Thursday, June 24, 2004

Ze The Portuguese Grave Digger

I think I found the blog “grave digger” just by stumbling across it because one of his posts had just that minute been published and was on Blogger’s "recent" list. And, of course, it had an attention-getting name. It’s even more interesting when you learn that he’s a sort of, approximately, vaguely Goth (a thing I know little of), and that he’s not being cute--he's a real grave digger in his home town in Portugal.

Lately, he has put some photos of the graveyard where he works on his web site. It’s a more ornate and “exotic” graveyard than I’m used to seeing; the photos show a lovely place, full of clear blue sky above it in most photos and what seems to me a fiercely cheerful blue and white entrance gate. How can it look so, I wonder. But why not? I wondered at first how he could maintain it all, then guessed that he probably does not do it all. This is my guess, I repeat. I suspect the people of his Portuguese village spend the time that Americans generally spend less and less, tending the gravesites of their own family members. He said once how his mother is often at his father’s grave and generally resists his offers to take care of it for her. His mother is probably not the only old-fashioned lady in town. Anyway, I get that impression from all the short scenarios he’s presented.

I don’t know why Ze (Jose) writes in English; he says he doesn’t know, either. For the longest time I kept suspecting that he was somebody’s college project where they invent a character and write a blog in his name. I told him that a time or two, but I don’t recall that he addressed it. I sometimes still believe that’s the deal, but for the most part I’ve decided to “buy in”, to accept it. Whether Ze is a grave digger or some group of female graduate students having a barrel of fun, it’s always fun or thought provoking to read his posts. If it’s a deception, it is a rewarding one. At this point, it would be a little heartbreaking to find that there is no Ze!

I don’t mean to be disrespectful or impugn his sexual identity when I refer to the “female” graduate students. I think that Ze is a reasonably sensitive person and that writing in a language that’s foreign to him makes him sound even more that way. Whatever unsureness he has with the language makes him talk (write) a little softly and somewhat more formally, I think. He doesn’t want to overstate things or misstate things or to be inadvertently insulting. I can identify with that, though you’d never mistake his pleasantness for my bad-temperedness. Of course, it is naturally easier being bad-tempered in one’s native language! So, at any rate, I do not suggest that Ze is as sensitive as a girl or as an effeminate man, either, but merely as sensitive as a man who doesn’t take a lot of time to keep protesting his manhood.

Ze sometimes writes about dreams, it seems to me—moderate dream-states, at any rate. Though he seems in some cases to simply be having a dream in front of you. It is an odd sensation when he’s on a roll. Yet he is always quiet, self-effacing, and polite. And sometimes he gets a little dark and spooky—not because he’s that way, but because we are!

It’s difficult to argue much with his “acceptance” of Death, even if we are not as comfortable with it. Sometimes he writes a small bio of one of the people he’s buried in recent days. They are always kind and interesting, never acting as if he knew them any better than he actually did, but making gentle guesses and observations and describing whatever slight acquaintance he did have with them. He seems to acknowledge the Mystery rather more than the facts.

Well, don’t hold your breath, you won’t get that Here! But I’ll tell you where to find the grave digger.

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?” — George Bernard Shaw."

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