A smell of rotten perfume


A smell of rotten perfume


After almost thirty years of apparently solid representative democracy, Brazilian society turned over the graves (a term, unfortunately, in fashion) of an obscure past and returned to power the same centralizing model of polyarchy of the once powerful colonels

Pandemic Brazil smells like rotten perfume and we all know where it comes from. In fact, this smell is now spread throughout our society. It comes from the mass graves opened to throw the bodies produced by the ignorance of the Bolsonaro government. The same smell comes from putrefied bodies in hospitals and slaughterhouses waiting for these ditches, because not even the trailer to take them can handle the quantity. The rotten perfume comes from the corridors crowded with miserable, dying patients, waiting for someone to leave the ICU, dead or alive. That smell wanders through the crowded, dirty and hot public transport that the less favored classes are forced to take every single day to earn their “bread”. The rottenness of this perfume is even more intense in the lack of empathy of the more fortunate people and classes for the most needy, not hesitating to chase them away from companies, sending them to ask for the handouts that the government offers. Finally, the fetid decomposition is even more intense in the heart of the central government, the latter with its nostrils clogged by the pungent smell of internal disputes for power.

Anyone who thinks this is a unique moment in the country is wrong. The ideal of a country blessed by nature did not even pass by our coast. As a curse, instead of the triumvirate described in previous text[I], namely, Equality-Freedom-Security, it seems that we are almost always grappling with another triumvirate, namely, Paranoia-Denial-Military. Historical examples abound. Since the birth of the Republic, with the military coup carried out by Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca; the suicide of Vargas and the resignation of Jânio Quadros; to the current paranoid and denialist government, clogged with the military, of President Bolsonaro.

Unfortunately, we do not have enough space to compare such historical periods, as a way of corroborating our thesis, nor is our intention here to rescue the memory of a country that insists on living inside out, against the grain of history, under the perennial auspices of catastrophe. On the contrary, the primary objective of this text is to try to show, in light of the events reincarnated in this pandemic, how Brazil repeats the model of proto-democracy that never actually materializes, a polyarchy of powerful equals or even an oligarchy in the strict sense of the term. term, that is, a power exercised by a small number of people, belonging to the same party, class or family. In plain English, the power exercised by a small group.

To do so, however, we will first need to resort to a basic understanding of this counterproductive triumvirate. Paranoia, for example, is inserted in the constitution of the psychotic subject. In this sense, when psychologically structured very early, up to the age of three, the child builds his Psyche through signifiers. Since its birth, the baby needs the other to give it a place of existence and, for that, language is necessary. With a biologically normal body, he will be prone to subjectivation through the marks left by the “Other”. This lack inaugurates the source through the mark that the mother imprints on her body.

In order to structure a subject, the lack is necessary, because the act of provocation generates in this child the drive as a representative of the biological, which can only be alleviated through the other (object). It is this other who, through repetition, will inscribe the trace of memory in the child. The mark left by the missing object is what draws the object of desire in the unconscious. The drive, therefore, is the driving force of desire. Constitutively, the signifier that causes the lack will always be in a place of a missing object in the baby's imagination, while the real of emptiness causes desire.

Freud (2006) considers each one's childhood as a kind of prehistoric period which, however, does not constitute a watertight period, as it is prone to leaks, as occurs with the drive. It can be understood that this leakage, in a way, is part of the process of constitution of the subject. Psychic operations are considered a mechanism by which the drive determines the discharge of excitation. The psychic system records certain lived experiences as signifiers, in a process of memory formation. Thus, what is experienced by the mother and the child operates symbolic registers, marks left by the signifier on the child's body.

Lacan (1999, p. 195) states that “[…] there is no subject if there is not a signifier that fuses him”. It is through symbolization that he explains the subjectivation of the subject. When he realizes that where pleasure once reigned, now there is lack, it is through this articulation moved by the Other's desire that he goes in search of something to feel pleasure again. It is in this experience that the baby will build the differences between the “I” and the “other” from the signifiers already marked in his body. In this sense, for Lacan, it is not the word that the child babbles that matters, but what symbolizes the space of lack. A previously unpleasant feeling can be transformed into something pleasurable in the child's feelings.

In this vein, for Lacan psychosis is the establishment of a specific mechanism that allows to differentiate neurosis and psychosis: the foreclosure of the signifier Name-of-the-Father. Regarding the process of psychotic structuring, Lacan (1957-58/1998) states that there is a failure at the level of the Other: the absence of a signifier, the Name-of-the-Father, and its metaphorical effect. As the Name-of-the-Father cannot replace the Desire-of-the-Mother, the subject is barred from accessing the symbolic and unable to orient himself in relation to the imaginary phallus. Thus, the Mother's Desire presents itself as a jouissance that is impossible to master and this child will occupy a position of immediacy, of devastation, for not being able to become a barred subject, since castration will not happen. Furthermore, since the Name-of-the-Father is the signifier that allows the subject to enter language and articulate its chain of signifiers, the non-inscription of this signifier in the Other leads to language disorders and hallucinations.

Lacan further states that “paranoia is a mistletoe of the imaginary. It is a voice that gives sound to the look that prevails there. It is a freezing of desire” (LACAN, 1974-75). In paranoia, two objects are present: the gaze and the voice. The first, the look, is more connected to the imaginary, while the voice adheres to the symbolic chain. However, both have in common the fact that they have the presence of the Other as an index. This demonstrates that in paranoia there is a freezing of desire, a fixation of the image that does not allow the metonymic sliding of desire. He is a being who is seen more than he sees.

Let us now move on to the psychological question of “Denial”. This concept would be a defense mechanism that refers to a process by which the person, somehow, unconsciously, does not want to be aware of some desire, fantasy, thought or feeling. Anna Freud classified denial as a mechanism of the immature mind because it conflicts with the ability to learn and deal with reality. Currently, psychoanalysis maintains almost the same definition of this concept.

In this sense, reality left outside the conscious mind, the process of sublimation (working through) involves a balance of neither completely forgetting nor completely remembering. This allows the trauma to resurface in consciousness if it involves an ongoing process, such as a prolonged illness. Alternatively, sublimation can initiate the full resolution process, where the trauma finally sinks into eventual oblivion. Therefore, denial is undoubtedly an impediment to the development of a healthy, full and stable life, which involves the person in a fictitious reality that cannot last for long.

Given the first two variables in our text, the last one is less psychological, despite having a strong emotional appeal: the military. In fact, on this day that I write, 28/05/2020, the country is apprehensive about yet another threat, veiled, to democratic institutions by the Bolsonarist government. The whirlwind of accusations and evidence against this government would be, a priori, enough to end the farce of a fascist government, which proclaims itself democratic. However, there is a serious obstacle that populates the imagination of the majority of the population, and a large part of the legislative and judicial authorities: the absurd (re)militarization of a civilian government, elected by popular vote.

In this sense, the State is secular and civil, therefore, neither ecclesiastical authorities or other religions, nor authorities of the armed forces, should meddle in matters that do not concern them. And vice versa. Thus, all religions and the armed arm of the State would be safe from the intemperance of civil power in any political situation of ideological impasses, as well as not interfering with their own dogmas of highly hierarchical institutions. But behold, we are experiencing the chaos of a pandemic within another even greater chaos of politics. Dr Dráuzio Varela exemplifies in his column today on the website of the www.uol.com.br. He says:

“Brazil fell into a sinister trap. Two changes of ministers at a crucial stage in the spread of the epidemic, the Ministry of Health has had its hands tied for over a month, while the president does his damnedest to end social isolation and impose a useless medicine, with potentially serious side effects. Why this obstinacy? To give the illusion that there is a cure for those who contract the disease on the streets?”

It is true that the armed forces in Brazil have always been in collusion with the civil power. The coup of the First Republic headed by a Marshal is emblematic in this sense. A brief count of civil governments, with direct election, does not go far beyond the account of 1/3 of the time since the end of the monarchy on November 15, 1889. In these last hundred and thirty years, civil governments overthrown, "suicides" , removed, renounced, impeded are the tonic of a nation that desires(?) a civil-emancipatory identity. Instead, uniforms are used for everything, from minor cases of small-scale trafficking (resolved in other countries with socio-educational measures), to military coups for the sake of the “status quo” of the same elitist tree since the so-called “Republic of the Sword”.

It is not a matter here, let it be very clear, to discredit these important branches of any country. The armed forces, in their role as guardian of national borders (in the mold of modernity), as well as the last instance of pacification of a society driven mad by the fetishist system of consumption and conflicts of less, shall we say, magnanimous personal interests, should be preserved exactly like this : as guardian and peacemaker. Nothing more than this. Which would already be very noble, and costly, for a country like ours with continental dimensions.

As for religions, well these are with the “homo sapiens sapiens” (man who knows he knows) since its dawn. Throughout human history, there have been many frustrated attempts to end its esoteric side. None were permanent. Perhaps the Enlightenment period of Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant was the longest lasting. Not even scientific socialism was able to put out the flame of the inexplicable for humanity. So, if for “philosophes” From the XNUMXth century, and until many of the previous ones, the project of a universal civilization was only possible through a universal morality, far from the diversity of religious traditions and beliefs, for the illuminists of past and present centuries, no matter the ideology, this morality universality passes, necessarily, through the acceleration of scientific progress.

However, if even among the classical enlighteners, such as David Hume (1711 – 1776), there was disagreement about religion as a consensus for people considered “sensible” at the time[ii], in the current historical moment of modernity, especially for peripheral countries like Brazil, the monotheistic religion serves, for the sake of truth, for a double game against its populations: disinformation and fundamentalism. One cannot live without the other and, in Bolsonarist Brazil, the refinement of cruelty comes from the armed alliance of this game, that is, armed power (bullet bench, militias, armed forces) and the power of religious ignorance. How can we break out of this trap we've gotten ourselves into, without falling into the void of blind machines arising from scientism? Or perhaps it would be better to reflect on the question of Voltaire's character "Cândido" (1985): "If this is the best of all possible worlds, how will the others be?".

Finally, I would like to return to the current reality of our country, to make the reader aware of our excesses. In fact, the core of national power, since the end of 2018, headed by the president of the republic, brings together two matrices that, combined, are taking the country to the brink of the precipice: the first is the psychological matrix, subdivided into the psychotic structuring of the main agent and the immaturity of denying the obvious (pandemic, ecology, free market, democracy, etc.), as a defense mechanism for his personal and market interests; the second matrix is ​​the collusion between strength and faith, taken to the letter by a significant portion of the military in power, in addition to an equally significant portion of a radical wing of religious fundamentalists.

In this sense, after almost thirty years of apparently solid representative democracy, Brazilian society turned over the graves (a term, unfortunately, in fashion) of an obscure past and returned to power the same centralizing model of polyarchy of the once powerful colonels, or, if you like, from the old financial oligarchy of the early 1964th century to here, just with different guys. More of the same. However, one thing needs to be questioned: if the slogan “homeland, family and property” was the salvation of our country, why did the forces that devastated the “sensible” Voltairian society of the last dictatorship (1985 – 21) need to retreat so quickly? prematurely, after the treachery against this same society in a mere XNUMX years?

Above all, it is necessary to reach that part of national society that believed, and still believes, in these dogmas as a path for fanatics, that our collective emancipation will not pass through yet another social “apartheid”. On the contrary, the theodicy of the new God-progress will only deepen the distance between people, already quite isolated precisely because of one of the prerogatives of this new supreme being, namely, the ability to keep us alive (a small part in the future) or take us to death by almost invisible beings, such as the new coronavirus.

*Andre Marcio Neves Soares is a doctoral student in Social Policies and Citizenship at the Catholic University of Salvador.


FREUD, S. Three essays on the theory of sexuality [1901-1905]. In: Complete Works of Sigmund Freud. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 2006.

LACAN, J. The seminar. Book 5: The Formations of the Unconscious [1957-1958]. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 1999.

LACAN, J. (1957-58). From a question preliminary to every possible treatment of psychosis. In: Writings. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1998.

LACAN, J. (1974-75). The seminar. Book 22: Unpublished RSI;

VOLTAIRE. Candide or Optimism. São Paulo. Scipione Authors Publishers. 1985;


[I] Article by me titled: The Civilizing Enigma.

[ii] Hume disagreed with monotheism as the original creed of primitive man, stating in his Natural History of Religion that polytheism was the aboriginal creed of humanity. 

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis