The other day I was editing some lyrics for my wife’s band and she was quite amazed at how fast I can do it and how I have already mentally understood the process and just fit in the pieces easily. In High School last years and then in my first University years I developed what I thought it was a fantastic studying method: I wrote a long answer to a very generic answer like “what happened between the years X and Y” for History or “define the progress of the author’s thinking” for Philosophy. I read the manuals and the books and the auxiliary papers and then wrote a sum up of everything in my answer. I wrote everything again on a notebook and then read it aloud into a dictaphone and recorded it on tape. Then two days before the test I would listen to it (alternating with Metal of course) on my walkman. On the last night before the test, I would fall asleep listening to it and have a small fast forward go before the test. The result was great for me all the time. I had understood the matter through the studying and reading; pointed down in a tentative synthetic form on a notebook; read it/record it aloud and repeat it on my head through the mean of my own words like a mantra echoing in the mind.
When I arrived to do the test, I simply took the time to write and adapt whatever there was to be adapted and taking care I don’t overthrow the clock and fill the pages with straw (a metaphor for fillers in Portugal, palha). One of my colleagues broke it down for me: I wasn’t really thinking, I was producing text but it worked.
Philosophy teste at an academic level are not an essay for you to deliver your vision. It’s too soon for that or, really, that time will never come. Most tests were to evaluate what the teachers taught, more history of Philosophy than anything else. I remember once at a Medieval Philosophy test that I couldn’t use my method because the night before I was drinking out wth friends. There was two questions. One I used some fragments I had studied to answer but couldn’t process through my method. I had a C. The other question I took light-heartedly, it was St.Augustin, and I am not a fan so I just spoke my mind on paper, questioning it, a stupid bravado from a student but bam! B so from then on I forgot about the method and started being more loose even tough my new attitude didn’t mean success on papers and tests only a notion that I pushed my luck too far, too many times and trusted instinct instead of right timing and studying and yes my grades started to go down and I became a more of an irregular student. Then, the band came into the picture and the choice was between Hegel or a blonde, tall Dutch ready to party with into the glory ride and I gave up my method and my studies and sold my soul to the glories and humiliations of rock’n’roll.
When I look up to this text now, it seems that it totally lost its initial intent and it seems I am just bragging about my text editing skills, and bugging you with my student’s methods and anguishes. Actually, what I wanted to tell you about has to with me with turning my papers in. I had three or four papers ready in my second year (Nietzsche’s Genealogy was one of them; and i would have to check for others). I had a computer at home already but no printer so I resourced to Pedro’s (Paixão, Moonspell keyboardist) brother (João) to help me with design and printing it. João, Pedro’s brother, is a teacher at Lisbon’s Science Faculty (Applied Mathematics) and sometimes it’s the small things people do that you carry as a gesture into life. He wrote our The Butterfly Effect introduction, versing fractal movements and enumeration and he was kind enough to quote some sentence of mine in his thesis, which for me was worth so much more than many of the compliments people throw at me, many times without elaborating.
He’s a great guy, a mathematician, a metal head, a family man, a Rugby coach. Last time I saw him was in the backstage of our last Lisbon gig in February but I couldn’t even say hi, as we were unable to reach each other through the horde of our screaming kids, fans that sneaked him with friends’ passes, press, hang ons and hang outs. I hate when I can’t greet someone I respect so much but that’s what happened. I thought of him because he thought me how to use the shortcuts of Word. ctrl+a, ctrl+c, ctrl+v. An easy formula that still today I use religiously to impress my wife with my fast text edits.
I am just sitting in the studio marvelled with what our orchestrator (John Phipps) and Pedro do with Logic or Pro Tools and it’s unbelievable how your work shapes your personality. I can easily state that especially John (the orchestrator) has a very Logic way of looking into music and production which is a good thing because after all the program translates his feelings and ideas into the intangible reality of music and arrangements.
Me, I am a Word guy even though now I am cheating with Pages. I can produce a fantastic graphic spot/grid, so to speak the way the text look and breathes. I use italic and bold and I know some of the rules behind its proper use. I love the text, how it looks, how the letters were printed noisily into paper by type machines and how they now materialise on the light of the screen. I love to move the text around with my shortcuts and slice it to perfection with chosen selections, one word if needed, letter by letter.
There are people in your life that have an importance they not know or realize. Sometimes, it’s just a detail that sticks for life. No man is an island and everything is learnable as long as you pay attention. It might seem like a small deal all these shortcuts but I think of them as an image to life itself. Deleting, replacing, selecting, choosing, forms, shapes, colours, it’s all written somewhere in pages we can’t see but that sometimes pop up in a poem, in a newspaper ad, in a napkin note, in a suicide letter.
The recognition is rightful: In the beginning there was the word.
Until someone asks of you: Say your last words.