Until when sad tropics?

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An essay on the future of hollow

When Oswald de Andrade, in 1922, already a century ago, at the time of the Modern Art week in São Paulo, proposed a cultural anthropophagy, he also dreamed of a different Brazil for modernity. He dismissed romantic idealism over syncretism and read in the rituals of indigenous cannibalism – as practiced by the indigenous and Amazonian Araweté people – a vital relationship between the sign and the mestizo: an ontology of mixture.

It is inspired by the thought of Oswald de Andrade and his reading by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro that I depart from the contributions of cultural anthropophagy to the analysis of Brazil, in the once idealized Anthropocene. Through new arrangements and social structures that can be called, in the wake of romanticism and its communitarian ideal of “the people”, I try to invoke another future for the common Brazilian identity: that is, a future that is not one of destruction, exploitation, trafficking, silencing and death. A future that does not treat the indigenous with exoticism and cultural appropriation, but rather that effectively grants them their original rights: “the Indians”, as Viveiros de Castro would say with a mixture of irony and political pragmatism, are in reality the natives of a land with many names, many tribes and identities that today hover forgotten over the nineteenth-century myth of that ghostly unit that is the “people”.

How to think about the future from the native perspective? I remember here Lévi-Strauss's account of his meeting with Marcos de Azambuja, Brazilian ambassador in Paris, who, upon learning of Lévi-Strauss's trip to Brazil, gave him a deleterious warning, says Lévi-Strauss: “I was somewhat amazed when, during lunch, which the Brazilian ambassador in Paris had taken me to, I heard from the ambassador the official version 'Indians, unfortunately dear gentleman, years have gone by since they disappeared, that is a sad and shameful page in the history of my country, but the Portuguese colonists of the XNUMXth century were avid and brutal men, how can you reproach them for the general rudeness of their customs, they caught the Indians, tied them to the muzzles of the cannons and shot them to pieces, that's how they eliminated them until the last one, as a sociologist in Brazil, you will discover exciting things in Brazil, but don't think about the Indians anymore, you won't find a single one'”.

There is no way to avoid a historical judgment based on the words of the ambassador, the Indian who was already an extinct type for him signals how, from the height of Parisian etiquette, Brazil and its 'passionate things' appear as a resort for Europeans to travel . It was like this in the colonial past and it remains like this in modernity. Brazil in its multitudes and diversities, remains alien to the elite that governs national politics, it was like this in the past and this is how the necropolitics of the pandemic genocide is radicalized, we live in a land devastated by a genocide not only of bodies, but a genocide with dimensions symbolic and cultural. Our igarapés are offered for the enjoyment of visiting bathers while ours die on the cold floor of hospitals – without history there is no project.

But if Oswald de Andrade was right and cultural anthropophagy is a signatory of such a creative force for a paradigm shift, it will be possible to think from the savage body – as Viveiros de Castro tells us about Amerindian perspectivism and 'cannibal metaphysics' –, that is , elaborate structures for a cosmopolitics of the South? I think here that Stengers' term is opportune insofar as it inserts a political dimension to Amerindian perspectivism and thus also highlights the capacity of so many cultures, now forgotten, to be revitalized and not as a mere anthropological fetish, but, on the contrary, as an investment for everyone's survival. There is no life that survives with unlimited extraction of natural resources and endless predation. the hinterland of commodities now it suffers anesthetized between regimes of corruption and fascism, a cyclical history since the holding of the first mass in Brazil.

To deal with a cosmopolitics of the South, it is necessary to reconquer our identities, in all their intersectionality, and to develop not only networks, since virtual connectivity both includes us in the discussion centers and excludes us from the place of informational core, and thus, more once colonizes us. Instead of networks, I return to Marylin Strathern's criticism of Bruno Latour, regarding the insufficiency of the actor-network scheme for the self-assertion of peripheral cultures, and from this perspective, I propose an autonomized immune system that responds to the ocas. That is, I depart from the notion of cosmotechnics as cosmopolitics in Yuk Hui, and in turn from his admission that cosmotechnics is analogous to the understanding of the immune system by Peter Sloterdijk, to begin the elaboration of a technopolitical structure that can confer technological development passi passu to the refoundation of regional roots.

I'll explain, when Yuk Hui deals with a cosmotechnics, he discusses the role of culture in technological development and examines the phenomenon of recursion, an evolutionary process based on self-reflection and contingency of systems. Hui observes that globalization connects regional systems and makes them hostages of global surveillance, with this, a paradox arises, unforeseen local events, as the current Covid-19 pandemic itself demonstrates, can end up having disastrous effects in a global chain. It is a critique of the current mode of knowledge production, hegemonically hostage to computation on a planetary scale. In contrast, Hui proposes the unification of cosmic order and technical diversity, reorganizing elements drawn from both cybernetics and ecology. To this end, it goes back to the millenary philosophies imbued in the concepts of Tao and Qi (literally utensil) and sees in the Chinese technological development – ​​over several centuries and not just in the most recent period – reflections of appropriations of these concepts that, in turn, deal with the use of technology not just as a tool for comfort, but a path to human health. That is, there would be technology, for example, in the organic movements of Tai Chi Chuan, art and dance invented by a Chinese doctor with the aim of therapy.

There would also be technology in the way of handling herbs and inhaling them in the form of tea or snuff. Despite the suspected cultural asymmetry, I can only say that my parallel is pragmatic and concerns the similarities in the technopolitical ways of handling nature. An ethnography is not in question here and, therefore, the rigor in the distinctions of symbol and meaning is of little importance. What runs in life is another approach to the cultivation of the forms of nature, an approach that treats every species – whether plant or animal – as unique and possessing its own nature. When one speaks of a tightening of ties between ecology and cybernetics, one is first speaking of modes of intervention in nature – be it human or non-human – that can bring up ethical discussions about human responsibility in its own transmutation, as well as , in the possibility of the evolution of other species. It is about thinking about how the improvement of technology can lead to a techno-scientific development with less socio-environmental impact and with sustainable comfort on a general scale. In this sense, ancient traditions and myths can bring important lessons for our ways of inhabiting the Earth:

More rarely—which meant once or twice a week for each active shaman—the climax of the night-vision song would bring the shaman out of his house and into his courtyard. There he danced bent over, with the cigar and the aray, stomping his right foot on the ground, panting, always singing – it was the descent to the land of the deities, brought by him, the shaman, from his journey to the other worlds. And with them, I learned later, came the Araweté dead, splendid as the gods themselves walking on the ground they once trod (VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, 1986, p. 51).

The ontology of the mestizo that is speculated here has in one of its main supporting arms the concept of multinature in Viveiros de Castro. It is through this anthropotechnological equivalence that I think of the hollow as the realization of a cosmotechnique – this already a technical derivation of cosmopolitics. Unlike the unidimensional dispersion of the network, the hollow is a three-dimensional space of meeting and co-habitation. It is also, as Viveiros de Castro tells us, the place of the shaman and the opportunity to meet the gods. It is in it that the traditional knowledge of the natives appears not only as tools, but also as a cure for social pathologies – pathologies that are difficult for me to list but I quote just a few by way of elucidation of the argument, they are: hatred, discrimination, segregation, racism, and another just as abundant, classism – through intergenerational assimilations.

The oca is therefore a macro-structure, which necessarily requires macro-policies from all public sectors. The oca is the configuration, based on the ontology of the mixture, of its own immune system, which must be deployed in a wide variety of applications: health, security, education and culture systems. All these immune systems, that is, these life-protecting and life-assuring systems, must pass through the closed resonance of the hollow. To be in the hollow is to be and be-along with a devouring spirit of violence, by placing us in proximity to difference, to then digest it and transform it into energy for work on common policies.

I clarify then that this essay is within an ecological turning point whose most illustrious representatives were mentioned above, with the exception of one: Emanuele Coccia, whose words I reproduce here: “plants show that living together is not a matter of community or politics”. Living together, would complement (and provoke) Coccia, is a question of nativity and mutualism, however, this ontological prerogative does not dispense with politics. I think of development as Coccia thinks of plant life, as a metaphysics of mixture, but at the same time, I question: isn't a local cosmopolitics necessary to affirm the local sense of nature? Isn't post-structuralism after all a mode of political hermeneutics? I don't believe that all decisions regarding our survival occur only by instinct, and remembering Hui, I point out the urgency of breaking the contingency.

Well, differences aside, when Coccia thematizes the life of plants, I believe she sheds light on a universal energy capable of animating and making anyone a signatory of a living being. This life that runs through existence, through species and is contained in the substance of food. This life is the life of the cosmic dance, whose space of enjoyment is not limited to a square in the middle of a village, but to the entire village. In order to reach this level of solidarity and collaboration that is housing in the oca, we still have a lot to build, but first, we need to know and remember, as the mythology of another tribe tells us, the Dessana people, that before the tower, there were a depositary sphere of all life.

*Bráulio M. Rodrigues is a doctoral candidate in philosophy of law at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).


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