Saturday 15 July 2023

Agua Viva: Taylor Swift, Natalia Ginzburg, Clarice Lispector

This week I read a piece in the New Yorker about a Taylor Swift concert in a football stadium and how each of the audience felt she was personally in touch with their lives, each with her twinkling bracelet, her individual sparkle that came with the entrance ticket. 

I started Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector. The Brazilian singer Cazuza read Agua Viva as Bob Dylan read Rimbaud's Illuminations. One hundred and eleven times. Though Bob Dylan probably wasn't counting.

Agua Viva sounds like lively water, living water, water of life. In Brazil agua viva first of all means jellyfish. Jelly is the living agua in the water, less a fish than a shape to catch the light. And this is what Clarice Lispector wanted to capture. Her word, I think. To capture the present. She worked on Agua Viva for several years, under different titles (Beyond Thought: Monologue with Life and Loud Object) trying to get her writing in step with her life. Proceeding by accretion, boredom, urgency. breathing. 

Jellyfish are one of the fastest-growing species left to us, multiplied by our pillage and pollution of the waters around us, from which we once crawled. Jellyfish have few predators left. We have eaten them all.

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