Toward a Poetry and Poetics of the Americas (6): Oswald de Andrade, 'An Anthropophagite Manifesto,' May 1928
Originally published in Revista de Antropofagia, no.1, year 1, May 1928, São Paulo.
Translation from Portuguese by Adriano Pedrosa and Veronica Cordeiro.
[editor’s note. With the present posting, I return with coauthor/coeditor Heriberto Yépez to a long-deferred project of ours: to compose a truly transnational anthology/assemblage of American poetry, “from origins to present.” For the two of us, one a poet from Mexico an0d the other from the United States, the idea of a still larger America, made up of many independent parts, has been a topic of continuing shared interest. Since there is no other such historical gathering at the present time, we feel ourselves free to make a new beginning, an experiment through anthologizing, to explore what results might follow from a juxtaposition of poets and poetries covering all parts of the Americas and the range of languages within them: European languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, as well as a large number of Indigenous languages such as Mapuche, Quechua, Mayan, Mazatec, and Nahuatl. In this the example of Oswald de Andrade’s great Manifesto Antropófago (cannibalist manifesto) looms large, postulating perhaps a poetry and art that devours and absorbs all previous and concurrent poetry and art. And much beyond that.
In that sense a touchstone for what we’re now attempting. (J.R.)]
Only anthropophagy unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically.
The world’s only law. The masked expression of all individualisms, of all collectivisms. Of all religions. Of all peace treaties.
Tupi, or not tupi that is the question.1
Against all catechisms. And against the mother of the Gracchi.
The only things that interest me are those that are not mine. Law of man. Law of the anthropophagite.
We are tired of all the suspicious catholic husbands put in drama. Freud put an end to the woman enigma and to other frights of printed psychology.
What hindered truth was clothing, the impermeable element between the interior world and the exterior world. The reaction against the dressed man. American movies will inform.
Sons of the sun, mother of the living. Found and loved ferociously, with all the hypocrisy of nostalgia, by the immigrants, by the slaves and by the touristes. In the country of the big snake.
It was because we never had grammars, nor collections of old plants. And we never knew what was urban, suburban, boundary and continental. Lazy men on the world map of Brazil. A participating consciousness, a religious rhythm.
Against all importers of canned consciousness. The palpable existence of life. And the prelogical mentality for Mr. Levi Bruhl to study.
We want the Carahiba revolution. Bigger than the French Revolution. The unification of all efficacious rebellions in the direction of man. Without us Europe would not even have its poor declaration of the rights of man. The golden age proclaimed by America. The golden age. And all the girls.2
Descent. The contact with Carahiban Brazil. Oú Villegaignon print terre. Montaigne. The natural man. Rousseau. From the French Revolution to Romanticism, to the Bolshevik Revolution, to the surrealist Revolution and Keyserling’s technicized barbarian. We walk.
We were never catechized. We live through a somnambular law. We made Christ be born in Bahia. Or in Belém do Pará. But we never admitted the birth of logic among us. Against Father Vieira. Author of our first loan, to gain his commission. The illiterate king had told him: put this in paper but don’t be too wordy. The loan was made. Brazilian sugar was recorded. Vieira left the money in Portugal and brought us wordiness.
The spirit refuses to conceive the spirit without body. Anthropomorphism. The need for an anthropophagical vaccine. For the equilibrium against the religions of the meridian. And foreign inquisitions.
We can only attend to the oracular world.
We had justice codification of vengeance. And science codification of Magic. Anthropophagy. The permanent transformation of Taboo into totem.
Against the reversible world and objectivized ideas. Cadaverized. The stop of thought which is dynamic. The individual victim of the system. The source of classical injustices. Of the romantic injustices. And the forgetting of interior conquests.
Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes.
The Carahiban instinct.
Life and death of hypotheses. From the equation I part of the Kosmos to the axiom Kosmos part of I. Subsistence. Knowledge. Anthropophagy.
Against plant elites. In communication with the soil.
We were never catechized. What we really did was Carnival. The Indian dressed as a Senator of the Empire. Pretending to be Pitt. Or featuring in Alencar’s operas full of good Portuguese feelings.
We already had communism. We already had the surrealist language. The golden age.
Magic and life. We had the relation and the distribution of physical goods, of moral goods, and the goods of dignity. And we knew how to transpose mystery and death with the aid of some grammatical forms. I asked a man what Law was. He replied it was the guarantee of the exercise of possibility. That man was called Galli Matias. I ate him.
Determinism is only absent where there is mystery. But what do we have to do with this?
Against the stories of man, which begin at Cape Finisterra. The undated world. Unsigned. Without Napoleon. Without Caesar.
The fixation of progress through catalogues and television sets. Only machinery. And the blood transfusors.
Against the antagonical sublimations. Brought in caravels.
Against the truth of missionary peoples, defined by the sagacity of an anthropophagite, the Viscount of Cairu: It is the often repeated lie.
But they who came were not crusaders. They were fugitives from a civilization that we are eating, because we are strong and vengeful as a Jabuti.
If God is the consciousness of the Uncreated Universe, Guaraci is the mother of the living. Jaci is the mother of plants.
We did not have speculation. But we had the power of guessing. We had Politics which is the science of distribution. And a planetary-social system.
The migrations. The escape from tedious states. Against urban sclerosis. Against Conservatories, and tedious speculation.
From William James to Voronoff. The transfiguration of Taboo in totem. Anthropophagy.
The pater families and the creation of the Moral of the Stork: Real ignorance of things + lack of imagination + sentiment of authority before the pro-curious (sic).
It is necessary to depart from a profound atheism to arrive at the idea of God. But the Carahiba did not need. Because he had Guaraci.
The created objective reacts as the Fallen Angels. After Moses wanders. What have we got to do with this?
Before the Portuguese discovered Brazil, Brazil had discovered happiness.
Against the Indian with the torch. The Indian son of Mary, godson of Catherine de Médici and son-in-law of Don Antônio de Mariz.
Happiness is the proof of the pudding.
In the matriarchy of Pindorama.
Against the Memory source of custom. Personal experience renewed.
We are concretists. Ideas take hold, react, burn people in public squares. Let us suppress ideas and other paralyses. Through the routes. To believe in signs, to believe in the instruments and the stars.
Against Goethe, the mother of the Gracchi, and the Court of Don João VI.
Happiness is the proof of the pudding.
The struggle between what one would call the Uncreated and the Creature illustrated by the permanent contradiction between man and his Taboo. The quotidian love and the capitalist modus vivendi. Anthropophagy. Absorption of the sacred enemy. To transform him into totem. The human adventure. The mundane finality. However, only the pure elites managed to realize carnal anthropophagy, which brings the highest sense of life, and avoids all the evils identified by Freud, catechist evils. What happens is not a sublimation of the sexual instinct. It is the thermometric scale of the anthropophagic instinct. From carnal, it becomes elective and creates friendship. Affectionate, love. Speculative, science. It deviates and transfers itself. We reach vilification. Low anthropophagy agglomerated in the sins of catechism-envy, usury, calumny, assassination. Plague of the so-called cultured and christianized peoples, it is against it that we are acting. Anthropophagi.
Against Anchieta singing the eleven thousand virgins of the sky, in the land of Iracema — the patriarch João Ramalho founder of São Paulo.
Our independence has not yet been proclaimed. Typical phrase of Don João VI: My son, put this crown on your head, before some adventurer does! We expelled the dynasty. It is necessary to expel the spirit of Bragança, the law and the snuff of Maria da Fonte.
Against social reality, dressed and oppressive, registered by Freud-reality without complexes, without madness, without prostitutions and without the prisons of the matriarchy of Pindorama.
1 Original in English. [T.N.] Tupi is also the name of a South American ethnic group and a large family of indigenous languages, Tupi-Guaraní.
2 Girls: Original in English [T.N.].