Images that ruffle my feathers

When the signifier doesn’t match the signified.

Flavio Musa de Freitas Guimarães
6 min readNov 10, 2022
Abril — Facebook

We subscribed to some very good general information magazines; all since the election of President Bolsonaro stopped being publications about facts, analyzes and comments, they only invent and produce lies — the so-called “fakes”, and became heralds and supporters of the Workers’ Party and associates; worked vigorously for the election of former President Lula, who, convicted by three instances of the Judiciary, was arrested on April 7, 2018, as he should have been; and stayed only six months on clink; he was released by the Federal Supreme Court so he could contest the 2022 election; was the only one who could stand up to Bolsonaro, hated and feared by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme is composed of eight Ministers appointed directly or indirectly by Dilma Roussef and Lula, the other three, who had cast exemplary votes, without further ado, turned their backs; yes, they no longer wear the ancient and respected Toga; they are like a One-Party Committee.

Everything has an explanation. You either know them or, with some insight, imagine them.

That left Claudia magazine, which my wife still subscribes to; although published by Editora Abril, whose other publications are of the same type and objective as the others, this one does not publish anything about politics and has articles on cooking, arrangements and decoration, other things of interest to the female sex.

I work and play at the computer, always smoking a lot; so as not to burn the top of the table, I use one of the ones already read as a support for the ashtray: if I get distracted, the butt only burns the magazine.

I picked one up at random, as usual, and the cover, incidentally with a cigarette burn, which looks like a bindi,

It bothered me.

There was something odd, incongruous about the girl’s smile, the pant-covered sex magazine position, the ugliness of her belly, a signifiant that didn’t match the signified.

If she is lucid, she disguised with this smile, the natural worries of the responsibility of those who are going to put one more human being in this crazy world. Of course, she has already had all the advanced tests that exist today, she knows that the fetus is not deformed, that it moves its head and limbs, and that its DNA is not incompatible with that of the husband or lover.

But no exam can guarantee that the baby is not mute, deaf or blind. And, no matter how good the affection, education at home, and formal education that she and her husband (if she is not a single mother) give the child so that she/he will be happy, it can be on@ joy, even a u@m geni@. Or, an inconsequential one, driving like a madman, killing people, being crippled in a disaster, being useless and a burden to anyone who has to take care of him, or even being a bum, a drug addict…

The birth of mammals, monkeys, pandas, bats, cows, sheep, goats, meerkats, felids (tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards and leopards), and felines (shepherds, cougars, lynxes, ocelots and domestic cat), and all the others is a bloody mess in the calf, the umbilical cord outside and inside. But if it is from a female other than Homo Sapiens Sapiens*, the calf will immediately receive the mother’s affection, freeing it from the umbilical cord, licking it, and protecting it until it knows how to live on its own.

*Former President Dilma said that, according to gender, it should be “Woman Sapiens Sapiens”; she was and is prodigal in tirades that made and make us laugh. I miss it: she has “pontificated” very little lately.

If she is a “Femina Sapiens Sapiens” (rs), if the delivery is by cesarean section, the baby is dragged by @ nurs@ who is going to bathe it; however carefully they do it, it was already separated from the mother at birth. If it was a normal birth in a hospital, it stays for a few moments on the mother’s chest or lap, staining the sheet or the mother’s body and… same thing, but much better, isn’t it? I was born at home, by natural birth, helped by a midwife; as an experienced midwife, she must have put a cloth over my mother’s chest so that she would see me and kiss me — ARGH! — and went to bathe me.

I think childbirth is barbaric.

Some women believe that they should thank a kind, magnanimous God, who invented that he said to a certain Eva: “I will greatly multiply your suffering in pregnancy; in suffering, you will bring forth children.” Genesis 3:16

There is no escape: if in the cesarean section, she doesn’t feel anything at the time of the baby’s birth after she suffers the pain and consequence of the surgery. Current techniques relieve and accelerate labour; it remains a barbarity, for the woman, mainly for the fetus.

The discussion, not so much about why, but about what for life exists, has entertained the best philosophers since antiquity, with no plausible answer.

As long as we have healthy physical and mental health, we all love life, and everything it gives us, even the poorest and most helpless (who, by the way, are the ones who procreate the most).

I published, on Medium, “The tracks converge in the distance”; at the end, I thank the little train: “Thank you little train, the trip was worthed!”. In the presentation, of my mockery of an autobiography, always interminable, “Collages and Patches At a hand already trembling”, I end with: I will not, of course, write the last chapter; as a suggestion for someone who intends to write it, here is my epitaph:

“I lived. It worthed”.

That’s right: I loved living and I love being living. But it is also part of our life to look around, to perceive reality, and to make considerations about what we perceive.

And as for childbirth, I think it is right what I said above.

I got sick of this figure; I turned to see the back cover, it also has a cigarette burn: a mole on her chin

Scanned by me

Do the eyebrows indicate a question, doubt, fright, discomfort, disdain, invitation or instigation?

The mouth, with a discreet smile,

In my opinion, it seems to confirm that it is a question, doubt, disdain, perhaps an invitation and instigation.

It contests fright and discomfort unless she’s an artist who manages to hide them; in which case, the significant wouldn’t match the signified.

But she is a beautiful woman; even if the significant doesn’t match the signified, it doesn’t bother me.

Usually, the ashtray and the cigarette pack hide her face; and when I see it, it stimulates my neurons, each time imagining what the right answer would be.

Do you have a hunch?



Flavio Musa de Freitas Guimarães

Already watching the eighty-eight turn of the Earth in curtsy around its King, I’m an engineer that became a writer, happy, in perfect health, body and mind.