Twenty After Midnight by Daniel Galera

Twenty After Midnight by Daniel Galera

Author:Daniel Galera [Galera, Daniel]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2020-08-11T00:00:00+00:00

Nobody wanted to see the horror of abundance, of things brimming over and proliferating until bursting. The horror that emptiness could inspire in the human soul was comforting next to the horror of things and beings swarming. What I felt as I walked the paved length of Largo da Batata on that Friday morning—from the bus stop to an address on a little street in Pinheiros, where I’d get an abortion—was a kind of horror. It had rained not long ago, and the gutters still guzzled down the grayish stew that streamed off the curb. I would have to zigzag at random to move through the crowd, like a cockroach in flight, never stopping. It was imperative not to stop. Or so Mr. Gregório, the University of São Paulo driver who used to take me to the cane fields in Araras, had taught me. He practiced Hinduism and traveled to India once a year to study and meditate with his teacher. The best way to cross an avenue in Mumbai, he said, was to always move diagonally and not stop under any circumstance. This method worked both for people and vehicles. For cockroaches and rats.

A rat was a fine creature, when seen in isolation, independent of other rats or their relation to diseases and historic plagues. Soft and curious, clever in its own right and ferocious when under duress, the rat invited admiration. But at a certain degree of concentration, horror bloomed. The sight of thousands of rats devouring one another in the hold of an abandoned ship adrift at sea was repulsive, worthy of horror films. The infestation of any living organism could provoke horror in the hearts of men and women. Any organism. If you herded enough butterflies into a crowded space, soon the simmering density of their bellies and the bristling of their wings would stand your hairs on end and turn your stomach. There was no reason it should be different with humans. We had infested the planet, or at least the streets of São Paulo. One of the traits of a living organism, philosophically speaking, was self-interest, and it was the intense concentration of these self-interests that turned crowds nauseating. Mob violence, rallies, and rock concerts could upend that logic, but on the streets of São Paulo that Friday morning, there existed only terror and the feeling that it just couldn’t be, that something must have gone wrong for there to be so many people trying to go about their lives in the same place. Human proliferation was in itself a constraint on humanity, I thought. Our entire species seemed destined to win itself a cosmic-scale Darwin Award for the feat of attaining self-extinction through improved life expectancy. Soon, there wouldn’t be space or food enough in the ship’s hold, and the rats would start devouring one another. That is, of course, unless scientists like me conjured a new Green Revolution. Space agencies were researching the viability of colonizing planets similar to ours. To colonize, we would have to eat.


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