Considerations on the Meaning of Maps and Territories in the Letter by Pêro Vaz de Caminha (1500) and in the poem “Tabacaria” [Tobacco Shop] (1928) by Álvaro de Campos/Fernando Pessoa

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Abstract

We explore the thematic universe of the voyage as seen, first, in an important historical document written by Pêro Vaz de Caminha [c. 1450-1500], who relates – as the sole or the most important scribe, historically speaking, present in Pedro Álvares Cabral’s fleet – the moment of the Portuguese discovery of the Brazilian coast in 1500 and, secondly, in regard to Álvaro de Campos [1889-1933, according to his “biographer” Fernando Pessoa], who observes from his window the (modernist) boundary between senseborne reality and metaphysical otherness, i.e., the intersection of speculative consciousness at the edge of communicability with the infinite, as seen in the poem “Tabacaria” (1928). By way of Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes (The Selfish Gene, 1976), as well as Edward T. Hall’s theory of proxemics (The Hidden Dimension, 1966) we examine aspects of maps (as models and narratives of otherness within the logic of empire) and the nature of territories (as an analogue to Barthes’ theory of the text(e). Specifically, our reading of the two documents contrasts Caminha’s material and mental map making as a tool implicit within the larger narrative of empire with Campos’ use of territory as an aspect of textuality, exemplifying Pessoa’s artistic project of creating a renewed civilization of the spirit or immaterial being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViagens de Longo Curso, Roteiros e Mapeações/Long-distance Travels, Routes and Mappings
EditorsAnabela Mendes
PublisherUniversidade Católica Editora
Pages69-107
Number of pages38
EditionFirst
ISBN (Print)9789725405192
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Map
  • Territory
  • Meme
  • Proxemics
  • Empire

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