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From the scoundrels of the elites to the death of the “good man”: Nelson Rodrigues’ predictions

On the day 16 of July, the great Ruy Castro, unfortunately blind in his melancholy anti-Bolsonarist crusade, published the chronicle “And that one from Nelson?” – his best chronicle in a long time. And for one reason: apart from the introductory paragraph, the text is composed only of sentences by Nelson Rodrigues. Phrases that Ruy Castro believes serve perfectly for Brazil immersed in fascist tragedy & other exaggerations.

I can always be wrong, but I have for myself that Nelson Rodrigues would laugh at the insistence of intellectuals in showing Bolsonaro and the Bolsonarism as retrograde forces that must be stopped by force. Even more for a progressivism that opposes reality as an ideology disguised as faith. Yes, faith. After all, few understood the peculiarities of Brazilian-style conservatism better than the author of “Cute, but Ordinary”.

O What draws attention in the phrases chosen by Ruy Castro is that, like all brilliant aphorisms, they are ambiguous enough to function as a kind of wildcard phrase. They are, therefore, ideal quotes to be used by anyone (right and left), at any time (now or later), and against whoever is the target (left and right). Even by chroniclers without much inspiration on the day. Satisfaction is guaranteed. If you add a “as Nelson Rodrigues said”, so much the better. It is as if the interlocutor could see his IQ rising.

Take the first sentence quoted by Ruy Castro: “Once the best thought for idiots. Today, idiots think for the best.” It’s beautiful! And it has some essential elements of a good aphorism, such as rhythm, conciseness and the combination of antagonistic terms. I would like to highlight a four fundamental element there: the aphorism makes the reader always feel between the best, never among the idiots. And I know, you know, we know how difficult it is to resist this feeling of superiority.

There, Ruy Castro cites two provocations dear to contemporary Brazil. Brazilians have their inner darkness. It is better not to provoke them. Nobody knows what is inside” and “With time and use, all words deteriorate. For example: ‘freedom’. Today, ‘freedom’ is the most prostitute of words”. The first, if said today, would be read/heard as a phrase from a PT member. The second requires a somewhat more detailed reflection. After all, who corrupted freedom to the point of prostituting it?

Then Ruy Castro, a scoundrel like him, uses Nelson Rodrigues to say that “the ‘good man’ is an evil corpse. informed. He does not know that he has already died.” Not satisfied, in the same paragraph he also mentions that “there are no elites in the world more alienated than ours” and “Today it is very difficult not to be a scoundrel. All pressures work for our personal and collective debasement.” From my corner, I just wonder how it is possible for someone to read these sentences without doing the proper self-criticism. Yes, all pressures work for our personal and collective debasement. Including the pressure to signal virtue by putting itself against the “good man”. What Nelson Rodrigues does not say in this collection, although he makes it clear in his work, is that it is necessary to resist the pressures that lead us to scoundrels. Here’s the rub.

After that, and as if dialoguing metalinguistically with the phrases cited so far, Ruy Castro pays an expensive toll to the ideological police (the most scoundrel of police), mentioning a phrase, in fact, a long reasoning without rhythm or conciseness, which nods to the contemporary anti-racist movement.

In the last paragraph, Ruy Castro concludes the psychography session with two sentences that can be used by Bolsonarism. After all, it is impossible to read that “Brazil is no longer Brazil. Today we are being crushed by the anti-Brazil” without thinking about the recent scene of Bebel Gilberto stepping on the national flag, as well as the alienated elite turning their backs on Brazilians who prefer the simple-minded Bolsonaro to the already tried, disapproved and condemned Lula.

Just as it is impossible to read that “when friends stop having dinner with friends because of ideology, it is because the country is ripe for carnage” without thinking about the decades of PT divisionism to which we were all exposed. This divisionism began by opposing rich and poor, then it started to play white against black, straight against homosexuals, and so on.

I have to agree with Nelson Rodrigues and, by extension, with Ruy Castro: divisionism turned us into potential fratricides. Not that I believe in literal carnage, that is, in coup and counter-coup, civil war or whatever. But, in fact, we are already experiencing an epidemic of death wishes, some explicit and others veiled. And when we wish our friend (or colleague or acquaintance or celebrity with whom we would never share a table) to die or shut up or disappear from my timeline, it’s because, at some point, we give in to the utilitarian temptation of scoundrel. Ah, that Nelson…

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