Black and Yellow Gregorism

Image: Anselmo Pessoa
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By LUCIANO NASCIMENTO*

As absurd and complicated as it may be, it is necessary to find concrete ways to demonstrate and convince once and for all as many people as possible about the spherical shape of the planet.

Since my early teens, between the eighties and nineties, and for many years to come, my favorite novel was tent of miracles, by Jorge Amado. I marvel at the story of Pedro Archanjo –ojuoba, the eyes of Xangô –, the mestizo capoeirista bedel writer who recorded Bahian popular memories and knowledge in books composed at great pains in the typography of his inseparable friend, Mestre Lídio Corró, books later distributed around the world at the cost of a lot of sweat and a lot of deprivation of the author , convinced of the need to show everyone the value of the black people of Salvador. Fiction?

Already in the midst of the pandemic we are going through, I started reading a color defect, by Ana Maria Gonçalves (an exquisite work already commented on a few times in the earth is round). My reading of the saga of the black woman Kehinde, enslaved in Africa as a child and brought to Brazil in the basements of a tumbeiro, was interrupted in the middle of crossing the Atlantic: I was infected with COVID and spent fifteen days in bed, unable to even support the weight of the book, a brick of nearly a thousand pages. At the end of that period, I devoured the novel in less than twenty days, mesmerized by the brilliant multicolored polyphony that jumped out at me from each page. The same question comes to mind: fiction?

Last year my eldest son introduced me to love him, from Emicida; perhaps it was a kind of retaliation, because I had mentioned at home that a student had shown me a rap phenomenal from BK. A few months ago a friend shared with me an episode of drag seasoning, by Rita Von Hunty (character queer played by actor and professor Guilherme Terreri). It has also been a few months since my youngest daughter (a 12-year-old pre-teen) insisted that I watch Felipe Neto’s “lacração” on the Live Wheel, and yesterday she made me promise again that we'll sit down and see the devil of every day (“The Devilallthe time”, USA, 2020), a film that, according to what I have heard and read around, has been generating controversy. Which, by the way, should also happen – and soon – with The network dilemma (“The social dilemma”, USA, 2020), the interesting documentary I watched last weekend. Is what is shown there fiction?

This not-so-brief inventory (of readings, in the broadest sense) will certainly seem a bit unnecessary to some people. Unfortunately, many people will not even read this explanatory paragraph, I suppose. Even so, I defend the strategy: the escape route that will make it possible for us to get out of the civilizing knot that we have gotten ourselves into in Brazil since 1500, a much tighter knot in the last five or six years, is precisely it, the disclosure and exploration of the variety of texts, genres, vehicles, sources, indications, references, etc. that shapes us intellectually, socially and ethically. I know this may seem obvious, but the time has come to defend the obvious; Brecht would be frightened by his own lucidity.

The effective defense of the obvious, in my opinion, begins with its disclosure, that is: by the reaffirmation of a factuality and by the pedagogical (persuasive, not coercive) return of the contours of that factuality to everyone's eyes. Why it is urgent that we re-establish a minimum agreement on the truth: “If we don't agree on what the truth is, we can't get out of any of our problems”, says computational scientist Tristan Harris (specialist in “behavioral economics, social psychology, behavior change”. behavior and habit formation", graduate of the Persuasive Technology laboratory at Stanford University), protagonist in the documentary about the influence of social networks on the behavior of the masses already mentioned here.

A punctual example: is there anyone today who believes that the Earth is flat? Yes there is; many people. So, no matter how absurd and complicated it may be, it is necessary to find concrete ways to demonstrate and convince once and for all as many people as possible about the spherical shape of the planet. I have not the slightest doubt about the apparent surreal nature of this proposal; it should be absolutely extemporaneous, but that is not the reality, and that too is a fact to be dealt with. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact.

In the Brazil of the Bolsonaro era, we have witnessed the fabrication of truths that are born circumstantial, that is, valid as such only for a specific social group, but after some time they reach numerically measurable materiality and factual status. A clear example of this is the statement that COVID is just “a little flu”. First our [sic] principal [sic] representative [sic] says this in an official statement on radio and TV; continuous act, this speech amuses its detractors, worries serious researchers and sensible intellectuals, and feeds the passions (convictions and needs) of millions of Brazilians who, by affinity (affective or intellectual) or lack (affective or economic) need to believe in some hope of normality; soon after, a certain amount of slowness seems to emanate from public managers and permeate the expected government actions to effectively face the health crisis (the long condition of interinity in the position of Minister of Health is an example of this); finally, what you see, months after the president's controversial statement, are unnecessary crowds in public places, bars full of people, many of them criticizing Bolsonaro, including, and a patent feeling of general indifference towards the more than 140.000 Brazilians killed by COVID.

It is this feeling of general indifference to the death toll that makes it possible to state: COVID has in fact been transformed into some kind of “little flu”. Not that the side effects of virus contamination have slowed down, no! However, despite the immanent factuality of thousands of fatal victims, millions of people think and act against this and several other facts, guided by the belief in a blatant scientific untruth, but incredibly persuasive. A serious strategy of information and communication capable of revealing the official fallacy was not reached.

The concept of “self-truth” has been used to partly explain such phenomena; journalist Eliane Brum wrote, still in 2018, an excellent article about it. It turns out that self-truth only thrives today – not only in Brazil, but also in several other countries, such as the USA, for example –, due to an innate characteristic in our species, “gregarism”: “1. BOT, ZOOL. Natural agglomeration of individuals of a given species, as seen in herds, hives, anthills, etc.; 2. In humans, tendency to be in the company of other people; sociability." (http://michaelis.uol.com.br/busca?id=Ven1). Sad ready-made joke: the belief in the so-called “little flu” is really due to cattle behavior.

If that's the case – and it seems that it is – how can we combat the harmful effects of something resulting from a bio-anthropological characteristic?

Acting like Pedro Archanjo, the hero of my youthful readings. He not only saw and valued capoeira, candomblé, Bahian cuisine, miscegenation... He also saw racism, violence, persecution against everything that could collaborate to build a sense of pride and desire for liberation in and from black population in Bahia, Brazil. Peter Archanjo, ojuoba, he struggled to bring people together: in the afoxé, in the terreiros, in the pages of his books; he knew it was necessary to face the truculence of the State and put the block of black pride on the street, parade. Only then would more people of all colors join the fight against those oppressed people in Brazil in the first half of the last century, still oppressed today...

If Archanjo had access to the social networks we have today, he would certainly be a digital influencers, a communicator (he loved good prose!). And I would no doubt applaud the clip of love him, the title song of Emicida's last album (is it still spoken like that?) In this clip are, together: blacks, LGBTQIA+, Belchior, all singing last year I died / but this year I don't die… I would also applaud the videos of Rita Von Hunty, the drag queens Marxist and sarcastic who makes comments about politics, cultures, arts and society. They are practical classes on respect for diversity, on the collective construction of inclusion, liberation and democracy.

I free my imagination and see Pedro Archanjo (eyes of Xangô, orixá of Justice) in the general direction of a program like the GregNews, one of my favorites today, which is streamed for free on Youtube. I imagine Archanjo leading, in each episode, a professorial parade of pretes, indigenous people, gays, lesbians, trans people, transvestites, factory workers, teachers, dockers, environmentalists, mothers and fathers of saints... and also empathetic rich whites, as Gregogio Duvivier himself sometimes says. self-declared, perhaps sympathizers of hallucinogens… all, in short, with equal means and resources, presenting with seriousness and humor objective data about the dark reality that surrounds us, in order to transform it (hail, Paulo Freire!).

Finally, I am very, very far from being an expert on things of the Catholic Church, but I know that Gregory I was a Pope, a “Doctor of the Law” who was called “the Dialogator” (I think mainly because he wrote Dialogues; the history Catholic Church authorizes doubt as to his ability to dialogue) and was canonized by acclamation shortly after his death: he became Saint Gregory. I'm not superstitious, nor do I believe in coincidences, but I like not to miss rhetorical imagery or puns. Peter Archanjo, ojuoba, will teach us the civilizing antidote against stupid and homicidal gregariousness: cavalry doses of black and love him.

* Luciano Nascimento He holds a PhD in Literature (UFSC) and teaches Basic, Technical and Technological Education at Colégio Pedro II.

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