Far from Pindorama

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

Considerations about the use of certain words and expressions

I address here, words and expressions that I have never used, do not use, and will never use. Or I will use it very, very carefully.

For example, “Tupiniquim”. Why do people on the left, when they want to express some kind of contempt for Brazil, use the expression “Tupiniquim”?

Firstly, why not “Tupinamba”? Or “Caiapó”? “Carijó”? “Tamoio”? “Xekleng”? Secondly, why, in order to express contempt for Brazil, resort to an old and worn indigenous metaphor? What are the “Tupiniquim” to blame for? Why did they stick with Mico in this card game that shuffles the most varied prejudices? Is it because it is said that they were allies of the Portuguese and the “Tupinamba”, no? Is being “Tupiniquim” an “Indian program”?

It is true that this prejudice already existed even before the arrival of the Portuguese. I'm not an expert in Tupi-Guarani, but from what I could gather the meaning of "Tupiniquim" is something like "the people next door", that is, the "neighbor". “Tupinambá” could mean “the first descendants of the parents” or “all Tupis”. In one way or another, “Tupiniquim” meant, for the Tupinambá, “those who came later”. Newcomers. Late migrants. Those who came to disrupt our reign, divide our territory. Any resemblance to current refugees is purely coincidental.

An interesting hypothesis to explain the success of the word to belittle Brazilians is in its ending “piniquim”. It reminds you of “little potty”, doesn't it? It is an elegant, academic, sophisticated metonymic and metaphorical way of referring to “shitty people”, or fond of it. It brings up the comment by Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, in one of its pages, saying that the followers of Positivism in the XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries felt a “secret horror” when facing Brazil. In addition to the mestiçada, the negroda, the indian, the caboclada, the mishmash, when they opened the window they saw banana trees, jacarandas, araçás, palm trees, araucarias and their twisted cups, wood beard, vines, and other crooked plants, rebellious rivers or lazy, instead of the illustrious eliotis pines of the Black Forest or the placid, serene, solemn waters of the Seine, the Arno, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Thames, or even, in the last case, the Tagus and the Duero. They saw vultures instead of crows, parrots and caracaras instead of nightingales and eagles. Along with “Tupiniquim” goes the word “Pindorama”, also used, although less frequently, to refer pejoratively to Brazil.

What leaves me perplexed is the fact that intellectuals who turn pale with astonishment or blush red when faced with racist expressions referring to Afros and their descendants (completely just revulsion against racism), continue to use, impassively, such prejudiced terms in relation to our indigenous people.

Here comes “the average Brazilian”. This expression gives me erysipelas in my soul. It is always associated with something very negative. I don't know what it means, in a country with more than 210 million inhabitants, six thousand kilometers from north to south and as many from east to west, with almost all the climates on the planet, except the Andean, Alpine, Arctic and the Antarctic, one of the greatest social inequalities in the world, etc. “Midfielder” for me was a football thing, starting with the midfielder of yesteryear, like Dequinha from Flamengo, or the midfielder, a concept so elastic as to encompass everything from Zito and Didi to Zico, Falcão and Maradona. In any case, “the average Brazilian” tends to be racist, homophobic, sexist, ignorant, stupid, in short, a piece of history. The “average Brazilian” is like the “Tupiniquim country”: there is no way and never will be. What is the antonym of “average Brazilian”? It doesn't exist, because where and when it enters the field, the opposites disappear. For example: the 47 million voters who voted for Fernando Haddad, in the second round of 2018, simply cease to exist. Because the “average Brazilian” voted, votes and will vote for Bolsonaro. In fact, there is an antonym of the “average Brazilian”: it is the columnist who uses the expression, because he is not the “average Brazilian”. On the contrary, he is “above average”. Gozado: in this semantic field, there is only “the average Brazilian”. There is no such thing as (at least I have never seen) the “average Brazilian”. Here is yet another overwhelming proof, therefore, that “the average Brazilian” is sexist and obtuse.

What about the “middle class”, then? It's a small group with a big mania, a “disgraceful breed”. When in doubt in your article, smack the “middle class”. Despise the “middle class”. Tread on it, which is the real source of disgrace in this country. Why? Because “in any civilized country”, in “any serious country”, that is, not “Tupiniquim” nor inhabited by the “average Brazilian”, the “middle class”, although it may have problems, is tolerable. The “middle class” in other countries is polyglot, speaks English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, etc., should not be consumerist or look down on Turks, Africans or Muslims, etc. But not in Brazil: the “middle class” will always be horrible. Forget the bourgeoisie, the rentiers, the militiamen, the “middle class” will always be to blame. 99,99% of writers who are used to hitting the "middle class" belong to it, but don't take that into account. Because they, the columnists, are not “the average Brazilian” nor do they suffer from “Tupiniquim reason”, much less do they live in “Pindorama”. By the way, I don't know where they live. must be in Left Bank of some placid river, serene and solemn.

* Flavio Aguiar, writer and literary critic, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Romantic-inspired theater (Senac).

 

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