Understanding Brazil is easy. I want to see and understand the Brazilian

Lista de “livros essenciais para entender o Brasil” mostra que a intelectualidade abandonou de vez a busca pela excelência individual.

List of “essential books to understand Brazil” shows that intellectuals abandoned the search for individual excellence.| Photo: Bigstock

THE Folha de S. Paulo published on Thursday fair (5) a tedious list with 200 ( du-zen-tos!) essential books for anyone who wants to understand Brazil. The votes of intellectuals (among they even have a STF minister!) to arrive at the highly debatable, highly controversial and highly mistaken conclusion that “Quarto de Espejo”, by Carolina Maria de Jesus, is the Most Important Book for Understanding Brazil. Were the votes auditable, Rosa Weber?

Carolina de Jesus is a hard-working writer, one of those that it’s hard to say it’s bad, but it is. Her greatest qualities are extrinsic to his work. Let’s be frank, Carolina de Jesus is the ideal combo of sealing literature that covers the impeccably organized shelves of these people. She is a woman, black, from a favela and, on top of that, she was rescued from the darkness of anonymity to which she was destined by her social condition by the oh so noble art of writing.

A friend with a postdoctoral degree in speed reading told me that, of the first 100 works cited, no less than talk about the racial issue. Others 16, on the indigenous issue. From which I conclude sadly, and without any hope of brilliance, that these kids-with-degrees have completely abandoned the pursuit of individual excellence through literature. Luckily, Guimarães Rosa uses pardo matutos to develop his metaphysics of buritis, otherwise he would be as ignored as Gustavo Corção or Pedro Nava.

My Lime Orange Foot

Inspired by the initiative of the competing newspaper, I took to the streets. Going through corners and marquises, I gathered the dubious wisdom and intelligence of a bunch of bums, illiterate, shabby, inept and geeks to offer the readers of Gazeta do Povo a list of the most important books even for those who want to understand Brazil in its most admirable and essential element: the Brazilian.

After hours of many deliberations, words were absolutely unintelligible and sprays reeking of cachaça, I didn’t come up with any list. But, if I remember correctly, there were those who quoted “O Imbecil Coletivo”, by Olavo de Carvalho (more or less jokingly), and “Meu Pé de Laranja Lima”, by José Mauro de Vasconcelos (more or less seriously). To make matters worse, my cell phone was stolen during a rhetorical clash between some modernist beggars and some Parnassian homeless people. The Parnassians took advantage, until some concrete poets arrived and the whole thing turned to violence.

On the way back home, and with my toes in the more or less real world of this chronicle, I was digging through my vast and priolíssima mental library to try to find a single book that would help me (us) understand Brazil. Understand Brazil. Understand Brazil. Understand Brazil. What does it mean, after all,

to understand Brazil ? Is it understanding the neighbor who thinks differently from me and who I call a fascist? Does it mean celebrating or resenting the ethical mix that makes the search for the “typical Brazilian” utopian? Does it mean fostering the colorful hope of a “Viva o Povo Brasileiro”, by João Ubaldo Ribeiro, or plunging into the dystopian pessimism of an “Admirável Brasil Novo”, by Ruy Tapioca?

This “Brazil”

In addition, the presence of fiction books by Gilberto Freyre, Élio Gaspari and Laurentino Gomes stands out. A proof that Brazilian intellectuals (or at least 214 of them) have completely abdicated the inner dialectic. From metaphysics. From the quest for moral and spiritual grandeur. For them, literature exists only as a piece of propaganda capable of “explaining” an abstract political entity: this Brazil. And, with luck, paint this abstract entity with a predetermined ideological color.

Understanding Brazil is easy. Any Paulo Freire in life thinks he can. What I want to see is to explain the individual, be he a Luciano Hang, a Guilherme Boulos or, challenge of challenges, a Zé da Esquina. What I want to see is to scrutinize the moral entrails of those who take to the streets in green and yellow – or in red. What I want to see is to understand the dreams and anxieties of these people tired of opening the newspaper and coming across intellectuals wanting to tell them how to think.

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