us,
You bourgeois, when we’re already running wild
And croziers and scepters have already been smashed!”

He takes him by the arm, and tears the curtain
Back, and shows him the courtyard down below
Where the mob mills about, seething beneath them,
The awful mob that makes a roaring like the surf,
A howling like a bitch, a howling like the sea,
With their heavy stick and iron pikes,
Their drums, their cries from markets and from slums,
A dark heap of rags bleeding with Liberty caps:
The Man from the open window shows it all
To the pale-faced king who sweats and can barely stand,
Sick to his stomach at the sight!
“That’s Shit,
King, out there. It slobbers over the walls,
It boild, it moved about. They’re hungry, King,
So they’re beggars. I’m a blacksmith; my wife’s down there,
Crazy-mad. She thinks the palace is full of bread.
We aren’t exactly welcome in the bakeries.
I’ve got three kids. I’m shit. I know old women
who cry beneath their funny faded hats
Because they’ve had a son or daughter taken off:
They’re shit. One man was in the Bastille, another
In the galleys: they were both of them citizens,
And honest. Freed, they were worse than dogs.
People used to laugh at them! Well, there’s something there,
Inside them, and it hurts! It’s a terrible thing,
They feel put down, they feel their lives have been destroyed,
And that’s why they’re out there screaming at you!
They’re shit! There are women out there, dishonored
Because—well, women, they’re weak, you knew that,
You Gentlemen from Court—they always want to please—
You spit into their souls, and laughed at it!
Your pretty tricks are all down there today. They’re shit.

“Oh, all the Poor, the ones whose backs are burned
By the angry sun, the ones who do your work,
Who feel their bones begin to crack as they work—
Take off your hats, all you rich people! These are Men!
We are Workers, King! Workers! We are the ones
made for the time to come, the New Day dawning,
When Man will work his forge from dawn to dusk,
—Seeker after great causes, great effects—
When he will finally bend all things to his will
And mount Existence as he mounts a horse!
Oh! the gleam of fires in forges! Evil destroyed,
Forever! The Unknown may be terrible:
Still we will know it! Let us examine
All that we know: then onward, Brothers, onward!
We sometimes dream a moving dream
Of living simply, fervently, without a word
Of evil spoken, laboring beneath the smile
Of a wife we love with an elevated love:
Then we would labor proudly all day long,
With duty like a trumpet ringing in our ear!
Then we would think ourselves happy, and no one,
No one, ever, could make us bend a knee!
For a rifle would hang above the hearth…

“Oh, The air is full of the smell of battle!
What was I saying? I’m part of the rabble!
We still have your informers, sneaks, and profiteers—
But we are free! There are terrible moments
When we feel ourselves tower over all! I told you
Back a bit about tranquil duty, and a home…
Just look at the sky! It’s too small for us,
We’d suffocate, we’d live forever on our knees!
Just look at the sky! I’m going back to the mob,
To the endless rabble, the dirt, the ones who roll
Your cannons, King, across the slimy cobblestones;
Oh! When we’re dead, then we’ll have washed them clean!
And if in the face of our howling vengeance
The claws of bronzed old kings across our France
Push their regiments in their fancy dress-up clothes,
Well, then, all you out there, what then? We’ll give them shit!”

He swung his hammer over his shoulder.
The crowd
In that man’s presence felt their souls catch fire,
And in the palace courtyard, through the palace halls,
Where Paris panted, howling all the while,
A shiver ran through the enormous mob.
And then he clapped his hand, his splendid Blacksmith’s hand,
Upon the shaken, sweating, fat king’s head,
And crowned him with the cap of Revolution!

– Arthur Rimbaud. Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works (Paul Schmidt, Trans.). Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2008.

SALVO [as the footman takes his coat]: Yes, yes… but there’s always a way, I assure you… [the footman goes out through the main entrance, downstage right.] There’s always a way of giving people a good opinion of us which at the same time increases their own self-esteem.
PALMA [promptly, as she slips off her gloves]: And makes them insufferably conceited!
SALVO: No, my dear, quite the reverse: which turns out to be to our advantage too.
PALMA: But I notice so many things nowadays!
SALVO: You don’t notice anything. Pay attention to this: Flavio talks to you. You know it’s just words, which he says simply for the sake of talking…
PALMA: Yes, words without any meaning to them!
SALVO: Quite so. But by the way you listen to them, you can show him they have…
PALMA: How? If they just haven’t?
SALVO: It’s easy! You give them a meaning, yourself; you put a meaning into them – whatever meaning best suits you. But you pretend he’s put a meaning into them. He’ll be delighted to find his own words actually make sense. In that way you can gradually make him into exactly what you want him to be; and he’ll be under the impression that that’s what he wants to be. Do I make myself clear?
PALMA: It doesn’t sound easy!
SALVO: I know. I’m not saying it’s easy. But you can take it from me, it’s the way one has to run one’s life.

“Right You Are! (If you Think So)” – “Cosí è (se vi pare)” – Act II, Luigi Pirandello. Penguin Books. 1962.

Novamente o percorreu um sentimento de felicidade, de calma e segurança do coração, maravilhoso e cheio de delícias para quem sabia o que era angústia e pavor. Lebrava-se de uma frase da sua infância. Falava-se, entre companheiros de escola, do segredo dos acrobatas, que sabiam andar sem medo e firmemente sobre o arame. E um de entre os rapazes dissera: «se fizeres no teu quarto um risco a giz, terás tanta dificuldade em andar sobre ele como sobre o mais fino arame. E, contudo, pisamo-lo seguramente porque não há perigo. Se imaginares que o arame é um risco de giz e o ar de ambos os lados é o chão, podes andar sobre qualquer fio.» Viera-lhe esta frase à mente. Como era bela! Não se teria passado, com ele, justamente o contrário? Isto é, não poder andar seguro e firme sobre o chão plano, porque o tomava por um fio de arame?

«Ele e o Outro» («Klein und Wagner»). Hermann Hesse. Guimarães & C.ª Editores. 1979.