Krowd Review

From Tarzan to Homer Simpson: Socrates Nolasco’s firm grasp on contemporary lack of clarity

 

From Tarzan to Home Simpsonby Noga Sklar[1]

As a renowned psychologist in his native Brazil, and an author who, throughout his career, has focused on issues of maleness and masculine violence, Socrates Nolasco makes a valid contribution to the contemporary discussion of gender equality and sex differences.

“Men have lower life expectancy than women”, he writes, in this crucial book about education and the male violence in western contemporary societies. “They account for 90% of the incarcerated population; they die more often in traffic accidents, from alcohol and drug consumption, and they commit more suicides than women”.  If this is the case, one might ask, why would women and other “minorities” fight so fiercely for the sake of being equal?

And that’s not all. “Men,” writes Nolasco, “are always the ones who define the contours and the records of violence. Upon organizing a table by sex, it can be verified that violence has no color, age, or social class, but it has a sex”.

Does this picture change due to the strong imposition of gender equality today? An update on data originally collected in 2001, when the Portuguese edition of From Tarzan to Homer Simpson was published, shows that, indeed, this idea makes sense: “Since 2010, the female jail population has been the fastest growing correctional population, increasing by an average annual rate of 3.4 percent”, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, published in December 2014.

However, if this is indeed the case, why should violence still be seen as a manifestation of masculinity? From the perspective of the changing role of the masculine in a society where the very conception of gender is undergoing seismic changes, Nolasco considers that “the involvement of men in situations of violence is related to the effort undertaken by the subject to maintain his form of being man within the culture he belongs to”. Moreover, “male violence should be understood as a dissonance in one’s sense of identity, resulting from the loss of forms of social recognition and insertion caused by the disfigurement of male insignias previously defined by traditional societies”.

That is, “changing gender roles” goes far deeper than merely equalizing opportunities for all: It tears down the traditional network of social relations in an unpredictable way.

Socrates Nolasco informs us in his book that “the bisexualization of the culture, present in Sex and Character (1903), by Otto Weininger, points to a disfigurement of the boundaries between male and female representations present in contemporary culture”. Nevertheless, although considered a genius by many, the Austrian philosopher might not have had such a deep understanding into the destinies of contemporary maleness, as he owes most of his popularity to his suicide at the age of 23. On the other hand, From Tarzan to Homer Simpson analyzes masculinity in different societies through History to reach the conclusion that it creates in subjects “a yearning to pursue a self-image profoundly involved with success, fame, recognition, approval, and admiration from others”. Which, in our widely exposed contemporary society, are not easy to achieve.

What is a real man today?

The question is more valid than ever before.

The “feminine man” in contemporary society should be, ideally, “a subject sanitized of evil”.  Nevertheless, affirms Nolasco, “the ‘feminine man’ produced by Western culture is a modern fallacy, a simulacrum; he is precisely the incarnation of what traditional cultures sought to avoid through initiation rites”.

The author reminds us that modern times require no social organization founded on a mythic perspective. “In light of the criticism against traditional culture, a different male representation becomes necessary, one that corresponds to the new value of an emancipated ‘self’ and that represents the project for liberation of human beings”.

If this so-called liberation is about to make itself real, remains to be seen. Nolasco concludes his study affirming that, in societies oriented by the ideology of political correctness, “evil is banalized and relativized […].  In contemporary societies, evil does not exist as a duality or ambivalence, but rather as ambiguity”.

“In that context,” Nolasco continues, “blacks can be white; men can become women; life comes to be more and more produced outside of the body, like food outside of the natural order”.

Nevertheless, the importance of male social representation cannot be relativized, as it “plays an important role, not for men, but for this long process toward the subject’s social emancipation that has its start in the transition to modern individualism and goes all the way to market democracies”.

From Tarzan to Homer Simpson constitutes, therefore, an important source of reflection in a changing world, in which confusion seems to be more the norm than actual freedom for all.

PSICHOLOGY
Author:
Sócrates Nolasco
Translator:
Alexandre K. Oliveira

 

Publisher: Sense Publishers
Date: May 2017
Pages: 218
ISBN: 978-94-6351-033-2
On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/9463510338

[1] Noga Sklar is a writer and editor currently living in Greenville, SC (USA). She has published 14 books in Brazil and 3 in the U.S.; as an editor, Noga has a special focus on Psychology titles and academic theses in the field.

Amor, duro amor

 

 

 

 

 

 

por Noga Sklar

Uma imigrante legal brasileira compartilha suas experiências diárias nos Estados Unidos enquanto o Brasil mergulha numa crise política e econômica sem precedentes, que culmina com o impeachment da presidente Dilma em 2016. Enquanto isso, nossa imigrante luta para se acomodar nos EUA, trabalhando nos dois países ao mesmo tempo, através da internet, e construindo uma casa na Carolina do Sul. O pano de fundo do livro é a trajetória eleitoral de Donald Trump, tudo “traduzido” por Noga Sklar para o público brasileiro com sua habitual verve irônica de cronista.

Tough Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Noga Sklar

A legal immigrant from Brazil tells her daily experiences in the United States, as her homeland plunges into an unprecedented political and economic crisis, which culminates in the impeachment of the president. Meanwhile, she struggles to settle down in the U.S., working in both countries at the same time — through the internet — and building a house in South Carolina. In the background, history writes itself between terrorist attacks and Donald Trump’s political trajectory toward the presidency. With a sharp wit and a strong ironic tone, Noga Sklar is a popular writer in Brazil, where she is well-know as a “cronista”.

Diário de uma gravidez

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antonella Yllana

Resultado literário de nove meses inteiramente focados na gestação de um novo ser, o Diário de uma gravidez, de Antonella Yllana, é, ao mesmo tempo, tocante e impressionante: uma viagem única, sem meias-palavras e nenhuma reserva, ao universo íntimo de uma mulher que “espera”. O livro é também um mergulho filosófico, uma mistura instigante que une o nosso lado prático ao aspecto inspirador da vida. Para quem busca entender por que passa, o que sonha, que tumultos, medos e esperanças enfrenta uma mulher enquanto observa em seu próprio ventre a formação de uma criança, Diário de uma gravidez é a escolha adequada. O livro é também um testemunho em favor da prática do parto humanizado.

An author who deserves an audience

Paris Berlin New York: The Color of the City by Wolfgang Hermann

Translator:

The cover to Paris Berlin New York: The Color of the City by Wolfgang Hermann

Greenville, South Carolina. KBR. 2016. 217 pages.

Western literature is full of accounts of vagrancy and tales of the flâneur. So why would we need yet another? Wolfgang Hermann’s Paris Berlin New York, collected here in one translated volume with a critical essay by Mark Miscovich, is a work that exceeds expectations and proves that the theme is anything but exhausted. In fact, Hermann’s book situates him in the same orbit as Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen, Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, as well as the postmodern master W. G. Sebald. In terms of writing style, Hermann’s is closer to Baudelaire’s than the others, despite carrying the feeling of being absolutely contemporary.

Paris Berlin New York reads more like prose poems than a series of short stories. What the reader gets is a series of snapshots of place, often eerily uncanny places like those that arrive in dreams. Reading Hermann is like grasping at the residue of a dream that stays with us just long enough to either make a suggestion or leave an ephemeral imprint on our consciousness.

The book is divided into four sections. “Paris,” “Berlin,” and “New York,” which make up the first three sections, are told in the first person, and the narrator wanders those cities like a ghost moving through the walls of some ancient ancestral home. There is a sadness, an errancy, to these pieces, as if the narrator is a wisp of smoke drifting toward some unobtainable destination. “The places I go through, go all the way through me. They fill me with their weight and gravity, their inertia and lethargy and give me the emptiness, muteness, volubility, or in the worst case, loquacity, which leaves me sad.” With each new place he finds himself traveling through, the narrator is transformed, perhaps only slightly, imperceptibly, but transformed nonetheless.

“The Color of the City” is a third-person novella and hovers around Christian, a provincial in his late twenties now living in an anonymous European city. Surrounding him are a childhood friend, Stephen; a love interest, Julia; as well as Margi. The four are drifters, not only through the city but also through life. “The Color of the City” takes up many of the same themes as the previous pieces but adds a narrative of loneliness to its vagrancy.

Wolfgang Hermann is an author who deserves an audience. His prose strikes a chord that pulsates through the reader. Paris Berlin New York is an outstanding work and a perfect opportunity for readers who do not read German to encounter him, for reading him is indeed an encounter. Mark Miscovich’s smart and highly poetic translation is sure to put Hermann on the map of contemporary world authors making their way into English.

Andrew Martino
Southern New Hampshire University

http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2017/january/paris-berlin-new-york-color-city-wolfgang-hermann

Checking out Japan – with an Austrian eye

vasile

Wolfgang Hermann’s Japanese Book of Trails
(Das japanische Fährtenbuch)

By Vasile V. Poenaru (University of Toronto)

This year Rachel Hildebrandt successfully completed  her translation of Wolfgang Hermann’s charming and well-received novel Herr Faustini verreist. It is most fortunate that the English readership is now having access to this book that earned critical acclaim in the German-speaking world (for instance in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, in Südwestdeutsche Zeitung and in Aurora-Magazin für Kultur Wissen und Gesellschaft).

Wolfgang Hermann has an eye for uncanny encounters, for the odd, for the exotic, yet somehow common. He traveled extensively. He lived abroad. He came back to his hometown in the Western province of Vorarlberg. Couldn’t find his place. Stayed home nevertheless. Looked out for words. Wrote books. Left again. Moved about. Stayed put. Got up. Moved to Vienna. Still couldn’t find his place. Kept writing. Keeps writing.

There is a lot of thought in Wolfgang Hermann’s underlying narrative. His craftsmanship is solid, his display of quiet intellectual reflection non-assuming, his inner discourse intriguing enough to pull the reader into its flow and clear enough to make sense with one roll of the dice. Such inner fabric provides for a good read.

This has not gone unnoticed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where the accomplished writer received a number of important and well-deserved awards and distinctions.

As Wolfgang Hermann is one of the contemporary Austrian writers who happened to come near the focal point of the research I conducted at the University of Toronto on Contemporary Austrian writing as an identity paradigm of the new Europe, it definitely is my informed opinion that this writer proves to be indeed a good pick. So I am all the more glad Rachel Hildebrandt took it upon herself to translate  Herr Faustini verreist.

The New American Hero

welcomekindle(A quick look)

by Noga Sklar

Can you see the handsome young man sitting by my side, driving through the forest behind the wheel of his decrepit truck?

Yes. I would trust him with my life. Sip of vodka.

We left Alan behind at home, sleeping.

Have any of you ever “driven through the forest” along narrow, temporary roads,  barely visible, fated to be swallowed eventually by the “temperate rain forest”? Excessive quotation marks in a strange, unfriendly world.

I wonder if my stepson collects guns, but I’ve never asked. I wasn’t ready to discuss the answer. Plus, I’m too ignorant of firearms or calibers to engage in a conversation. He seems ready to face anything, ranging from a bear emerging from the woods to the Chinese invading the United States.

That’s how Alan explains to me the impressive number of water bottles under the sink in Erik’s prefab home. Attack. Invasion. I found out it is just a routine emergency measure, in case the water freezes inside the pipes in the morning cold.

What a great kid (sip of vodka). What a great soldier (there’s good proof of that). What a great lover (I can only imagine).

He is 25, and this is the first significant amount of time we’ve spent together. When I first met him five years ago, we were total strangers, but now, for some reason, we are mother and son. I’m his “madre,” half-Mexican perhaps (shot of vodka). I cook for him; we venture together into the forest; he gives me a kiss on the cheek when he leaves for work. It’s great.

Suddenly, I share a deep love with my American son, stepson. Neither of us seems to care that he did not grow inside my womb. Exaggeration. Poetic license. The next moment I start to worry about him. Why would he stop at the gas station to buy a bottle of blue water? It appears to be water, but the plastic bottle makes it look like a blue liquid, perhaps some benign variation of absinthe — “Neuro” something. It promises to relieve stress and increase mental acuity.

He offers me a sip of his drink, which is freely consumed here. Weird America. I hesitate, preferring to stick to the familiar vodka. Ice cold, a twist of lime. Speaking of which, I can’t deal with this refrigerator that crushes ice. I make a mess on the kitchen floor. Daisy, the dog, licks it up with pleasure. Right, a strange world. Another sip of vodka.

I am proud of my son, who is some kind of evolved human I have never met before. “I’ve never seen anything like him in my entire life,” says Alan, in reference to something else, but it fits beautifully. Erik is highly focused, an entrepreneur, but I won’t tell you what his company does. I never know if what he does is top secret or not.

It is his second enterprise. The previous one fell into oblivion thanks to the Brazilian server I hired to run his website. I paid for eight, nine useless months, during which the website was never online. Ah, Brazilians.

Yes, I still remember.

My son’s first business plan was to sell lumber and breed horses on a forest property he had bought a couple of years ago, but now it is up for sale. I made the video and designed the website. It did not last. Time goes on.

“Don’t you think you’d better wait?” I had dared to ask, as he had told me the region was now expanding. Alan had advised me against meddling in his child’s plans.

Erik tells me the mortgage is a burden. He wants to get rid of the expense, to free himself of the dream he dreamed not so long ago, from the need to hunt for his own survival, from the forest, from his so-called autonomy. He yearns to enjoy life after ten years of intensive work in the Navy. Bondage. I understand. Another sip of vodka.

“Take another sip of vodka, Dad,” our son urges, hoping Alan will finally stop bugging us. We laugh.

Yes, I must confess, that’s all I’ve ever wanted: someone to help me make Alan stop talking. I can’t relay the conversation between father and son that followed; all I can say is that it touched on bullets, gauges, the unexpected things that happen when out shooting.

I left. I’d rather dream.

The property Alan and I want has a broad, beckoning horizon. We have plans to build a beautiful home there.

I’m suddenly irritated that I hopelessly ruined my plans to take a brief vacation. We’ll see. Provided the Chinese delay their attack, of course.

A Curious Journey Through Timeless Humanism

filhosol4By Adriana Jorge

 

“Moishele” is the only diminutive the reader will find in Mauricio Wrot’s debut as a novelist.

Through a humanistic view of life, Wrots, a Brazilian journalist who lives in Rio de Janeiro, will take the reader on a poignant, touching and also delicate journey: 200 pages that tell the story of Mendel Rosenstrauch, a Polish Jew who immigrated to Brazil before World War II.

Moral and religious dilemmas are openly expressed. The book will certainly affect the reader, regardless of religion or cultural background, as it highlights historical and tragic events such as the Holocaust, the Inquisition, slavery in Brazil and Allan Kardec’s Spiritism.

The lives of Mendel, a charismatic sexagenarian Polish immigrant, and his also Polish, quiet and frustrated wife Faiga — in Brazil, more precisely in Rio de Janeiro, in a neighborhood called Grajaú — will turn upside down on a rainy day in 1938, with the unexpected arrival of Vicentina. Looking for a job as a maid, the single mother, a descendant of Brazilian slaves and a practitioner of Umbanda (an Afro-Brazilian religion), brought with her a baby son, Jorge, who will later become Moishele, as he was “saved from the waters.”

As the book accurately describes the precepts of Judaism, the freethinker and Kabbalist Mendel will introduce Moishele to his own religion and, at the same time allow him the freedom to search for his own faith, which includes attending Catholic masses and Umbanda’s ceremonies. Both characters, together, will deal with ethical paradoxes, doubts and situations related to racism, anti-Semitism, fate, science, astrology, love affairs and passion, among others.

The description of Brazilian costumes and environment provides a soft, friendly touch to the book, in contrast to deep and polemical topics such as the Inquisition, religious conversion and the consequences of slavery in Brazil.

A trip taken by Mendel and Moishele to Europe and Israel adds a veneer of culture and history to the book, which includes a touching description of a boy visiting the Western Wall for the first time and the witnessing of the Vatican’s ostentatious beauty.

Moishele and the Flowerless Rosebush is an absolute must-read for those who enjoy delicate and controversial facts related to religion, history and different cultures; above all, for those who believe it’s possible to love your neighbor.

Shalom!  

 

My Eyes Opened at 4:45

cover(a side bar)

by Erik Sklar

I reported to my first submarine in 2007, and the following years were not easy. The captain of the ship at that time is a submarining legend, a towering, overbearing man, built like an astronaut, with the presumable presence of Abraham Lincoln. This man never slept, did calculus for fun, and refused to let strawberries be brought on the boat, by anyone, for any reason (to this day, I have no idea why, but when you command a multi-million dollar nuclear powered attack submarine, well, you don’t have to answer to the crew).

The submarine captain and I did not get along. But, no matter how much he did not like me, he could not get rid of me, because the ship could not go to sea without me. I was one of the ship’s divers, the ship’s combat search and rescue swimmer, one of two. Without a ship’s diving party, a submarine cannot go to sea. The ship’s divers are the submarine captain’s contingency plan; they are the self-proclaimed warrior elite of the United States Naval Submarine Force, emphasis on the self-proclaimed.

This captain did not like me because he viewed my married status as a weakness; and that being married implied that I was in love. To him, love was the anti-derivative of hesitation, of cowardice. His convictions eventually led him to question whether I would choose to preserve my own life over the life of the crew, if, under the circumstances, he asked me to. Of all of the crew-members, the divers would inevitably be the most likely individuals tasked with an objective that would warrant the contemplation of such notions—a task whose certainty of death would determine how far we would be willing to push ourselves to accomplish the mission. And as such, the divers were held to a Spartan standard.
In my heart, I was certain that day would come at some point. He doubted me, and as a result, he resented me.

In any case, I served under this Captain Ahab for a few years; one of them spent at sea patrolling the reaches of the Pacific. For six months of that year, I, Ishmael, was sentenced to work in the ship’s galley for recklessly operating the equipment on his duty station, while under a duty status.

Galley work is hard work. It is everything you hated about working in the service industry, only it’s on a submarine, hundreds of feet under the water. We worked in 12-hour shifts that often stretched into 14-hour workdays. Seven days a week, for six months, I lived a life not far from that of a 15th century able-bodied seaman.

The punishment was meant to break my will. The captain even added-on that I was not to leave the ship or pier under any circumstances while in port, and he ordered the radiomen to screen all of my emails and withhold mail from me as well. He ordered that I be quartered in the torpedo room, which is well lit at all times—not far from the sanitary tanks. I did this for six months, until that captain transferred command. He never let up.

But he never broke me.

The former captain was promoted. My coffee mug was a silent token of my perseverance.

The Hummingbird Saga

(Poetic Porosity Through Brazilian Drylands as Seen by Guimarães Rosa)

Essay by Bernardo Marçolla, Brazil
Translated by Noga Sklar
Edited by Rachel Hildebrandt
Publishing date: summer 2018
Join the in-Krowd! To become a member of our Book Club and read this title before it’s in stores, click here.

sagaenglishkindle2

The Hummingbird Saga, a paraphrase to Guimarães Rosa himself, identifies, with unique propriety, this book by the Brazilian author Bernardo Marçolla, a result of his doctoral research that produced the thesis The Poetics of Riobaldo, a Porous Darning: Rhythm, Transcendence and Aesthetic Experience in Grande Sertão: Veredas. This thesis received the Capes Award, and was appointed as the best Brazilian literary thesis in the area of the Arts in 2007.
Accurately repositioned by the author in his research paper, whose ingenuity enables the reading of the Rosian original under a holistic key, Saga never loses sight of a close and sensitive analysis of the great Brazilian writer aesthetics. In fact, it adds to its brilliance, as it makes it more accessible, in order to be read with pleasure both by academics and the common reader.

Bernardo Marçolla
bernardo

Bernardo Marçolla holds a BA in psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil (1997), a master’s degree in psychology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil (2000), a doctorate in literature by the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, Brazil (2006) and post-doctorate in Literature from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil (2010). He has worked for more than ten years as a teacher in the Department of Psychology in PUC-Minas. His experience in Literature has an emphasis in the Brazilian iconic writer Guimarães Rosa and the development of the concept of “poetic porosity.” His doctoral dissertation defended in 2006, which gave birth to this book, received the CAPES award for Best Thesis of the year in the area of Arts in 2007.