Da vacuidade e da arrogância

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Anton Tchekhov (1860-1904)

Hoje dei comigo louco à procura de um conto de Tchekhov. Um, precisamente, cujo título não me lembro, assim como não recordo o nome das personagens, porque os russos põem sempre três nomes nas personagens e à segunda vez que as nomeiam já as estão a tratar pelo diminutivo, sendo que em russo o diminutivo de Dimitri pode ser, por incrível que pareça, uma palavra com sete sílabas, o que torna tudo mais difícil.

A história desse conto desenrola-se assim: um médico de aldeia, cargo do Estado que existia na Rússia de então, chorava em casa a morte da mulher, falecida nesse mesmo dia, quando é interrompido por um nobre da zona. Este vem pedir-lhe que acuda à sua mulher, que está lá no palácio entre a vida e a morte. O médico não quer ir, tem direito à sua dor, ao seu luto. Mas o nobre consegue persuadi-lo do óbvio: que já nada pode fazer pela sua mulher, ao passo que, pela dele, que ainda respirava, que ainda lutava contra a morte, podia fazer muito; podia salvá-la.

Os dois metem-se num luxuoso trenó a caminho. Lá chegados, o nobre pede ao médico que espere. Ele olha e vê o luxo do palácio e compara-o mentalmente com a rudeza, a frugalidade da sua casa. De súbito, o nobre desce as escadas com imprecações: a mulher fugira com outro. Toda a sua doença não passara de um estratagema para o afastar de casa e fugir à vontade. O médico explode! Como é possível que lhe tenham desfeito a noite de luto com tal trivialidade. O nobre desculpa-se (tudo isto é de memória, não consigo encontrar o raio do livro) e manda o condutor do trenó levá-lo a casa.

E o conto termina de forma súbita. Tchekhov diz-nos que os anos passaram e que o médico superou a dor da morte da mulher. Porém, a vacuidade, arrogância e o luxo desmesurado daquela nobreza jamais lhe saíram da memória.

Eu penso que este conto foi escrito entre 1882 e 1890 (não o encontro nem no Google, nem nos pdf em inglês disponíveis na Internet). Seja como for, é o retrato do fim de regime, da impossibilidade de manter as relações sociais como até então.

Nestes últimos tempos tenho recordado muito este conto. O caso já não é com uma nobreza rica e ociosa, mas sobretudo com uma pretensa elite (política, económica, intelectual) vazia, inculta e atrevida.

De qualquer modo vem a propósito da vacuidade e da arrogância desses que nem chegam a compreender a dor que infligem nos outros.

Sobre Henrique Monteiro

Nunca fui um sedutor, embora amasse algumas mulheres hospitaleiras. Nunca fugi de um combate, mas sempre invejei quem, ao abrir as portas de um saloon, provoca pânico entre os bandidos. Tenho nas veias sangue jacobino, mas odeio revoluções e igualdades uniformizadoras. Sou pacato e desordeiro, anarquista institucional, maestro falhado, cantor romântico e piroso a quem falta tom.
Sem nunca me levar a sério – no melhor sentido da palavra, acho que apenas sou um homem bom
(e barato).

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12 respostas a Da vacuidade e da arrogância

  1. Se há uma pretensa elite política, económica, intelectual, vazia, inculta e atrevida, é porque se promoveu e foi promovida juntamente com vazio, a incultura e o atrevimento. Não acredito, por um segundo que seja, na irresponsabilidade individual e das instituições. Há e haverá enquanto quisermos que haja.

    (Não li este conto de Tchekhov. Não sei qual é…)

  2. Panurgo diz:

    O conto é o “Inimigos”.

    • Henrique Monteiro diz:

      Ó meu caro, é isso mesmo. Já confirmei! Mil vezes obrigado

      • Panurgo diz:

        Ora essa. Não sei é se o conto é um bom ponto de partida para a compreensão da Revolução Russa, ou das elitoses portuguesas. Estas últimas pertencem mais aos domínios do ridículo do que propriamente aos da Ciência. Deixando isso para outra altura, deixe-me só acrescentar um comentário ao último parágrafo, fazendo uma coisa que gosto sempre de fazer. Citar Aristóteles:

        “Os caracteres que decorrem da riqueza estão à vista de todos. Os que os possuem são soberbos e orgulhosos, porque de certa maneira estão afectados pela posse das riquezas (estão na mesma disposição daqueles que possuem todos os bens; a riqueza, com efeito, funciona como uma medida de valor das outras coisas, porque tudo parece poder comprar-se com dinheiro). São também efeminados e petulantes: efeminados, porque vivem no luxo e fazem ostentação da sua felicidade; petulantes e até grosseiros, porque estão habituados a que toda a gente se ocupe dos seus desejos e os admire, e também porque crêem que os outros desejam o que eles têm. De resto, é muito natural que tenham estes sentimentos, uma vez que são muitos os que desejam aquilo que eles têm. Assim se explica o dito de Simónides acerca dos sábios e dos ricos, quando a mulher de Hierão lhe perguntava se era preferível ser rico ou sábio: «ser rico», respondeu ele, «pois vejo sempre os sábios passarem o tempo à porta dos ricos». Também se acham dignos de governar, porque julgam possuir tudo aquilo por que vale a pena governar. Em suma, o carácter de um rico é o de um louco afortunado.
        Os caracteres dos novos-ricos diferem dos antigos no seguinte: os novos-ricos, além de terem todos os vícios dos outros, ainda os têm em maior grau e com maiores defeitos (é que no novo-rico há como que uma ausência de educação no tocante à riqueza). Os ricos, quando cometem injustiças, não o fazem por maldade, umas fazem-nas por insolência, outras por intemperança, como, por exemplo, injúrias pessoais e adultério.
        De maneira semelhante acontece com os que se relacionam com o poder, cujos traços de carácter são quase evidentes na sua maioria.”

  3. Quem terá lido esse conto? Lenine? Trotsky? Há um ressentimento social que passa nele como um rio subterrâneo. Desenha tão bem, com psicologia mais do que com a posse, a luta de classes…

    • Henrique Monteiro diz:

      Exato, se leres, agora que me lembraram o raio do nome, não podia ser mais antecâmara de 1905 e do que depois se seguiu

  4. Muito bom. (Como sempre…:))

  5. ENEMIES
    Texto integral e de borla em http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/ac/jr/100.htm Lendo-o percebe-se como a memória anda a trair o Henrique.O luto era pela morte do menino e a dor da mãe-esposa. Mas a súmula e a conclusão do HM são perfeitas!

    A parte final é do seguinte teor e está escrita cinematograficamente.Parece um storyboard:

    (…)

    In the doorway stood Abogin, but he was not the same as when he had gone out. The look of sleekness and refined elegance had disappeared — his face, his hands, his attitude were contorted by a revolting expression of something between horror and agonizing physical pain. His nose, his lips, his moustache, all his features were moving and seemed trying to tear themselves from his face, his eyes looked as though they were laughing with agony. . . .

    Abogin took a heavy stride into the drawing-room, bent forward, moaned, and shook his fists.

    “She has deceived me,” he cried, with a strong emphasis on the second syllable of the verb. “Deceived me, gone away. She fell ill and sent me for the doctor only to run away with that clown Paptchinsky! My God!”

    Abogin took a heavy step towards the doctor, held out his soft white fists in his face, and shaking them went on yelling:

    “Gone away! Deceived me! But why this deception? My God! My God! What need of this dirty, scoundrelly trick, this diabolical, snakish farce? What have I done to her? Gone away!”

    Tears gushed from his eyes. He turned on one foot and began pacing up and down the drawing-room. Now in his short coat, his fashionable narrow trousers which made his legs look disproportionately slim, with his big head and long mane he was extremely like a lion. A gleam of curiosity came into the apathetic face of the doctor. He got up and looked at Abogin.

    “Excuse me, where is the patient?” he said.

    “The patient! The patient!” cried Abogin, laughing, crying, and still brandishing his fists. “She is not ill, but accursed! The baseness! The vileness! The devil himself could not have imagined anything more loathsome! She sent me off that she might run away with a buffoon, a dull-witted clown, an Alphonse! Oh God, better she had died! I cannot bear it! I cannot bear it!”

    The doctor drew himself up. His eyes blinked and filled with tears, his narrow beard began moving to right and to left together with his jaw.

    “Allow me to ask what’s the meaning of this?” he asked, looking round him with curiosity. “My child is dead, my wife is in grief alone in the whole house. . . . I myself can scarcely stand up, I have not slept for three nights. . . . And here I am forced to play a part in some vulgar farce, to play the part of a stage property! I don’t . . . don’t understand it!”

    Abogin unclenched one fist, flung a crumpled note on the floor, and stamped on it as though it were an insect he wanted to crush.

    “And I didn’t see, didn’t understand,” he said through his clenched teeth, brandishing one fist before his face with an expression as though some one had trodden on his corns. “I did not notice that he came every day! I did not notice that he came today in a closed carriage! What did he come in a closed carriage for? And I did not see it! Noodle!”

    “I don’t understand . . .” muttered the doctor. “Why, what’s the meaning of it? Why, it’s an outrage on personal dignity, a mockery of human suffering! It’s incredible. . . . It’s the first time in my life I have had such an experience!”

    With the dull surprise of a man who has only just realized that he has been bitterly insulted the doctor shrugged his shoulders, flung wide his arms, and not knowing what to do or to say sank helplessly into a chair.

    “If you have ceased to love me and love another — so be it; but why this deceit, why this vulgar, treacherous trick?” Abogin said in a tearful voice. “What is the object of it? And what is there to justify it? And what have I done to you? Listen, doctor,” he said hotly, going up to Kirilov. “You have been the involuntary witness of my misfortune and I am not going to conceal the truth from you. I swear that I loved the woman, loved her devotedly, like a slave! I have sacrificed everything for her; I have quarrelled with my own people, I have given up the service and music, I have forgiven her what I could not have forgiven my own mother or sister. . . I have never looked askance at her. . . . I have never gainsaid her in anything. Why this deception? I do not demand love, but why this loathsome duplicity? If she did not love me, why did she not say so openly, honestly, especially as she knows my views on the subject? . . .”

    With tears in his eyes, trembling all over, Abogin opened his heart to the doctor with perfect sincerity. He spoke warmly, pressing both hands on his heart, exposing the secrets of his private life without the faintest hesitation, and even seemed to be glad that at last these secrets were no longer pent up in his breast. If he had talked in this way for an hour or two, and opened his heart, he would undoubtedly have felt better. Who knows, if the doctor had listened to him and had sympathized with him like a friend, he might perhaps, as often happens, have reconciled himself to his trouble without protest, without doing anything needless and absurd. . . . But what happened was quite different. While Abogin was speaking the outraged doctor perceptibly changed. The indifference and wonder on his face gradually gave way to an expression of bitter resentment, indignation, and anger. The features of his face became even harsher, coarser, and more unpleasant. When Abogin held out before his eyes the photograph of a young woman with a handsome face as cold and expressionless as a nun’s and asked him whether, looking at that face, one could conceive that it was capable of duplicity, the doctor suddenly flew out, and with flashing eyes said, rudely rapping out each word:

    “What are you telling me all this for? I have no desire to hear it! I have no desire to!” he shouted and brought his fist down on the table. “I don’t want your vulgar secrets! Damnation take them! Don’t dare to tell me of such vulgar doings! Do you consider that I have not been insulted enough already? That I am a flunkey whom you can insult without restraint? Is that it?”

    Abogin staggered back from Kirilov and stared at him in amazement.

    “Why did you bring me here?” the doctor went on, his beard quivering. “If you are so puffed up with good living that you go and get married and then act a farce like this, how do I come in? What have I to do with your love affairs? Leave me in peace! Go on squeezing money out of the poor in your gentlemanly way. Make a display of humane ideas, play (the doctor looked sideways at the violoncello case) play the bassoon and the trombone, grow as fat as capons, but don’t dare to insult personal dignity! If you cannot respect it, you might at least spare it your attention!”

    “Excuse me, what does all this mean?” Abogin asked, flushing red.

    “It means that it’s base and low to play with people like this! I am a doctor; you look upon doctors and people generally who work and don’t stink of perfume and prostitution as your menials and mauvais ton; well, you may look upon them so, but no one has given you the right to treat a man who is suffering as a stage property!”

    “How dare you say that to me!” Abogin said quietly, and his face began working again, and this time unmistakably from anger.

    “No, how dared you, knowing of my sorrow, bring me here to listen to these vulgarities!” shouted the doctor, and he again banged on the table with his fist. “Who has given you the right to make a mockery of another man’s sorrow?”

    “You have taken leave of your senses,” shouted Abogin. “It is ungenerous. I am intensely unhappy myself and . . . and . . .”

    “Unhappy!” said the doctor, with a smile of contempt. “Don’t utter that word, it does not concern you. The spendthrift who cannot raise a loan calls himself unhappy, too. The capon, sluggish from over-feeding, is unhappy, too. Worthless people!”

    “Sir, you forget yourself,” shrieked Abogin. “For saying things like that . . . people are thrashed! Do you understand?”

    Abogin hurriedly felt in his side pocket, pulled out a pocket-book, and extracting two notes flung them on the table.

    “Here is the fee for your visit,” he said, his nostrils dilating. “You are paid.”

    “How dare you offer me money?” shouted the doctor and he brushed the notes off the table on to the floor. “An insult cannot be paid for in money!”

    Abogin and the doctor stood face to face, and in their wrath continued flinging undeserved insults at each other. I believe that never in their lives, even in delirium, had they uttered so much that was unjust, cruel, and absurd. The egoism of the unhappy was conspicuous in both. The unhappy are egoistic, spiteful, unjust, cruel, and less capable of understanding each other than fools. Unhappiness does not bring people together but draws them apart, and even where one would fancy people should be united by the similarity of their sorrow, far more injustice and cruelty is generated than in comparatively placid surroundings.

    “Kindly let me go home!” shouted the doctor, breathing hard.

    Abogin rang the bell sharply. When no one came to answer the bell he rang again and angrily flung the bell on the floor; it fell on the carpet with a muffled sound, and uttered a plaintive note as though at the point of death. A footman came in.

    “Where have you been hiding yourself, the devil take you?” His master flew at him, clenching his fists. “Where were you just now? Go and tell them to bring the victoria round for this gentleman, and order the closed carriage to be got ready for me. Stay,” he cried as the footman turned to go out. “I won’t have a single traitor in the house by to-morrow! Away with you all! I will engage fresh servants! Reptiles!”

    Abogin and the doctor remained in silence waiting for the carriage. The first regained his expression of sleekness and his refined elegance. He paced up and down the room, tossed his head elegantly, and was evidently meditating on something. His anger had not cooled, but he tried to appear not to notice his enemy. . . . The doctor stood, leaning with one hand on the edge of the table, and looked at Abogin with that profound and somewhat cynical, ugly contempt only to be found in the eyes of sorrow and indigence when they are confronted with well-nourished comfort and elegance.

    When a little later the doctor got into the victoria and drove off there was still a look of contempt in his eyes. It was dark, much darker than it had been an hour before. The red half-moon had sunk behind the hill and the clouds that had been guarding it lay in dark patches near the stars. The carriage with red lamps rattled along the road and soon overtook the doctor. It was Abogin driving off to protest, to do absurd things. . . .

    All the way home the doctor thought not of his wife, nor of his Andrey, but of Abogin and the people in the house he had just left. His thoughts were unjust and inhumanly cruel. He condemned Abogin and his wife and Paptchinsky and all who lived in rosy, subdued light among sweet perfumes, and all the way home he hated and despised them till his head ached. And a firm conviction concerning those people took shape in his mind.

    Time will pass and Kirilov’s sorrow will pass, but that conviction, unjust and unworthy of the human heart, will not pass, but will remain in the doctor’s mind to the grave.

    • Henrique Monteiro diz:

      Ó caro Zé Magalhães, isto da memória é chão que deu uvas. Um gajo lê essas coisas há 20 ou 30 anos e depois baralha o filho com a mulher. Mas essa é a dor superada, a que persiste é a da vacuidade.
      Obrigado e abraço.

  6. Que soberbas postagem e respostas!

  7. mónica diz:

    parece fácil porque está perfeito, obrigada pelo belo post

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