1922, the world is here, the world is not here

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By TALES AB'SÁBER*

The Modern Art Week was presented as a spectacle, as a provocation and shock, as a lecture, as a blague and astonishment.

That a weekend modern art festival in a theater that symbolizes a class – in a city that was changing the axis of its economy from an old imperial formation, with slave-owning, aristocratic origins, to an emerging national local industry, with its masses population of the metropolis, recent immigrant working class, its flow of new objects of the future, its old republic in ever stronger tension with the tradition of social exclusion that it maintained – has provoked the shocks and commotions that it provoked, says something of a certain possible relationship of Brazil's place in the world of its modernity and its own character in the face of another, central modernity, something always out of step with our own forms and processes.

The heroic moment of 1922 was the presentation as a spectacle, but as provocation and shock, as a lecture, but as a blague and astonishment about the situation itself, in a sociological and aesthetic process that would launch the reflexivity of the case in time, from a set of of problems and forms still new to the place; but, incredibly, at the same time, forms that the European aesthetic vanguards had been producing throughout the entire XNUMXth century.

They were the futurisms and the dadaisms, shock renamings of the central European world itself in full dissolution, actions that incorporated as a new invented tradition the already past impressionisms, cubisms, atonalities, free verses, instantaneity, flows of association, that had roots in the modernity of the nineteenth century and its most radical consciousness. A modernity produced in movement, from the problem of painting modern life, flowers of evil advanced from the framework of tensions between representation and accelerated, catastrophic social transformation, illuminations of a new repressive bourgeois civilization and a fetishist market, as the modernist Walter Benjamin observed at the time, from the great release of human and technical forces, and from the destructive containment energy of the ever-present social warfare.

A convulsed historical space, which landed here, historically overnight, through some young writers and intellectuals attentive to the world, then the world as another, which made itself the same, as a festive shock. Crisis and general revolution all around, which would appear here as an event, a social event, in the double sense of the term, historical fact and program, for the modern and provincial metropolis locked in a clear political control, still of another order.

A São Paulo Brazil with deep social traits of the old ruralism, the broad political and economic colonial slave formation, in the conception of the roots of the case described as still to be revolutionized in the 1930s by the modernist Sérgio Buarque de Holanda. The brand-new metropolis of the country that was accelerating its transformation seemed not to have heard that the historic place that bought all of its world production had, for a long time, gone through other strong keys of artistic representation and social action.

The mismatch between the worlds was objective, concrete and ideological, a case of Brazil. And it has broad implications for understanding a philosophy of history from the experience of Brazil. In the same way, still in the 1868th century, Silvio Romero had pointed out the sudden end, the leap from night to day, of the invasion of the new modern ideas of the time, materialistic, scientific and positivist, in the face of slave-owning secular feudalism, decorous monarchist, Catholic spiritualist and his reactionary inconsequence, which had not yet suffered any kind of shock until the exact date of XNUMX...

One hundred years later, as Roberto Schwarz analyzed, the marginal tropicalism, or cultural industry, of young people trained in the social modernist tradition, pre-1964, would also take advantage of the same leap of aesthetic, theoretical and cultural updating, now including an unprecedented and new leap to the local, Oswaldian modernist past, in its own critical perspective that was in tune with the trend of the world of the time, pop, affirmatively industrial, facilitator of the new commodity form and liberal market life, between the Beatles and the fife band, everything to confront, again and again, now in an ambivalent way, the old Brazilian backwardness.

In this case, the delay, too, of the categories of the emancipatory critical left of the 1950s and 1960s, a political field liquidated in the violent social war of the military coup, which fractured the process of integrating the country into another modernity, from another desire for a nation, linked otherwise to the yearnings of 1922 and 1930. As a young genius of that history, before 1964, the musician of the critical mediation between the erudite and the popular Edu Lobo, said about the advent of the tropicalist music of Gil and Caetano in 1967, “ in front of their performance, we immediately age”… He was a brilliant and committed young composer who spoke like this, from the height of his 24 years – to have a pale idea of ​​the crossing of these leaps, discontinuities and trances of Brazil, about life and subjectivity of the men who are involved in them.

In 1922, in the São Paulo of the new fair industrial and automobile industries, little was known that the Europe always dreamed of and desired – from the perspective of the old imaginary Brazilian colonial exile – with its system of questioning the arts, the sense of the formative technique of time, the simultaneity, the speed, the new means of communication that connected new historical subjects, the machines of machines of machines, as Macunaíma would say, the popular movement of the masses in the city space, its camera-eye and the search for new parameters of thought and form for the crisis of universal destructiveness of imperialist capitalism at the time, there was in fact an entirely different form of city, local and national ideological system.

The myth tells us that it was not known that the axis of the central world had been turning for a long time in another rotation and production of our conservatism of beast life, of processions like entertainment and lit candles in shop windows, codified pastist, added micro bourgeoisie, Parnassian a Parisian beautician, a small bachelor of his own social ascension towards self-preservation, a world that still easily maintained blacks and Italians as neo-slaves on the farms of the world's coffee wealth, with their eclectic kitsch forum of aristocratic palaces of old and new fake nobility, people very little accustomed to the intensity of gigantic social tensions for democracy, and socialism, present on the horizon.

The total war of technology had taken place a long time ago, coffee was booming, the country was still being served as dessert, the oligarchy of grandsons of saquarema landowners from the empire, great smugglers of slaves in the XNUMXth century, controlled the State and cultural submission, while the new money from the city's new Italian industry, with its masses of workers imported from Spain and Italy, wanted nothing to do with the imminent social and aesthetic transformation, from cubism to communist anarchism, from free verse to the critique of bourgeois terror, under way in another world that was the same.

Between the old aristocracy of the city that counted its political advantages in centuries and the new money invested in the industry, circulated the old middle class of ordered demands, of bachelors, cordial dependent men, priests, political servants, Coelhos Grandsons, all well agreed to do advance the greater chorus of conservatism, mental and social, the aristocracy of nothingness, according to the modernist Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes: the racializing pact of survival of the poor, masters and excluded, which made the metropolis in boiling speed a place where cart, with its donkey, even paralyzed the tram, the past crossed the future with all its force.

The futurism of the young artists of São Paulo, more than a consequent political fusion of shock in the machinations of the world, was largely the mundane scandal of the presentation of the mismatch – a bit like Caetano Veloso in a festival environment forty years later ranting with all the anger of a revolutionary at himself, at the new innovations, for an audience satisfied with reactionary indifference, who booed him: “– You don’t understand anything, nothing, nothing…”

The case of the 1922 Modern Art Week is a strange case of our intimate formation of sudden updating, of shock, of out of step, festive, orgiastic, naive about the total power of aesthetic novelty over social life, of signaling the logic of differences in permanent and necessary potential, of a peripheral country, formed as a State and society in the long slave colonial tradition, its own antisocial way of producing capital, with its “feudalism” of totalitarian landlord mentality from the farm gate inwards, updated then in new forms of control and decorum in the conservative city of the Republican Party of São Paulo, facing a world of necessary bond, the place of world economic realization, the center of capitalist life at the time, whose technical explosion and culture war little corresponded to the local order, and its adaptation to the social stability of violence, local.

But, again, an out that guided her. The modernized Europe of universal catastrophe, which oscillated, even before the formulation of surrealism as the last snapshot of European intelligence, between the hyper-positive futurism of love for the new life of the machine and with it fearlessness in the face of the total act of war, in a accelerationism of terror typical of that time, which would even flow into fascist, nationalist and State, techno-warrior social engineering, and, in another direction, the negative anarchist dadaism of the artistic and power-independent middle class sectors, which he saw head on, as real, the universal catastrophe, theirs, of the First “World War”, the technical perspective of general extermination, as the modernist Freud said, just barely finished and ending there, overnight, with secular empires of balance of powers, in 1918.

If the central world had convulsed in the clash between the imperialist nations of total war, to avoid the solution of the permanently present generalized socializing socializing wars, its culture, on the one hand, recognized the new machination of the world, of the great intensities of destruction as creation and the end-time of experience, and, on the other hand, radically anti-bourgeois, anti-war, anti-humanist, anti-imperialist and therefore anti-capillist aesthetic anarchism. In another world, of the Brazilian existential aesthetic order, São Paulo, it was still the general chorus of conservation of the slow links between the lower middle class, which existed in dependency, and the high oligarchy, the last flowering of aristocracy still linked to the century of the slave monarchy, in its ideological pact of farce, of order and progress, of the class and for the class.

The three days of the Modern Art Week of 1922 tried to put the city, and the country, in contact with that global process, which was expressed through the forms of new art. The world, reactionary conservatism and the desire for updating, which then proved to be explosive, need to be considered together, in that minimum total social act of artists. Seeking to present backwardness to the latecomers of time, the young artists discovered, in the act itself, Happening, that the satisfied delay was not just a circumstance of peripheral displacement: they discovered that it was desired.

The extreme social tension, festive orgiastic trance, which was established in the city, as an effective social symbol around the modernists, was this. Out of the world, in the world, the country expressed itself as a double desire, simultaneous and productive of eccentricity and utopia, to participate in the broad and consequent historical process, and still deny it, with all its might. Denying it in the name of a realized origin of social terror, world mode of production of wealth against social life and recognition, slavery, which so fed our deniers of all modernity, other than that of their own business and controlled class gains .

*Tales Ab´Sáber He is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at Unifesp. Author, among other books by Dreaming restored, forms of dreaming in Bion, Winnicott and Freud (Publisher 34).

 

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