In 1915, the first number of the magazine Orpheu – associated to the names of acclaimed writers Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro – was launched in Portugal. Ahead of its time, it marked an era, becoming a symbol in the European country.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Portuguese journalist Carlos Morais José, resident in Macau, – known for his irreverence – launched in the territory the magazine Órphão – Revista de Literatura, Artes e Ideias (in English, Órphão – Literature, Arts and Ideas Magazine).

Using a series of “pseudonyms, heteronyms and antonyms” as “contributors” for the magazine – all of whom he killed during the launching event – Mr José says, in a written interview to mART, there will be no more editions. Written in Portuguese, the author says the magazine has nothing to do with the original one, except from a graphic similarity.

By Luciana Leitão


How would you define Órphão?

It’s a magazine that celebrates the 100th birthday of Orpheu.

It only had one single edition. Is there enough material to continue?

It wouldn’t make sense to continue. As for the material, it is out there.

The magazine Orpheu gave voice to some of the greatest names of Portuguese literature and the analogy is inevitable. Isn’t the legacy too heavy?

If we think of [Mário] Sá-Carneiro, who was fat, yes, but Fernando Pessoa wasn’t. There isn’t any claim whatsoever on our behalf to compete with the authors from Orpheu. Poor thing… They wouldn’t have any chance; it wouldn’t be fair. Their experiences, namely political and sexual, were too limited…

You wanted this magazine to be associated to Orpheu, due to the graphic design or the content, but, according to what you expressed in other interviews, in the meantime, something new came up. Is it totally different?

Graphically and in terms of type of text, yes [it is similar]. As for the rest, it has no connection whatsoever, not even in the attitude. The Orpheu guys were optimistic and liked each other. They went to cafes and dealt with each other. They debated themes, imagine… This does not happen in Órphão. God forbid.

You’ve said previously that there is no audience in Macau – actually, nowhere – for a literature, art and ideas magazine. If the idea is not to be read, Órphão comes up only to voice the creativity of the author and/or the desire to free himself from reality?

It voices out a certain creativity. If there are voices tied to the reality of Macau, they should head out to the Coloane hill and scream. In the other day, I noticed a voice tied to a rock… I’m not sure if it’s still there or if a black-faced spoonbill ate his liver.

Is there literature without readers?

Yes, there is. The readers are the ones who do not exist without literature. Actually, readers are invented by literature, the same way the population’s opinion is an invention by Macao Daily newspaper.

In the Orpheu era, a generation that expressed itself through literature was born. According to the manifesto opening up Órphão, such a think would be impossible to imagine today. Why?

The Orpheu generation expressed itself. Through literature, painting, music and, even, culinary and politics. Maybe even through war… They were hand in hand… Today, this would be impossible. We don’t like each other and we’ll be talking about different things. Any idea of union or project is really absurd. Whoever moves on with it will remain with a dead newborn in hands or with a monster without any sense. There are many out there. People only bare each other, through the process of a narcissistic statement. The other is impossible. It always has [been]. The problem is that, nowadays, I am also [impossible].

Carlos Morais Jose2

In these 100 years between Orpheu and Órphão, did something get lost?

There is always something that gets lost. It happened the Second World War and Auschwitz. The sixties. April 25th [the day of the Portuguese Revolution, in 1974]. The return of the employer. The Berlin Wall fall. The unexpected rise of religions. Things do not stay the same because they have no essence. A fixed world is a platonic dream, beautiful, Indian and fascist.

Orpheu wanted to shake, revolt and agitate the people. What does Órphão want?

Nothing. It doesn’t want anything. Only the weak ‘want’ something.

Carlos Morais José_foto de João Monteiro

Image by João Monteiro

The Portuguese community of the territory seems to have had a good reaction to the initiative. Will there be a second number?

Was it good? Hmmm… That leaves me concerned. Have I done something wrong? I’ve heard Madonna’s reception was much better. Yet, I know I am the most loved and hated Portuguese writer living in my street. Should I be depressed by it? I think so. In success and fame reside the true perils for creativity.

If there were a second or even third numbers, would the contributors be others?

For sure. These, never again.

Wouldn’t it make sense, for instance, for Órphão to have Chinese contributors?

That would be useless. It could be an “interesting” project, sponsored maybe, reminding our literary magazines, in which each one talks about oneself. To do things in common, you need to like others. So, this seems a project for people imbued of a certain gravity, hypocritical, serious/positive, hence ridiculous. It is not for me, as I do not believe in the hieratic gravity or even in gravitational waves.

Macau is the leading line tying this first – and maybe only – number of Órphão. Was it on purpose?

The leading lines of Órphão are anguish, solitude, remorse, missing others and compulsive sex. It is not Macau. But once we’ve pulled all the threads, in the end, instead of Ariadne, the Minotaur dressed as a spotted cow appeared. With two phone calls, we passed it over to friends with colourful tastes.

Besides Macau, what do the “authors” of Órphão have in common?

They are all my heteronyms, pseudonyms and antonyms. And, in the meantime, they’ve all been murdered. Live, in the launching day. They say it is still possible to find some remains of blood, wine, sweat and other hallucinogenic liquids in the basement of the Portuguese Bookshop of Macau. It is a case for the public prosecution of literature.