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Tropicalism and Tribalism Tropicalism and Tribalism
by Alexandra Pereira
2009-10-07 08:15:46
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‘Soy loco por ti de amores
Tenga como colores
La espuma blanca
De Latinoamérica
Y el cielo como bandera
Y el cielo como bandera...

Soy loco por ti, América
Soy loco por ti de amores

Sorriso de quase nuvem
Os rios, canções, o medo
O corpo cheio de estrelas
O corpo cheio de estrelas’

'I'm crazy of love for you

Have as colours

The white foam

Of Latin America

And the sky as a flag

And the sky as a flag

 

I'm crazy for you, America

I'm crazy of love for you

 

Smile of almost-cloud

The rivers, songs, the fear

Your body full of stars

Your body full of stars'

 


Caetano Veloso singing an excerpt of the composition by Gilberto Gil and the poets Capinan and Torquato Neto[1]

The Tropicalia, Tropicalism or Tropicalist movement was a Brazilian cultural movement that emerged under the influence of avant-garde artistic streams and national and foreign cultures (such as  the deeply original Brazilian Anthropophagic movement of the 20s and 30s, with illustrious representatives, concretism, pop-rock, etc.); it blended traditional manifestations of Brazilian/South American cultures with radical aesthetic innovations and constant experimentation. The ironic Anthropophagic movement for example, primarily literary, postulated among other things that South Americans should consume and 'regurgitate' North American and European influences, after 'digesting' or mixing them with their own cultural matrixes. Tropicalism as a movement had broader behavioral goals, which found an echo in most of the South-American societies (and the Brazilian one in particular, under the military regime in the late 1960s). However, Tropicalism, for great annoyance of intervention singers and artists of those times, was not-engaged politically – more precisely, it did tribalists_400not feel a need to restrict itself or to have intervention as a goal, since its adherents strongly believed that Arts and Culture naturally promote social change (they not only believed so, they actually were  participating witnesses of that, as victims of the dictatorship that they were, nonetheless, which came in part to determine its fall), human nature is not compartmented, while philosophy could reflect on the importance of Multiculturality and the Other, a place where to meet which is a non-place, a creative concreteness with a rainforest ground, for example (why not?). All the great inventors, in all times, have asked this question: 'Why not?'. The movement, contemporary of at least other 3 main movements in Brazil's cultural life, manifested itself strongly in music (in which the greatest representatives were Caetano Veloso, Torquato Neto, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes and Tom Zé), visual arts (where the main figure was Hélio Oiticica), film (the movement was influenced and influenced the New Cinema of Glauber Rocha, for example, and many other directors) and the Brazilian theater (actors and directors were influenced, and particularly the parts of anarchic José Celso Martinez Corrêa). One of the greatest examples of the Tropicalia movement was one of the songs of Caetano Veloso, called exactly "Tropicalia".

‘Brazil is the society of the future’ the philosopher Agostinho da Silva used to say decades ago about a multiracial society inventing itself – and the ones that still considered Brazil as a 3rd world country, until just today, laughed on his face as if they were dealing with a mere crazy man, or the face of anyone who would dare to say something similar. ‘Brazil? Oh, that’s too a dangerous country!!’ – how many times was I confronted with this sentence when mentioning Brazil a propos of anything, which for me was a natural reference, since Brazilian culture has been having a profound impact even in some parts of… Europe for the last decades – but Europeans don’t seem to be aware of it, perhaps they don't even consider those parts of Europe AS Europe (which is the most likely thing)!! They’re used to always ‘export their ideas’ (or advertise the phenomena like that) when in reality things don’t work in such way. People who work in Culture or the Arts, for example, know very well that borders don’t exist in fact, and influences are reciprocal. So my usual answer to 'Oh, that's a too dangerous country!!' was normally 'Well, it's not more dangerous than the US!!', an answer which is true and somehow leaves these people in Europe (including immigrants from other parts of the world who live in Europe) satisfied. I just wonder why. Anyhow, I don't care, as long as they feel satisfied with my answer. In fact, Brazil has very liberal gun control policies, similar to the US ones, which need to be reviewed. Second, violence has been increasing consistently in Europe and decreasing in the US, but Europeans seem hardly aware of it, they're too brainwashed by their own governments, which want them to believe 'here is the best place to live, in the whole world!'. It's a self-fulfilled prophecy, a shared dogma. Third, and to say the truth, a good slice of the violence and social problems which happen in the Southern Hemisphere have A LOT to do with the exploitation still operated by the 'First World' countries and corporations (now more hidden or disguised than in colonial times, but still operated anyhow), including the consumption of drugs culturally and artwork_by_adriana_varejao_400traditionally used during century-old rituals in order to feed our 'First World' social diseases, a product proudly exported by the First World (the diseases), and the empty futility of our everyday lives which ignore totally the Other and have no sense of different human communities in this world connected to us as a 'Whole' whatsoever, or doing 'sex/drugs tourism' to South America (thousands and thousands of 'First-Worlders' promote such 'holiday packages' every year...) or selling guns to illegal groups throughout the world, which feeds the mafias, drug dealers and guerrillas in other South-American countries. Third, a slice of the people, when they say 'Oh, that's a too violent country!!' and I answer truly 'Well, it's not more violent than the US!!' feel disarmed because what they actually mean is 'Oh, that's a too poor country!!' - and, as such, dangerous (you should go on vacations but not live over there). So what to answer? With truth, I answer: Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries in the poetry of its people.

Other countries in South America increasingly see Brazil as a leader among them and the carrier of hopes for a promising future to the whole South America. In fact, besides representing more than 190 million souls nowadays and including, as part of its territory, some of the biggest metropolis in the world, Brazil can present an alternative 'American' model to the world, which doesn't oppose but complements and differs from the North American one. The inventive nature of the Brazilian society, its potential, its  alternative ways of life and alternative values, its critic sense, the natural compassion of its people, the openness to the foreign fed by the curiosity of the different and the thirst to interact and, above all, the sense of humour and joy, make Brazil's society incredibly flexible. The non-identity which opens space to any identity and becomes a supra-solidarity or a field for exchange has been a topic of discussion, debate, promotion and study for decades (centuries?), in Brazil. But of course we, blindly, in Europe and elsewhere are just 'proud of our multicultural societies', that is, our discriminations, ghettos and immigration policies. Once again, our fictions and our self-built myths. We're too sensible to see a favela, but we're not too sensible to indirectly cause its existence and feed its continuation. We abominate non-cultured beings, but we do not abominate arrogant, hypocrite and narcissistic ones, actually we reward them. We mistake information with wisdom and solidarity with interest. And no, we're not children, we're the 'developed' ones. So there, I guess that says everything about our priorities and our level of development. As long as these myths are not deconstructed, there's no hope of true 'progress' for the so-called 'First World'. Humane progress, I mean. Is there any other kind of progress? Because  development as at least a part of the world understands it can only happen through-within ethics.   

Another myth in the EU, US and other 'First World' countries is that 'only we create the trends, only we create the ideas'. Well we don't. 'Other countries have no innovations in culture, they were basically influenced by us'. Well it's a lie, it's our artwork_by_vik_muniz_400own fiction fooling us again, the marketing of our governments and institutions to make us feel 'better than'. 97% of us believe, in a more or less openly assumed or conscious way, that we are better. Much harder is to recognize that we were influenced by somebody else in the world, in part because 'First World' countries face the Cultural innovations of other countries in a totally Anthropophagic way (which denotes a complete vacuum of First World ideas), with the arrogance of calling themselves 'the developed ones', while the Cultural traditions of elsewhere are merely considered 'exotic' and an object of study for Anthropologists to deal with and to exhibit in our 'developed' museums, which we visit happily on Sunday afternoons, as if we were on a freak show or an entertainment boulevard. 'Consume (others, ourselves, us all, all there is) and entertain', those are the First World flags. And who are the cannibals here, who are the primitive souls? We can't even conceive that there can be avant-gardes elsewhere, in the most 'unexpected' (for whom?) places. Well there are. 'Third World' is not = absence of brain, on the contrary. Our modern myths blind our societies totally, we look ourselves in the mirror constantly, we dress in 'trendy' clothes, we say that 'we are artists' and those are, for most of us, the main prerequisites to have an avant-garde established. 'Established'. We even eat our own Culture, not only the 'Third World' Cultures. We close our artists in socially accepted places, that is old warehouses with dozens of studios, so that they can produce not far from our sight, controlled and dependent of our power structures and grants. So that we can annul them in their transformative power, because we are allergic to social change and we're afraid of invention, we cannot stand the unknown, we mistrust diversity (but we advertise it, and deep down we know that we have good reasons, provoked by ourselves, to fear retaliations from the 'foreigners' that we 'tolerate' inside our societies); goodness, kindness, solidarity and empathy: we can only understand these under trade and consumption and survival logics, otherwise we mistrust them. We don't know what honour is, that doesn't exist in most developed minds. We don't know what dignity means, if it's not a material concept. That is so sad. We're afraid to live. We need alcohol, we need drugs, we need parties and fashionable or formal work dinners during which everybody bitches on each other, we need to be perfect and obedient workers, and 'climb up' stepping on the faces of others, we need to be good students always ready to... obey to the power structures, we need to have a good job, the same routine, a family, a house in the suburbs, a dog and a bicycle. We need appearances much more than essences (I can not be competent, but I must look competent, I can not be rich but I must look rich, I can not be talented but I must look talented, I can not be smart but I must look smart, I can not be happy but I must look happy), because if you look 'successful' others will accept you, as you're contributing to the collective myth according to which our societies are 'better'. We need to exercise so that others will accept us for how we look like, not for whom we are, not for our character, not for our talents – no talent is rewarded but the talent to obey and to lie, and 'being smart is to earn money'. Exercise doesn't come naturally, but as something imposed by our societies, which also impose sedentary routines – and we go to the gym because it is an obligation, there we feel 'safe' from the non-competitive contact with others and with nature, from naked social and personal truth. We don't have time for such futilities, we must be efficient at all cost, above all we must be efficient in our own lies.

 

The First Tropical Olympics

'It is time to light the Olympic flame in a tropical country'  

Lula da Silva

 

Are the Brazilians aware of the scandals inside the IOC? Are they aware that the IOC wants to expand the Olympics to other continents (more than one century after Coubertin revived the Games, they remembered that South America actually exists, and of course Africa or the Middle East are still not on their map!!) in order to clean their image after China and not succumb to all the bribes, scandals and doping? Of course they are. But the important thing for Brazilians, a multicultural and open society which believes in dream as it believes in bread while at the core of the Brazilian identity is the  union of all races and nationalities, is not to make a marketing campaign of a regime, like China did, a campaign with close associates in which money and stock exchange are the supreme values. The most important thing is that Brazil is honest about it, including the Olympic spirit – most common Brazilians believe in it, that is, and their love for sports doesn't need to be proved. Sports are integrated in everyday life, weaved with the culture, naturally. The second most important thing is that this is a major chance for Brazil, a country which is loved by most South-Americans. And the third important thing is that Brazilians are not naives, so they know that the IOC is taking advantage of this to try to clean their image and pretend a sudden interest in social matters. For the IOC, it’s the opportunity to have more than a façade make-over, it could mean the chance for a bigger change, an ethical one, which will doubtfully happen, as they're not open to that – they just want to prolong the myth that 'they believe in the Olympic spirit because they 'help' poor countries with deep social problems'. 

 

‘Tropical Truth’

‘Tropical Truth’ is the name of the book that Caetano Veloso published in 1997 ‘From the dark background of the solar heart of the southern hemisphere, within the melting pot that does not guarantee degradation nor genetic utopia, from the filthy (and yet, remedial) bowel of the internationalizing entertainment industry, from the island Brazil hovering eternally half a millimeter above the real ground of America, from the center of the fog of the Portuguese language’, words which came out 'as a testimony and questioning of the meaning of the relations between human groups, individuals and artistic forms, and also trading and political forces, in short, about the taste of life in the end of the century'.

Where is true beauty? Beauty lies in the essence of all things, in our ability to connect with each other (which is a very developed Brazilian Art), to create through/in such connection. To connect is at least as important as what is conveyed through the connection we establish. What should be conveyed? Fragility and Beauty. Sensitivity. The ineffable. Our subjectivities, which are the most beautiful thing in this world. Those are some of our basic truths.

Tropicalism influenced names such as David Byrne, Arto Lindsay, Beck, Ney Matogrosso or Devendra Banhart. In 1998, Beck released Mutations, the title of which is a tribute to the band Os Mutantes, one of Tropicalisms' pioneers. Compilations of Tropicalist Music include Tropicalia Essentials (1999), Tropicalia: Millennium (1999), Tropicalia: Gold (2002), New Millennium: Tropicalia (2005) and Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution In Sound (2006).

 

Tribalists – the Tropicalists of the 21st century

'Tropicalia was the reverse of Bossa Nova'

Caetano Veloso

 

The Tribalists (Marisa Monte, Carlinhos Brown, Arnaldo Antunes) released their album in 2002, with a chocolate-made sweet cover by the plastic artist Vik Muniz – part of a bigger group of high-quality contemporary visual artists, such as Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto, Marepe, Adriana Varejao, Artur Omar, Gilvan Samico, Emmanuel Nassar, Os Gemeos or Paula Trope, showing deeper affiliations, on its originality more than its concepts, with a whole earlier group of Brazilian NeoConcretist artists, such as Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica, Amilcar de Castro or Franz Weissman, or roots which extend to the fantastically rich and original Brazilian literature, with names such as Mario de Andrade, Decio Pignatari, Drummond de Andrade, Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, Cecilia Meireles, Clarice Lispector, Ferreira Gullar, Vinicius de Morais, Oswald de Andrade, Jorge Amado, Jose de Alencar, Mario de Andrade, Machado de Assis, Manuel Bandeira.

The collaboration of the trio of Tribalists (with very different individual expressions and distinct influences) represents just a very tiny fringe of a profoundly rich, artistically, new generation of Brazilian artists and musicians (of which are part, for example in music, also Maria Rita, Moreno Veloso, Thalma de Freitas, Adriana Calcanhoto, Vanessa da Mata, Mariana tropicalia_family_albumBaltar, Fernanda Takai, just to name very few... and they master jazz or blues with the same ease as they master fusion, mpb, world music, etc). The Tribalists' album achieved great success/resonance in Brazil, many South-American countries, parts of Africa and also parts of... Europe (are we Europe, are we not? - always the same dilemma). I guess we aren't: how can a European be Tropical or Tribal in any way? Unthinkable, we should be 'sophisticated' creatures and, as such, dedicate ourselves to recycle exclusively hypocrisies instead. The Tribalists now prepare their second project. Under the Tribalists' premises there is in fact the belief that the whole world is a tribe, the Tribalists are infused with the values of the tribe, while gathering/incorporating different styles and distinct urban and non-urban artistic, popular and intellectual tribes. They represent a new understanding of the world and a new ethical approach. The world is connected and we are a global community. The 'internet age' generations, in particular, can be deeply aware of that. We try to infuse change through communication streams, short-circuit information channels with wisdom and infiltrate solidarity in the competition structures. 

One of the greatest defies for younger generations is simply to 'translate' tropicalist and tribalist terms and make them accessible to the whole world, or to the highest number of people possible, who might be interested in them – so that the visual, plastic, musical, written, poetical, behavioural manifestations of Tropicalism and Tribalism won't be lost in the vacuum of a cultural arrogance which rises borders, and snobbish oblivion which selects gratitudes, forever. We act as translators of culture and poets who spread seeds in the wind. We create, convert and synthesize, but we have to translate our original heritage and our cultural backgrounds as well, because most of the world still didn't bother and doesn't actually want to bother with learning our languages. And those are, dear gentlemen, original and tropical seeds – like a palm tree sprouting in the middle of the freezing snow. Those seeds are an answer and they are a question. We have arts affiliations and frames of reference, we actually have ideas, creative ideas, full of sense of humour – that seems hard to understand in most 'First World' countries. We don't have a need to classify our 'Worlds' in 'First', 'Second' and 'Third'. And we want to know who did that first! Just to give them a 'chapadao' as an answer... that is an unlimited horizon!!

 

Tropicalia, by Caetano Veloso:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9754NizSyIA

 

Lyrics

Above the head the airplanes
Under my feet the trucks
Point against the chapadoes
1
My nose
I organize the movement
I orient the Carnival
I inaugurate the monument
On the Central Plateau of the country
Long live the Bossa-ssa-ssa
Long live the hut-ut-ut-ut
The monument is made of crepon paper and silver

The green eyes of the mulatta
The mane hides behind the green woods

The moonlight of the sertao

The monument doesn't have a door

The entrance is an old, narrow, twisted street

On her knee a smiling child, ugly and dead

Stretches a hand

On the interior patio there's a swimming pool

With blue water of Amaralina

There are coconut trees, a breeze and lighthouses
On her right hand she has a rosebush

Authenticating the eternal spring

And the vultures in the garden all afternoon stroll
Among sunflowers
Long live Maria -ia -ia Long live Bahia -ia -ia -ia -ia -ia
On the left wrist bang-bang
In his veins runs very little blood
But his heart balances to a samba tambourine
Emits dissonant chords
Through the five thousand speakers
Ladies and gentlemen he puts his big eyes
On me

Long live Iracema-ma-ma Long live Ipanema-ma-ma-ma-ma
Sunday is a fine bossa

Monday he's in the pit
Tuesday he goes to the farm
2
However
The monument is thoroughly modern
He said nothing about the model of my suit
Let everything else go to hell
My dear
Long live the band-and-and
Carmen Miranda-da-da-da-da.


 

Tropicalia, by Beck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJ4T0P2W-I

Lyrics

Oh when they beat
Upon a broken guitar
And on the streets
They reek of tropical charms
The embassies lie in hideous shards
Where tourists snore and decay
When they dance in a reptile blaze
You wear a mask
An equatorial haze

Into the past
A colonial maze
Where there's no more confetti to throw
You wouldn't know what to say to yourself
Love is a poverty you couldn't sell
Misery waits in vague hotels
To be evicted
You're out of luck
You're singing funeral songs
To the studs
They're anabolic and bronze
They seem to strut
In their millennial fogs
'til they fall down and deflate
You wouldn't know what to say to yourself

Love is a poverty you couldn't sell
Misery waits in vague hotels
To be evicted
Oh and now you've had your fun
Under an air-conditioned sun
It's burned into your eyes
Leaves you plain and left behind
I see them rise and fall
Into the jaws of a pestilent love
You wouldn't know what to say to yourself
Love is a poverty you couldn't sell
Misery waits in vague hotels
To be a victim

 

1Chapadoes is a superlative for chapada, which has two meanings in Portuguese:

a) region of steep cliffs, usually at the edge of plateaus. Chapada Diamantina is the name of a National Park with great plateaus and cliffs inland from Bahia, homeland of Caetano Veloso, where diamonds where discovered in the mid 1800s. On the other hand, the Central Plateau of Brazil is the region where Brasilia, Brazil's capital city, is located.

b) strong slaps on somebody's face.

2 Big farms are commonly called 'Roça' in Brazil and some African countries.

    
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Emanuel Paparella2009-10-07 13:24:37
Rousseau’s romantic “original innocence” saving a tired corrupt First World? That rather naive philosophy didn’t work very well for the 19th century. One may hope that it will work a bit better for the 21st, but the present ineluctable facts of our global reality suggest that it may be wise to remain a bit skeptical.


ap2009-10-07 14:07:51
Mr. Paparella:
'within the melting pot that does not guarantee degradation nor genetic utopia'.
Tropicalism did't (nor does Tribalism nowadays) defend any 'original innocence'. Don't be fooled by the name, Tribalists use the most modern technologies available and they are anything but naives. But then, you just have to grow up in the 2nd or 3rd worlds not to be naive. And have eyes and a fully functioning heart.


ap2009-10-07 14:35:51
They don't propose any 'original innocence', but what they do propose is the dominance of a new cultural matrix. This matrix is different from the North American one and naturally different from most European ones. When you grow up knowing how to share in scarcity, how to respect who is different just because that's another human being (not because the human being has power, money, control, influences or to be rewarded somehow), when you see with your own eyes the consequences of global exploitation and the darkest part of the humanity in action, there's no way you can't be affected by that as a person/artist.
What I'm saying is: there's a new cultural dominance coming, it will not represent a threat, rather it will enrich us all - so wait to see. Hopefully this dominance will in part release US and Europe from their hypocrisy and autism and bring new human values, cultural positions we're not used to, a kind of openness which is hard to see or was until now.
It will bring with it a kind of South-America that you do not know and can't classify a priori, much more developed than what is advertised, much more rich and creative than the societies we know. Actually these artists can provide global healing by transforming violence inflicted globally (and generally inflicted by the northern hemisphere over the southern hemisphere, with the excuse of self-survival) into something constructive to give back to the world - the whole world, as they don't make a distinction between a posh gallery in NY and the streets of a little south-american village. They have messages (and they don't have to be political or create slogans, they just have to be active as artists in order to convey those messages) which will make us think. A lot. Might be that we lose our frames of reference or question them deeply. They have resources that our 'cultural elites' don't dream of, while they drown in their own self-absorbed champagnes.


ap2009-10-07 14:56:23
Because they are literally drowning in their vacuum of ideas, or otherwise they are parasitic towards other creators and they don't even recognize those influences. That's called infinite greed, hypocrisy and selfishness. If you think it's hard to make it as an artist in NY or Finland, imagine in Bolivia or Peru, Africa, or even the poorest parts of Europe. They do it because it's who they are, and that's a very important thing that will maybe give them some advantage in the end, at least in terms of personal dignity. To take advantage of ideas that others give to you for pure profit and self-promotion, and not even have the dignity to assume that - that's what most of our 'pseudo-creators' do. That's parasitic, not co-productive nor co-creative. That's purely parasitic. And it can happen with our cultural agents in the UK, in France, in Holland or in Finland, or elsewhere. But it does happen, you see.


ap2009-10-07 15:13:45
So that shows who really are our cultural agents - parasites - and who are the cultural agents elsewhere - survivors. And the parasites need to use the ideas of the survivors not recognizing their contributions, to have more profit and glory through their ideas. Now I would say that is some kind of lesson, although not an 'original innocence' one - it's a decency lesson. If you give something, you expect at least others to recognize that you gave it, even if you don't expect reward. Most of our european cultural agents are just reproducing global problems and being an active part in creating them. And if they are shamelessly parasitic towards other parts of Europe, imagine towards South America.


ap2009-10-07 15:52:59
I mean, I learned those lessons myself, at my own expense and not that I needed them: I'm tired of giving ideas away that others use and don't give credit for them nor recognize them as having been given (why do dutch artists need to sell sculptures with the shapes and concept suggested by someone else - without recognizing it - and still have me working for free to organize their exhibition, why do some british arts galleries need to take artists I suggest or steal my pen drives instead - much better -, why does a dutch gallerist need to take advantage of my free work and gallery project in order to earn money for cocaine and parties in london, why aren't some famous finnish multicultural projects finnish(?), why do I have to have an article reviewed by the person I'm writing about - and I'm writing for free, of course, for the multicultural project that is not even finnish - in order to give her the credit for my own ideas? and so on and so on). This kind of thing happens constantly. And still the Portuguese are the retarded and underdeveloped, and if you ask them Portugal is actually an awful poor place - it's even hardly part of Europe! Portugal, isn't that in Africa? Either Africa or Spain!! And still I don't have a job nor a salary, I have to finish my arts course and don't know how will I make it to pay fees and eat at the same time, I don't have a 'beautiful past full of dutch cookies, french pastry and belgian caramels' but quite a hard one, I do many personal sacrifices that common 'european citizens' can't even dream of or imagine and I work for free for institutions and artists in other 'more developed' european countries, often harming my own life and my plans and personal projects, just because I might not have means to make them true myself. Why? Maybe I'm just too darn stupid? No, being an artist is just who I am. And that implies ethics for me. Perhaps not just for me. But that's maybe - quite surely - an underdeveloped opinion.


Emanuel Paparella2009-10-07 16:00:28
Ms. Pereira
Glauber Rocha, in an article published in Revolução do Cinema Novo. Rio de Janeiro: Alhama, 1981 under the title of “Tropicalism, anthropophagy, myth, ideogram” begins the article by informing the reader that “In 1922 a revolution against academic and official culture began in Brazil. Oswald de Andrade, the main proponent for change during this time, defined his cultural activism and his work, which is truly brilliant, as anthropophagic. Refering to the tradition of anthropophagic Indians, he said that since they had eaten white men, they had eaten all Brazilian and colonial culture. Very few of his works were published during his lifetime. José Celso Martinez Corrêa, who directs the Oficina Theater -the most import avant-garde theater group
in Brazil- discovered Andrade's The Candle King and staged it. It was truly a revolution: anthropophagy (or Tropicalism as it is also called) presented for the first time to a Brazilian audience sparked a great cultural awakening. The development of Tropicalism and anthropophagy is the most important thing in Brazilian culture today."

Perhaps the origins of the Tropicalism movement, as above indicated, ought to be stressed a bit more with due credit given to Oswald de Andrade. In any case cannibalism even as a poetic metaphor remains to my mind a dubious solution to resolving clashes of cultures and civilization just as Rousseau's concept of "the noble savage" remains dubious.


ap2009-10-07 16:12:23
Mr. Paparella,
There is quite a confusion here, as the anthropophagic movement is not equivalent of Tropicalism. Tropicalism came later (mainly through music and visual arts, in the 60s) and gathers many other influences, besides having reviewed in much more sophisticated ways the 'anthropophagic' terms). Actually that's one of the richnesses of Tropicalism.

And both are different from the current Tribalist movement (it's a technological tribalism, a XXIs century one, with few things in common with amazonian tribes), but the Tribalists are direct inheritors of Tropicalism.


Thanos2009-10-07 22:19:33
I have to admit that I knew too little about the subject ...well, nothing really, so THANK YOU!


Emanuel Paparella2009-10-07 23:46:30
Ms. Pereira,
since the Brazilian Glauber Rocha expressly asserts in his article on Tropicalism of 1981 that “…anthropophacy (or Tropicalism as it is also called) presented for the first time to a Brazilian audience sparked a great cultural awakening”, you may wish to alert such an author of his confusion in the matter. For indeed, while it is hard enough to individuate and sort out the correct paradigm and/or ideology behind the facts of certain cultural movements, that identification becomes doubly hard when the “experts” on the movement feed misleading inaccuracies to those who know nothing about those movements.


ap2009-10-08 12:26:02
Mr. Paparella,
It is obvious that:
1. Your Portuguese is not good
2. Glauber Rocha was an expert/the founder of Cinema Novo (New Cinema), not an expert in Tropicalism
3. Glauber Rocha died even before the current Tribalists made their debut (some of them were not even born)
4. For the main representatives of Tropicalism, whose names are referred in the article above, not only Tropicalism is not a synonym of Anthropophagism (which doesn't mean Tropicalism doesn't recognize a certain heritage, especially in poetry), as it is a totally new level of understanding and elaboration.


ap2009-10-08 15:29:16
Actually, Tropicalism remained for many as an 'unidentified cultural object' until Caetano published his 'Tropical Truth' (late nineties). This book was a legacy for the new generation associated with the Tribalists.
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil can be considered the founders of Tropicalism in music (closely associated with several poets), while Oiticica was the main representative in visual arts. Tropicalism was a syncretic movement, and a deeply innovative one, not understood by many for nearly 40 years.


ap2009-10-08 15:31:32
Actually, further research and development are necessary. That's what the Tribalists are doing with their current experimentation.


Emanuel Paparella2009-10-08 15:46:12
Actually the article I read was an English translationand reads thus: “…anthropophacy (or Tropicalism as it is also called)..."; so either the translator was not very competent, or your English is not good since the sentence I quoted clearly identifies the beginning of tribalism with antropophacy. The wiser thing would be therefore to protest to either Rocha or his translator rather than impugn my Portuguese which definitely is not the issue and merely drags the real issue into the ad hominem sphere.


Emanuel Paparella2009-10-08 15:50:56
Errata: tribalism abouve should be tropicalism. For Rocha clearly does not confuse those; but he definetly identifies antropophagy with tropicalism.


ap2009-10-08 22:42:55
Yes, in fact,
the differences between Tropicalism and Anthropophagism are:
a) Anthropophagism was a movement from the 20-30s and Tropicalism was a movement founded in the 60s
b) Oswald de Andrade explained his genial poetry with elaborate and very ironic Anthropophagist conceptions/theories (he called it Anthropophagism but it was not a literal Anthropophagism, as he stated that the 'digestion' was so elaborate that a whole new and original product would be born, so that cannot be mere passive consumption and at the same time it can - he questioned the term itself, it was calling 'shit' to his own poetry while everybody recognizes that it was genial - what he was saying was that his geniality didn't come from his influences and 'when you say we're mere consumers you imply that we just passively produce shit, well I don't agree')
c) So even Anthropophagism as Oswald used it was original and not connected in any way with 'original innocence', but with the originality which is born from sin - that is, sin = fusion
d) Tropicalism was primarily a fusion (a sin) of originally brazilian cultural products (such as brazilian concrete poetry, neoconcretist visual arts, indigenous and african influences, different regional influences, brazilian popular music, indigenous music, anthropophagism, etc) WITH other south american influences (spanish language, indigenous influences, music, visual arts movements, argentinian, peruvian or bolivian cultural products and references, for example) AND other foreign influences (colonialist, pop-rock, american pop and abstract expressionism, european music, etc.).
e) This is very well explained by the founders of Tropicalism
f) So Tropicalism, more than a movement, was the change of the whole cultural matrix. It was not the mere 'original regurgitation' (in order not to produce shit) of european and american cultural products so much digested by the local culture that a totally new and original and dignified thing would come out, as Oswald described it (even if he described it in very ironic terms, as if the regurgitation was the production of something original, in the end, so questioning all our stereotypes and frames of reference), Tropicalism was 'the regurgitation of self-consumption as well as other influences', if you want to put it in those words. And still in order not to produce shit passively. That was a metaphor for what the artistic work (and the dignity of the artist) should be. Anyway Tropicalism involves much more elaborate concepts than this simple Oswaldian Anthropophagist irony.
g) As I told you before Glauber Rocha was primarily connected with Cinema Novo, not Tropicalism, and if the declaration was by him, he was probably assimilating the experimental aspects of Tropicalism with Oswaldian Anthropophagism - but the experimental aspects only
h) Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, or Torquato Neto/Oiticica (these two died already) can be considered the founders of Tropicalism.


ap2009-10-09 01:43:23
Here is an excerpt of 'Tropical Truth' (published 1997), by Caetano Veloso, for you:
'(...) I recently heard from Arto Lindsay that musicians and producers of the most fashionable forms of dance music (techno) are voracious consumers precisely of the repertoire heroically defended by Augustu. So much more than Paul(McCartney) may have heard Stockhausen, these kids listen to Varèse and Cage, Boulez and Berio. And, tells me Arto, they just talk about it. What to think? In the 70s, conservative voices (and very useful ones) stood up to protest against "modernism on the streets." But where and how will the collective ear form itself, naturally familiar with the music of the post-serialists or the post-dodecaphonics? And what world will that be, one in which a song like that sounds like music to the ears of "all"? Seeing paintings by Monet, my five year-old son commented that they were "very sloppy when viewed closely," but "seemed well-made" if seen from a distance. I myself can not say exactly why the music of Webern (especially the more radical) seemed undeniably beautiful from the first hearing. Are the boys in the techno-dance an embryo of minority of mass?


ap2009-10-09 01:58:04
What will happen to the tonal ear as we know it if the audience failure of the most unpopular music is superated? When I first saw MTV in New York, I wrote an article titled "Seeing songs" (intentionally using the two senses of seeing) where I asked a little more superficial questions but pointing in the same direction: the procedures of the vanguard movies, trashed by the serious and the commercial cinema, had finally found a refuge there in those little films of rock n'roll, which were at once erratic illustrations of songs and advertisements of the correspondent records. Today I can not stand to watch rock videos for a long time: too many images striving to seem bizarre get me bored, especially the speed in which they are edited. But the question remains: References to Chien andalou or Metropolis - and all the permanent relationships with Le sang d'un poète, Cocteau - are in a rock video exactly and only as forms of Mondrian on the miniskirt of a horn, or only now "modernism" or the "vanguards" begun to lose the right to those names of rupture? Before the disenchanted realism (actually burning with retrograde and pre-humanist excitement) of the apparently brave commentators, I prefer to continue loving what has been achieved by the modernisms and all their unfoldings.'


ap2009-10-09 02:05:27
'Before the capitulation to the laws of Hollywood narratives, I keep celebrating Godard. In view of the journalists who attack the French and German philosophers because they do not write in an Anglophilistically "clear way" (journalistic), I praise Heidegger's writing on Nietzsche, and Deleuze's one on Proust. I welcome the arrival of Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown and Chico Science against criticism that submits itself (explicitly!) to the number of copies sold of a CD or the intensity and duration of applauses during the shows. And this force, which to me means life, I take it largely for concrete poets. Not to mention the fact that they, in their rescue of the baroque and their rediscovery of figures more ambitious and inventive than many of those which traditionally occupy the mainstream of the history of Brazilian literature, emphasized, as the American historian Richard M. Morse said, "a new reading of American culture no longer modeled in terms of imagery of tree trunks, branches and shoots that point to a gradual formation of transatlantic 'identities'. And the strength of synchronic vision. And the overcoming of the opposition center-periphery.'

'the Brazilian popular music has been, indeed, to ourselves and to foreigners, the sound of the discovery of the Brazilian dream (and here we come to another discovery, mutual, in which the heart tends more to the Indian who rose to the alien ship so without fear that there he fell asleep, than for the great Pedr'álvares, who barely set foot on American soil).'


ap2009-10-09 02:42:26
ps - and just to finish, I should clarify that the Lyrics in the end of the article is from 'Tropicalia' by Beck not 'Tropicalia' by Caetano, which influenced Beck's version and was much more creative/interesting - I was sending both, somehow you cut Caetano's lyrics when publishing the article.


ap2009-10-09 02:46:58
This is then Tropicalia as sung by Caetano:
Above the head the airplanes
Under my feet the trucks
Point against the chapadoes (footnote 2)
My nose
I organize the movement
I orient the Carnival
I inaugurate the monument
On the Central Plateau of the country
Long live the Bossa-ssa-ssa
Long live the hut-ut-ut-ut
The monument is made of crepon paper and silver
The green eyes of the mulatta
The mane hides behind the green woods
The moonlight of the sertao
The monument doesn't have a door
The entrance is an old, narrow, twisted street
On her knee a smiling child, ugly and dead
Stretches a hand
On the interior patio there's a swimming pool
With blue water of Amaralina
There are coconut trees, a breeze and lighthouses
On her right hand she has a rosebush
Authenticating the eternal spring
And the vultures in the garden all afternoon stroll
Among sunflowers
Long live Maria -ia -ia Long live Bahia -ia -ia -ia -ia -ia
On the left wrist bang-bang
In his veins runs very little blood
But his heart balances to a samba tambourine
Emits dissonant chords
Through the five thousand speakers
Ladies and gentlemen he puts his big eyes
On me
Long live Iracema-ma-ma Long live Ipanema-ma-ma-ma-ma
Sunday is a fine bossa
Monday he's in the pit
Tuesday he goes to the farm (footnote 3)
However
The monument is thoroughly modern
He said nothing about the model of my suit
Let everything else go to hell
My dear
Long live the band-and-and
Carmen Miranda-da-da-da-da.


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