(Pedra de Toque): What are your creative and productive research sources? Where do the ideas for your work come from? Do they come from books and authors or from your own living? What is the predominance?
(Arthur de Lacerda): Part of them comes from several authors, another part from my own living experience: from many readings and reflections they provided, I formed a worldview and acquired an intellectual content; from my existential experience, from some part of what I observe and from as much as I’ve lived and live (in the narrow and conditioned limits of life that each one experiments) I use human situations, generally true ones, as an inspiration or a reason for analysis of situations, values, behaviors, reactions. Therefore, for instance, articles concerning nudity have resulted from the examination of the Brazilian people ethos’ average and their morality standard, as well as a partial product from the reading of several authors who dedicated to the theme; two little books (Dilema em Braga and Memórias de duas amizades – [Dilemma in Braga and Memoirs of two amities] are autobiographic. Similarly, much of my poetry is based on personal observations and experiences, surrounded by reflections.
So in my production the repertoire of knowledge that I’ve accumulated and keep on accumulating prevails, because of uninterrupted readings that I take the chance to use as materials in which I exert personal judgment.
(Pedra de Toque): We know you repel passions and shortsighted politics. But there has remained a passion, which is present in much of your electronic and printed writing: the positivism of Auguste Comte: tell us something about it.
(Arthur de Lacerda): Comte’s Positivism (which should not be mistaken for the badly nicknamed legal positivism) corresponded to an intellectual discovery of my youth. When I was about 18 years old, I looked for a teaching that, freed from supernatural, combined scientific knowledge and anthropocentrism. Positivism is exempted from supernatural (what makes it atheist), is based on the positive spirit (that transcends the simple knowledge of science), to which it associates humanism, in which the humankind presides values, motivations, actions and the meaning of life.
From 18 years old until now, I have persisted, invariably, as positivist, in the conviction of its peace ideals quality, linkage among people, affectivity as an inspiration and rationality as a criterion of action, knowledge of realities, public spirit, appreciation for the high culture.
In Positivism, there’s a constructive and socially helpful message, as it inspires feelings, behaviors and politics bound to the improvement of the people’s life condition, at the same time that it discards any supernatural idea, that is, it’s bound to the social ideal and is based on reality.
(Pedra de Toque): Today we read in the social networks, through the movements of reestablishment of the parliamentary monarchy in Brazil that “Positivism was critical for the defeat of the monarchy”. Is it the reason why you don’t feel comfortable to talk politics? Do you think that, despite it’s done too good to the world as a whole, Positivism hasn’t done as much to Brazil?
(Arthur de Lacerda): My lack of interest for all the politics of the present, of any present, in what it contains of shortsighted and ephemeral, comes from personal idiosyncrasy and not from an intellectual attitude original from Positivism, nor from judgment about Positivism, in its political role in Brazil.
The political life is shortsighted, ephemeral and changeable, what doesn’t attract me. What actually pleases me are the cultural contents already incorporated, in a stable fashion, to the human patrimony: literature, philosophy, history, science, art, that I rather know instead of following up the political battles of the everyday life, without, however, denying their importance, for they reach us all somehow.
Positivism contributed for the defeat of the monarchy and for the organization of the republic, and its role was, firstly, cooperating in the elimination of an already senile regimen; then, working for the construction of the regimen that Positivism validates. The positivists’ contribution was remarkable, in the persons of Teixeira Mendes, Benjamin Constant, Demétrio Ribeiro, Júlio de Castilhos, Borges de Medeiros, and others not only so, but also in the insertion of a number of suggestions of the positivists for the constitution of 1891.
The positivist influence was beneficial, with its rejection to war, to violence in any of its expressions, its solidarity for workers, with its emphasis in the moral regency of politics, with its public spirit, with the assertion of freedom of speech, opinion, political participation and personal choice, with the valuation of secularism of the state, the population’s general instruction, and with dignification of women.
An already gone positivist from Minas Gerais, Rubem Descartes de Garcia Paula noted that Positivism had lacked in the Brazilian political life, including the period from 1964 to 1982: the positivist ideology would have influenced, by means of its followers, the way to prevent or mitigate the excesses of authoritarianism and even violence of the governments.
Positivism had lacked from 1930 on, with the adversity of Getúlio Vargas’ regimen to it in symbiosis with the catholic church, both allied to weigh it down (and exalt catholicism). With more Positivism and consequently more secularism, more instruction, more humanism, less supernatural, less obscurantism, less customs conservatism; more social income distribution and consequently less poverty; with the same spirit of righteousness in the public life that Positivism appreciates and thus less corruption (or none), the national collective life picture would be much better than it is.
(Pedra de Toque): How do you see “homosexuality”? You seem to support the right for civil partnership (including adoption of children) by people of the same sex. Don’t you think the cult of “homosexuality”, as well as that of the free sexuality as a whole, would fail to have the same value or would offer less “glamour” to the individuals if it was politicized, for instance, in the civil partnership we mentioned?
I take homosexuality (as well as bisexuality and transsexualism) as something inherent to humankind: it’s always existed, in all times and places. Perennial and ubiquitous, it’s omnipresent, constant in human nature and as such it was accepted by many civilizations until the advent of christianity, not only one of the responsible forces for the disorder of the Roman ethos and for the acceleration of the end of the Roman civilization, but also one of the inserter of a number of moral evils into the West civilization, amongst which homophobia. I don’t mean that christianity created it, but it has empowered it, from the thirteenth century to these days.
I support the marriage between equals or the homosexual marriage for men and women, with adoption: it’s an individual choice that affects both persons involved, in their respective privacies. The others must respect their choice, and the possibility of not getting married, if so, whether with someone of the same sex or whoever.
The adoption by a homosexual couple will shelter children who, without it, would be or remain homeless. It’s irrelevant not having father and mother; it’s relevant having a father or two, or a mother or two, and this is preferable than not having neither of them. The adopted children certainly think more of their present and their future than in the narrow-mindedness of certain adults. I think the civil union, such as marriage, of homosexuals, corresponds to the addition of happiness for a significant number of Brazilian people: there are more families, more people with the possibility to get satisfied their way instead of being doomed to be unhappy or pretend to be happy in other people’s way.
The passing of time implies modifications of ethos, sensitivity, institutions and customs. We’ve lived in wealthy times, of acceptance of the human nature and of customs freedom. The last decades have been like this: feminism, sexual revolution, sexual liberty, divorce, homosexual marriage, adoption by homosexual couples, all that is away from the old, archaic way of people being and judging and morally judging, a way that seems to be sensibly original from the religious preaching. In the other hand, the modifications I mentioned imply more liberty and anthropocentric ethics, away from taboos and directly or indirectly theological conditionings. Actually, it’s the spontaneous move of the societies towards human nature manifestations, out of religious dogmas. I consider it desirable to be so.
(Pedra de Toque): What are the two authors that have inspired you the most in your creation and production. Tell us a bit about them and the mimetic relationship of their work with yours.
(Arthur de Lacerda): Auguste Comte and Ortega y Gasset have inspired me. In fact, there’s no mimesis between me and them, because I don’t imitate them, but in Positivism I found and find reasons for reflection and analysis. In Ortega I found large reach reflections, analysis, knowledge that provided me with a certain capacity to think, a given intellectual practice, that has been worth a (transmit the expression:) “training for knowing how to think” and as a source of culture for me.
The meaning of anthropocentric morals, the valuing of good feelings, the despise for theology, the respect for the human legacy that is transmitted along generations, the public spirit, the social concern are marks from the Positivism that moves me and shapes the presence of Comte in my spirit.
From Ortega, I have assimilated the fundamental lesson of recognizing the mass man and becoming different from him.
The combination of Ortega’s lessons and the positive spirit has added a sense of intellectual independence that I had already recognized in me, before having known them and their capacity to think independently about the established ideas or the majority thinking.
(Pedra de Toque): Try to summarize each of your books chronologically. What is each of them about?
(Arthur de Lacerda): My main books are “Provocações” [Provocations], that communicates some reflections concerning customs, human characters, Positivism, foreignisms in the language.
“Pequena história da desinformação” [Small story of misinformation], clarifies some myths circulating in Brazil about Positivism; in this book, I prove that Comte didn’t go crazy, that Positivism is not bourgeois nor authoritative, that the regimens of Getúlio Vargas and of 1964 weren’t positivists.
“A república positivista” [The positivist republic] analyzes the republican political project by Comte and its application in Brazil.
“Memórias de duas amizades” [Memoirs of two amities] tells, almost day by day, the story of two friends I had.
In the ambiance of the history of Law, “As audiências do Brasil colônia” [The hearings of colonial Brazil], contains a partial biography of a colonial ombudsman, Rafael Pires Pardinho;
“Estudos de Direito Romano” [Roman Law Studies] and “Novos Estudos de Direito Romano” [New Studies of Roman Law] approach aspects of the history of Law, concerning the ancient Rome law and its insertion into the course of evolution of the West law.
(Pedra de Toque): We’ve read some criticisms of yours, by the way, very funny criticisms, about some inhabitants of Curitiba, to whom you use the critical demonym “curitiboca”. Don’t you get proud of Paulo Leminsky, Dalton Trevisan, and many nice people born there?
The first one you named is not for me a reason for pride; about the second I have nothing to say; some others, like Dario Veloso and David Carneiro, I admire and am proud of being their fellow citizen, but I prefer to be careful to be proud of anyone as a fellow citizen. I rather admire certain figures for their personal greatness, for their social role, their legacy to their contemporaries than to become proud of people because of the accidental circumstance of having being born in the same city. The role of the people transcends, many times, the limits of their city and the environment of their neighbors, without despising those who acted positively in the environment of Curitiba, my admiration standard is another one.
Simultaneously, there’s no reason to worship the fact of having been born in a city whose people in general and traditionally show ethos and pathos already fateful, and whose demonym of curitiboca (not of my authorship) is characterized by its pejorative side. I’m not proud to belong to a body of citizens whose major part almost boasts of feeling alien to the concert of the other Brazilians, alien in the meaning, perhaps on the top, of entitling themselves to a pretentious European and cultivated condition and, therefore, upper, when actually the features of the curitiboca consist of self-absorption, introversion, scarcity of joy and spontaneity, what means people from Curitiba are not Brazilians in what Brazilians show of kindness and openness to the fellow men and to the strangers.
(Pedra de Toque): What is the background when you convict the foreignisms in Portuguese Language? Preserving a natural Portuguese tradition or valuing and revaluing the services and products offered in our language, whether here in Brazil, whether in Portugal, whether in Mozambique, Angola, etc.? Is your concern commercial or cultural?
My concern has never been commercial and has always been cultural and idiomatic. I convict the foreignism as they represent alien and often unnecessary elements; if for some they enrich Portuguese Language, I consider they paralyze it without necessarily improving it. Between vernacularism and foreignism, I judge to be always desirable what already belongs to the language and undesirable what, without a need, meddles in it.
It’s not about preserving linguistic traditions of Portuguese nature, but to zeal for what is our language and its purity, whose minimum indispensable consists of using expressions, resources, syntax and lexicon proper to Portuguese language instead of foreign similar expressions.
(Pedra de Toque): You studied post-graduation in Portugal, from where you keep customs. How do you compare the Portuguese Law and that of Brazil, with whose customs, whether linguistic or cultural, you will need to live together and help transform while you live here?
(Arthur de Lacerda): The civil law there and here is essentially the same, with little differences, more stressed in other fields of law, such as constitutional law, because the system in Brazil is presidential and in Portugal it’s parliamentarian.
There’s a contrast between the Portuguese law and ours concerning the homosexual marriage, which is already a product of change in the Civil Code in Portugal and takes more time to be established here in Brazil.
In the other hand, both laws are, so to speak, similar, because they come from the same origin, that is, the Philippines Ordenances (pre-code in force in Portugal and its colonies, including Brazil) and the ones that had preceded them. Both also share the Roman law and the code Napoléon, as sources that join them.
(Pedra de Toque): Arthur, what is life?
(Arthur de Lacerda): Life is what it is for whom defines it like one does: each one defines, interprets and understands it their way, so, the answer for such a question is subjective and is worth both as an expression of idiosyncrasy and experiences, as a product of reflection. It’s the continuous effort of the individual, as an agent of their own destiny, to fulfill the program of future they have conceived for themselves or to constitute the state of affairs that is comfortable for them (that, in turn, may coincide with their existential planning), in the middle of the human and cosmological environment that conditions, for better or worse, the individual’s activity. In this aspect, life is interaction between the individual and the environment; interaction is equivalent to actions and reactions between both, and not insulation. Finally, life is translated in the continuous movement between each one and the others and whatever is around us. Life is existing among things and living together with other people.
(Pedra de Toque): Receive our hug that is the only untrue thing in this blog.
The books by Arthur Virmond de Lacerda Neto may be purchased at Editora Juruá (www.jurua.com.br) and Estante Virtual (www.estantevirtual.com.br).