Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Quadros’

Lisbon, 28th August, 1975

Dearest Lorrie:

I hope you are feeling well, and at peace with yourself—that peace you have been seeking for so long…I think that you have to cope with a very strong sense of a wrong or a sin that you feel your life is—not in a strict moral meaning but in a large one; maybe I’m saying it to you because I feel it myself.  Man is a moral or an ethical being—we have to give something back for the grace of life, we have to do something with ourselves; not only some moment, some achievement, but let’s say something that must be always present and at work. 

I suspect that you are not really contented with your life and with you, I think you want more, but have not been able to discover the way to reach it.  Your strong feeling about moral and spiritual decay around you, is it not a projection of an emptiness you feel within yourself?

It’s difficult to escape from our worldly ties; you are tied to many things, but at the same time, I think the main secret of life is to be able to reach for yourself—for your deep, ethical, axiological, teleological self—in any moment, age, circumstance whatsoever…

It’s a secret and the biggest challenge there is—and it helps to have a spiritual or religious view of reality and life; I have found that Christian theology plus humanistic philosophy can give the widest understanding of life, reality, man, society, history, being…One is not complete without the other; religion can unite you with God and with the brotherhood of man in a moral way, but it leaves out a whole range of vision; while philosophy, by itself, is work of the mind, without contact with the forces of life within matter, spiritual energy within all activity, significance within the flux of history…

Why Christian theology, and not Buddhist, etc?  All religions, I think, are true, but the Christian has the synthesis between spirit and human, between transcendence and action and its goals.  Of course we Christians neglected the spiritual side and are looking for it through oriental spiritual-isms; there is a dialectic of spirit and matter, spirit and man, spirit and history that is very complex; but each of us must look for our way, because there are as many ways as there are men.

I think, dearest Lorrie, that you are personally very near of God, and that this dissatisfaction that you feel always, this need of a unity that escapes you in the confused and decaying world of today, is spirit raising in you; spirit, that elusive insubstantial substantial, as was the expression of my friend and philosopher who just died, Jose Marinho. 

And, let me say it, I feel myself very near to you, I feel that we are and always will be much more than friends…

I haven’t been writing to you because I’ve been working on my book, that is now finished; I gave it yesterday to the editor and, if the literary crowd will like it, maybe it will be published in November.

The situation here is more clear now; the fields are being cleared, and we now know better what is happening.  The Prime Minister and a strong group of officers and soldiers of the M.F.A. are linked with the Communist Party and they intend to impose a communist “Popular Democracy” in Portugal; the P.C. is united now with most of the leftist armed organizations.  Their stronghold is Lisbon and the industrial areas—even if only proletarian Lisbon.  They have a real strength, are in power and intend to get away with their purpose—and we now know that they have been helping the communist movements in Angola, Mozambique, Timor, and it’s the reason for the civil war in Angola and Timor, that is getting horrible, with thousands killed…

But Portugal is an anti-communist country!  North of Lisbon—2/3 of Portugal— people oppose strongly the P.C. and they are destroying systematically all their centers; also the army and the M.F.A. are divided now, and more and more they are opposing this communist minority that gained the initial strength after the 25th April, with organization and lies:  they started by calling themselves democrats, and now they call “fascists” all non-communists, including the socialist and social-democrat parties;  we thought that the M.F.A. was not partisan, that it wanted a democracy, but we realize now that there was a communist group inside, and that it gained more and more power…

The situation is clear, but I think that anything can happen now.  The anti-communist sentiment is rising each day, the Angolans (we expect 500,000 in the next 3 months) are returning with nothing but hate for the government, the north will not go communist.  So—revolution, or a civil war (I don’t think it will be a long one, for it will be fought only in the area of Lisbon, as the rest of the country is anti-communist) is bound to happen very soon; that is, if the M.F.A. itself continues to hesitate with its internal decisions. 

The economy is finished; we are living on the gold reserves left by Salazar, and the government maintains the nationalized enterprises with big losses, because they are all losing money, including the banks.  There is an artificial life going on.  Cascais is full of people; they are spending gaily their holiday money without thought of the future, while the country is sinking.

The people in the country are more keen to what’s happening, and that’s why they started the reaction.  In Lisbon, the government is maintaining artificially all or most of the jobs, afraid of what would happen; but we have already 8 percent unemployed, are waiting for 500,000 Angolans, or more (100,000 are already here), with no jobs; one million unemployed are estimated by the end of the year—1 million in a population of 7 million!

We are seated on a keg of powder, I hope we can survive!  Pray for us, my dear Lorrie…

I try to be calm and have managed to write my book about everything (300 pages).  I’m waiting, now.  Sorry, very sorry I couldn’t see you this year again…

Love, yours, Antonio

Antonio Quadros, a prominent Portuguese writer, artist and intellectual, died in Lisbon in 1993 at the age of 69.  He was founder and director of the Institute of Arts and Interior Decoration (IADE) in Lisbon,  director of the publication Revista 57, and leader of a group of Portuguese intellectuals dedicated to developing a “philosophy Portuguese.”   In 2007 a  street was named for him in Cascais.  The book he refers to in this letter, Portugal Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, was published in 1976.


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