About what doesn't pass

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By HOMERO SANTIAGO*

Preface to the recently released book “Cruspian writings or memories of the green house”, organized by Gustavo Salmazo

Hair campus of Butantã, the largest at the University of São Paulo, an infinity of people pass by every day. Tens of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who will follow their courses; of professors and employees who move the enormous structure of knowledge and research embodied in classrooms, laboratories, offices; of people who seek care at the university's hospitals and clinics, visit its museums and libraries, or who just use the wide avenues to cut corners and escape the adjacent traffic jams. It is a world, or rather a real city; hence the campus be customarily and officially designated a “university city”.

Alongside this crowd that, according to their functions and according to their needs, commutes through the university town every day, there is another group of uspians who, although studying and researching on campus, use the university hospital, the circulars, the restaurants and everything else, it doesn't pass there, there blackberry. They are the authors of this work. Cruspianos and Cruspianas, residents of the Housing Complex of the University of São Paulo, the Crusp, which encompasses seven blocks of six floors and about 60 apartments each with at least three official residents. Not going through or, positively speaking, staying at home deeply and peculiarly marks their university experience and life itself in a literal sense, as one cannot live in a place without experiencing this place and having one's life marked by it.

Perhaps from there came the idea that is at the origin of this book and accounts for its originality. As explained in the organizer's presentation, it all started with a request to Crusp residents: texts that, without compromising on themes, dates or pre-defined formats, could express that “separate identity” that, “whether you like it or not”, constitutes the experience of these students who “live, study, work and live at the university”. The result, which readers will soon appreciate, is a very variegated picture. Sometimes Crusp is talked about, sometimes it is not mentioned at all; different concerns parade, sometimes converging, with studies, work, the landscape, the physical conditions of the buildings; we discover friendships, sorrows, dissatisfactions and joys, impossible dreams like laundries and kitchens that work regularly.

Having lived for some years in Crusp, reading it inevitably brought back memories and soon proved biased. At certain points, I relived known situations, at others not; certain words that read elsewhere would not take you far, here they gained certain connotations according to the semantics of the place: “guest” is someone who lives in an apartment without being the main resident; “tray” refers to the central restaurant, the “tray” more or less encrusted between the housing blocks and which is vital for cruspians (hence the grace of the verse: “I deliver myself on a tray and inside out”); with the term “Coseas”, the coordination that once managed the complex, comes the feeling of ambivalence of what, depending on the occasion and sometimes simultaneously, can mean solution or problem.

Memories also piled up. The penury of the pre-Crusp months living in the accommodations that are under the Cepeusp stadium, the prolonged occupation of block D which at the time was not yet integrated into the residential area of ​​the complex, the countless changes of apartment; the friends, the daily discoveries, the full experience of the university terrain, the anxiety for the professional future as the conclusion of the course approached. Goodbye – why not? It is true that the distance of the years has the power to filter the experience, sometimes to the maximum of gilding it. Even so, it does not need to be immediately rejected by the critical sense or experienced under the sign of ashamed naivety. By the way, would it be possible to reject this re-experimentation of the old experience that passed? I don't think so. And I say this precisely because it seems likely to me that it has not completely passed, just as Cruspians and Cruspians do not pass, they live.

A good number of times I heard the same joke from different people: “you leave Crusp, Crusp doesn't leave you”. I never paid attention to what was said and therefore I wouldn't know how to explain what was intended with such words each time. Reading the texts in this book, however, I found myself at times drawn back to the phrase and, uncontrollably, meditating on its meaning. After all, what doesn't come out of us when we leave Crusp? What is it that stays and does not pass? Somehow, those witty words suddenly seemed to carry a profound presupposition, and so they began to suggest a clue to me: it is about understanding the passage from living in Crusp to a to be which creeps in mainly after the estar faded away. A way of being.

The idea is tempting and we don't even need to force the bar by concocting a rigid Cruspian essence. It is enough to understand that the experience at Crusp, starting with its material conditions, gradually penetrates the body and guides the mind, until each one se feel, in lucid recognition, sharing the same lifestyle. As Hegel said that belonging to a particular State was something that came from a kind of spiritual “mother's milk” that we drank without realizing it, this belonging to Crusp would not start from the first sips of the milk that, during the 90s, was still served on the tray?

I don't know if there is a particular Cruspian way of life. I limit myself to saying that this book is a good starting point for an investigation of the subject, given the plan that presided over its preparation. Significantly, a history of the residential complex is not proposed here, which curiously appears very little, other than as a landscape or horizon of life; the following pages do not epically thunder the struggles that over time shaped Crusp as we know it today; texts differ, sometimes diametrically, in style, form, quality, content. What unifies the material is, in the first place, what the organizer calls the “intention of the place”, and to me it seems to express what can also be called a way of life: the action of the place, even when not openly thematized, in each one; the action of the residents who, by intending the place (in the phenomenological sense, it becomes the intentional content of certain mental states), transmit their own tensions to it. A passage in this book, in particular, symbolizes with admirable precision this reciprocal action that constitutes the foundation of Cruspian life: “Some say it is the place, others that it is the people. There are still those who say that we make the place… and vice versa. I don't know… I just know that it's like this.”

 

Pictures of Cruspian Life

From this angle of reading, a complex and vivid set of pictures of Cruspian life is revealed. Some are beautiful, others surprising; there are those who move, those who outrage. As already suggested, a notable aspect, because contrary to what one would expect in a book of the genre, is that a Crusp stripped of mythology emerges, much more on the ground floor than many imagine or would like it to be; not even his ills fail to echo others equally found across the country and, although bordering the fine flower of intelligence represented by our best university, the arrangement is in perfect harmony with the atavistic inequality of Brazilian society. Crusp is the “periphery of USP”, suggests an astute analogy recalled in the book; and as the Racionais MC's teach us, “periphery is periphery anywhere”. (In parentheses, let me remind you that the fundamental Surviving in hell, from 1993; I met him and heard him exhaustively at Crusp, and I'm sure that just because I lived there I had this chance at a time when the internet was not accessible to ordinary human beings and news outside the big circuit depended on word of mouth; taking into account that today this work has gained unprecedented recognition, even included in the Unicamp entrance exam, it is necessary to recognize the critical acumen of Cruspian ears.)

Well, any periphery, no matter which one, is very fantasized, especially by those who don't know it. With Crusp it would be no different, and he too finds himself ensnared in a small imaginary that often only serves to mistreat him. Uspians who have never set foot on the blocks of the group, swear that there the parties are endless and everything is sex, drugs and rock and roll, if not shameless vagrancy – images that could even strike a former USP student, elevated to the head of the Ministry of Education, to characterize the quintessence of what he called the “trouble” of university life. Prejudice, that ease that circumvents ignorance, reveals itself and becomes particularly irritating in the inability on the part of many, even teachers (as revealed in one of the texts), to understand the most basic: Cruspians live in Crusp.

They don't come and go, they don't make apartments waiters of the intellect, because there is his home and staying there, even on vacation, being materially fundamental to him, constitutes the basis of his way of life. As a matter of fact, I think this aspect is so important that their lack of understanding was the main cause of the psychological suffering of some colleagues I met: they tried to lead a double life, returning every weekend or long holiday to their old home, resisting the Crusp – when asked “where do you live?”, they answered: “I live in such a place, for the time being I'm at Crusp”. It was as if they lived in transit; they did not perceive the need to dilute being into being, and the continuation of the fight between the verbs exacerbated the discomfort.

The legends surrounding the Crusp do not spare even the Cruspians who forge certain images of themselves that are not in keeping with reality. If some conceive the Cruspians as essentially loose, others represent them as subjects of an experiment in collective and libertarian life that would configure the prodrome of who knows what revolution. Sometimes they exaggerate the problems of the place, sometimes they make it immune to them. For example, how many times has it been heard that “in Crusp, the police do not enter”? An illusion completely contradicted by a beautiful photo that illustrates this volume: a group of uniformed military police enters the complex; the gestures mimic those of an incursion into enemy territory: they sneak up in formation, one protects himself with his shield, another arches his leg and points his gun high, perhaps looking for snipers; nevertheless, over their heads only falls the light of a banal streetlight instantly metamorphosed into spotlight scenographic.

The fact is that Crusp is not protected from police violence, just as the general population is not, with the usual exceptions. The “Cruspian community” (I use an expression constant here) has much of the ordinary existence of everyone else. There we find types, habits, ways of life that do not differ so much from those found in other residential condominiums: those who work, those who study, those who do both and those who do neither; friendly neighbors, individuals who don't deign to say good morning in the elevator; wild parties and discreet get-togethers; Bible reading groups, people watching TV; young, old, children, fathers, mothers, children, married, single. This ordinary thickness of Cruspian life, once freed from the small mythology, comes out in verses that would not lose their meaning having another place as their horizon: “but little by little I settled down, found a place to stay, / I also made some friends, good people to talk to. ”

It must be made very clear that this is not a demerit, on the contrary. Crusp is a breath of life inside a space that is far from welcoming: “… the University city, what is this place? Everything inhospitable, disconnected, distant, if you take away the trees, a giant parking lot remains (…) Like Brasília, the great dream that never comes true…”. Frankly, it never occurred to me to apply this well-found metaphor to USP's geography (a huge parking lot!), but with some reservation I tend to agree with the evaluation and also with the memory of the country's capital. It is often said that the university is closed to society. Wrongly, I think, because in many ways it has the face of the country. And that is not auspicious.

Let's stick with this example campus Butantã and let's think about its geographic and structural implantation; we have a small sample of what we are as a nation, and in this sense the connection with the federal capital is surgical. Not that the university town is necessarily ugly, any more than Brasília is. I even estimate that, in comparison with other fields formed in the shadow of the dictatorship, the one in São Paulo is not bad. The university town has ugly buildings, to be sure, but with an ugliness that generally results less from a lack of aesthetic taste than from improvisations determined by circumstances; in a few cases this happens by deliberate design, as in the case of units that at some point wanted to emulate shopping malls. Even the building of the current rectory (which in my time as a Cruspian we called the “old rectory”), which is usually classified as such, I wouldn't even say it's horrible; It's banal, an ordinary office building that has been made ugly over time by rectoral excesses and, finally, by the mania for enclosures, but this is a plague that affects university students as much as Brazilians – it always amazes me to arrive in small towns of 30.000 inhabitants with the houses all electrified, or in the big cities meet people who live in neighborhoods where the crime rate is similar to that of Brussels and yet they ardently want cameras everywhere and cages at the entrances to their buildings.

Perhaps the biggest problem actually lies in the monumentality of the university city in Brasília, which serves to avoid life. Ultimately, the place has no human scale. It must have been planned to distance all teaching units from each other, make walking difficult, inhibit conversation, restrict coexistence; knowing the history of its deployment, this will not sound absurd. Then it would have been campus, effectively, conceived from the beginning as an immense asphalt garden? Just in case, just in case, time has got it. You go by car and in the smallest vacant space, barriers are soon installed to build a new parking lot; they left the metro at a distance, the infrastructure for buses is spurious; there are buildings that look like malls, there are fences everywhere. The university is the face of Brazil. It is a shame.

For this reason – and this is how I return to the end – Crusp always seemed to me to be permeated with vital breath. It is one of the rare places in the university town where it is easy to find people, walking down the long central corridor, frequenting the restaurant. The triviality of human routine luckily preserved Crusp from the symbolic brutality of the campus, since people live there, live, and it couldn't be different. The set even has picturesque aspects, like every place made by people and not for cars and monuments.

Who cares to snoop around the place in the Google Earth (something I obviously only found out after I left there) will gather a significant indication brought by the urban occupation. If, on the one hand, the verses that lament are correct: “I look out the window at the marginal / I see little or almost nothing”; on the other hand, Crusp faces the expressway right at the point where the asphalt becomes worm-eaten between two water channels, the Pinheiros River and the USP Olympic lane, which in this way corner cars – it will not be a strong enough image to contrast a little the one with the big parking lot? Once, from the top of a building in Vila Madalena, I had the opportunity to see Crusp. He is beautiful where he is. More than that, it holds poetry. Looking out the window, the cruspian of blocks A and B, with the angle of vision free of obstacles and especially if it is on the higher floors, will have Paulista hill on the right and on the left, as observed in another text present here, “the Pico do Jaraguá: highest point of the metropolis”.

For a while this detail amazed and intrigued me, thanks to the memory of some verses by Mário de Andrade in the captivating poem “When I die”. Mimicking the ritual of sharing the ox that he discovered in his wanderings around the country, the poet gives instructions on the destination of each part of his body, so that it performs a precise function. post-mortem. The feet bury in Rua Aurora, the ears in the Post Office and Telegraphs, the brain forget in Lopes Chaves and …

The eyes there in Jaraguá

Will watch what is to come,

The knee at the University,

Longing…

From Crusp, looking at the highest point of the mahogany city born on the edge of the Tietê creek, I often asked myself the meaning of this “knee” whose depository would be the university, which rhymes precisely with “saudade”. A knee in the way we call “Paulistinha”, which would do full justice to Mário's “Paulistano heart”? Perhaps poetic intelligence had already sensed something that wasn't good, and that's why he combined in a single block the lofty vigilance and the enigmatic and somewhat threatening knee.

Unfortunately, in the case of Crusp, the poet's zealous eyes installed on that peak, didn't see only pleasant things, at least not around Butantã. As the residents of the complex have known for a long time and, these days, it is wide open to any and all USP members who have not been socially isolated on Mars since March last year. The group was a constant target of political and university cruelty. Designed for the 1963 Pan American Games, on the eve of the military coup, it was closed shortly afterwards; raided by law enforcement shortly after AI-5; occupied by students; systematically relegated to its fate by the university authority, which, if I am not mistaken, only reinstated it in the 1980s. Even today, bureaucratic brains in tune with the modern perverse idea of ​​the optimal relationship between means and ends seem convinced that Crusp is not an essential activity to the university, just as day care centers, hospitals and everything else that cannot be computed in the famous university classifications would not be. I wish!

What they did with Crusp is what we Brazilians normally do with those we deem unworthy, inferior, intrusive – to say in a word, the periphery. To those who don't know the campus Butantã it is good to clarify that Crusp's peripheral condition is not geographical; in this sense, the Escola Politécnica and the Veterinary School would be peripheral. Crusp is peripheral because it is a kind of “poor cousin” of the rich institution; and although it is located in the pulsating center of the university city, it is, in symbolic and material terms, peripherally. Perhaps therein lies the explanation of its current state, the accumulation of small and large evils accumulated over decades: violence, neglect, prejudiced disdain; scandalous disaster that outrages, or should, the entire university community.

The texts gathered here practically do not talk about the pandemic, but at least one brings a precise indication: “the atrocities / of the pandemic”. We understand well, the disease is atrocious, but it does not commit atrocity, a term that should be reserved for the designation of the result of atrocious acts performed by human beings. Let's not throw on the back of the virus what is our responsibility. And according to all the reports and documents I had access to during the last twelve months, the condition of Cruspian life deteriorated, it withered to an unbearable point: when tens of thousands of commuters stopped passing through the university, which was stopped and closed, the worst of worlds was reserved for those who live in it. Not passing, which most intimately constitutes the Cruspian, has become his permanence visa in hell.

What they are currently doing – I write in the winter of 2021, a winter time that seems to have started three or four years ago – is a crime against Crusp, and by extension against the public university at its best. Again, as stated above with regard to the police, how could it be otherwise? It is the extension of a criminal contumacy that all Brazilians practice against certain portions of the population, combining our mythological cordiality with the hands that strangle and slaughter while the heart cries and reason justifies the act.

It is not possible to accuse the rectory of having planned or encouraged the destruction of Crusp. I have the impression that the option, in the civilized manner befitting university students, is simply to let him starve to death. It's an efficient military strategy: instead of wasting troops, allowing a besieged city to slowly experience hunger and thirst; crush him in the spirit, exhaust his resources and strength, make him a dying being. That's how they did it and do it with the transport service, they do it with the trays and the nurseries, the university hospital.

Incredibly, there comes a time when everything that makes us most proud of the University of São Paulo (in the first place, contrary to what the rankings beasts – universal rule: in this world, an English word is reserved for everything that is beast –, the critical sense in the analysis of Brazilian reality, the tradition of resistance to authoritarian machinations), this is exactly what makes us proud of the uspian tradition that inspires us the contempt for the attitudes that the university administration takes, or rather does not take, in relation to US periphery. Whether due to pure and simple incompetence, or due to programmed ineffectiveness (a clever way to take advantage of the gate opened by the pandemic to pass on a bunch of evil), the truth is that, at this moment, Crusp agonizes; to give in to the lexicon of time, let's say you're in the ICU breathing on machines. Since he was the one who gave the university its vital and human air, who can save it from abandonment? Will the covid-19 be fatal to you combined or taken advantage of by human evil? I do not believe. But this is a feeble belief motivated more by hope than facts.

 

Will there be a Cruspian way of life?

Cruspiano, unequivocally, is a resident of Crusp. Even so, to finish, it is worth asking again: is it just that? Will there be a Cruspian way of life? Furthermore, there will not be a Cruspian being who reveals himself, in an ambiguous way, when the copula insidiously becomes the verbal past: Cruspian is the one who é resident and the one who was Crusp resident? Why doesn't Crusp leave us when we leave Crusp? What is it that won't let go of us anymore? In this case, dwelling, having lived, dwelling come together in a perfect synthesis of do not pass, distinguishing the Cruspians and the Cruspians from the rest of the university. It's as if the place where we once lived began, not suddenly but gradually, to take up residence in us. If Cruspians and Cruspians don't simply pass by, like other university students do every single day through campus Butantã, it's as if Crusp didn't pass either, resisted becoming a helpless past; schism in reappearing here and there; gestures, references, terms, a rodent.

It doesn't hurt like Drummond's Itabira that was framed on the wall after being destroyed by mining activity, but neither can it be relegated to the indifference of facts archived in the hidden corners of memory, in the ward of things definitely forgotten. He is reluctant, he struggles, he insists on updating himself; he lives, after all. Crusp is perhaps just that, a Life. Who knows a dancer life, fragile, delicate, bouncy. On the one hand, it puts a damper on everyone who ventures to spend the night there sometimes, on the other hand, it is insinuating and challenges the brutality of the university town and all the bad things that are directed against it. “The enchantment, the beauty / The dancer who exists / The dancer who resists?”. Isn't that, if not Crusp, at least its way of being embedded in Cruspian lives, to the point that we don't know very well where one thing ends and the other begins?

This is the theme of this book: Crusp, Cruspian life, in the process of becoming an indelible experience for each of the authors present here, since it reserves for them a very peculiar experience of the university, in the most varied forms that the written word and the image make possible. If I dare to end up associating myself, in spirit and letter, with them, it is only because they had the gift of reawakening a feeling previously crushed in me – after all, isn't that one of the justifications of literature? –, to the point that, after reading it, I don’t feel ashamed of pastiche (better than monkeying around shopping malls, let’s face it!): when I die, I would like a part of me to remain in the heart of the university, that is, in Crusp, preferably in D block. Saudade.[1]

* Homer Santiago He is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at USP.

 

Reference


Gustavo Salmazo (org.). Cruspian writings or memoirs of the green house. Sao Paulo, Ed. dos Autores, 2022 (electronic book).

Note


[1] Between 1993 and 1998 I lived at Crusp, alternating almost all the blocks in the complex and from time to time adjusting the mattress in living rooms and corridors.

I would like to dedicate this text to the Cruspians I met, especially those with whom I spent the most time: Ediano Dionísio, Luciano Pereira and Paulo Fattori – in alphabetical order so as not to cause jealousy. Without them, who through the years of coexistence and friendship have become a part of me that never goes away, Crusp might have been something else, at least for me.

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