Who killed my teacher?

Image: Robert Rauschenberg


Commentary on the newly released book by Diego Ramirez Luciano

Diego Ramirez Luciano, master in philosophy from the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), offers us another book affiliated with liberating literature. If in his debut work, A Escola do Tucano”, the humorous examination of São Paulo society, through a detailed critical inventory of the rich local fauna, led us through the interior of a locomotive scrapped by the toucanato over decades (with ideological equivalents here and elsewhere in Brazil), as well as the recognition of (dis)similars in the Piratiningo safari, heir to the animal revolution, without the hopeless ending of indistinguishable subjects.[I]

Now in Who killed my teacher?, Diego Ramirez Luciano – based on the dialogues of the novel’s protagonist, Carlos, with anthropomorphized forces – is dedicated to the existential agonies of teachers, and to a certain extent of all of us as a community, in which, during an uneasy night[ii] and condescending day are confused, and in which a thousand ways to die in life arise from the memento mori collective, organized and recorded by the writer in prose.

The author photographs – armed with secularized polytheism present in the interlocution of social factors with Carlos, in fact interactive constructions from human to human, therefore, strictly speaking, a monologue, guided by a Dantesque oracle – a society, at best, agonizing, who begs for another way of living,[iii] guided by the planetary responsibility of the Homo sapiens, demiurge of the Anthropocene,[iv] in the light of another mode of production.[v]

The title announces not only the early finitude of the educator: it opens wide the destiny and ephemerality of all living beings. The book, from the cover, prophesies personal cataclysm – which refers to the image of Justine, expectant, with a wire gauge at the ready, in the film Melancholiaby Lars von Trier[vi] – as well as the indistinct social mortality of those who teach and those who learn, those who write and those who read, those who are inserted and those who are excluded from the scope of language, a formative and destructive attribute of the human species. However, more important than bringing to light human transience only considered in itself, a brief chapter of the long journey on earth, is the reason for the professor's death, Carlos' path to the known end, with the apprehension of underlying factors, which reveals the desperate condition of the periphery of capitalism, relegated to ignorance of the causes, to claustrophobia in the Ouro Preto mines, to the annulment of alternatives by neoliberal prescriptions, to the great misunderstanding of imported craftsmen, to the mistaken determinism of solitude.[vii]

The science fiction series“Altered Carbon,[viii] although tottering from time to time in the audiovisual version of the homonymous book, it raises reflections on the role of memory for the composition of humanity in a world inhabited by immortals – thanks to the technological advance that encapsulated the mind, making bodies mere receptacles, disposable, in general . Memories, thus, acquire the prominence they deserve, overlapping, to a certain extent, with the externalities, with the complexion of people. Because memories define who we are and, perhaps more importantly, who we can become, accumulated experiences, even traumas that need to be overcome, are essential for all of us, individually and collectively.

In this sense, the unexpected and implicit testament of Carlos – character of the pedagogical messianism of Who killed my teacher?, sent to death by the internationalized Brazilian society for thirty five cent coins – traverses, in the fleeting trajectory of an educator, five hundred years of continuous oblivion, five hundred years of exploitation of some upon others, five hundred years of a past that is still present, whose enduring apocalyptic events are revived in the aggressions of students against teachers in schools, in the salary depreciation of the category, in the lack of incentives for professional improvement, in the undervalued career progression, in the harassment of parents in teaching places, in the interventions of superiors on the content of the classes and of evidence, etc.

Practicing Saramagoian observations, aware of the social responsibility of the writer, Ramirez Luciano is not silent, he is not indifferent to the urgent causes that knock on the door.[ix] By the way, the aspiration for change is inseparable from the teaching activities of the author, a teacher in public and private schools. The work under analysis, in this way, gains autobiographical traits. The trainer, the preceptor, dedicated to letters, whose literary maturation is completed with “O Dilema de Baltazar” (provisional title, in press), gradually refined the textual radar essential for notable writers, capable of identifying negligible passages.[X] Appropriating the words of the errant Holden Caulfield, from Catcher in the Rye, a good book awakens in the reader the desire to be friends with the writer[xi]. It is the case.

The portrait of our time points outside the frame. For Diego Ramirez Luciano, it is not about art for art's sake, disengaged from social foundations. In the background of Who killed my teacher?, resides the pressing politicization of art in response to the aestheticization that hides the existing political element in artistic production. If, according to Walter Benjamin, “self-alienation has reached a degree that allows it to experience its own destruction as an aesthetic enjoyment of the first order”[xii] (eg Futurism), the fight for life is unavoidable – not for the simulacrum of bovine life in which we find ourselves, an ill-conceived staging of Saint Joan of Slaughterhousesby Bertolt Brecht[xiii] –, because Goethe got it right: “I imagine that the noblest of our sentiments is the hope of remaining even when destiny seems to have led us to a total non-existence.”.[xiv]

Therefore, in order to annul the old pact of the national elites, first of all, it is necessary to critically recall the constitutive episodes of Brazilianness, such as the black genocide, the military dictatorship and the lavajatist performance of the press in recent years.[xv]. This is the combative route we must follow, as an alternative to the new Brazilian paradigm: the suicidal state,[xvi] which is versified, considered the reviewed work, in Canto XIII of To divine comedy: “Resenting then the unjust world,/ For fleeing its scorns, seeking death,/ With me iniquitous was I, who was just.”[xvii]

*Sergio Andrade Yendo, lawyer, holds a master's degree in political and economic law from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie.


Diego Ramírez Luciano. Who killed my teacher?. Belo Horizonte, Caravan, 2022.


[I] ORWELL, George. Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale. Translation by Heitor Aquino Ferreira. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2007, p. 112.

[ii] KAFKA, Franz. To metamorphose. Translation by Torrieri Guimarães. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 2011, p. 11.

[iii] Cf. KOYAANISQATSI: LIFE OUT OF BALANCE. Directed by: Godfrey Reggio. Production: Godfrey Reggio. United States: American Zoetrope and Institute for Regional Education, 1982.

[iv] CRUTZEN, Paul J. Geology of mankind. Nature, vol. 415, January 3, 2002. Available at https://rdcu.be/cZOT3. Accessed on November 16, 2022.

[v] LÖWY, Michael. ECOSOCIALISM: what it is, why we need it, how to get there. Translation: Victor Neves. Germinal: Marxism and education in debate, Salvador, UFBA, v. 13, no. 2, pp. 471-482, August 2021.

[vi] MELANCHOLY. Directed by: Lars von Trier. Production: Meta Louise Foldager, Louise Vesth. Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany: Zentropa Entertainments, Memfis Film, Slot Machine, Liberator Productions, Film i Väst, Danmarks Radio, Arte France Cinéma, Sveriges Television, Canal+, Center National du Cinéma et de l'image anime, CinéCinéma, Edition Video, Nordisk Film, Det Danske Filminstitute, Eurimages, Swedish Film Institute, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2011.

[vii] MARQUEZ, Gabriel Garcia. The loneliness of Latin America. In: One hundred years of Solitude. Translation by Eric Nepomuceno. 81. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2013, pp. 11-12.

[viii] ALTERED CARBON. Creation: Laeta Kalogridis. Based on the book “Altered Carbon”, by Richard K. Morgan. Production: John G. Lenic. United States: Virago Productions, Mythology Entertainment, Phoenix Pictures et alii, 2018 / 2020.

[ix] SARAMAGO, Jose. Writers facing racism. four five one. São Paulo: Quatro Cinco Um Association, June 18, 2020. Available at https://www.quatrocincoum.com.br/br/artigos/literatura/os-escritores-perante-o-racismo. Accessed on November 16, 2022.

[X] HEMINGWAY, Ernest. The Art of Fiction No. 21. [Interview given to] George Plimpton. Paris Review, Paris, issue 18, spring 1958. Available at https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4825/the-art-of-fiction-no-21-ernest-hemingway. Accessed on November 16, 2022.

[xi] SALINGER, JD Catcher in the Rye. 18.ed. Translation by Álvaro Alencar, Antônio Rocha and Jório Dauster. Rio de Janeiro: Editora do Autor, 2012, p. 23.

[xii] BENJAMIN, Walter. The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility. Translation, presentation and notes: Francisco De Ambrosis Pinheiro Machado. 1. reprint Porto Alegre: Zouk, 2012, p. 123.

[xiii] BRECHT, Bertolt. Saint Joan of Slaughterhouses. Translation and presentation by Roberto Schwarz. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2009.

[xiv] GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von. writings on literature. Organization and translation: Pedro Süssekind. 3 ed. Rio de Janeiro: 7Letras, 2012, p. 29.

[xv] SOUZA, Jesse. The backward elite: from slavery to Lava Jato. Rio de Janeiro: Leya, 2017.

[xvi] SAFATLE, Vladimir. Welcome to the suicidal state. Available at https://www.n-1edicoes.org/textos/23. Accessed on November 21, 2022.

[xvii] ALIGHIERI, Dante. Inferno. Translation by José Pedro Xavier Pinheiro. Jandira: Principles, 2020. E-book.

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