by Oswald de Andrade
Cannibalism: An Introduction to Oswaldo de Andrade’s “Cannibal Manifesto”
The starting date for the Brazilian modernist movement, which advocated a return to the soil, is usually given as 1922, when the major impulse was given by the Week of Modern Art. This revolutionary approach was announced by a woman painter, Anita Malfatti, “the protomartyr of modernism,” whose forward-looking paintings in her second exhibition, in 1917, were derided by Monteiro Lobato (He claimed that she simply contributed her own “-ism” in her paintings where a horse and rider fall over: “I call this genre topple-ism”). But he himself had a great influence on Brazilian modernism’s most celebrated text, Oswald de Andrade’s “Cannibal Manifesto” of 1928. Also called the “Brazilwood Manifesto,” because it champions the use of native material and turns against artifice, this manifesto takes its name from the cannibalistic Tupi Indians of Brazil who disposed gastronomically of an unloved Bishop. It is outrageously satirical, reading in part: “Only cannibalism unites us... Tupi or not tupi, that is the question.” The manifesto shares the title of a Dada publication of two issues, Cannibale, whose lively primitivistic spirit is joined to the Russian Rayonists, with their Why-We-Paint-Our-Faces manifesto against the sophisticated and over-civilized society. Andrade’s preface to Seraphim Ponte Grande is another modernist manifesto that repudiates Modernism: “The Modernist Movement, culminating in anthropophagous measles, seemed to indicate an advanced phenomenon.” Elsewhere, he distinguishes between the two: “Simultaneity is the coexistence of things and events at a given moment. Polyphony is the simultaneous artistic union of two or more melodies which have the fleeting effect of clashing sounds as they contribute to a total final effect."
Cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically.
The unique law of the world. The disguised expression of all individualisms, all collectivisms. Of all religions. Of all peace treaties.
Tupi or not tupi that is the question.
Against all catechisms. And against the mother of the Gracos.
I am only interested in what’s not mine. The law of men. The law of the cannibal.
We are tired of all those suspicious Catholic husbands in plays. Freud finished off the enigma of woman and the other recent psychological seers.
What dominated over truth was clothing, an impermeable layer between the interior world and the exterior world. Reaction against people in clothes. The American cinema will tell us about this.
Sons of the sun, mother of living creatures. Fiercely met and loved, with all the hypocrisy of longing: importation, exchange, and tourists. In the country of the big snake.
It’s because we never had grammatical structures or collections of old vegetables. And we never knew urban from suburban, frontier country from continental. Lazy on the world map of Brazil.
One participating consciousness, one religious rhythm.
Against all the importers of canned conscience. For the palpable existence of life. And let Levy-Bruhl go study prelogical mentality.
We want the Cariba Revolution. Bigger than the French Revolution. For the unification of all the efficient revolutions for the sake of human beings. Without us, Europe would not even have had its paltry declaration of the rights of men.
The golden age proclaimed by America. The golden age. And all the girls.
Filiation. The contact with the Brazilian Cariba Indians. Ou Villegaignon print terre. Montaigne. Natural man. Rousseau. From the French Revolution to Romanticism, to the Bolshevik Revolution, to the Surrealist Revolution and the technological barbarity of Keyserling. We’re moving right along.
We were never baptized. We live with the right to be asleep. We had Christ born in Bahia. Or in Belem do Pata.
But for ourselves, we never admitted the birth of logic.
Against Father Vieira, the Priest. Who made our first loan, to get a commission. The illiterate king told him: put this on paper but without too much talk. So the loan was made. Brazilian sugar was accounted for. Father Vieira left the money in Portugal and just brought us the talk.
The spirit refuses to conceive spirit without body. Anthropomorphism. Necessity of cannibalistic vaccine. For proper balance against the religions of the meridian. And exterior inquisitions.
We can only be present to the hearing world.
We had the right codification of vengeance. The codified science of Magic. Cannibalism. For the permanent transformation of taboo into totem.
Against the reversible world and objectified ideas. Made into cadavers. The halt of dynamic thinking. The individual a victim of the system. Source of classic injustices. Of romantic injustices. And the forgetfulness of interior conquests.
Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays.
Death and life of hypotheses. From the equation I coming from the Cosmos to the axiom Cosmos coming from the I. Subsistence. Knowledge. Cannibalism.
Against the vegetable elites. In communication with solitude.
We were never baptized. We had the Carnival. The Indian dressed as a Senator of the Empire. Acting the part of Pitt. Or playing in the operas of Alencar with many good Portuguese feelings.
We already had communism. We already had a surrealist language. The golden age.
Magic and life. We had relations and distribution of fiscal property, moral property, and honorific property. And we knew how to transport mystery and death with the help of a few grammatical forms.
I asked a man what was Right. He answered me that it was the assurance of the full exercise of possibilities. That man was called Galli Mathias. I ate him.
The only place there is no determinism is where there is mystery. But what has that to do with us?
Against the stories of men that begin in Cape Finisterre. The world without dates. Without rubrics. Without Napoleon. Without Caesar.
The fixation of progress by means of catalogues and television sets. Only with machinery. And blood transfusions.
Against antagonistic sublimations brought over in sailing ships.
Against the truth of the poor missionaries, defined through the wisdom of a cannibal, the Viscount of Cairo – It is a lie repeated many times.
But no crusaders came to us. They were fugitives from a civilization that we are eating up, because we are strong and as vindictive as the land turtles.
Only God is the conscience of the Uncreated Universe, Guaraci is the mother of all living creatures. Jaci is the mother of vegetables.
We never had any speculation. But we believed in divination. We had Politics, that is, the science of distribution. And a socio-planetary system.
Migrations. The flight from tedious states. Against urban scleroses. Against Conservatives and speculative boredom.
From William James and Voronoff. Transfiguration of taboo into totem. Cannibalism.
The pater familias is the creation of the stork fable: a real ignorance of things, a tale of imagination and a feeling of authority in front of curious crowds.
We have to start from a profound atheism in order to reach the idea of God. But the Cariba did not have to make anything precise. Because they had Guaraci.
The created object reacts like the Fallen Angel. Ever since, Moses has been wandering about. What is that to us?
Before two Portuguese discovered Brazil, Brazil discovered happiness.
Against the Indian de tocheiro. The Indian son of Mary, the godson of Catherine of Médicis and the son-in-law of Don Antonio de Mariz.
Happiness is the real proof.
No Pindorama matriarchy.
Against Memory the source of habit. Renewed for personal experience.
We are concrete. We take account of ideas, we react, we burn people in the public squares. We suppress ideas and other kinds of paralysis. Through screenplays. To believe in our signs, to believe in our instruments and our stars.
Against Goethe, against the mother of the Gracos, and the Court of Don Juan VI.
Happiness is the real proof.
The struggle between what we might call the Uncreated and the Created – illustrated by the permanent contradiction of man and his taboo. Daily love and the capitalist modus vivendi. Cannibalism. Absorption of the sacred enemy. To transform him into a totem. The human adventure. Earthly finality. However, only the pure elite manage to realize carnal cannibalism within, some sense of life, avoiding all the evils Freud identified, those religious evils. What yields nothing is a sublimation of the sexual instinct. It is a thermometric scale of cannibalist instinct. Once carnal, it turns elective and creates friendship. Affectivity, or love. Speculative, science. It deviates and transfers. We arrive at utter vilification. In base cannibalism, our baptized sins agglomerate – envy, usury, calumny, or murder. A plague from the so-called cultured and Christianized, it’s what we are acting against. Cannibals.
Against Anchieta singing the eleven thousand virgins in the land of Iracema – the patriarch Joa Ramalho the founder of Sao Paulo.
Our independence was never proclaimed. A typical phrase of Don Juan VI – My son, put this crown on your head, before some adventurer does it! We expel the dynasty. We have to get rid of the Braganza spirit, the ordinations and snuff of Maria da Fonte.
Against social reality, dressed and oppressive, defined by Freud – in reality we are complex, we are crazy, we are prostitutes and without prisons of the Pindorama matriarchy.
*“The New Moon, or the Lua Nova, blows in Everyman remembrances of me” in The Savages, by Couto Magalhaes.
Reprinted by permission of Mary Ann Caws.