CXXXVIII (Re)leituras -- Carmen - Carmen Miranda, a vida da brasileira mais conhecida do Séc. XX, by Ruy Castro, comments by André Bandeira
She died young, such as Gloria Swanson, Marylin Monroe or Montgomery Clift. Some commentators I heard say that she stands as a symbol for the gay movement. She was not gay but she had a kind of repertory which allows the confusion and exasperation of categories, something quite advantageous for the advancement of their «revolution». That is secondary, anyway. Carmen has always been portuguese, not because she was born in Portugal, but also because she never applied for brazilian citizenship. That is one of the grounds for her to be attacked by so many journalists, both at he inception of her career, as at the end of it. She attracted very much the US public, because she portrayed the latin-american identity which was needed for the american people to stay away from european conceit. After all, «Latin» was the first blend of european with mediterranean and north-african, something that the US citizens of her time didn't manage with their own natives. Racism is always a dissimulation of attraction, notwithstanding a vicious and jealous exclusivity, able to reduce human kind to a pet. The americans needed to import a white woman, of catholic background, just to have a simulation of a latin component among them. Carmen was also a product of the war -- she was cultivated to further a «good neighborood» policy with white southerners of european descent who, otherwise, would leaning on the side of Mussolini and Hitler.The book amounts to a cathedral of biographic documentation and it is a genuine report on History. But one quickly understands why so many living public figures, in Brazil, sue the selfmade biographers who haven't been previously authorized to write about them. The book gestures to replace History, with some kind of Byohistory. Notwithstanding the matters of fact, the narrative is pushing an ideological agenda. For example: the detail around the fact that the child Carmen used to make fun of a young neighbor with a limp in his leg, or the comment on the match-making of her sister, who had the same handicap, emerges at a very precise juncture, just to prophetize the unhappy marriage of Carmen with Dave Sebastian, who had one leg shorter than the other. The book also displays some degree of ignorance, when it wonders about the fact that, sometimes, Carmen was cast for a character were she would play the daughter of a Latin and an Irish. The book ignores completely the very conspicuous celtic roots of the portuguese region where Carmen was born and who bear fruit very vividly, both in her coreographies and in her style. The book almost commits suicide in her last paragraph: it describes Carmen's death as a kind os scenic whisk, in the honor of entertainment, because she died with a massive infartus, in the upper room of her mansion, while her guests -- as usual -- were having fun downstairs, till late in the night. On drugs and booze she was, as well as under one of the heaviest family reponsabilities, voluntarily taken upon her shoulders, Carmen has been exploited till her death by one of the most obscene and warlike subsystems of free market: the wild capitalism in Hollywood. The author seems to write with a superb self conviction, because he thinks he has read and searched everything possible about «the best-known brazilian woman of the XXth century». That's why he just describes, and doesn't even explain why Carmen bursts out crying when once welcome by a group of portuguese, dressed in their traditional clothes. She was stumbling in portuguese everytime, beginning with her family and their acquaintances. But those clothes were the image of a colour and of a gaiety which brazilians thought was purely brazilian, that means, an anacronic dividend of their former slaves' culture. Yes, as a matter of fact, all through her life, Carmen Miranda was, after all, the best known portuguese woman of the XXth century. She was brazilian, yes, but she never relinquished of being portuguese, despite the lack of subtility of her biographer.
CXXXVII- (Re)leituras: The demoralization of Western Culture, by Ralph W. Fevre, comments by André Bandeira
This is a book on Sociology, with a preface of Zygmunt Bauman, the inventor of «postmodernism» and its ferocious critic. It's already 14 years old. How can these books be secluded by the press? How can modern democracy pretend they do not exist? I suspect these books are deliberately obfuscated because they moderately denounce the swindle which the Left has operated in the West, in order to serve the most unconfessable purposes. The book has a small, modest objective: to clear the way for a re-moralization of society. It doesn't come out of fundamentalism, neither extremism, nor it claims to show its democratic credentials as some totalitarian turncoats do. The book cannot be placed neither in the Right, nor in the Left, nor even in the Centre. It is a book openly against common-sense. Most of all, it stands against the tiranny of economic rationality, which it claims to have been extended to all levels of life. The fault may be either attributed to science, or to bureaucracy. There are obviously things, which cannot be known -- despite what (bad) science claims -- since using science where one should weigh feelings and sentiment, is non-sense. I'll never know why I fell in love for someone. If I insist in knowing, I'll end up collecting divorces, and measuring my satisfaction with my partners, as a pornography athlete. And it is already too late: women began thinking as men used to think. There are no «opposite sexes» anymore, so there are not anymore room for completion of anything, nor even between parents and children, exception made for the incoming vindication of the legalization of incest. The author advises us to extol from politicians (or fire them) that they warrant us time for sentiment, time for being with our children, instead of devoting overtime to the bosses. He quotes an important study, led by Lawson, among women who came of age in the 70's, and proves how they decided to become faithful to their husbands, probably too late, after a series of bitter experiences. He accuses the Kinsey report of being based on fraud. The book navigates in a nightmare, the one of relativism, and tries to find the appropriate mix of sentiment and reason, in order to make us get out of hell. It describes the idealism in Hitler and the designs of Marx, proving how bad was the science both of them chose to found their doctrines on. Neither Darwin said what Hitler contended for, nor Economics was what Marx said it was. In both of them there is an old idea: the triumph of Mephistopheles over Faust. Faust was a lowsy scientist, as Goethe was, a sort of wreckless alchimist. I read all this but I confess it is too late: in the affair Clinton-Lewinsky, the american public decided, first to accuse the President, just for perjury and then, later, the american public abdicated of any moral judgement. Clinton even got more popular than before, neither because he was having sex, as the actor Jack Nicholson once celebrated, nor because he managed to wash his hands in the Senate, and Monica took her blue dress to the laundry. He became more popular because he proved that, in practice, common sense made moral maxims null and void. Should we re-moralize our society? The author ends his book telling that people, after all, they don't run and die for money. They run for things that people used to run, before, when there was no money, and death used to cut short our chasing around. Neither romantic love was invented by the Bourgeosie. Its roots go back in our History to the Middle-Ages and much before. The trouble is that the agressive noise of modern democracy, where the Left invented «anti-capitalism» or even «capitalism» to engineer a future Paradise, while releasing all our sensuality in our lifetime, makes this reading, to short, too late. Even the author states, at some point, that we were condemned to make our living with labour, that incuding the labour of birth. We signed a Pact with the devil, and the collector is knocking at every door. This game of words betrays how carried away we may be by the magma of of a sensations vulcanoe and signs, while trying to surface and jump out of the furnace. In the many books and articles which are being bribed or outright faked, as science and democracy are, we have to read between the lines. As the soothsayers, once, were able to read the future in the tea leaves, so we'll do with the leftovers of a boiling cauldron.