the dance of death

Blanca Alaníz, Día de Muertos series, Digital photography, Mexico City, 2018.
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By FRANCISCO JUNIOR*

Sofia, Gilmar, Aldir, Agnaldo, Nicette, Josés, Marias, Pedros, Raimundas and countless others

We have no vacancies in the ICU. Several patients are waiting for a bed. A vacancy has appeared and there are more than 200 patients on the waiting list. Who will occupy it? It's your decision. In the dictatorship of the coronavirus, you are the doctor on duty and you will make your "Sophie's choice". Who is she?

Sofia Zawistowski was a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp. She carried on her body the marks of a suicide attempt and the inscription number 11379. She had two children: Jan and Eva. She faced a painful maternal conflict. Under the exterminating Nazi tyranny "die vernichtung", she was forced to choose which of her two offspring would remain alive. When facing her executioner, she was seen as privileged to be able to make her choice. “She IS a Pole, not a Jew”. In the speech of her executioner, there is the justification of her “privilege”. A dramatic scene performed by Meryl Streep in the film Sofia's choice (USA, 1982), directed by Alan J. Pakula.

In other scenarios, the drama is relived in the current pandemic context. Under the covid-19 regime, in its disastrous management in Brazilian lands, we witness the macabre spectacle of seeing people dying from lack of air. Breathing tubes are missing for the large number of people with compromised lungs. Not enough oxygen for everyone. Hospitals sold out. Hospital occupancy rates bordering the limit of service capacity. Collapse. Exhausted health professionals.

Is there still a boundary between fiction and reality? Naked and raw, the screens project the dance of death. The Sofias are in the UPA's in Brazil. Pakula's filmic text makes room for medical subjectivation. Acting at the service of the Nazi ideological project (SS Doctor), a medicine instrumentalized by those in power has its translator: “My father asked me what kind of medicine I practice here. What can I tell you? I do God's work. I choose who will live and who will die. Is this not the work of God?”

With Joel Birman, we are invited to reflect on “the trauma in the coronavirus pandemic”. In a complex view, the traumatizing context in which we live is read in its political, social, economic, ecological, cultural, ethical and scientific multidimensionality. Biology, medicine and the human and social sciences in reinforcing the basic idea that we are biopsychosocial and multidimensional. The coronavirus is not alone in building the plague of our day.

From the perspective of interdisciplinarity, Birman focuses on the “psychic dimension of the subject” traumatized in the pandemic experience. The psychoanalyst's discursive lens observes the anguished, the melancholy and the helpless under the pestilent device. A collective malaise that generates “mental confusion” in the “humanitarian catastrophe” of the living now (BIRMAN, 2020).

Artists who are attentive to the signs, take positions on disturbing themes. In today's pandemic, restless and outraged voices burst out. It is the song of indignation in the fight against cold and calculating indifference. A scandalous death toll from covid-19 is announced daily in the Brazilian media. Numerical accounting that cannot hide the fact that they were people with existential hungers and thirsts.

Dreamy creatures, with desires, needs and wishes. Lovers, friends, paradoxical creatures, virtuous and limited. Human, all too human. The great actress Nicette Bruno was knocked out by the coronavirus. The anonymous Joaquim too. It is with a humanizing touch that the singer and the poet create melodic poetry to name the INUMERABLES of the plague of now. Beings who left and were pieces of those who stayed. Halves torn off and adored by the late survivors.

Singer/composer Chico César, in partnership with writer Braúlio Bessa, created a humanizing composition to play and awaken those indifferent to individual and collective pain. Chico and Braúlio ask for help because they feel it. And here's the list of nominees in the sound colors they designed. In the society of the spectacle, it is not possible to be limited to numerical and statistical display.

We have to register and pronounce the names of those who left and also those who stayed: André Cavalcante, Bruno Campelo, Carlos Antônio, Thereza, Elaine Cristina, Felipe Pedrosa, Gastão Dias Junior, Horácia Coutinho, Iramar Carneiro, Joana Maria, Katia Cilene, Lenita Maria, Margarida Veras, Norberto Eugênio, Olinda Menezes, Pasqual Stefano, Camily, Quitéria Melo, Raimundo dos Santos, Salvador José, Terezinha Maia, Vanessa dos Santos, Wilma Bassetti, Yvonne Martins, Zulmira de Sousa, Everyone is on the walls of the memory of those who stayed. I heard about the departure of Gilmar de Carvalho. Capital teacher, researcher and writer. On National Children's Book Day, Covid-19 takes a literary companion.

*Francisco Junior is professor of sociology at the Federal University of Piauí.

 

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