Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
earthly world. Early, premature death can never be a prerequisite to immortality. In
transforming the missionaries into xondaro, Mizael dared to behave as gods do. By
doing so, the boy hoped the gods would acknowledge him and admit himself and his
kin among them.
This apocalyptic vision of time and the body is central to the thought of the
present-day Guarani, except that the cataclysms of the past have been magnified
because this bad, mundane world has become more and more “imperfect.” Avoiding
cataclysms is now an extremely arduous task, which requires other political and
cultural strategies, because the Guarani have passed from one kind of necessity to
another. Hoping to avoid cataclysms, that children have set themselves to criticize
the present cultural order, bearing witness that “there is no cultural order that does
not think of itself as a transcendent order” (Clastres 1995:21).
This same perspective is also apparent in Diego's choice of being a singer, rather
than a tin can gatherer like his father, or a banana harvester as his mother would
have hoped. In his eight years of age, the boy can already envision that in order to
break free from the perverse cycle of misery that perpetuates hunger and scarcity
among the poorest of the poor, that is, in order to be transcendent, he needs to invest
in innovative strategies that guarantee a more equitable access to material and
symbolic capital.
The reflections generated by Angelina and Joacir in their ambulance performance
also attest to the importance of children's creative thinking in attempting to transcend
the cultural order. They turn down the ambulance ride because they also hope that
immortality can be reached without dying, and that if they want to make it to the
place where the land provides fruit without being sowed, and where one does not die,
they have to keep well and alive. Ultimately, the children are struggling to restore the
foundations of the Guarani economy of reciprocity (Melià 1987), which guarantees
the circulation of goods among the different Guarani communities, and can thus
overturn the destruction of the people and of the world. This is what Florentina's
generosity teaches us, when the little girl distributes her share of candy among the
folks at the Pindoty Village who are also hungry. To the Guarani, having nothing to
eat is more desirable than having nothing to offer . Karaí Cândido Ramirez expressed
his frustration:
I am almost quitting my work as a healer [ pajé ] because I have nothing to offer
anybody; nothing to offer you, nor him, nor her. How am I supposed to live the
Nhande Rekó this poor? The children cry of hunger, because they can't survive
off chimarrão [mate tea]. We struggle but still can't make it. So I am passing on
my duties to Henrique Firmino, who is younger and stronger than me.
The truckload of candy sent by the children to the Pindoty Village is emblematic
of their effort to renovate the Guarani cycle of reciprocity among the 18 different
Guarani villages in the state of São Paulo, 22 and thus offset the destruction of the
world. Triggering the cycle of reciprocity requires, however, an initial offering
(Lévi-Strauss 1969), and the children propose that their elders accept the comforts
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