30 Mar 2020 213
Luís Osório / Portuguese journalist and writer
#culture #tradition

We Portuguese

It is difficult to explain who we are, it sounds almost insolent. We have the sunshine of course, but we invented one of the most melancholy musical genres, fado. We were the ones who set out to discover new worlds, but also the ones who spoke ill of those who left. We are generous and a little selfish. Deep down, we are a historical error, a brutal paradox and that is our greatest asset, our miracle.

In the great Portuguese artists you’ll see what I mean. Have you read the poet Fernando Pessoa? Make a journey amongst his heteronyms. It's true. Pessoa is not one poet, but several. Each with his own personality, each with his weaknesses, meanness and hope.

The same goes for José Saramago; look at some of the books he left us. The History of the Siege of Lisbon, the Stone Raft or the epic Baltasar & Blimunda. Exemplary stories about being Portuguese, about this miracle of our existence when we were not supposed to succeed, being this people and not another. For we resisted and here we are. Walled in between the ocean and Spain, a country so much bigger than us, between Africa and Europe, a many-coloured land, a country with islands and an insularity that is a cry that hurts and, at the same time, appeases.

Have you seen the works of Joana Vasconcelos? Her cosmopolitanism built from everyday materials? That's us. Have you ever heard Amália Rodrigues singing Gaivota? Her unworldly voice offering us the ability to think about a perfect heart that is impossible to build? That's us. Have you seen Paula Rego's paintings? Her women deformed by weight and pain? That is also us. We are so much. And sometimes we are nothing.

You'll like us, I promise you. Have a good stay. And have a great trip. Which is also a journey within yourself. That is where you will understand us even better, in the place that exists after the setting sun.

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