BRAZIL TODAY: FROM THE RETURN OF HUNGER TO POETICAL HUNGER
Por: Cunha e Silva Filho Em: 07/11/2021, às 14H31
NOTA : ESTE ARTIGO AINDA VAI SER PUBLICADO NA REVISTA ROMENA, ORIZONT LITERAR CONTEMPORAN, SEDIADA EM BUCARESTE, E NO SITE www.academia.edu.com., - Francisco da Cunha e Silva Filho.
BRAZIL TODAY: FROM THE RETURN OF HUNGER TO POETICAL HUNGER
CUNHA E SILVA FILHO
The aim of this article is to try to demonstrate, albeit in a simplified exposition, how social reality can be compared to imaginative “reality,” as seen from a twofold perspective: the first as referential data causing indignation on the part of society; the second, by producing, in most cases, catharsis, due to feelings of indignatiom, disapproval, hatred and collective instisfaction on the larger part of Brazilian civilian society, especially as far as the present Brazilian Republic is concerned. To account for this imaginative “reality,” I have recurred to a poem, precisely the poem “O Bicho“ (“The animal,”) written by Manuel Bandeira(1886-1968), a Brazilian poet. Further in this article I will comment on it.
THE FIRST PERPECTIVE: Hunger as a chronic Brazilian problem.
I really know how hard it is to approach the hunger issue in current Brazil’s administration led by president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, a man whose popularity has fallen off continuously, according to the latest opinion polls surveys carried out by Brazilian private statistical institutions which deal with popularity perfomance rate of candidates who intend to run for a campaign for a second presidential mandate.
On the other hand, I would like to antecipate that the reader might enjoy the above-mentioned poem not only as an esthetic literary artifact, but also, and mostly, as a reality understood, in terms of literary interpretation, in its innermost and complex social aspects imbued with the absurdities and contradictions and deep contratrasts. i. e., assymetries  in Brazilian social pyramid so far maintained as steady as a rock by the country high social rank, as seen in the economical elite referred to as the “owners of power “ an expression based on a well known book written by Raimundo Faoro, a distinguished Brazilian sociologist and historian, entitled Os donos do poder (The owners of power) 
The lack of social justice in the early Brazilian society, which came down from generation to generation like the old well known social life status quo of the-called establishment by Portugal Crown, the so-called hereditary captaincies of Colonial Period. A reality which, somewhat, mutatis mutandi, sitll puzzles people nowadays. This almost unchanged reality over the years has still left visible traits in contemporary Brazil’a political and social hierachy structure.
Thus, as time went by, after the aforesaid hereditary captancies, little has susbstancially changed socially speaking, even with the establishment in the country in a sequence, respectively of vice-kingdom, having Dom John VI in the hands of Portuguese control and, later, two monarchic goverments, the first in the hands of his son, Pedro, who turned Brazil independent from Portugal ties, and became the first emperor of the country, followed by his son, also named Pedro, a Brazilian born, who inherited the throne under the name of Dom Pedro II.
From the shift of a Monarchy (1822-1889) to a Republic ( from 1889 onwards) regime, one might notice that in this relevant historical cirucumstance little has changed in Brazil social life with the exception of the abolition of slavery (1888) still during Dom Pedro II’s Empire, i,e, the elite goes on in other forms politically speaking, while the common people, goes on with the well-known hardships and sufferings.
However, progress and modernization ideas in Brazil, roughly speaking, date back to 1922, literally symbolized by Modernism Movement, the landmark of which was the so-called " Modern Art Week" which took place at the Municipal Theater in São Paulo, (date which, in turn, coincided with the commemoration of the Centennial Anniversary of Brasil’s Independence, an official national holiday which takes place on September the 7th) carried out by the supporters of new forms of writing literature in Brazil. Then again, the country regrettably still shows a very gloomy reality, so to speak, social inequalities seem to drag on forever. Actually, this kind of high social status of privileged groups of people have remained somehow an unsolvable question, always ready to raise continuous harsh and firing debates by Brazilian society as a whole.
To begin with, the country now brings again the ghost of poverty afflictions on a large scale, mainly provoked by unemployment and the aftermath of pandemic, unfortunataely wrongly treated by federal authorities and worsened by a disatrous federal government management under the command of the ruling president of the Brazilian Republic.
By practising an erroneous economical policy which alllows a kind of laissez-faire price increase, as well as of skyhigh cost of living, not to mention the return of inflation problems in the economy of the country. Why, by imposing, manu militari, a wrong economical policy, the consequences of which, as it was easily forseen, have been hunger and other social evils, i,e., more violence, more homeless, beggars and people living forlorn on the streets of big cities, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and all over the country. The federal government disregarded anything that could stop Brazil’s escalating cost of living. He got stuck to his stubborness and off hand attitudes, mainly as regards oil price imports practices paid in dollar as though Brazilian currency had the same value as the American.
Of course, he, as well as president Bolsonaro, are to be held responsible for this unfair and cruel practices in the current country economical sphere. Sheer insanity and insensivity of these two Anti-christs (this definition of his personality is not mine, I read it in an article of a Brazlian writer). Bolsonaro is a mandatory that governs his country against sciences, as it was the case of putting off fighting the letal Covid-19. Bolsonaro has revealed himself incompetent as soon as he began to administer the country with his outdated and too conservative practices of a wrong and disastrous economical policy and other forms of managing a complex country like Brasil, a nation that, more than never, needs a competent and human man to take care of its most pressing problems, especially hunger and violence.
The presiident governs us stubbornly and off hand, i. e., as a bad politician who cannot be classified as a stateman. Far otherwise. He is the worst example of a Chief of State. His way of ruling the country is addressed to the well-to-do people rather than to solve out the poor inhabitants of the country. All these traits of his government might be defined as a wet blanket person, as an example of an extreme right-wing man. No more than this, unfortunately. In my view, Bolsonaro is the worst president Brazil has ever elected so far. Like his friend Donald Trump, his days are counted and his end, politically speaking, is a said one: self exile, or better saying, banishment.
In other words - it is mandatory to point out over and over -. president Jair Bolsonaro’s current failed administration has, to some extent, helped to bring about the return of hunger, homeless and unemployed counted, at present, by thousands of people unable to make both ends meet.
However a paradox is revealed, as far as the present way of life in Brazil is concerned - and this particularity, in my view, ought also to be emphasized here over and over : food today, as it was in not so remote a past, historically and economically regarded, is found abundant in our supermakets shelves, teemed with a variety of items on sale and, at the same time, essential and basic items, but completely out of reach of consumers who can scarcely buy the minimum for their survival.And what is more serious, poverty reached both lower middle class and even middle class properly said.
Obviously, only higher middle class and the wealthy have not been reached by lack of money and purchasing power. To sum up, one might say that Bolsonaro’s mandate has one purpose: to govern espcially for the higher social ranks, as it can be inferred from the successive misdoings praticed by the super-minister of Brazilian economy, the all-powerful Mr. Paulo Guedes, an extemly neoliberal econmist who, in the past, rendered services, as an economist, to the bloodthristy Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile.
What is worse to be underlined: even the minumum of food products, better called “shopping basket,” in most cases, cannot be bought by poor people, as seen in newspapers reports and also on a TV program, such as the well-known “Brasil Urgente,”( “Brazil’s ” Breaking News”) exhibited by TV Bandeirante, and presented by the courageous, rather boisterous and popular TV presenter Mr. Datena, in São Paulo city.
A program with a large audience, preferably watched by lower middle-class population, and generally avoided by the biased elite or higher middle-class people that connsider it the gutter press or also called formerly in newspapers the “yellow press” or “yellow journalism,” which came with the invention of TV programs, perhaps chiefly due to dealing with all sort of crimes reports daily shown by him.
Terrible and ghastly exhibitions of scenes of people literally eating remains of garbage (litter) collected on some open air grounds or even on some streets of São Paulo city have become a constant scene. What is still worse, people trying to find eating leftovers and picking them up together with starving street mongrels, thus vying with hungry human beings.That’s the pink limit.”
Of course, such scenes can be seen mainly in some underdeveloped countries the wrold over such in Africa and in Latin America, South America and in the Caribbean, even in North America, i.e., both in emerging countries, like Brazil and in developed ones, where social injustice still remains steady as an everlasting plague due to lots of reasons (political, geopolitical, civil wars and countries devastated by dictatorial government systems) such as, it now happens in Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba etc.
Just to mention a single example among others scattered around the mistreated and devastated planet Earth, now suffering several environmental evils, among others, the high level, just in one or two years of deforestation in the area of Amazonia, a bad example given by the current ruling federal Brazilian government as far as Amazonia Forest is considered. And abroad, including Brazil, threatening climatic changes have been relentessly brought about by very high rates of carbone oxid (CO2) released by chamneys in factories mostly in China, Russia, India, the United States resulting in threatening increase of greenhouse effects and ruin normal life conditions on Earth.
Should the present world leaders of all nations keep on releasing pollution on the air, nature, seas, rivers. lakes, cities etc., owing to an unprecented greedy world cosumption growth level, our planet will be wholly sacrificed and nothing will remain on it to tell the story, as mankind will be wiped out from Earth.
Our planet has to react as urgently as possible by reducing considerably the greenhouse effects in every country, especially in those cited above. Let us defend what is left for us still intact, unfortunately not so much.
Hunger nowdays, to be quite frank - it should be reminded of -, is not at all a life condition of present Brazilian. Poverty in this country is almost a chronicle problem never solved out yet, roughly speaking, over the past twenty years, i,e, including both last century and mainly down to the present federal government, which, unfortunately, has even worsened it, as I have shown in lines above. 
Especially now, the situation of the poor and those below the line of poverty, mixed with the pandemic, crucial social problems with all their drawbacks: jobless workers, erroneous and cruel economical policy practices by current minister of economy, Mr. Paulo Guedes, already cited, have proved harmful to Brazil’s social life and to poverty-stricken inhuman prevailing conditions. Therefore, I cannot see, so far, any hope or devise any Utopian perspective of a better life in the country. I also cannot envisage but a gloomy and sad reality for my country, almost in all its aspects, even considering it a possibility in midium term, let alone in a short term.
THE SECOND PERSPECTIVE: Hunger as seen in the poem “O Bicho” (The Animal”)
As I have referred to in the beginning lines of this article, I picked out the poem “The animal,” written by one of the most remarkable Brazilian poets, Manuel Bandeira, who was also an essayst, a chronicler, a literary historian and a prolific translator.
The poem under discussion belongs to one of Bandeira’s poetical works, Belo Belo (Beuatiful Beautiful) It was the seventh book of poetry published by him. He was born in Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco, Northeast of Brazil. in 1886 and died in Rio de Janeiro, in 1968, Bandeira began as a traditional poet with his book As Cinzas das Horas (The Ashes of the Hours), publiised in 1917. With this work along with the subsequent one, Carnaval (Carnival) (1919), it was easy to forsee that Brazilian poetry was before a potential and high quality verse-maker.
Bandeira, as soon as the Modernist Brazilian Literary Movement started in 1922 with the famous literary landmark event called "Week of Modern Art" that took place at the Municipal Theater in São Paulo, he did not delay to join the writers and artists who shared the same ideas about a new form of writing both in prose and in poetry or producing other new forms of arts, such as painting, music, dance etc.
It is important to point out again that the the Movement of Modern Art was held to commemorate the 100 years of Brazil''s Independence and at the same time that landmark had in view to open up an opportunity for writers and artists to go deep into the country identitity, to explore updated forms of arts, but with an inbiased glimpse in our social and cultural reality. i.e., to present the public with a modern look at what really the country meant as a nation thinking for itself in terms of literature and arts in general, no more tied to Eurocentrism of "art and politics". The main purpose of Modernism was to break up with the past, chiefly literarily speaking. Therefore, to sum it up, to abolish outdated forms and themes of makimg literature. music or any kind of art. Bandeira soon adhrered to this new poetry by publishing the book Libertinagem (Libertinism, 1930).
On the other hand, one cannot see Bandeira's poetry as a monolitically verse-maker.Obviously, his following books were grounded n the main traces of modernist authors, sometimes even more radical in his experimenta forms of a lyricism. However, there is somethging to be reamrked in his verse: he was an orignal poet with a great skill to change ways of making poems. In a way, one might say tha Bandeira was a multiple poet, able to write a modernist poem, as well as produce poetry after the fashion of Medieval poets of Portuguese literature, just like the Brazilian poet Da Costa e Silva (1885-1950), born in Amarante, State of Piauí, skillfully did when writing his "Vilancetes" as seen in his book Pandora (1919), an experimental strategy employed by Da Costa e Silva. On this specfic aspect, he preceded Manuel Bandeira. Furthermore, Bandeira was, thus, a kind of poet one might define as those poets who had different personae like, mutatis mutandi, the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).
Below, I present to the reader, in Portuguese, the poem ““O Bicho, ” followed by my translation into English:
Vi ontem um bicho
Na imundicie do pátio
Catando comida entre os detritos
Quando achava alguma coisa,
Não examinava nem cheirava:
Engolia com voracidade.
O bicho não era um cão.
Não era um gato,
O bicho, meu Deus, era um homem. (Rio, 25-2-1947) ()
Yesterday I saw an animal
In a filthy yard
Picking up food among leftovers.
When finding something to eat
It neither checked them nor smelt them :
It greedly swallowed them.
The animal wasn’t a dog,
Nor a cat,
Nor a mouse either.
The animal, my God, was a man. (Rio, 25-2-1947)
As one can see from the reading of the poem hereto concerned, its lyrical subject focuses on an abominable human condition regarded universally. Bandeira’s poetry diction, as it can be seen, is straightforward, colloquial, humble and has a profound oral tone. As it is, Banderia’s poem is a paradigmatic example of a brilliant modernist poet, whose inflection was, in this specific poem, a prototype of one of the worst chronic social evils of Brazilian life.
The wealth of strategical devices skillfully employed by the poet to achieve its aesthetic aim in the reader’s emotion and feelings would certainly show underlying componentes in the composition of this poem, the analysis of which would require a larger space, which is not the case here.
 BANDERIA, Manuel. Belo Belo. In: Poesia completa e prosa. Organizada pelo autor.Rio de Janeiro: Nova Aguilar S.A., 1986, p.283-284.
 PORTELLA, Eduardo et alii. A modernidade. Revista Tempo Brasileiro, 89: 5/9; Rio de Janeiro, 1986.
__________. et alii . Premissas, promessas. Revista Tempo Brasileiro, 130/131: 5/10. Rio de Janeiro, 1992. Tempo Brasileiro, 1997.
__________. et. alii.Qual modernidade? Rio de Janeiro: Revista Tempo Brasileiro, 111: 109/112. Rio de Janeiro, 1992.
__________ et alii. Sentido(s) da modernidade. Revista Tempo Brasileiro, 76: 118/127. Rio de Janeiro, 1984.
 FAORO, Raimundo. Os donos do poder. – formação do patrimônio político brasileiro. Porto Alegre: Editora Globo, 1958.
 For a summarized view of Brazil’s most momentous problems, such as hunger, inequity, income inequality and violence, just to mention a few ones, it is worthwhile consulting the brief work: ROCHA, Jan. Brazil – a guide to to the people, politics and culture. For an in-depth study of Brazil, I refer the reader to FAUSTO, Boris. A concise history of Brazil. Translated by Arthur Brakel. Cambridge University Press,1998.
 For a remarkable study of Manuel Bandeira’s poetry, I would mention the following book: ARRIGUCCI JR., David. Humildade, paixão e morte : a poesia de Manuel Bandeira,. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1990;