(Pedra de Toque): Roldan, don’t you think it’s a risk to fall prey to the excessive sexuality, as set up by David Haize, in the As Três Viagens… [The Three Journeys of David Haize]…, in the name of pleasure, even that, with aging and the powerlessness it brings, we might become more frustrated with what we lose than we would be if our drive was (as it is in many men and women) refrained?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) If it’s a risk, in terms of literature, I don’t know. I can only say that sexuality – as well as with authors like Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence, for instance – is the trademark of Roldan-Roldan, as well as identity and exile. In the other hand, David Haize is a hedonist and he will be one until his death.
(Pedra de Toque): What is the novelty you postulate for us? You reject socialism and capitalism… Would this novelty you promote be a new “old” “third way”? Would it be utopia or what exactly?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) I don’t believe this is a utopia, although human being remains too backward. Yes, perhaps a “new old third way”. Neither the totalitarian Stalinism and Maoism nor the dictatorship of capital, that is to say, the subordination of social welfare to the abusive and unfair rules of neoliberalism, rules that look down at ethics, morals and humanist values.
(Pedra de Toque): Just in case we didn’t have it clear, you postulate a fourth way? Neither socialist totalitarianism nor dictatorial capitalism or the pretentious neoliberalism? Is this what you mean? What would you call this new pathway?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) Yes. Exactly. Perhaps we may call it simply humanism, a term that is being used.
(Pedra de Toque): How do you consider our civilization? Are we Western? Brazilian? Latin-American? Or do you see any other ideological vessel in which our people could be included and feel more comfortable in terms of culture?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) We’re Latin-American (although the Andean countries are one thing, those from the south cone are another thing and those from the Atlantic – Brazil, Venezuela, Guianas and the Caribbean – are something different), we’re a subdivision of the Western civilization. A Brazilian man differs a lot culturally from a European man. In other words, the Brazilian culture and civilization are different from those of Europe and also from those of the United States.
(Pedra de Toque): What is the film you never get enough of watching?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) As a movie buff, there are many. If I were to choose only two, I would go for The Leopard, by Visconti, and Last Year at Marienbad, by Resnais. I would also remark the revolutionary masterpiece, both in form and content, and that seldom is among the best of all times: Dogville, by Lars von Trier; the extraordinary Burn, by Pontecorvo (one of the greatest political films ever made) and Ana and the Wolves, by Saura, a unique metaphor on Franco dictatorship.
(Pedra de Toque): What’s the best Brazilian film director in your opinion? Once you follow the Brazilian movies.
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) Nowadays, Kleber Mendonça Filho. Neighboring Sounds and Aquarius have brought to the screens what Brazil insists in not watching. But, sure, I can’t fail to mention Walter Salles, who I respect too much both as a filmmaker and a human being.
(Pedra de Toque): Do you have many influences from the seventh art in your writing, or life and other arts also bring interesting things?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) The silver screen exercises a predominant influence in my work. My books are essentially cinematographic. But painting also fascinates me. Painters like Giotto, Bosch, Bruegel (The Younger and the Elder), Caravaggio, Goya, Van Gogh, Munch, De Chirico and Edward Hopper, and the Chinese classic painting stimulate my imagination. As well as music. From Bach to Beethoven and Mozart; from Stockhausen to Luciano Berio and Pendericki; from Caballé and Hvorostovky to Léo Ferré and Elomar. The emotion provoked by music is so intense that I can’t hear music when I’m writing, because it takes me out of my creation; I first need to hear a given music before starting to write. And, obviously, literature. Many writers have somehow influenced me. Also life, for sure. Life, good or bad, life that pulses, vibrates, trembles, boils up, roars and blows up around me. Life with its urgency to be lived intensely before it comes to an end. Yes, life: Mankind and the human condition. I mean, I’m always in love with art and life.
(Pedra de Toque): Do you think good readers have become endangered species? How about good authors? How do you see the landscape of literature nowadays, despite you’re more connected to the movies?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan) Too much trash has been written these days. I remain with old friends like Raduan Nassar (Ancient Tillage is one of the most beautiful novels of the Brazilian literature), Guimarães Rosa, Murilo Mendes (with whom I identify a lot), Manuel Bandeira (with nice “wicked” flairs – it’s a pity he didn’t dare more, but the Brazilian artists, in general, have always followed the conservationism of society), Hilda Hilst, Osman Lins and the great Orides Fontela, who’s not duly acknowledged and sung.
(Pedra de Toque): Do you think there’s something or someone trying to silence literature?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): The brothel (the whorehouse that sells the mother, the daughter and the wife if necessary) represented by neoliberalism is not interested in promoting literature and culture in general. Even because, for neoliberalism, culture is not profitable. For reading means being no more crazy and starting being aware. This is no good for an authoritarianism of a system disguised as a democracy, whose catchphrase is “to consume and remain ignorant”. It’s not in vain that neoliberalism joins some religions that castrate the intellect of their followers, which is an outrage.
(Pedra de Toque): You state by the mouth of David Haize that your holy trinity is “eating, fucking and writing”. How do you eat? Do you cook? Do you go to restaurants or remain at home enjoying a more intimate feed? Have you been writing nowadays? Tell us about your everyday life.
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): I’m a gourmet and I like to cook for my friends, not for me when I’m alone. Sometimes I create dishes like those of my characters of Litterata ou O Doce Sorriso do Macho Satisfeito [Litterata or The Sweet Smile of the Satisfied Male] (always literature invading reality and vice-versa). As for my everyday life, I’d say it’s not glamorous whatsoever. I live modestly. I don’t gain practically anything from my books. And lately I’ve been facing serious vision problems, what prevents me from more reading. My short-story Uma Semana na Vida de um Escritor [A Week in the Life of a Writer] (actually a mini-diary) from the book Negro, Pobre e Gay [Black, Poor and Gay] addresses this.
(Pedra de Toque): Tell the readers a little about the odyssey your childhood was: changing countries, living in Morocco, and then coming to Brazil. What’s the relationship between the three countries in your story. Were you born in Spain?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): Franco dictatorship persecution forced my father to get around and shelter in Morocco. My mother sheltered in the British territory of Gibraltar. And I, still a child, was placed illegally (hidden among suitcases) in a ship that led me to the international city of Tangier, in Morocco, where I joined my father, a stranger for me. Later, my mother managed to enter secretly in Tangier. And without documents, as stateless refugees, we remained arrested in that city during ten years, until we recovered our documents. Not to mention the poverty we had to face. This very hard time of my childhood and teenage years made a significant impact in my life, therefore, in my work. There came the fight for independence of Morocco and then, with thousands of Europeans, we had to depart. And we came to Brazil. In Brazil, I became a Brazilian writer. Yes, a Brazilian writer born in Spain, created in a Islamic country, of French formation, a formation that influenced my work strongly. At last, I’m the very identity of “unidentity”. We not always have control of our destiny, but I’ve always remained loyal to my passion for writing so as to have gotten rid of everything to dedicate full time to writing.
(Pedra de Toque): Where did Joseph Deschamps come from? Do you miss a guide?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): Joseph Deschamps is purely fictional, although he’s composed of several existing people. No, I don’t feel the lack of a guide. I’ve always known, since I was a kid, what I wanted and where what I wanted was. I feel the lack that someone knows actually who I am. People know fragments of my personality, but they don’t know me as a whole. I admit that I’m complex, multifaceted. But I see myself as a single block, indivisible, despite life having ironically tried to fragment me. Well, truly, one should ask: Who is Roldan-Roldan/David Haize?
(Pedra de Toque): The very funny dialogs are quite spontaneous in the second journey of David Haize – they sound as pure nonsense. I don’t remember having seen this kind of talks in the Brazilian literature, generally so heavy, which some exceptions. Perhaps the Brazilian soap operas may bring something like this. Was it from them that you had inspiration for this effect in the form?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): All of my novels, short stories, and theater plays are full of irony, a symbiosis from Kafka’s and Lewis Carroll’s absurd, perhaps something from Dino Buzzati, but not from Campos de Carvalho. Although my characters are tragic, in the Greek sense, I never kill them. They have already paid too expensive tribute for being displaced, perplex, bewildered in a world of finitude. This is enough.
(Pedra de Toque): What are your impressions of the French Revolution? Do you think it did well for the world as a whole?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): The French Revolution had to happen in a socially unchangeable country where all the wealth and privileges were in the hands of the nobility and the clergy, while the people was literally starving. What doesn’t develop, decays and dies. In other words, the dammed waters need to open the floodgates sometimes, otherwise the dams break and there comes the catastrophe. Sure, there were many excesses, but the legacy of the Revolution – such as the Declaration of Human Rights and the exemplar secularism of France – is valid until these days. It’s needless to mention that an intelligent system is one that promotes forward-looking reforms… if this system wants to go on.
(Pedra de Toque): Is the third journey (metaphysical, as you call it) your favorite?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): I like the three journeys. Each represent one face of David Haize, but the stagecoach one is the most Roldanian. Surrealism grants full liberty for creation that doesn’t fit the molds of the realism likelihood. And absurd or nonsense doesn’t necessarily need to be tragic.
(Pedra de Toque): Give us a summary of your books in a chronological manner and tell us how they can be found.
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): I have 35 works published. Among the novels I can mention: O Bárbaro Liberto [The Freed Barbarian] (prize-winner in Italy), Boa Viagem Sheherazade ou A Balada dos Malditos [Good Trip, Scheherazade or The Ballad of the Wicked Ones] (prize-winner in Italy), Litterata ou O Doce Sorriso do Macho Satisfeito [Litterata or The Sweet Smile of the Satisfied Male] and Rapsódia Para um Viajante Solitário [Rhapsody for a Lonely Traveler]. Among the short stories books: Ao Sul do Desejo [In Southern Desire], Juiz, Casado, com Filhos, Procura Homem Para Sexo Casual [Judge, Married, with Children, Looking for a Man for Casual Sex] and Negro, Pobre e Gay [Black, Poor and Gay]. Theater plays: As Gaivotas Morrem na Fronteira ou O Trem do Delírio [The Seagulls Die in the Boundary or The Train of Delusion], Jaulas (Subsolo) [Cages (Basement)], As Papoulas de Constantinopla [The Poppies of Constantinople] and O Ato – Foder é Vermelho [The Action – Fucking is Red]. In poetry: A Dor da Identidade – Khayyan Tânger [The Pain of Identity – Khayyan Tânger], Inidentidade [Unidentity] (prize-winner in Italy), Caminho, Insólito Caminho [Pathway, Strange Pathway] and O Pó da Ausência [ The Powder of Absence]. Epistolary: Cartas a um Filho em Coma [Letters to a Son in Coma], a testimonial painfully autobiographical. My books may be found on Amazon books (e-books or hard copies) or in second-hand bookstores.
(Pedra de Toque): Why did you destroy the work of your firstfruits?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): Because I’m demanding and temperamental. I considered my [first five] books to be bad and, since I’m radical, I destroyed them. I don’t regret. Sure, today I wouldn’t do that, but I would redo the works.
(Pedra de Toque): Haize, what is more pleasurable for you: life or the truth?
(Rod Roldan-Roldan): Life. Although I was raised within the most rigorous truth – and I’m very proud of this rigor of my father. But truth may be relative, since time changes it, because nothing is unchangeable. While life is an irrefutable fact. And I believe only in facts. And in reason.