"(...) will all this be done on purpose? Can so much destruction be the result of just chance?" asks Janine. PHOTO: Flickr/CC

The other day, I passed in front of the Ipiranga Museum – which is located in the so-called Parque da Independência, that is, where Dom Pedro broke our colonial subordination to Portugal – and I saw a notice: “Area with incidence of yellow fever”, more or less that.

I was shocked: in the exact place where Brazil was born, independent Brazil, is the warning that an old disease has returned, a disease of poverty, a disease that we had almost conquered, but it returned with a lot of force.

No, dear reader, or rare reader as Juca Kfouri says: I'm not going to make another attack on the Temer government, which deserves them all, by the way. My problem here is not that government, it's us, a country that doesn't give a damn about symbols.

And I'm not talking about national symbols, the flag, anthem and other less popular ones, like the seal of the Republic. I'm talking about much stronger symbols, like the place where we were born, almost our motherhood as a country.

A few hundred meters away, where the Parque da Independência (Independence Park) is, converted into a breeding ground for almost killer mosquitoes, passes the Ipiranga stream, the one on the placid banks, which heard a resounding cry. Cute, isn't it? Not just a cry, but one that echoed, that in the distance and by its strong sound gave light to a country.

For the stream today exudes a bad smell. For a long time, it flooded the region; now, channeled, it just stinks, a few or many times a year.

Isn't that very neglect? The first line of our hymn, her third word (“Ouviram do Ipiranga…”) so disrespected, careless? Is this the love we have for our collective birth, our birth as a collective? A stream partly covered, partly sewer?


I'm going to Rio. The wonderful city was founded on January 20, 1567. Where? On Castle Hill. Look on Waze, ask Uber, look on subway maps. Does not exist. It was razed to the ground, just under a century ago. In fact, it was destroyed exactly in 1922, the year of the centenary of Independence. A century of our birth as an independent nation, of our coming of age, had, among other costs, the killing of the birthplace of the then capital of Brazil.

Doesn't it seem like a terrible sacrifice, one that not even the Aztecs would make? For Brazil to celebrate its independence, it destroys the place where its capital was born. Psychoanalysts, interpret. Manhood destroys birth, is that it? But maybe we don't even need - much - of you. The interpretation is (almost) obvious, the explanation is obvious.

Yes, we destroyed our main memory places. I return to São Paulo. I go to Pátio do Colégio, which is our Morro do Castelo. The Pátio is the place, right in the center of the city, a step away from Praça da Sé, where São Paulo de Piratininga was founded, on a plateau with many waters, among them, of course, the unpolluted Ipiranga. The plateau was called Inhambussu (the one seen in the distance).

There is, in its entirety, the College of the Jesuits. I know that this religious order was somewhat controversial, but after all it is a good omen to create a city from a school. As an educator, as a former Minister of Education, I can only like it. I also think that building it in a place where you can see from afar is wonderful, the best metaphor or even definition for education: it makes us see from afar.

Blz, as it is written today: beauty.

But I look at the College. It has nothing of the original. This one was made of wattle and daub and, after rammed earth, more Brazilian impossible. What happened? The building was falling apart, neglected, until they decided to rebuild it, some sixty years ago, in a mix of enthusiasm and slowness, of modernity (Mário de Andrade preserving the heritage) and traditionalism (the TFP celebrating him).

Here, too, the carelessness with the birth of what is now the largest Brazilian city is shocking.

So much neglect makes one inevitably ask: is all this done on purpose? Can so much destruction be the result of just chance? Being, forgive the involuntary rhyme, just neglect? Or do we have, does anyone have, a project of destruction of what we are?


Faulty act, a reader of Freud might say, but no: they are open destruction. A faulty act is a small thing, a wrong speech or action, but small, which however indicate a truth about something greater. For example, the character from Casa de Papel who, when declaring his love for his wife, calls her by the name of his mistress (the most trivial, the most banal of slips). But here what we have is not this involuntary self-denial, with the unconscious overcoming reason, the id belying the ego, which appears, for example, in Freud, but something that is more reminiscent of the stolen letter, by Edgar Allan Poe. (Interestingly, it is a short story analyzed by Lacan, but what we will say here has nothing to do with this author).

The theme of the tale is simple: a document has been snatched from a royal personage, and hidden away so that no one can find it. How? It was simply displayed on the wall, in plain view, with just a few touches that transform it from something noble into something vulgar. One of the morals of the tale: the best hiding place is the one that is most visible. What we will least observe is the most visible, the evident. The best way to destroy symbols, without anyone noticing them, is to destroy them in full view of the world. And isn't the best way to end the birthplace of Rio with the pretext of celebrating the XNUMXth anniversary of Brazilian independence?


To conclude: a few years ago, back in Araçatuba, in the northwest of São Paulo, I decided to look for the Santa Tresenhinha maternity hospital, where I was born. And I found out that it was demolished. I felt an emptiness. It hadn't been renovated. Just demolished. I keep thinking: how should we feel when the places of our birth, of our coming of age, are destroyed or undeserved? Why do they? Why do we not even notice that they do? Why do we accept? But we accept so much. Brazil seems addicted to accepting the unacceptable. So much so that the destruction can be outrageous, it doesn't need to be masked.

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name