“A Impossibilidade do Crescimento” – por George Monbiot

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THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF GROWTH
Georges Monbiot / The Guardian UK
Tradução: Arlandson Matheus Oliveira

Imaginemos que em 3030 a.C. todas as posses da população do Egito ocupassem um metro cúbico. Suponhamos que essas posses crescessem 4,5% ao ano. Quão grandes elas estariam na Batalha de Ácio em 30 a.C.? Esse é o cálculo feito pelo investidor Jeremy Grantham.

Vá em frente, arrisque um palpite. Dez vezes o tamanho das grandes pirâmides? Toda a areia do Saara? O oceano Atlântico? O volume do planeta? Um pouco mais? 2,5 bilhões de bilhões de sistemas solares. Não demoraria muito, ponderando sobre esse resultado, para você chegar à posição paradoxal de que a salvação consiste no colapso.

Ter sucesso é destruir a nós mesmos. Falhar é destruir a nós mesmos. Esta é a armadilha que criamos. Ignore, se desejar, as mudanças climáticas, o colapso da biodiversidade, o esgotamento da água, do solo, dos minérios, do petróleo; mesmo se todos esses problemas miraculosamente desaparecessem, a matemática do crescimento composto torna impossível continuar.

O crescimento econômico é um artefato do uso de combustíveis fósseis. Antes de grandes quantidades de carvão mineral serem extraídas, cada aumento na produção industrial seria acompanhado de uma queda na produção agrícola, já que o carvão vegetal ou os cavalos-vapor demandados pela indústria reduziam as terras disponíveis para o cultivo de alimentos. Todas as revoluções industriais anteriores entraram em colapso, uma vez que o crescimento não podia ser mantido. Mas o carvão mineral quebrou esse ciclo e viabilizou – por algumas centenas de anos – o fenômeno que denominamos crescimento sustentado.

Não foi nem o capitalismo nem o comunismo que tornou possíveis os progressos e as patologias (guerra total, concentração sem precedentes de riqueza global, destruição planetária) da era moderna. Foi o carvão, seguido pelo petróleo e pelo gás. A meta-tendência, a narrativa-mãe, é a expansão movida a carbono. Nossas ideologias são meras subtramas. Agora que as reservas mais acessíveis foram exauridas, precisamos saquear os cantos mais recônditos do planeta para sustentar nossa proposição impossível.


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Na sexta-feira, poucos dias depois de cientistas anunciarem que o colapso do manto de gelo da costa leste da Antártida é agora inevitável, o governo equatoriano decidiu permitir a exploração de petróleo no coração do parque nacional Yasuni. Foi feita uma oferta aos demais governos: se estes dessem ao Equador metade do valor do petróleo contido naquela parte do parque, o país deixaria o petróleo no solo. Você pode ver isso como mercado negro ou como justo comércio. O Equador é pobre, suas reservas de petróleo são ricas. Por que, argumentou o governo, deveríamos deixá-las intocadas, sem compensação, quando todo mundo está perfurando até o círculo interior do inferno? O governo pediu 3,6 bilhões de dólares e recebeu 13 milhões. O resultado é que a Petroamazonas, uma empresa com um histórico colorido de destruição e vazamentos, agora entrará em um dos lugares com maior biodiversidade no planeta, no qual um hectare de floresta tropical contém mais espécies do que as existentes em todo o território norte-americano.

A empresa de petróleo britânica Soco espera penetrar no mais antigo parque nacional africano, Virunga, na República Democrática do Congo; um dos últimos redutos do gorila da montanha e da ocapi, dos chimpanzés e dos elefantes da floresta. Na Grã-Bretanha, onde depósitos contendo possivelmente 4,4 bilhões de barris de óleo de xisto foram identificados na região sudeste, o governo fantasia transformar os subúrbios arborizados em um novo delta do Níger. Com esse propósito, está alterando as leis de violação da propriedade privada para permitir a perfuração sem aprovação e oferecendo pródigos subornos à população local. Essas novas reservas nada resolvem. Elas não põem fim à nossa fome por recursos; exacerbam-na.

A trajetória do crescimento composto mostra que o esvaziamento (1) do planeta está apenas começando. À medida que o volume da economia global aumenta, qualquer lugar que encerre algo concentrado, raro, precioso, será vasculhado e explorado, seus recursos extraídos e dispersados, as diversas e diferenciadas maravilhas do mundo reduzidas ao mesmo restolho cinza.

Alguns tentam resolver essa equação impossível com o mito da desmaterialização: a alegação de que, à proporção que os processos se tornam mais eficientes e os aparelhos são miniaturizados, usamos, no conjunto, menos materiais. Mas não há nenhum sinal de que isso esteja acontecendo. A produção de minério de ferro subiu 180% em 10 anos. A Forest Industries nos diz que “o consumo global de papel alcançou um nível recorde e continuará a crescer”. Se, na era digital, não reduziremos sequer nosso consumo de papel, o que esperar das outras mercadorias?

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Veja a vida dos super-ricos, que definem o ritmo do consumo global. Seus iates estão ficando menores? Suas casas? Suas obras de arte? Acaso estão comprando menos madeiras raras, peixes raros, pedras raras? Aqueles que têm meios compram casas cada vez maiores para armazenar um crescente estoque de coisas que não viverão tempo bastante para usar. Por acréscimos que passam despercebidos, uma parte cada vez maior da superfície do planeta é usada para extrair, manufaturar e armazenar coisas de que não necessitamos. Talvez não surpreenda que fantasias sobre colonizar o espaço – que nos fazem crer que podemos exportar nossos problemas em vez de resolvê-los – tenham reaparecido.

Como o filósofo Michael Rowan assinalou, as inevitabilidades do crescimento composto significam que, se a taxa de crescimento global prevista para 2014 (3,1%) se mantiver, ainda que nós milagrosamente reduzíssemos em 90% nosso consumo de matérias-primas, adiaríamos o inevitável em apenas 75 anos. Eficiência não resolve nada, enquanto o crescimento prosseguir.

O inescapável fracasso de uma sociedade construída sobre o crescimento e sua destruição dos sistemas vivos da Terra são os fatos esmagadores de nossa existência. Por consequência, eles não são mencionados em praticamente nenhum lugar. São o grande tabu do século 21, os temas com garantia de afastar seus amigos e vizinhos. Vivemos como que presos em um suplemento de domingo: obcecados pela fama, pela moda e pelos três temas de conversação enfadonhos da classe média – receitas, reformas e resorts. Tudo, exceto o tópico que requer nossa atenção.

Declarações da sangria evidente, resultados de aritmética básica, são tratados como distrações exóticas e imperdoáveis, enquanto a proposição impossível segundo a qual vivemos é considerada tão sã, normal e banal que não é digna de menção. Eis como medir a profundidade do problema: por nossa incapacidade de até mesmo discuti-lo.

NOTAS

(1) No original, scouring; literalmente, lavagem, limpeza. O sentido é de esvaziamento, retirada até o esgotamento.

Mais artigos do mesmo autor:
http://www.monbiot.com

In Praise of Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” – by Eduardo Carli de Moraes

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“She is one of the great writers and intellectuals of our time. I was thinking about what makes her a really great writer, a really great person, and a really great rebel: someone who listens more than she talks. Someone who goes to find where the silence is, and tries to understand why the silence is there. She is so precious and so rare. Like Charles Dickens, like Charlotte Brontë, like Virginia Woolf, like Victor Hugo, like all those wonderful writers who spoke for the people who had no voice. Arundhati Roy joins a long and proud list of people who care deeply, and who listen deeply, and who then speak fearlessly. This is our salvation, this kind of writer, this kind of person…” – ALICE WALKER , author of Pulitzer-Winning novel The Color Purple (filmed by Steven Spielberg)

I.  A SUNBEAM LENT TO US TOO BRIEFLY

ARUNDHATI ROYTo listen attentively, to care deeply, to speak fearlessly: these are some of the many virtues of our brave sister, Arundhati Roy. Even if she never writes another book of fiction, she already deserves a place in the history of English-language literature: The God Of Small Things, the winner of 1998’s Booker Prize Award, can be easily included in the Olympus of the 20th century’s true masterpieces in the realm of novels.

Her story-telling talents are such that it’s hard not to get hooked on the tale she’s telling so compellingly: The God Of Small Things entrances with its language, seduces withs its humour, and then delivers, apart from a delicious verbal banquet, a blood-soaked tragedy.

She told BBC that she never meant to write a thriller, but her novel is filled with thrills, like a rollercoaster ride through Aymenem, Kerala, India, where Arundhati Roy grew up. Perhaps it’s her own way of embarking on a Proustian recherche du temps perdu. 

Yet this book ain’t a memoir or an auto-biography, but something much more ambitious: an Indian tragedy, set to the background of a nation in turmoil. Bloody messy turmoil. We only need to remember what happened in Gujarat in 2002 – more than 1.000 Muslims butchered and murdered openly in the streets by Hindu fanatics, and more than 150.000 fleeing the scene of the pogroms as refugees – to have a glimpse of the turmoils of India. Its dawned to the 21st century happened on the brink of a nuclear war with Pakistan, while Kashmir was held hostage by India through the biggest military occupation in the word. This is a scary picture of India which Arundathi Roy paints – and it rings so much truer than the demagogues propaganda.

She belongs to a pantheon of writers capable of writing passionately, with words that a sensible reader feels at the same time as he deciphers them. While reading The God Of Small Things, I was frequently aware not only of an intellectual process going on in my head – the whole process of language-deciphering – but of something else, ringing with truthfulness and verve: Arundathi’s words were injected with feeling. These are sentences written to be felt rather than simply understood. In a prose so marvellous that I can only find something similar in writers, which I cherish a lot, such as Anton Tchekov, Katherine Mansfield, Heinrich Heine, Manoel de Barros…

And yet The God of Small Things, so often, seems to focus on banalities, on minute occurrences – for example, the funny description of the twins in their “delight with underwater farting”. Several times, it seems she’s jokingly playing with language like Lewis Carroll or James Joyce did so well. She evokes images – for example: a child being forced to eat spinach – that seem at first sight to be trivial chronicles of day-to-day life. But Arundhati Roy portrays this commonest matter of life as something dynamic, in perpetual motion, and that can undergo sudden changes. As if she is saying that the extraordinary is the most ordinary thing there is, yet not all among us can see it and realize it. The motto, running like an underground stream in her narrative, is this: “things can change in a day”. So we better be prepared.

 When you reach the last page of the book, and you look behind you, remembering the path you’ve traveled together with Arundhati, you can feel the wisdom of every minute detail to the general composition. It reminds me of an interesting piece of literary criticism written  by an excellent Artist-of-the-Word, Cioran:

“No true art without a strong dose of banality. The constant employment of the unaccustomed readily wearies us, nothing being more unendurable than the uniformity of the exceptional.” (CIORAN, The Trouble With Being Born, p. 37)

In other words: a work-of-art doesn’t necessarily need to be an overdose of extraordinary occurrences and events. The common fibre that weaves human life must be used to compose a portrait of human life as it is – and life undeniably includes in its bosom much minute trivialities and minor events without further consequence. Until it comes: the day that changes everything.

The genius of Arundathi Roy’s book lies in her hability to portray how the extraordinary disrupts the web of common life. Thus the leitmotiv in The God of Small Things – “things can change in a day”, which means: your whole life may be suddenly transformed. It may be thrown out of its usual tracks, like a derailed train bound to a blind-date with fate.

After reading this book, I also emerge from it like a diver rising up from the seas, where he saw and witnessed little fish behind devoured by big ones (just like in Radiohead’s song). Life as a frail flame that can be blow off by the wind. Life as quicksand where our feet can never quite stand in firm ground. Life as box-of-surprises (not necessarily gentle ones).

These are some of the feelings about life Arundathi’s novel  may evoke and provoke. When she describes injustices being done against the powerless, her words have the beauty and the courage of similar ones written by Simone Weil or Emma Goldman. It seems to me that Arundathi depicts the destructibility of life as something that’s part of its essence –  mortality is something no mortal can escape from – and yet Arundathi’s voice is far from depressing.

Her words have an up-lifting effect, like an injection of enthusiasm shot right in the veins. It’s a voice filled with such compassion and boldness, and such lucid indignation and witty critique, that listening to her is a delight. Art can be empowering, it can communicate enthusiasm, it can teach a frame of consciousness, and it also certainly can act upon life – like Spinoza taught, it can become something we love because it enhances our vitality, adds vigor to our conatus.

This book may be playful and filled with wit, but ain’t kitsch at all: there’s pedophilia and police brutality and class struggles ending up in bloody mess. There’s scenes to make a punk’s hairdo spike up. There’s enough to make Chuck Norris cry. She extracts beauty from tragedy, from loss, from terrible grief, as if Arundathi was some sort of magic bee capacle of manufacturing sweet honey even from fly-trap plants. From brief sunbeams drowned out too soon.

Elizabeth Bishop’s famous poem says that “the art of losing isn’t hard to master”; Arundhati Roy also paints a poignant portrait of loss, and also points out that even the most precious things can easily be lost (“things can change in a day…”). Like the fateful day in which Sophie Mol tried to cross a river on a little small-boat with her cousins, the twins Rahel and Estha. Touched by tragedy in childhood, the twins learn from life some lessons that are usually reserved for older people. The wisdom that dawns upon them, written in their flesh by death’s killings upon the living, is stated very cleverly by little Estha: “Anything can happen to anyone, so it’s better to be prepared.”

20130628-gramsciThe wisdom of keeping eyes opened to the possibility of the worst, and yet continuing the struggle to act in order to build something better, is something that, it seems to me, is one of the many virtues of Arundhati’s work. Maybe she agrees with Gramsci that we should keep burning two flames, simultaneously: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

It’s always good news to discover that Humanity still holds among the living some people so wise and so courageous.

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II. HOLES IN THE UNIVERSE

In The God Of Small Things, I kept bumping into some re-occuring events, popping up several times in the narrative: the Holes in the Universe. No: this novelist isn’t venturing into the territories of astrophysics, nor trying to decipher the mystery of supermassive Black Holes. Arundhati Roy uses “holes in the universe” in order to portray the human mind’s experience of death: “Joe was dead now. Killed in a car crash. Dead as a doorknob. A Joe-shaped Hole in the Universe.” (p. 113)

Of course not only death can open these holes in the Universe, subjectively-perceived, and Arundathi knows it well. It’s so brilliant the way she is able to communicate a lot with a single word, when for example she writes “die-vorce”  (p. 124). This is no crass error of misspelling, and this is no mere typo that the publisher’s reviser didn’t detect: this, my friends, is poetry in action. 

Instead of writing the word as the dictionary demands (“divorce”), she subverts official language, and in this process links divorce with death. Both death and divorce – understood not only as the end-of-marriage, but as a sudden separation between affectively bonded humans – have the power to “open” these Holes in The Universe that The God Of Small Things so frequently talks about.

She also uses, with equivalent brilliancy, the witty expression “die-able” (154), to convey the sense of “being able to die”, of being in a state of danger.

The way she deals with Time in her narrative is also quite fascinating, and it works really well: instead of following a straight path in her story-telling, always going forward in linear time, she messes up with our coordinates. Like a brat willing to spread confusion in a world of bureaucrats and stock-market money-junkies, she sets the clocks to different times and steps back to laugh at how confused and lost in Time we really are.

We are short-sighted short-term-beings, who are neither beasts nor prophets. She does not only take us on a ride through India – it’s also a ride through Time. For example: Ammu’s death occurs in the middle of the novel, at page 154 (out of 315), and yet Ammu is present in the very last chapter. She even says the very last word of the book (“Tomorrow”).

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“The church refused to bury Ammu. So Chacko hired a van to transport the body to the electric crematorium. He had her wrapped in a dirty bedsheet and laid out on a stretcher. Rahel thought she looked like a Roman Senator. (…)  It was odd driving through bright, busy streets with a dead Roman Senator on the floor of the van. (…) Outside the vans windows, people, like cut-out paper puppets, went on with their paper-puppet lives. Real life was inside the van. Where real death was.

The crematorium had the same rotten, rundown air of a railway station, except that it was deserted. No trains, no crowds. Nobody except beggars, derelicts and the police-custody dead are cremated there. People who died with nobody to lie at the back of them and talk to them. When Ammu’s turn came, (…) the steel door of the incinerator went up and the muted hum of the eternal fire became a red roaring. The heat lunged out at them like a famished beast. Then Rahel’s Ammu was fed to it. Her hair, her skin, her smile.

20 minutes: that’s how long Chacko and Rahel had to wait for the pink receipt that would entitle them to collect Ammu’s remains. Her ashes. The grit from her bones. The teeth from her smile. The whole of her crammed into a little clay pot. Receipt No. Q 498673.”

(pg. 154-155)

aroyrArundathi paints images of holes in the Universe that emerge and take the place where joy was once intensely present. She portrays beautifully some occurrences that are far from cute – including pedophilia; child-sized coffins; police brutality against people from the lower castes; several acts of violence (both verbal and physical).

As if she was trying to paint a huge mural of a world – ours, the real one – where careless words are legion, and where sometimes death comes to claim life’s yet to be lived, or who had many fruitful years ahead of them. Untimely deaths.

No one should live somewhere where infancy is normally considered as a very “die-able” age. And yet India, may I remind us, has the largest population of undernourished children in the planet. And the emergence of shopping malls and billionaires, of Bollywood movie-stars and triumphant stock markets, ain’t stopping neither the tragedy of massive deaths by famine, of children and adults alike, nor the tragedy of massive suicides of empoverished peasants, which sometimes end up killing themselves by drinking pesticides made by Monsanto…

algebraWithout resembling in any way a political pamphlet, the novel is in fact deeply political. I would strongly recommend to you Arundhati Roy’s books of essays, excellent and thought-provoking books such as Algebra of Infinite Justice and Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy.

After reading them recently, I got the impression that, both in her fiction and non-fiction writings, she delivers a portrait of India as a country still suffering from the tragedies that ensue from the rigid social hierarchy of a Caste System.

Baby Kochamma, for example, feels very proudly that she is higher and nobler in society than those she calls “the sweeper class” (pg. 132). It seems to be one of the main intentions of The God of Small Things to give voice to the voiceless. To portray those who are so often killed without leaving behind them no portrait. No footprints in the sand’s shore. Those Power wants to throw into Oblivion. Arundhati Roy, through the means of such a compelling story, communicates to the reader the lived experience of the lower castes, the toiling masses, and she makes us suffer together with those who suffer from the anathema and the stigma of being “Untouchables”, the pariahs of Indian society.

Some books, after we finish them, never quite leave us. They become part of us. We move on, but transformed by them. We have been taught to care more for the voiceless, for the powerless, for the wretched of the Earth; we have learned empathy towards small frail things such as ourselves. We now have been enriched by the new holes we now carry in our hearts: a Sophie-shaped hole in the Universe; a Velutha-shaped hole in the Cosmos; an Ammu-shaped hole in the Fabric of Life…

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III. THE LOVE LAWS (AND THE RISKS OF TRANSGRESSION)

It’s evident that Arundhati Roy is pretty well-read, and that she has learned a lot from the masters of the English Language: she evokes images and characters from Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, for example, and she inserts into her narrative verses from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. 

Apart from the direct references to other books, she also can remind the reader of highly creative artists such as Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett or Julio Cortázar, especially because of her ability to invent a language of her own, a verbal landscape that’s quite unlike any I’ve ever read.

Of course some of the scenes may remind us of other novels – for example: when Arundanthi described the minute details of the family business Paradise Pickles & Preserves (“Emperors of the Realm of Taste!”), I felt some resemblance to John Steinbeck’s marvellous narrative in The Winter of Our Discontent. And wild rivers, with dangerous secrets lurking below the surface of the waters, may also make some experienced reader reminisce the days he spent surfing the pages of Melville’s magnum opus Moby Dick.

Of course a little boat, with three children in it, crossing a river in India, is quite different from Ahab’s vessel, in its epic journey in search of the giant white whale. But what I mean to point out is this: The God of Small Things is such a great book also because it can evoke in us past reading experiences, and good thrilling ones such as Herman Melville or Steinbeck wrote. Arundhati Roy’s work can “drown” us in a literary experience of aesthetic amazement.

However, there’s  no l’art pour l’art here: this novel can teach us a lot about India, if we care to listen to the narrative’s details. When you least expect it, she writes, for example: “Some days Estha walked along the banks of the river that smelled of shit and pesticides bought with World Bank loans.” (p. 15) That’s how politics manifests itself in this novel: acting directly on the characters and their environment. Politics is something the flesh-and-blood, the pulsating heart, knows about by its effects on life.

There’s a mist of mystery surrounding the narrative that contributes a great deal to the thrilling sense of suspense of the book. He are told right from the beginning  about the tragic loss of Sophie Mol, but Arundhati takes her time in unveiling what happened to this English child visiting her cousins and aunts in India.

Sophie and her mother came to India after experiencing trauma in England – the death of Joe – but unaware that they would be further traumatized rather than healed. After all this is India, a country filled with “public turmoils”, where “various kinds of despair competed for primacy”, “poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace”, and where “Worse Things kept happening” (20).

I see in The God of Small Things a tragedy set in India, a country where “caste issues are very deep-rooted” (263). People are “conditioned from birth”, says Comrade Pillai, to think and feel in accordance with the caste system – which is, of course, a system of stratification of social classes in which a lot of violent conflict keeps exploding (in his century, the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 and the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 stand as examples). This Caste Segregation is the political background for a tale of forbidden love, and love loved in spite of laws forbidding it.

Ammu and Valutha are a bit like Romeo and Juliet, daring to love when the social landscape around them deems it a scandal. What an obscenity, to love someone outside of one’s caste! In Arundathi Roy’s novel, two persons from two castes who aren’t supposed to mix end-up choosing the experience of forbidden love, even tough they know this could be their doom.

When Ammu and Velutha join their bodies in the delights of wild love-making, there’s a big fear lurking inside them. There’s an anguished panic poisoning their delightfully forbidden love. This love, in the wildness of its force, tramples underfoot the taboos of caste. They will be punished, for certain, by their transgression. This love is risky business. By daring it, you gamble with your life.

Stanton_R&J CoverIt’s quite similar to what happens in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: the “clash” and conflicts that sets apart Capuletos and Montecchios, as you well remember, is the background for the forbidden love between Romeo and Juliet. They transgress the Laws of Segregation with their Union in Love. Though brief, it’s a symbol of love’s power to demolish frontiers and unite what has been kept severed. Romeo and Juliet refuse the segregation imposed by their families and by the social structure, and dare to love and unite amidst a conflict filled with bloody hate.

I wouldn’t say that The God Of Small Things is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, but rather that Shakespare’s famous play deals with similar dilemmas.

Rahel and Estha, Ammu and Velutha, are characters which transgress the Love Laws, which lay down who should be loved, and how much, and according to what dogmas and rules. “…once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.” (p. 311)

Ammu and Velutha unite in the art of seeing the common, beyond differences, in the boundary-transcending light of a loving eye. They transgress the Love Laws and then they are crushed to an horrendous death. And yet the genius of Arundhati lies not only in the tragic grandeur she can convey in her story-telling, but also in the lush sensuality of her imagery. The sex scenes at the very end of the novel are the greatest example. Love-making description skyrockets to Shapespearean heights in these pages, and the beauty of them resembles the beauty in D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley or in Abdel Kechiche’s film Blue Is The Warmest Color… 

In Arundhati’s Roy, the tragedy of the lovers runs parallel with the children-in-the-boat subplot. An accident happens, the children’s boats hits some obstacle in the waters of the river, and then the fragile vessel throws into the water Rahel, Estha and Sophie.  “Just a quiet handing-over ceremony. A boat spilling its cargo. A river accepting the offering. One small life. A brief sunbeam.” (pg. 277)

Velutha – the Romeo of the forbidden-love saga – now is claimed by another play, another saga: he’s to be a scape-goat, the one to be punished by the death of a child. Velutha, tender lover and hard-working man, an activist of the Marxist Party and a friend of maoists, ends up being beaten to death by the police. Beaten out of existence. To be buried in the Pauper’s Pit.

And then one suddenly awakes to the fact: what impels Arundhati Roy to write is clearly indignation for the horrors and strifes that she describes. She suffers with these crushed lives because of her extraordinary capacity for empathy. An hability to have attentive antennas to listen to the voices of human diversity.

In recent years, amazing works-of-art also reflected upon false accusations and unjust punishments – Ian McEwan’s Atonement and the film The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg are examples take occur to me. It would certainly be interesting to attempt a comparison of these works with The God of Small Things. My impression is that Arundhati Roy deals with matters of Crime and Punishment with such depth and intelligence as one can find only in the works of great masters such as Franz Kafka or Dostoiévski.

Alive, awake, alert. That’s what some books do for us: they kick-start our mind’s capacities to marvel and wonder. They expand our horizons by unveiling the magnitude (it’s huge) of all that we can’t understand. They enchant us with their language, until we wake up to what what we were previously unaware of. They tell stories that we feel that needed to be told. When he reach the last page, we feel that the book isn’t finished, it will reverberate and echo inside us, perhaps for years.

We close this book and it’s possible we’ll be burdened by a grief similar to the one we feel when a loved-one dies. I surely carry now within me a Velutha-shaped hole in the Universe, a Sophie-shaped hole in Existence. And yet I feel enriched by these new holes, by these tales of transgressive love, by these human kaleidoscope flowing in Time on the Earth Woman’s bosom.

“We belong nowhere”, Chako said. “We sail unanchored on troubled seas. We may never be allowed ashore. Our sorrows will never be sad enough. Our joys never happy enough. Our dreams never big enough. Our lives never important enough. To matter.”

Then, to give the twins Estha and Rahel a sense of Historical Perspective, he told them about the Earth Woman. He made them imagine that the earth – 4600 million years old – was a 46-year-old woman. It had taken the whole of the Earth Woman’s life for the earth to become what it was. For the oceans to part. For the mountains to rise. The Earth Woman was 11 years old, Chacko said, when the first single-celled organisms appeared. The first animals, creatures like worms and jellyfish, appeared only when she was 40. She was over 45 – just 8 months ago – when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

“The whole of human civilization as we know it”, Chacko told the twins, “began only 2 hours ago in the Earth Woman’s life.”

It was an awe-inspiring and humbling thought, Chacko said, that the whole of contemporary history, the World War, the War of Dreams, the Man on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge – was no more than a blink of the Earth Woman’s eye.

“And we, my dears, everything we are and ever will be are just a twinkle in her eye…”

The God Of Small Things is a fountain of life: drink it up with might, O you who thirst for Truth, Freedom, Justice, O you all who grieve everyday by witnessing them crushed!

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LUTAS.DOC – 5 documentários sobre a realidade brasileira

Lutas.doc é uma série de documentários, com reflexões profundas sobre a violência, seus contextos e formas de representação na história do Brasil. A série combina densidade de reflexão com uma linguagem dinâmica e acessível. Grandes pensadores brasileiros, doutores em filosofia, psicologia, economia, história e sociologia, como Eduardo Gianneti, Olgária Mattos, Laura de Mello e Souza e Contardo Calligaris, ao lado de grandes protagonistas políticos, como Lula, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Marina Silva e Soninha, e livres-pensadores egressos dos movimentos sociais, como Ferrez, Júnior do AfroReggae, João Pedro Stédile e Esmeralda Ortiz, analisam a realidade brasileira em pé de igualdade. A história do país é revista, com um olhar crítico e ousado. Com um ritmo dinâmico e trechos de animação, os episódios procuram levar audiências intelectualizadas e jovens sem grande formação intelectual, do mesmo modo, à reflexão. A série tem codireção de Luiz Bolognesi e Daniel Sampaio.”

 

 

 

 

Os protestos de Seattle em 1999: veja o documentário “Essa É a Cara da Democracia” (completo)

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“THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE”

DIRECTED BY JILL FRIEDBERG & RICK ROWLEY / US / 2000 / 72 ‘

PRODUCED BY BIG NOISE FILMS AND CORRUGATED FILMS

Synopsis 01: This film, shot by 100 amateur camera operators, tells the story of the enormous street protests in Seattle, Washington in November 1999, against the World Trade Organization summit being held there. Vowing to oppose, among other faults, the WTO’s power to arbitrally overrule nations’ environmental, social and labour policies in favour of unbridled corporate greed, protestors from all around came out in force to make their views known and stop the summit. Against them is a brutal police force and a hostile media as well as the stain of a minority of destructively overzealous comrades. Against all odds, the protesters bravely faced fierce opposition to take back the rightful democratic power that the political and corporate elite of the world is determined to deny the little people. – Written by Kenneth Chisholm

Synopsis 02: A gripping document of what really happened on Seattle’s streets. The film cuts through the confusion and tear gas to paint an intimate, passionate portrait of a week that changed the world. With narration by Susan Sarandon and Spearhead’s Michael Franti, and with a driving soundtrack including Rage Against the Machine and DJ Shadow, This Is What Democracy Looks Like is the first documentary to capture the raw energy of the WTO protests, while clarifying their global and historic significance. The Independent Media Center provided a production infrastructure for over 450 media activists during the WTO protests in November 1999. With autonomous, volunteer-run media centers operating in four continents, ten countries and twenty-one cities, the IMC represents a new and powerful emerging model for independent media.

“The IMC isn’t waiting for the old guard media to tell the true story… the IMC is simply doing the job itself, reporting directly form the front lines.

 Naomi Klein, author of NO LOGO

Demo

“A Confissão da Leoa”, de Mia Couto – por Gisele Toassa

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MIA COUTO E O SER-LEOA

IMAGINE uma ínfima aldeia de um país muito pobre, chamada Kulumani.

IMAGINE uma mulher que passou sua vida toda nessa aldeia, Mariamar.

IMAGINE que ataques de leões estão matando apenas – e tão-somente – as mulheres nessa aldeia, fazendo da irmã de Mariamar, Silência, uma das suas vítimas.

E você terá o cenário da “A confissão da leoa”, do moçambicano Mia Couto, nosso compadre nos infortúnios da colonização portuguesa – autor único na fragrância animista do seu português. Para quem nunca teve o hábito de ler folclore, mas ama a mistura popular-erudito, esse livro é uma sólida introdução para o modo-de-vida, o modo-de-fala – e, mais do que tudo – para o cruzamento (fascinante, perigoso?) entre religião e costumes de uma nação escravizada até muito pouco tempo. Somos irmãos na opressão. Também somos irmãos na desigualdade e na linhagem da nossa América Latina que, como a África, soa para mim mais feminina do que a Europa.

“Deus já foi mulher. Antes de se exilar para longe da sua criação e quando ainda não se chamava Nungu, o atual Senhor do Universo parecia-se com todas as mães deste mundo. Nesse outro tempo, falávamos a mesma língua dos mares, da terra e dos céus. O meu avô diz que esse reinado há muito que morreu. Mas resta, algures dentro de nós, memória dessa época longínqua. Sobrevivem ilusões e certezas que, na nossa aldeia de Kulumani, são passadas de geração em geração. Todos sabemos, por exemplo, que o céu ainda não está acabado. São as mulheres que, desde há milénios, vão tecendo esse infinito véu. Quando os seus ventres se arredondam, uma porção de céu fica acrescentada.Ao inverso,quando perdem um filho, esse pedaço de firmamento volta a definhar.” (p.15)

Das mulheres nascidas e finadas em Kulumani sobra pouco rastro, habituadas que eram ao silêncio e às sombras. “Pobre Kulumani que nunca desejou ser aldeia. Pobre de mim que nunca desejei ser nada” (p.50). Nascida em uma aldeia do interior de São Paulo que, por acaso, hoje tem 300,000 habitantes, senti em Mariamar uma verdadeira irmã espiritual. Como eu sonhava com o Príncipe Encantando, ela sonha com o caçador que, trouxera, com um olhar, a vida ao seu corpo de sombras (dei de cismar que a opressão não é preta nem branca – é apenas uma sombra que inunda nosso espírito com uma antecipação do irremovível Nada). Seu silêncio é uma percepção do feminino como infantilidade adiada, feita de esperas: espera por um homem, pelo Salvador ou por um outro ser vivo que lhe agitará o ventre, vindo por certo tempo se abrigar na sua (inviolável) sombra; três esperas tão silenciosas quanto necessárias para que a renovação dos capítulos dessa nossa trágica Comédia Humana.

Eu só faço admirar a destreza na escolha dos personagens (parece a mecânica perfeita de Ibsen); os seus nomes que rompem a fronteira do hábito para nos transportar a esse universo onde não veremos a pobreza (como falta), a doença (como atraso) ou a violência (como mal do caráter). A África de Couto é a África vivida e padecida como dores universais. Quando Arcanjo Baleiro, o caçador, junta-se ao escritor e ao administrador para matar leões em Kulumani, entra em cena também Naftalinda [!], a gorda mulher do administrador, a única que faz ouvir sua voz – tal como a Lua no céu, oprimida por astros mais significativos, mas ainda viva. Agora que aprendi a necessidade do feminismo como luta contra as pequenas e grandes guerras (desde a depilação até a ocupação da Ucrânia), posso admirar essa mulher que tenta falar pelas suas companheiras. Mia Couto é um grande feminista, por se ocupar da história dos vencidos, sejam as mulheres ou os leões: “Até que os leões inventem as suas próprias histórias,os caçadores serão sempre os heróis das narrativas de caça.” Provérbio africano – MIA COUTO, A confissão da leoa (epígrafe) – p.11.

Paralisia, mudez completa, são alguns dos sofrimentos com que a pequena Mariamar defronta-se. É um jeito de amurar-se a si mesma; sem andar ou sem falar, ela deixa de realizar atos que pouco importavam a alguém. Debaixo de sua imobilidade, há lembranças de um avô amoroso e de uma guerra sangrenta, onde os africanos foram as presas.

“Aconteceu o mesmo no tempo colonial. Os leões fazem-me lembrar os soldados do exército português. Esses portugueses tanto foram imaginados por nós que se tornaram poderosos. Os portugueses não tinham força para nos vencer. Por isso,fizeram com que as suas vítimas se matassem a si mesmas. E nós, pretos, aprendemos a nos odiar a nós mesmos.” (p.120)

Esse é um livro sobre morte-em-vida, vida Severina, mas também sobre um encarceramento sem paredes, o de ser-Colônia e não se governar. Os majestosos leões vão ficando à mercê dos homens, e os homens, presa dos outros homens, ficando as mulheres na última ponta da cadeia alimentar, onde viram comida – literal e metaforicamente – recebendo na cabeça e no corpo uma dominação multiplicada. Seus mortos nunca foram realmente enterrados. Sua revolta não tem espaço para crescer, pois se acostumou ao silêncio e à força: se não dão, lhes tomam. Mas os livros são aventura certa para além desse mundo restrito onde a tarefa vital é abrir as pernas e fechar os olhos, ou apenas levar água no balde, do poço à casa:

“Kulumani e eu estávamos enfermos. E quando, há dezasseis anos, me encantei pelo caçador, essa paixão não era mais que uma súplica. Eu apenas pedia socorro, em silêncio rogava que ele me salvasse dessa doença. Como antes a escrita me tinha salvado da loucura. Os livros entregavam-me vozes como se fossem sombras em pleno deserto.” (p.95)

Tal como nós e os moçambicanos, Mariamar mostra que silêncio e loucura não são estranhos, mas parentes próximos. É por isso que vou colocando Mia Couto na minha prateleira de autores queridos, destes que são curativo para a alma, e instrumento para a luta.

leoa

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Confira também:

O Redemoinho da Existência: Palavras de Jean-Marie Guyau, Pintura de K. Hokusai, Música de Claude Debussy…

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)

“The Great Wave”, by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)

“Perhaps there is nothing which offers to the eye and the mind a more complete and more sorrowful representation of the world than the sea. In the first place, it is a picture of force in its wildest and most unconquerable form; it is a display, a luxury of power, of which nothing else can give an idea; and it lives, moves, tosses, everlastingly without aim. Sometimes we might say that the sea is animated, that it palpitates and breathes, that it is an immense heart, whose powerful and tumultuous heaving we see; but what makes us despair here is that all this effort, this ardent life, is spent to no purpose. This heart of the world beats without hope; from all this rocking, all this collision of the waves, there results only a little foam stripped off by the wind.

I remember that, sitting on the beach once, I watched the serried waves rolling towards me. They came without interruption from the expanse of the sea, roaring and white. Behind the one dying at my feet I noticed another; and further behind that one, another; and further still, another and another – a multitude. At last, as far as I could see, the whole horizon seemed to rise and roll on towards me. There was a reservoir of infinite, inexhaustible forces there. How deeply I felt the impotency of man to arrest the effort of that whole ocean in movement! A dike might break one of these waves; it could break hundreds and thousands of them; but would not the immense and indefatigable ocean gain the victory?

The ocean neither works nor produces; it moves. It does not give life; it contains it, or rather it gives and takes it with the same indifference. It is the grand, eternal cradle rocking its creatures. If we look down into its fathoms, we see its swarming life. There is not one of its drops of water which does not hold living creatures, and all fight one another, persecute one another, avoid and devour one another… The ocean itself gives us the spectacle of a war, a struggle without truce… And yet this tempest of the water is but the continuation, the consequence, of the tempest of the air; is it not the shudder of the winds which communicates itself to the sea?

There is nothing which is not carried away by the whirlpool of cosmic existence. Earth itself, man, human intelligence, nothing can offer us anything fixed to which it would be possible to hold on – all these are swept away in slower, but not less irresistible, undulations…

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Let us imagine a ship in a storm, rising and falling by a series of curves… If at one moment of the passage the descending curve bears the ship down, and she does not rise again, it would be a sign that she is sinking deeper and deeper, and beginning to founder. Even so is it with life, tossed about on waves of pleasure and of pain: if one marks these undulations with lines, and if the line of pain lengthens more than the other, it means that we are going down. Life, in order to exist, needs to be a perpetual victory of pleasure over pain.”

111

JEAN-MARIE GUYAU (1854-1888)
French philosopher and poet
Esquisse d’une morale
sans obligation ni sanction


Originally published in 1884.
Quoted from the English translation,
by Gertrude Kapteyn. London, 1898.
Chapter I. Pgs. 42 – 35.

Download e-book in French or English.

“La Mer”, by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)