Antropofagia and Beyond:
Galvão’s Industrial Park in the Age of Savage Capitalism
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Other men will remain. Other women will remain.
Braz of Brazil. Braz of the whole world.
This essay examines Patrícia Galvão’s “proletarian novel”, Industrial Park, and focuses on her radical reworking of the Brazilian Modernist antropofagista (cannibalist) project of the 1920’s and ‘30’s as well as her movement toward, as precursor, tropicália and Cinema Novo’s development of the “aesthetic of hunger” in Brazilian film theory and practice of the 1960’s. The essay studies how cannibalism, in this novel, not only presents itself as the consumption-digestion-and-spitting-out of something new, but also reveals other sides of the cannibalist metaphor, for example, that of the cannibalization/devouring of the working classes by the textile industry and, the terrible associated-opposite of consumptive cannibalism, that of the hunger-starvation-poverty of those same workers.
The analysis of the novel is organized by way of a study of its visual aspects, both in its content and its form. During this historical moment, the influence of technical innovations began to be incorporated into literature in the use of cinematic style, telegraphic writing, fragmentation, vignettes, montage. Beyond those cultural innovations, aspects of industrialization also found their way into literature through, for example, “modern” notions of speed, and the assembly line. The essay employs elements of Eisensteinian montage and Brechtian estrangement to analyze the rapid interplay between and among scenes presented in the novel and the incoporation of the reader-viewer as participant in the construction of meaning in the process. Finally, the essay examines the notions of hope, memory, and truth in a discussion of the novel’s seemingly pessimistic conclusion.
member of the Brazilian political and literary avant-garde - the
the Brazilian Communist party - Patrícia Galvão could be
represent a paradigmatic case of the female politico-literary
Antropofagia to Tropicália
In 1968 a group of Brazilian musicians (1) produced a groundbreaking and controversial album, Panis et Circensis, which is considered to be the LP-manifesto of the Tropicália cultural movement. The Tropicália movement gained inspiration from Oswald de Andrade’s 1928 “Manifesto Antropofago”, one of the central defining texts of the Brazilian avant-garde movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s, o Modernismo (2). The "Cannibalist Manifesto" borrowed from the cultural practice of certain Amazon tribes and proposed:
…cannibalism as metaphor and method for a primitive assimilation of the civilized Other, through the idea of assimilation and digestion of the useful powers of the colonial master and his epigones - the opposite of colonial domination of the white doutors and the calamity that had brought... (Rowe and Schelling 202-203)
The tropicalistas reworked this central Modernista platform in response to the Brazilian context of the 1960’s and 1970’s, a historical moment marked by the repressive social conditions of a military dictatorship and its promotion of liberal economic policies. (3) Included among the twelve songs on the Panis et Circensis album is one of particular interest for this study, it represents an important aspect of tropicália’s communication with modernismo, and is called “Parque Industrial”. The song presents a bitingly ironic critique of official discourses of Brazilian national progress associated with industrialization and development. Written by Tom Zé and sung by Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Os Mutantes, the music alternates between band and choral voices representing a popular festa or circus atmosphere, and, smooth solo voices singing ironical elogies to the alegria that capitalist development has brought the nation. The subversive bricolage effect of the cannibalist tropicália strategy in the song plays upon the alienating aspects of a savage capitalism as represented in mass production and advertising. But this founding tropicália song, in particular, although humorous and ironic, through its title offers no space for confusion, or misinterpretation. The title is not ironic. The title sets the stage, gives the context, presents a target. “Industrial Park” as song, by way of its title, projects back to another aspect of modernismo, one which was highly politicized and did not leave room for playful doubt: Patrícia Galvão’s “proletarian novel”, Industrial Park.
In 1933 Galvão published Industrial Park, an intensely poetic and painful “proletarian novel” which combined aesthetic innovation with revolutionary politics. French surrealist Andre Bretón once described Mexican, Frida Kahlo’s artistic production as, “a bomb wrapped in silk” (4), perhaps we could say the same of Galvão’s novel. The images she creates are simultaneously beautiful and terrible in the reality that they portray, and, once “detonated,” they have the potential to change forever the ideological landscape that the reader inhabits.
The novel provides no easy escape to the reader-viewer who is led into a sector of Brazilian society not previously represented in its national literature, that of the lives of the women workers of São Paulo’s ever growing industrial park. The most intimate details of the women workers’ lives, both public and private, are revealed in a poetic, fragmentary, scathingly honest style, creating moments in which the reader may wish to turn down the lights so as not to see quite so clearly the injustices incurred by the factory workers and their families, all inhabitants of Braz, a working class neighborhood of São Paulo. At the same time, in a continuous, sometimes relentless manner, the reader is brought into direct confrontation with the lives of the urban Paulista bourgeoisie, those who benefit most from the exploitation and oppression of the women workers. In the clashes that arise at the convergence of the novel’s camera-eye views of moments of proletarian life and moments of bourgeois life, one could say that those bombs are set off, startling the reader with the painful contradictions they represent, even as the fast-paced and poetic language of the novel seduces the reader, compelling the reader to continue on through the minefield.
The novel offers a brilliant contribution to the development of Brazilian Modernismo, both on an aesthetic and a political level. It addresses directly the moment of crisis and transition that the changing social and economic reality that 1930’s São Paulo presented to its citizens in which the processes of modernization, immigration, urbanization and industrialization provoked a fragmentation of the previously closely controlled agrarian commercial economy and Catholic patriarchal society and opened a space for change which included the roles of women, racial hierarchies, open class conflicts. Galvão’s novel addresses this historical moment as it focuses in on the situation of those most oppressed by the new socio-economic situation and organically incorporates into the novel elements of modern society related to: speed, time, fragmentation, worker resistance, montage, consumption, desire, hunger.
Perhaps we could say that just as Galvão’s novel presented its readership a “bomb wrapped in silk”, Galvão herself cultivated the same sort of aura in her very “modernista” iconoclastic image and public persona. She was acclaimed by journalist Alvaro Moreyra to be ‘the girl with crazy hair…who abolished the grammar of life. She is the latest product from São Paulo…the shining announcement of Antropofagia.” (Jackson 118) It has been said that Galvão, more than anyone else embodied the antropofagist creed to “constantly and directly consume the taboo” or “to transform the taboo into totem.” (Besse 108 citing Campos)
Patrícia Galvão’s novel, Industrial Park, not only contributed to the cultural and political project of the Modernista movement during her life, but has had continued influence in opening up a revolutionary path in the cultural and political development of Brazil. Galvão’s particular representation of antropofagia, as exemplified in her novel offers inspiration not only tropicália, but connections can also be made to Cinema Novo’s “aesthetic of hunger”. In Galvão’s novel, the interplay between consumption and hunger, with emphasis on the hunger of the characters, distances her from modernista antropofagia and directs her toward Glauber Rocha and other’s filmic work (for example, “Deus e o diablo na terra do sol” and “Terra em transe”). Yet, Galvão’s novel could be seen to project even farther into the future toward the development of such now classic Brazilian literary characters as Clarice Lispector’s lonely rural-urban immigrant misfit, Macabea from A hora da estrela or into dialogue with the plight of Latin American women workers of the maquiladoras, the “granddaughters” of the women workers of the textile factories of Braz, as represented in for example, Norma Iglesias Prieto’s classic study-collective testimonio La flor más bella de la maquiladora or Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre’s new documentary film “Maquilapolis”. Latin Americanist historian, Francesca Miller has stated that Galvão’s voice of protest against the poor living conditions and treatment of São Paulo factory workers, helped to set the stage for the emergence of important female political figures like Benedita da Silva. Brazilian literary critic, Thelma Guedes has suggested that Galvão’s Industrial Park could be considered a precursor to such contemporary works as Paulo Lins’ widely acclaimed “documentary novel” Cidade de Deus, (141-142) now made into an award-winning film. Thus, as we will see, this is a novel that goes beyond the constraints of time and space, it is both particular in its representation of a historical moment and social context and yet capable of projecting beyond those limits to a greater context, that is globalization as an international project of savage capitalism.
Novel-vision: lines-spaces, light-dark, and the alienation effect.
The visual image in “Galvão” takes center stage. Her “wild” hair, her makeup, clothing, rebellious practices all formed part of her personal performance, her public and personal declaration of radical resistance to societal norms. As one begins to approach Galvão critically, it becomes clear that those who study her and her work tend to include photos and paintings of her in their studies. (5) As a historical figure, she seems to compel or provoke visual representation, just as she sought it. She didn’t just write poetry, she performed it, both in the theaters and in her everyday life; she didn’t just write about politics, she participated in the protests and strikes. She was also a sketch artist of simple line drawings as exemplified in her “O Album de Pagu,” a mini-poetic and pictorial autobiographical fantasy text. Industrial Park, however, does not include illustrations by the author, instead it functions visually on a number of other levels in the content and the form of the novel. The visual is a constitutive part of Industrial Park.
A first level of reception of a novel, that very first impression one has before even opening it up, is created by its cover. The image that a bookcover produces has to do with attracting a consumer-reader from a marketing standpoint, and, in the case of Industrial Park, the cover can form an organic relationship with the content and the form of the narrative itself. In a sense, it begins a dialogue between the reader and the narrative through visual image that will continue as the reader enters into the tex.
At quick glance, the “reader” immediately observes the bleak interplay between dark and light represented there, it is not a warm romantic entrance to the world of the novel. The representation of the buildings of the city at sharp angles, the factory with its restrictive fencing on top (resembling a penitentiary, one of the words that Galvão uses to describe the factory in the novel), the electric or telegraph lines and the bridge are all stark black against the pure white of the sky which fills the gaps and shines through the cut-out words of the title, all in white. The author’s name, Galvão’s pseudonym Mara Lobo, is represented as part black and part white. Perhaps as a mediator between the two levels of color, it is the author who will orchestrate and direct the dialogue between the black of the products of urbanization and industrialization and its accompanying-opposing white backdrop, the sky or that which is not industrialization and modernization. The bi-color construction of the author’s name could also connect to her dual location as intellectual vanguard in solidarity with the the urban proletariat, but not being actually a member of that social class, thus connecting her work to Walter Benjamin’s famous line: “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” (256) As a modernist example of poster art, the cover portrays the union and clash of opposites that together create an emblem of Industrial Park as novel, São Paulo as modern industrial park of the 1930’s, just as, in its harsh and generic form, almost any industrial center could be projected onto the space represented there.
The relationship between the dark and light on the cover is further thematized when one begins to read the original Portuguese version of the novel which is introduced by way of official “Industrial Statistics of the State of São Paulo” which detail the tremendous economic production of São Paulo’s growing industrial sector in the 1920’s. Those statistics, as a disembodied voice of capital, are then followed by Galvão’s contextualization of the statistics in human terms; the plight of the actual human beings who produce those economic statistics. She states:
The statistics and the history of the human stratum that sustains the industrial park of São Paulo and speaks the language of this book, can be found, under the capitalist regime, in the jails and in the slum houses, in the hospitals and in the morgues.
Thus, once again, in moving from the image on the cover to the narrative, through the clash of opposites that form a whole, the stage is set for the reader to enter into the world of Braz, the working class neighborhood associated with the textile industry of São Paulo. (6)
In her booklong study of Industrial Park, Thelma Guedes discusses the extraordinary way in which the original novel was set up and its possible functions through the use of very large letters and wide spaces between the “scenes” which could be connected to an attempted incorporation of a reading public that was perhaps not used to reading novels, the proletariat, but also, this visual aspect of the novel’s form is consistent with the modernist style cultivated by Galvão’s intellectual community. It is particularly interesting to note here, how Galvão employs this avant-garde literary style in order to address her new desired reading public, thus focusing on the utilitarian aspect of the style, while at the same time she contributes to and enters into dialogue with the Brazilian and international avant-garde of the period through her aesthetic innovations.
The large spaces between lines of text and the black triple slashes marking changes of “scenes” within the novel (in the English version) could be seen as a continuation of the cover of the original version of the novel in the coexistence of dark and light, the black of the letters and slashes of the text and their accompanying-opposite, the white background of the paper. The interplay here between words and spaces, communication and silence, produce a silence that communicates always in its relationship to the words, and beyond the text, the unity of communication between the words and the spaces requires the intervention of the reader, to read between the lines, to aid in the production of the communication of the white spaces of silence. Silence is not chosen as a language in itself here, in the case of the women urban proletariat, their silence would not produce change. Instead, Galvão seems to propose a dialectic between words and silence that invites readerly intervention in the production of meaning.
An illustrative textual example of this interplay between silence and words in the production of meaning on the part of the reader is a “conversation” between one of the central characters of the novel, Corina and her mother. Corina is a young, beautiful mulata seamstress who lives with her poor mother and abusive, alcoholic stepfather in the Braz neighborhood. Corina has a bourgeois lover, Arnaldo, whom she meets on certain afternoons for secret sexual adventures. Corina gets pregnant by Arnaldo and hopes that he will marry her and be a father to her child. This, of course, is an illusion. But, one afternoon when Corina is contemplating her growing figure in front of the mirror, her mother sees her and realizes what is going on. The scene reads thus:
She starts to measure the size of her belly in the mirror.
-It’s so enormous. Who couldn’t see it, my God!
Her mother surprises her. She reacts badly. Then she regrets it.
The old woman sobs into the wash tank.
The three short, telegraphic sentences: “Her mother surprises her. She reacts badly. Then she regrets it.” are fully charged with meaning. Without realizing, it the reader imagines the entire seen, intervenes in the production of the novel based on the reader’s experience. Each reader will complete the scene in a slightly different way, but the pain, frustration, despair will be there for all, made even stronger in that it is the reader who provides the details of the image, who fills in the blanks, the white, who decodes the silences that accompany the words. This telegraphic, poetic style permeates the novel and draws the reader in to the simultaneous reading and construction of the novel. The novel provokes a process of consumption and production in the reader as both visual and intellectual-ideological activity.
In her study of the relationship between literature and technological-industrial modernization in Brazil of the 1880’s to the 1920’s, Flora Sussekind notes how literary form and content were transformed by the incorporation of and coexistence with the new tools, products, and “ways of life” of modernity, Numerous critics have discussed or commented on the visual cinematic effect of the novel, its construction as cinematic montage or as a series photographic snapshots (perhaps, I would suggest, it could be seen as another kind of prose-“O Album de Pagu”, in this case a “prose-album de São Paulo” or de Braz), others describe it as a social mural, a literary and social documentary, a collage, others connect it to Cubist or Expressionist art. (7)
If we think in terms of an antropofagist combination of elements of Eisensteinian cinematic montage - represented as brief, telegraphic scenes of proletarian life followed by or juxtaposed with a simultaneous and related scene of bourgeois life which coincides, clashes, or better, collides with the previous scene providing a dialectical relationship, a potential explosion, for which the reader must provide the synthesis of meaning (8) – and, aspects of the techniques of the Brechtian alienation effect of epic theatre, as Walter Benjamin has described it in his “What is epic theatre?”:
… the art of epic theatre consists in producing astonishment rather than empathy. To put it succinctly: instead of identifying with the characters, the audience should be educated to be astonished at the circumstances under which they function.
The task of epic theater, according to Brecht, is not so much the development of actions as the representation of conditions.(150)
We can begin to discern an interesting and important level of analysis of the novel. The interplay of silence and words, the black and the white, lines and spaces all aid in the production of those important “interruptions” in narrative progress, pulling the reader into a productive relationship with the text. In the form of its content, the montage technique for example, the novel creates those moments of readerly astonishment, of shock, that allow for critical distance and contemplation, association rather than identification. And, on a level of pure content, as mentioned in my initial discussion of Galvão’s poetic literary style in the novel, in the jolting simultaneity of beautiful images and painful realities the production of this alienation effect can be discerned. An illustrative example comes in the first pages of the novel in which early one Monday morning the workers are heading through the Braz neighborhood on their way to the textile factories.
Colored slippers drag along still sleepy and unhurried on Monday. Wanting to stay behind. Seizing the last small bit of freedom.
The girls tell about the previous evening’s dates, squeezing lunches wrapped in brown and green paper.
…The powerful cry of the smokestack envelops the borough. The laggards fly, skirting the factory wall, gritty, long, crowned with spikes. They pant like tired dogs so as not to lose the day’s pay. A small red slipper without a sole is abandoned in the gutter. A shoeless foot is cut on the shivers of a milk bottle. A dark girl goes hopping and crying to reach the black door.
The last kick at a rag ball.
The whistle ends in a blast. The machines shake in desperation. The street is sad and deserted. Banana peels. The residue of black vapors vanishing. Blood mixed with milk.
The metonymic focus on the sleepy, colorful, playful, unprotected, then wounded feet of the women workers moving forward to their jobs-destiny combined with the desperation, dirt and looming gloomy darkness of the factory are summed up in the final image of the scene, the “Blood mixed with milk.” both life forces, both spilled upon entrance to the world of the industrial park. We don’t see faces with which to identify or empathize, but we see the conditions within which the girls function and feel the shocking pain of the cut “foot”. Montage and alienation effect take us into the world of the industrial park and the Braz workers and force us to face their predicament critically.
But it wasn’t just film, photography, gramaphones, and telephones that influenced in the production of literature in the 1920’s and ‘30’s. Imnune Simon’s study of the effects of urbanization and industrialization on the Modernist poets, highlights how new industrial processes began to penetrate everyday life and make their way into literature.
Industry achieved efficiency through the development of synchronization, automation, specialization of labor, and assembly lines. Poetry similarly strove for economy of expression through the techniques of simultaneity, fragmentation, vignette, montage, and telegraphic style. (37)
Industrial Park in its poetic-prose style certainly incorporates these modernist techniques, especially with respect to the notion of “speed” connected to modernization and industrial production on the assembly line. As Robert Linhart notes in his memoir of his time working for the Citroen car plant, “The speed of the line dictates everything without respite…”(48), the work that one repetitively performs during the 8-12 hour or more work day necessarily enters into one’s everyday life away from the plant. One need only recall the humorous yet terrible images of Charlie Chaplin in his classic film “Modern Times” as he works on the assembly line. The issue of speed becomes very apparent in the reading process of Industrial Park. Not only in the lives of the urban-dwelling characters does the notion of speed enter, almost as a character itself, but in the fragmented, telegraphic style that Galvão employs, which provokes a fast reading of the novel. But, it is that fast reading that the reader must resist. The reader must allow the spaces in white to interrupt the flow, allow the mini-explosions and collisions between vignettes to settle before moving on to the next. Like the workers who drag their feet en route the the factory, the reader must allow the visual aspects of Industrial Park to enter in dialogue with the verbal and fight the constraints and the compulsion of modern-time.
Antropofagia and the “aesthetic of hunger”
During the years of her early participation in the Modernista movement, as was previously stated, Galvão was considered by her contemporaries to be the figure who most embodied the antropofagist credo, and in her novel, Industrial Park there are strong antropofagist elements. In addition to the stylistic aspects I have already mentioned, she also incorporates aspects of Brazilian popular culture (Carnival), bourgeois culture (cocktail parties), samba, journalistic references through newspaper articles, political pamphlet and union agitation, as well as references to international figures like Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Marx, and Frederich Engels, all three of whom are incorporated into the Braz reality as local characters. All of these pieces make their way into the creation of the novelistic reality where they are re-elaborated (consumed and digested) to produce the particular narrative reality of Industrial Park which responds to and represents the Brazilian context. This is antropofagia in its Oswaldian Modernista form. But, Galvão doesn’t stop there, she takes antropofagia further in that in Industrial Park, antropofagia becomes highly and overtly politicized in its critique of capitalism and the inhumanity of the industrialization process in São Paulo. In Mário de Andrade’s classic modernista novel, Macunaíma, for example, the number one evil villain, the capitalist giant cannibal, Pietro Pietra, who has stolen Macunaíma’s beloved amulet and wants to cook him up and eat him in a stew, is vincible thanks to Macunaíma’s quick wits and a little magical luck. Galvão’s capitalist cannibal giant, however, is not nearly so easily beaten. In Industrial Park, the capitalist giant cannibal could be seen to be the textile industry itself and that particular giant does succeed in devouring many of the workers who enter its lair. They are chewed up, spit out and left for dead. The surplus value that is extracted from the workers’ labor goes to feed the giant who grows stronger and stronger everyday, as described in the statistics that open the novel and in the representations of the comfortable bourgeois life of consumption and frivolous pleasure represented there as well: consumption of the products of the exploited workers’ labor and the sexual consumption of the poor female and male workers as prostitutes or as secret lovers to be abandoned when something better comes along…eaten up and spit out. Karl Marx has described this terrifying aspect of the capitalist system in his El capital,
La producción capitalista, que es esencialmente producción de plusvalía, absorción de plustrabajo, produce, pues, con el alargamiento de la jornada de trabajo no sólo la atrofía de la fuerza de trabajo humana sino también el agotamiento y la muerte de la misma fuerza de trabajo.(287)
Poor, broken figures, like Corina are devasted by the beast. As the novel continues, Corina’s stepfather throws her out when he learns that she is pregnant; she loses her job due to her pregnancy (and status as unwed mother); her lover does abandon her and she has her baby alone in the hospital ward for the poor. The birth of the baby proves to be a tragic shock. It is born without skin, open and bare to the world, and it seems that Corina kills him, a crime for which she is imprisoned. Some critics have suggested that perhaps the baby was born with syphillis, since Corina had turned to prostitution in order to eat and buy a cradle for her baby. While that is a possible hypothesis, another may be the industrial “diseases” that factory workers develop due to the toxins, chemicals, poor ventilation, and generally miserable working conditions to which they were exposed. Projecting forward from the 1930’s context of Brazilian textile industry, the testimonials and studies of the working environment in Latin American factories and maquiladoras from the 1970’s to the present highlight the dangerous working conditions and elements to which workers were/are exposed causing illness in the workers themselves and birth defects in their babies.(9) Citing testimony given by a female maquiladora worker in Mexico, Norma Iglesias Prieto writes:
The worst drawback of maquiladora work is all the damage we do to our health. Factory labor involves working with acids and solvents, handling hot materials…
In the sewing maquiladoras they also have problems. Workers always have irritated throats, they develop coughs, and many become asthmatic from the lint that comes out of the fabrics they work with. Their heads turn gray like little old ladies’ from so much lint. Think about it! If that’s how your head looks, what must your lungs look like? (I21)
This capitalist form of cannibalism is clearly present in Industrial Park. Not just in the case of Corina’s baby, but evidenced in a reference to a seamstress, Bruna, whose “coarse hair is powdered with silk” as she works at her sewing machine.(9) Like the maquiladora worker above, one wonders what Bruna’s lungs look like.
In addition to devouring the workers through the extraction of surplus value, toxic working conditions and sexual/emotional exploitation, the capitalist cannibal of the textile industry also eats up workers’ time. Once they become part of the industrial system, workers’ time is no longer their own. Everything must be done quickly from the production of goods, to the eating of meals (“I have to eat fast and return to the shop.”17), to peeing at break time (“When we get off we’ll ask. Gee! Time’s almost over and I haven’t pissed yet.” 11), to caring for one’s family (“We don’t have time to get to know our families.”21). Every minute is counted, and accounted for, no one may fall behind. Overtime is expected without question if the factory needs it. The factory’s needs come before all else. Time is controlled and consumed by the industrial system, and the workers must run to keep up.
The rush of the workers’ lives is in direct contrast to the representation of the leisurely pace of life kept by the bourgeoisie. There are moments in which the two worlds are set side by side and the stark contrast in the experience of time for each group is telling of who benefits from the system and who is consumed by it. One revealing example is a moment in which a young political activist seamstress, Otavia, is delivering silk pajamas to the wife of a young bourgeois man, Alfredo Rocha. He is relaxed, reading Marx in his livingroom and invites Otavia in to wait for his wife’s return. He would like to observe her, he is interested in the working classes. At first she hesitates, then she enters. She stays a few minutes, but insists that she must return to work. Rocha is confused, thinking that she fears he wants something from her sexually. The two different ways of perceiving and experiencing time in the scene cause conflict, confusion, and discomfort. Rocha’s time is his own, Otavia’s minutes are counted by the atelier boss.
Galvão’s radicalization of the capitalist cannibal giant of Macunaíma to that of the cannibalism of the capitalist system as manifested in the urbanization and industrialization process in São Paulo offers a preview of director, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s 1969 Cinema Novo radical reworking of Macunaíma in his film by the same name. But, Galvão’s move beyond Modernista antropofagia, I believe, can be connected to an earlier phase of Cinema Novo as she begins to cross over into the terrain of what the practitioners and theoreticians of the Cinema Novo movement in mid-1960’s Brazil called the “aesthetic of hunger” and tropicalismo. Of the “aesthetic of hunger” acclaimed director Glauber Rocha has said,
…the hunger of Latin America is not simply an alarming symptom: it is the essence of our society. There resides the tragic originality of Cinema Novo in relation to world cinema. Our originality is our hunger and our greatest misery is that this hunger is felt but not intellectualy understood….We know…that this hunger will not be cured by moderate governmental reforms and that the cloak of technicolor can not hide, but only aggravates its tumors...(70)
Cinema Novo has represented the theme of hunger in numerous ways through film in order to declaim the truth of a Latin American reality marked by oppression, exploitation, social and economic injustice and hunger. The “aesthetic of hunger” presents a miserable side of Andrade’s celebratory cannibalism. Like the black and the white, the lines and the spaces, antropofagia as represented in Galvão’s novel and discussed above is accompanied-opposed to the inescapable and omnipresent theme of hunger in the novel. This is hunger associated with the masses of workers and the unemployed in the urban space:
Poor people can’t even be mothers! I dunno how I got this baby! I have to give him to someone, so the poor thing won’t die of hunger. If I keep taking of him how will I find a job? I have to give him up to take care of other people’s children! I’ll nurse the sons of the rich and I don’t know how mine will get by.(74)
Galvão’s characters all hunger for something, all lack something. On a most basic level it is food. Physical hunger is a constant presence in the lives of the workers, especially that of the most abandoned and unprotected of characters, like Corina, the female character upon whom most of my commentary has been centered. At one of her clandestine meetings with her bourgeois lover Arnaldo, she thinks to herself:
Also so many delicacies! So many luscious treats for a stomach that burns from hunger. An open bottle. It’s so simple. An inexperienced head on the pillows, drowsy. Sexual mouths suck. Legs incite.(18)
Clearly physical hunger for nurishment here is intertwined with sexual hunger which, in the case of Corina, is still connected to economics: sex with Arnaldo is a possible (illusionary) path out of poverty, out of hunger. Arnaldo in turn takes advantage of this situation to satisfy his own sexual hunger.
By the end of the novel, when all else has failed her, Corina turns to the church. It seems there is no where else for her to go.
Night again finds Corina’s starving stomach…
She heads for the Braz church. She goes in to rest. A thousand candles illuminate the altar covered with gold. On her fingers she counts all the money spent there. How many days she could eat with those wax tongues dripping down the silver candelabra…
Was St. Mary Magdalene ever hungry when she was a whore?…
A young priest wraped in a cassock appears in the round nave. He approaches.
-This pew is reserved. It’s forbidden to sit here.(112-11)
For the poor and starving, the Catholic church offers no support in the world of Braz’s industrial park, quite the contrary. Yet even at this moment, which could be the melodramatic climax to Corina’s sad life, she finds it within her to shake off the melodrama, and laugh at the thought of her role in the Christ myth, that of Saint Mary Magdalene.
One of the major aspects of the novel that keeps Corina and her milieu out of the realm of melodrama is the persistent work of the proletariat to organize itself, to discuss collectively the workers’ situation, to make conscious the sources of their exploitation and to protest publicly. As Rocha describes, not all manifestations of hunger are rational, but in the case of Galvão’s novel, fortunately, there are those who believe that there is a way to change their circumstances.
Hope, memory, and truth in the age of savage capitalism
…it can be shown that Man’s Fate is made by men.
In his discussion of Georg Lukács’ Theory of the Novel, Walter Benjamin highlights certain elements of Lukács’thought which are particularly compelling for the analysis of hope and memory in Industrial Park. Benjamin says that according to Lukács,
Only in the novel are meaning and life, and thus the essential and the temporal, separated; one can almost say that the whole inner action of a novel is nothing else but the struggle against the power of time…And from this…arise the genuinely epic experiences of time: hope and memory…Only in the novel…does there occur a creative memory which transfixes the object and transforms it…The duality of inwardness and the outside world can here be overcome for the subject ‘only’ when he sees the…unity of his entire life…out of the past life-stream which is compressed in memory…(99)
One could say that Industrial Park ends rather pessimistically. The strong Afro-Brazilian proletarian leader, Alexandre is killed at the manifestation; the Lithuanian proletarian leader, Rosinha Lituana is deported; bourgeois turned proletariat, Alfredo Rocha is expelled from the Communist Party for individualistic tendencies and thus he and the proletarian leader, Otavia, end their relationship; Corina, now out of jail and a prostitute who can’t make enough to eat, meets up with Pepe, the informer, turned pimp, now prostitute and the novel ends as they climb into bed together – two lumpen-proletariat and a bag of popcorn. But, I believe, with Lukács, that those twin epic experiences of time: hope and memory, that can be found in the novel, offer an interesting other way of analyzing the narrative denouement.
As we have seen from the start, in Industrial Park we must study the dark with the light, what the novel says and the spaces of silence, and now perhaps the elements of hope and the memory it presents will keep us on our path. The center of hope and memory in the novel, I believe, can be located in the home, family and life work of Alexandre, the illiterate, Afro-Brazilian charismatic proletarian leader and friend of Otavia. The main scene in which he is involved centers on a dinner prepared in his proletarian home. Living in his home are his children’s grandmother who is bedridden, Alexandre, and his two sons, Carlos Marx and Frederico Engels. The boys’ mother had been killed years earlier in a factory accident. Invited to dine with the family are Otavia and her partner at the moment the previously bourgeois Alfredo Rocha. Thus within this family space at the gathering are a female probably ex-slave (slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1880’s) and her free son, the two boys who carry the names of two heroes of the proletariat, a female white proletariat and and an ex-bourgeois: colonialism, slavery, capitalism, proletarian struggle and the hope for a revolutionary future.
In the home they share what Alfredo calls “revolutionary food”, a simple meal. The boys are bubbling with news. Carlos Marx is a newspaper boy, but that day he “didn’t sell a single newspaper in order to nail red union manifestos onto posts in the early morning.”(94) The young boys are already participating in the struggle, they already understand. As the two boys settle in for the evening with a friend of theirs who has come to visit, Otavia begins to tell them about Rosa Luxemburg, “a German proletarian militant killed by the police because she attacked the bourgeoisie.”(95) The boys then begin to make connections between Rosa Luxemburg, the German police and bourgeoisie and their own experiences of injustice and oppression in Braz. Later, in the penultimate chapter of the novel there is a rally, soldiers are called in and Alexandre is killed. In the final scene of that chapter, Carlos Marx runs in to his house and shouts to his grandmother, “They did to papa just like Rosa Luxemburg!” The image and lifestory of Rosa Luxemburg serve as a connecting thread, a part of the historical memory of proletarian struggles, one that she began in Germany, but had repercussions in the Brazilian context. She was alive again in Alexandre, and his sons will carry forward his/her legacy as well as that of their namesakes, Marx and Engels. During the rally, when Alexandre fell another proletariat picked up the banner he was carrying and when that worker fell another raised it up in his place. The legacy is carried forth, forging another kind of chain that is quite different from that of the assembly line. It should also be noted that this was not Rosa Luxemburg’s first appearance in the novel. The character of Rosinha Lituana is closely connected to the historical figure of Rosa Luxemburg. Although Rosinha is deported by the middle of the novel, toward the end, at the rally in which Alexandre is killed, Otavia sees a woman who resembles Rosinha marching with them in solidarity thus presenting the continuity of the person of Rosinha and Rosa in the struggle. Returning to Benjamin, we are reminded that, “Memory creates the chain of tradition which passes a happening on from generation to generation.”(98) The boys will not forget, they are the future, the keepers of memory and the hope for change. For the unity of the proletariat’s life is not just in his own individual life-stream, but in the combination of the past and the present, the beautiful and the terrible, the dark and the light, the lines and the spaces, in the creation of a new future.
I open this section with a brief quotation from Brecht’s essay on “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties”. I think that the quote is useful because it has to do with responsibility and the human creation of history and destiny. It also has to do with truth. Without truth, Brecht, would suggest, there is no hope, there is no better future. He writes,
We must tell the truth about the barbarous conditions in our country in order that the thing should be done which will put an end to them – the thing, namely, which will change property relations.
And to do this, he goes on, to tell the truth, takes great courage, because, often, he reminds us, “To displease the possessors is to become one of the dispossessed.” Patrícia Galvão told the truth and she displeased power. For that she was imprisoned, tortured and expelled from her socio-cultural and political groups. The truth represented in the content and the form of Industrial Park, can be seen to create a space of hope for change, but the novel Industrial Park itself also creates a space of hope in its existence and persistence, in the truth it tells about the situation of the factory/maquiladora workers beginning in 1930’s Brazil and extending to the present moment as they labor in national and global markets and seek to organize for change. As the narrator declares in the novel, “Other men will remain. Other women will remain. Braz of Brazil. Braz of the whole world.”
(2). Brazilian Modernismo was a complex and diverse cultural movement, not all “branches” of Modernismo agreed with or followed the central tenets of Oswaldian antropofagia, but it was the Oswaldian branch of Modernismo that the tropicalistas took as their inspiration. (See, for example, Antonio Candido and J. Aderaldo Castello’s book, Modernismo, for a discussion of the various manifestations of Modernismo.)
Se o tropicalismo se deveu em alguma medida a meus atos e minhas idéias, temos então de considerar como deflagrador do movimento o impacto que teve sobre mim o filme “Terra em transe” de Glauber Rocha, em minha temporada carioca de 66-7.”(99)
(4). It is interesting to note that in the same year that Galvão published Industrial Park, Frida Kahlo completed her famous painting “My Dress Hangs There” (1933), a painting that would offer an interesting dialogue with Galvão’s novel.
(6). It is important to note here that the novel’s cover included in this essay as well as the opening citations from the official statistics and Galvão’s human contextualization appeared in the original edition of the novel, whose publication was paid for by Galvão’s then husband, Oswald de Andrade (and then in the fac-similar re-edition of 1981). But, in the re-edition of the novel in 1994 by Mercado Aberto which accompanied a growing resurgence in interest in Galvão, the cover was changed and the opening quotes were omitted, even though in the “Nota do editor” (that basically replaces those opening citations) it is declared that “Esta edição de Parque Industrial reproduz fielmente a primeira, de 1933, inclusive no referente ás plavras de outros idiomas…” However, the Jacksons’ 1993 English translation of Industrial Park does include a copy of the original cover inside the book as well as the two opening quotes from the original version of the novel.
(7). See especially Jackson (1993), Owens, Guedes for more indepth analyses of the cinematic elements in Industrial Park, although almost all critics at least mention the cinematic atmosphere or style of the novel.
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--- “Manifesto Antropófago” (1928) Antonio Candido and J. Aderaldo Castello. Presença da Literatura Brasileira: Modernismo III. São Paulo: DIFEL , 1983. Pp. 65-73.
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Bloch, Jayne H. “Patrícia Galvão: The Struggle Against Conformity.” Latin American Literary Review. 14.27 (1986): 188-201.
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Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Willett, John, editor and translator. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.
--- “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties.” Galileo. Eric Bentley, trans. New York: Grove P, 1966 (original German publication 1935), 31-50.
Campos, Augusto de. Pagu vida-obra. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1982.
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Diegues, Carlos. “Cinema Novo.” Brazilian Cinema. Randal Johnson and Robert Stam, eds. New York: Columbia UP, 1995. Pp. 64-67.
Duprat, Rogério, arranjo e regencia. Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis. (musical CD) São Paulo: Polygram do Brasil, 19 (1968 original LP)
Ferraz, Geraldo Galvão. “Préfacio.” Parque Industrial. Patrícia Galvão, author. Porto Alegre: Mercado Aberto, 1994. Pp. 12-16.
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--- Industrial Park. Elizabeth and K. David Jackson, translators. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1993.
--- Parque Industrial. Porto Alegre: Mercado Aberto, 1994.
Guedes, Thelma. Pagu, Literatura e Revolução: Um Estudo sobre o romance Parque Industrial. São Paulo: Atelie Editorial e Nankin Editorial, 2003.
Iglesias Prieto, Norma. Beautiful Flowers of the Maquiladora: Life Histories of Women Workers in Tijuana. Michael Stone and Gabrielle Winkler, translators. Austin: U of Texas P, 2003.
Jackson, Kenneth David. “Afterward.” Industrial Park. Patrícia Galvão. (Mara Lobo) Elizabeth and K. David Jackson, translators. Lincoln: U of NebraskaP, 1993.
--- “Patrícia Galvão e o realismo-social brasileiro dos anos 30” Pagu vida-obra.
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--- O Século do Cinema. Rio de Janeiro: Editorial Alhambra, 1983.
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