The (un)grace of culture

Dora Longo Bahia. Escalpo Paulista, 2005 Acrylic on wall 210 x 240 cm (approx.)


Culture can still pull us out of the grip of the horror that lashes out at us.

The time of the nameless captain of the Planalto brought disgrace to Brazilian cultures. Not only did he dismantle public policies aimed at doing culture, he also directed the image of culture towards anti-culture, that is, the sordidity of weapons and the exaltation of the lack of value that denies autonomy and freedom, especially for youth. The “inculturation” of death throughout the pandemic and the corruptions in public education equipment signaled the full meaning of this damn government. The Brazilian State, at this time, not only fails to fulfill its investment obligations in the plural and diverse culture of Brazil, but also denies it in its values ​​and exalts falsehoods understood as culture. See the bikers voters, hideous and bizarre.

It so happens that culture – understood as values, traditions, educational dynamics and aesthetic creations – is the thermometer, the tuning fork and the seismograph that measures the situations experienced by the people, even if unconsciously. By doing cultural-educational work, or by erasing it and negating it, the pulse of pain and fever (physical, political and cultural) of the Brazilian people is captured. In the same way, by tuning the sounds and tones stamped by society, one recognizes its voice and its orchestration, even when badly arranged; equally, and more dramatically, when culture measures earthquakes of thought and action, evidenced both in the captain's veto of investments in culture recently approved in the national congress and in the physical-cultural genocide that the president's friends and co-religionists perpetrate throughout the Amazon against forest peoples. Of the little that the current legislature does for culture and the meager rights of indigenous populations, behold, nothing is left in the hands of the brutal ruler.

Two structurally identical phenomena reveal all the horror we are experiencing: the point-blank attack by the federal administration and its minions against all works of cultural value in the country and the attack by rogue police officers against boys and girls who on the 5th pp. performed a battle of rhymes in the square of the Manoel Correia neighborhood in Cabo Frio. Denying investments, encouraging boycotts and offenses against erudite and popular cultures and creating abundant anticultural expressions are equivalent to destroying an afternoon of poetry in the poor neighborhood of the city. On one side the whole; on the other hand, its supportive part, without which popular communication ceases to exist. Through a Twitter broadcast by lawyer Ariel de Castro Alves, news from Ponte Jornalismo is known, according to which PMs ended up with the poetic expression of youth in bullets, with shots aimed at equipment and at the poets themselves.

Nothing could be more symbolic: trying to liquidate, with bullets and economic starvation, poetic, narrative, theatrical, musical and pictorial work, a phenomenon already visible in many parts of the world and, especially, in Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy and in Francisco Franco's Spain. Such facts mean preparation for a coup d'état, as they stimulate the feeling of devastated land. Let us remember Garcia Lorca, the partisans of Italy and, in Germany, the totality of horror. Or are we exempt from the worst a priori? Bolsonarist freedom is nothing more than having your hands free to suffocate and strangle the other and the other. This type of freedom could have a better name: the violation of rights. For this reason, every Bolsonarist has to hate Paulo Freire, the sweet educator who became a herald of freedom, that freedom that the captain and his friends would not even understand.

We know in Brazil situations of sad memory when capoeira, the poetic recitation of the fairs and the good party high on the hills were chased away by militiamen, policemen, foremen and delegates of the institutions and organizations of the coronelista world of the small and big cities of Brazil in the last century . In other cases, attempts were made to co-opt artists for falsely “patriotic” missions.

However, such incursions of power were the counterpart of the popular aesthetic advance, as the creators of culture always returned to their places of life and action, organized themselves to exercise their rights and enchanted us with their songs, their parties , its stagings, its samba circles and other creative forms of coexistence and friendship. There, the poetic world of freedom was realized, which Bolsonarism has never seen or felt.

We came to think that, after three years of exclusive practice of evils against Brazil, the captain would have in his re-election attempt only the votes of his family and a few militia members. But we were wrong. There is a considerable number of countrymen who harbor hatred without a cause, knots stuck in their throats without an author, horror of joy without history, heaviness in the soul without real burden and, worst of all, deluded by salvationism, magic and the savior myth, which they have done nothing but bring groups and multitudes to disgrace in many parts of the world. Such movements were the anti-culture of the gospel, since this, immersed in the Aramaic, Greek and Roman worlds, left free from the shackles of time for the freedom of Christian citizenship. The Planalto captain and his troupe don't understand this either, not even in their dreams.

Mário de Andrade, the brilliant leader of modernism, understood well that culture, art and happiness thrive in the bright spots of dark times. Cultures only need, when harassed, a little space and a little time to constitute themselves in voices, sounds, scenes, paintings, narratives and a lot of expression of desires, paths and solutions. The path of samba, capoeira, popular theater, sertaneja narratives and everything else that obstructed hands created like a miracle was no different. Aleijadinho is the greatest symbol. The masters and mistresses who followed him in all the arts also symbolized the country that seemed to lack the strength to be more than a colony and an empire and, nevertheless, today asserts the necessary democracy.

Good administrators manage via culture-education. Bad administrators do their bidding via misinterpreted economics. The sisters of human history, culture-education, can still pull us out of the hands of the horror that lashes out at us. Let's scare away evil through culture!

* Luiz Roberto Alves is a senior professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP.


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