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Since childhood I’ve been very sensitive to contradictions between the ideas and their results. I didn’t have a name to it back then, and even now it is a little difficult to say it exactly.

At first I was worried about notions such as a “war to end war”, or “the state that will lead society to the end of the need of a state”. This would be a very contemporary idea, since recently we witnessed a “war against terror”, but terror is a form of war, and creating such a slogan would be a sign of lack of intelligence or morals.

Nevertheless, I latter came to realize that, sometimes, this kind of reasoning can be less mistaken than at first I thought. For example, in the Brazilian savanna (called cerrado) it is a very common practice to fight fire with fire, burning around the fire so that it cannot expand due to lack of combustible. In the same way, it is possible to use violence in closed systems in such a way as to diminish the overall amount of violence.

But at the same time I discovered deeper levels of the contradictions. As for example when in a meeting the ones crying out loud for democracy are exactly the ones who are not accepting anyone else’s ideas. The very noise of the calling for openness is many times used to close a debate — it makes the discussion more troublesome, which causes it to be less pleasant and participating in it in a constructive way more expensive, therefore making experimentation less likely as it is a form of making things still more costly.

Still later I came to a unspoken acceptance that no one puts all his intentions on the open, that the cards are never all over the table — not even me, certainly — and that, therefore, the problem with those kinds of contradictions is not their plain evilness, but only the risk that they are unaware of their own effects, the high risk of backfiring.

Finally, the worst contradiction until now is the one when you try to speak about what is beyond the reach of language, when you try to think what is outside the reach of your own system of ideas. If you succeed, you will be expanding those frontiers, but that is equivalent to augmenting the strain between the thought and the unthinkable. Urging someone to think outside of the box is creating a box for those kinds of thinking. There is not a defined and confined space of all the things one must think: thinking is an open-ended process.

It is the same contradiction between trying not to give preconceived answers to situations and turning the “no preconceived ideas” mantra into a dogma, a rule. And, as much as I do not want to propose a ready-made, closed, planned and canned system of ideas and of life, I do not want to be proposing utopias, I do not want either to avoid all judgements in favour of a constant sociological explanation for everything — this is just another form of morality. I do not want positivism, but I do not want mysticism either.

Obviously, much of this last idea of contradiction comes from Derridá. After reading the Gramatology i spent a long time wondering how to make anyone else see those things. It was like the proverbial passage where Nietzsche finished Schopenhauer and said: “so, this is it!”.


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