below and beyond identity
I woke up today with the verses of Brazilian watercolor on the tip of the tongue, “Open the curtains of the past, take Mãe Preta out of the savannah, put the Congo King in the Congado … “Oh, this beautiful and swarthy Brazil …” and so I spent the morning listening to this ecstatic song by Ari Barroso in its countless versions sung by Aracy Cortes, Francisco Alves, Mário Reis, Aloysio de Oliveira, Carmen Miranda, even the most modern, Gal Costa, solo, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and João Gilberto, in a trio from Bahia, Frank Sinatra and, no less, the exuberant Tim Maia.
In the 1990s, since Brazilian watercolor had been labeled, with pre-identitarian political sarcasm, a “samba de exaltation”, only singers who were very confident of their voice and reputation dared to sing it without fear of being labeled rightists, authoritarians, racists and fascists. Imagine now! Not even Chitãozinho and Xororó would dare!
While listening to the Bahian trio, I daydreamed about the Minas Gerais native of Ubá, at that time a small town displaced from the political and cultural center of Minas Gerais. The orphan son of a state deputy, with relatives in the upper echelons of the government prior to the Revolution of Thirty, Barroso had deviated from his legal mandate to dedicate himself to musicality born, not in the salons, but in the free camps formed by people of mixed race of blacks, Indians and white people and in poor neighborhoods, fermented by the radio, to the point of composing the most beautiful and intricate songs, including the most boisterous about Bahia.
In these dismantled times in which we live, if Camões were to resurface through a quantum cloud, he would be spit on in the face or a jab in his good eye for the evil of singing the Portuguese bravery and prowess.
He was able to outline so many aspects of Brazilian culture, especially about the mestizo character, the joy and glory of being Brazilian, as if Brazil was experiencing a cultural renaissance, a self-awareness of itself, which perhaps augured new times. It is not by chance that the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, living here, envisioned, in poetic rejuvenation, Brazil as being “the country of the future”, not so much for its green-yellow riches, but for the interracial and interethnic love that came to him at every turn. coffee, with every drink he shared in the bars of Morro da Providência, in 1940. Coming from a conflicted, anti-Jewish, anti-humanist, racist and overbearing Europe, Brazil already seemed to him to be paradise on Earth.
For my part, 80-odd years later, I listened to these verses enraptured by the musical beauty and in a half-ashamed enchantment by the literary surprises — a moon that emits a “merenchory light”; by the, shall we say, anthropological aspects, as in the verses – “my inzoneiro mulatto”, “sestrosa brunette with an indiscreet look” and “Brasil lindo e trigueiro” — as well as this self-identifying verse, precursor of a philosophical, if not theological, botany — “this coconut tree that gives coconut”, as if evoking Yahweh on top of Mount Sinai, shouting to Moses, “I am that I am!”. Just be dazzled by the vocal modulation and mouthpiece of Gal humming “good and tasty land”. The song is so intoxicating that a Portuguese writer, perhaps less boring than a contemporary Brazilian writer, could even forgive the countless repetitions of the words “Brasil, Brasil pra mim, meu Brasil Brasileiro”.
It is true that these verses evoke Gilberto Freyre, today croaking like a captious Lusophile; Stefan Zweig, a dazzled naive in search of salvation; Darcy Ribeiro, another miner out of his mind; Vilém Flusser, another Jew without enchantment, and so many others, Visigoths, new Christians, blacks, mestizos and yellows, today almost drowned in the sea of misunderstandings shattered by flaws woke and American and European postmodernists.
At lunchtime, sipping an açaí at the unfailing Tacacá do Norte, on Rua Barão do Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, a friend sends me an interview with a certain Portuguese writer who declared to love Brazil and, in the same vein, reproached his insusceptible conclusion, in the form dubiously apologetic, that miscegenation in Brazil would have been the result of rape, logically of a fiery ancestor of hers with some black or Indian woman in Brazil.
The indigent assertion that Portugal, in its golden days of Camonian glory, would be the only breeding male in the formation of Brazil, makes him escape his reasoning, as it also does not cross the minds of the deconstructed ideologues of the wokism American in the form of Brazilian identity, that blacks and Indians, black women and indians also exercised the libidinous act of biological reproduction with equal intensity and much greater freedom among themselves, and that they, more than the few Portuguese degraded here, is that they constituted the basis of the nascent and mestizo Brazilian population, not only in the cities, mills, towns and missions, but mainly in the midst of these agglomerates, in the arraiais, towns and free villages that were formed throughout the known territory and in the new lands to come. people.
It cannot be expected that foreign writers arrive in Brazil and already know that national historiography and anthropography are in creative and rebellious activity in the face of the stereotyped narratives that dominate the national journalistic and academic landscape. Furthermore, a gentle Portuguese is not expected to brag about his current state of being, but it sounds inconsequential to hear unconvincing whimpers about Brazil having to purge the evil of the collective rape that would have constituted it.
In these dismantled times in which we live, if Camões resurfaced through a quantum cloud – who knows that doesn’t exist! – He would get a hell of a spit in the face or a jab in his good eye, for the sake of singing the Portuguese bravery and prowess; if Vieira were to declaim the emergence of the Fifth Empire – which is none other than the multitudinous Brazil – he would be led to the garrote and to the fire by these new dogs of the cramunhão; and if the ineffable Austro-African Luso, with his faded self-pity, were to be reborn in one of his avatars, he would be chased away by the screams of a fascist from the last tobacconist’s left in Lisbon.
“Oh, this coconut tree that gives coconut, where I tie my hammock”. Ah, the poetic license: which miner would tie his hammock to a coconut tree?
Mercio P. Gomes is an anthropologist and author of the book O Brasil Inevitável.