magician and clown

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By RICARDO ANTUNES*

In Brazil, those nostalgic for the military dictatorship came out of their rotten closets, day after day spreading the hate virus

Thomas Mann wrote two Italian novels: the first, death in venice, and the second, mario and the magician, both set against the backdrop of the magnificent Italian city.

When talking about mario and the magician, Thomas Mann stated that he did not like to see his “story be considered a political satire”, leaving aside his “artistic plan”. He was persecuted, exiled and his work became a libel against Nazi-fascism.

Its main character, Cavaliere Cipolla, was an “impressive and ominous figure”, a “walking virtuoso”, a mixture of “comic artist” and “court jester” endowed with “something abnormal in his conformation”. In this creature – “neither in the attitude, nor in the gestures, nor in the way of behaving” – one could see the “smallest personal tendency to joke or even clowning”. On the contrary, “he expressed himself with a severe gravity, a refusal of any humor”. Something strange for an alleged comic, but quite plausible for a fascist prototype.

In addition to the “arrogant grimace” and the “elongated lips”, the said-whose had an unusual gesture that, however, impacted the audience. When he smoked, he puffed back "in gray swirls between his pointy, rotten teeth." Which did not prevent him from being welcomed by so many admirers: “very kind talk… The man had not yet done anything, and his speech was already appreciated as a talent”. A myth!

And in the midst of the tense movements that followed in his action, when he was questioned by a “young man with African hair”, he shouted: “Enough of the jokes… We will not admit that the city is mocked in front of foreigners”.

Command and obey was his motto: “a single principle, an indissoluble unity” between the “idea of ​​the people and that of the leader”, with the latter having “the supreme role, the most arduous and strenuous task” of transforming the “will in obedience and obedience in will.

When Thomas Mann published his novel (1930), Benito Mussolini's fascism was already in power, and Adolf Hitler's Nazism was following the same path. Two abject experiments that rank among the greatest atrocities experienced by the West. Almost a hundred years after mario and the magician, threatens to spread like a plague in different parts of the world.

In Brazil, those nostalgic for the military dictatorship came out of their rotten closets, day after day spreading the hate virus. It is worth remembering that Mussolini also worshiped motorcycles. Yet another rude decal, in which the rich whites leave in a stampede, riding on the back of motorcycles (mili)ciatas, under the wary eyes of poor wage earners, exuding a wise distrust of class, which should decide the presidential elections.

With the pandemic mingling with pandemonium, with almost 700 deaths, the word genocide has returned to the forefront, adding to the popular feeling that politics is the preferential space for thieves. Even when dressed as a magician and a clown.

An almost Hamletian dilemma emerges: was Cavaliere initially forged as a genocide or a thief? In the style of Frankenstein, an odd agglutination helps us to answer: it is a “genopio” (a mixture of genocidal and larapian) or its opposite, a typical “laracid"?

Ricardo Antunes is a full professor of sociology at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Pandemic capitalism (boitempo).

 

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