The Invention of Brazil by Misha Glenny

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, travel, politics, filthy-lucre, anthropology, casual-violence, environmental-issues, fradio, gangsters, slaves, under-10-ratings, true-grime, south-americas, sleazy, revolution, religion, recreational-drugs, radio-4, music, lifestyles-deathstyles, history, colonial-overlords, bullies, brazil, art-forms, architecture, adventure, plague-disease, roman-catholic, sport, suicide

Read from May 02 to 19, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042jcxs

Description: Forget the beach volleyball, carnival, and the rest – here’s the truth about Brazil. The murder rate is among the highest in the world. The economic inequality is visible wherever you go. Behind the happy cultural imagery there lies a much darker Brazil, the result of an extremely dark colonial history when this land was little more than a giant farm worked by slaves.

Misha Glenny and producer Miles Warde travel from the favela of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro up the coast to Salvador, the first capital of Brazil, and then back to Sao Paulo, economic powerhouse of the south. On the way they meet contributors including the anthropologist Peter Fry; Americo Martins of Rede TV; historian Lilia Schwarz; and bestselling author Laurentino Gomez. Further contributions from Luciana Martins, David Brookshaw and Patrick Wilcken, author of Empire Adrift.

From the team behind The Invention of Germany and The Invention of Spain.

Salvador. Most of the slaves to Brazil landed here. At that time, Salvador was the capitol.

São Paulo is a sprawling mass and is the modern economic hub of this vast country. It was from this area that the slavers worked to capture indigneous indians. Think ‘The Mission’, Portugeuse style.

Episode 1: BBC DESCRIPTION: In The Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny traces the gaps between the image and reality, beginning with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. More slaves were transported to Brazil than anywhere else, more than the United States, more than anywhere. “There were many Africans who served as interpreters,” Joao Reis explains, “who could tell the slaves: ‘You are not going to be eaten by those whites’. And that was the African fear – that they were being brought to an unknown world by whites where they would be eaten.”

Rocinha, the biggest slum in South America.

The favela borders Gavea, one of the richest areas of the city. The contrast is stark.

Episode 2: BBC DESCRIPTION: Misha Glenny continues his exploration of the little known but extraordinary events that have shaped Brazil. This week, two unexpected events in Brazil’s path to independence. The first occurred in 1808, when the entire Portuguese court moved across the Atlantic to escape Napoleon. They lived in Rio de Janeiro, which they enjoyed so much that they stayed on for another 13 years. The second occurred in 1822 when the King of Portugal’s son, Dom Pedro, declared ‘Independence or Death’, breaking Brazil free from her European overlords. We reveal that the British were heavily involved in both events.

Episode 3: BBC DESCRIPTION: From giant factory farm for Europeans to modern BRIC economy, the story of Brazil’s transformation is captured in this final programme in the life of Getulio Vargas – moderniser, dictator, and finally democratically elected president. In the final part of the Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny explores the life of Vargas, the man who changed Brazil.

“I was struck by how short he was … the crowd went wild with adulation, an enormous mass of people. Their spontaneous shouts made me think I was in Italy, watching one of those fascist rallies.” Unnamed public official, seeing Vargas for the first time.

Vargas came to power in 1930 and proved an expert at keeping himself in power. Initially he styled himself on Mussolini – the story of why he took Brazil into the Second World War on the side of the Allies is central here. As also are the events leading up to his suicide while still in power. With contributions from anthropologist Lilia Schwarz, Professor David Brookshaw, Peter Fry, and author Ana Maria Machado whose father was arrested by Vargas several times.

“As quid pro quo for escorting the Portuguese across the Atlantic, the British ended up arm twisting the Portuguese royal court into signing a very one sided treaty, which in fact ended up giving the British more rights than the Brazilians themselves.” Patrick Wilcken, author Empire Adrift.

I enjoyed this three part documentary, however flister Laura, a Brazilian herself, rated this 2* so maybe this is not a rounded portrayal.

The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vac

bookshelves: spring-2014, film-only, spain, north-americas, mexico, under-20, adventure, anthropology, autobiography-memoir, cannibalism, casual-violence, christian, desert-regions, dodgy-narrator, doo-lally, epic-proportions, magicians, mental-health, mythology, napoleonic, ouch, recreational-homicide, sussex

Read on May 03, 2014

 

Cabeza de Vaca (1991)

Description: The dramatic narrative tells the story of some of the first Europeans and the first-known Africans to encounter the North American wilderness and its native inhabitants. It is a fascinating tale of survival against the highest odds, and it highlights Native Americans and their interactions with the newcomers in a manner seldom seen in writings of the period.

Expedition des Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca 1528 bis 1536

We open up in the year 1536…

This film is, as far as I can tell and am open to wiser interpretations, based on the short report (80 pages) by de Vaca entitled ‘Naufragios’.

Wiki sourced bio:

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was born around 1490 into a hidalgo family, the son of Núñez and Teresa Cabeza de Vaca y de Zurita, in the town of Jerez de la frontera. Despite their status as minor nobility, the family had modest economic resources. In 16th-century documents, his name appeared as “Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca”.

Arauco by John Caviglia

 

Description: Set in a land of earthquakes and towering volcanoes, weaving history with myth, Arauco tells of war, sorcery … and a love demonstrating that a man can embrace what he was seeking to destroy. When in 1540 Pedro de Valdivia headed south from Peru to conquer lands and gold, he took with him his beautiful mistress, Inés de Suárez. With him also rode his secretary, Juan de Cardeña, whose hopeless love of Inés stems from the same romances that inspired the Quixote. Having crossed the Atacama Desert, the Spanish encounter the indomitable resistance of the Mapuche people…. For the first time, Arauco recreates the Spanish invasion of Chile from the native perspective as well, so that its pages include: Lautaro, the Mapuche youth who led his people to an epic victory; Ñamku, albino shaman; his enemy, the sorcerer Kurufil … and Raytrayen, the Mapuche girl Juan de Cardeña comes to love…

Villarrica Volcano, Chile

Opening lines from the prologue: THE BEGINNING (Mapu)

The sun was dying in fucha lafken, the great sea, but Ñamku, shaman of the Mapuche, did not see it. Behind him, the sacred volcanoesof the ancestors soared into the sunrises of the past, and he did not see them. Breathing deep, he removed his mask. Opening his eyes, he spread his arms to embrace darkness. This night the pillañ – the ancestors – would speak to him.

THANKEE DON, so kind of you. I have two weeks to read this before the invitation expires; pretty sure that will be just dandy given your 5* and the epic storyline.

The story opens out in Sevilla, Andalucia 1539 with Juan de Cardeña, together with his travelling companion Pedro Gómez de San Benito, admiring the opulance of the south of Spain.

It’s all in here: coming of age, swashbuckling, comradeship, brutality, foul-mouthed and sexy, heart-breaking and chivalric. A veritable pot-pourri of adventure: Rag Tag and Bobtail doing a hop, skip and jump, and the range is so sprawly that at times I felt I was a fully paid up member of the Where The FuckRwe Tribe?

The Authors blog

olla podrida seems to be equivalent to pottage, anything and everything gets chucked in.

• “The Monocli have just one huge foot. And they jump like fleas. They are called the Umbrella Foot Tribe because in hot weather they lie on their backs and rest in the shadow of their foot.”

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

bookshelves: winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, published-2012, britain-scotland, taiwan, recreational-homicide, casual-violence, mental-health, lifestyles-deathstyles, fraudio, britain-england, psychology, boo-scary, anthropology, mystery-thriller, sci-fi, dystopian, filthy-lucre, forest, mythology, religion, arran, sweden, trolls, fantasy, dubai, environmental-issues, suicide, little-green-men, cannibalism

Read from July 01, 2012 to January 20, 2014

Description: A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?

As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. He has never been good at relationships. Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when his Taiwan contact dies shockingly, and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, Hesketh is forced to make connections that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and – most devastatingly of all – his role as a father.

Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

Origami Crane

Origami Praying Mantis

Origami Hermit Crab

In the Dubai gymnast leap sequence Tokoloshe was mentioned three times.

From wiki: In Zulu mythology, Tokoloshe is a dwarf-like water sprite. It is considered a mischievous and evil spirit that can become invisible by drinking water. Tokoloshes are called upon by malevolent people to cause trouble for others. At its least harmful a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but its power extends to causing illness and even death upon the victim. The way to get rid of him is to call in the n’anga (witch doctor), who has the power to banish him from the area.

The children start forming a collective consciousness, show signs of arrested development and an addiction for salt.

Hesketh narrates the first person action from an anthropological and autistic viewpoint and it works very well. In Wyndham’s ‘Midwich Cuckoos’ the story is satisfactorily resolved (view spoiler), all tied up with bows; here was a somewhat wobbly ending as the author mounted her own environmental soapbox, her viewpoint working through the Professors notebooks and Hesketh’s epiphany. Lost a star right there. It has been a while since I read The Rapture but I have a feeling the same thing happened there too. Time for a re-visit of that before I spend future money on habitual preachy endings.

That said, 95% of this was very exciting and fresh.

4* The Rapture
4* The Uninvited

Trivia: Liz Jensen is married to author Carsten Jensen:

5* We, The Drowned
3* I Have Seen the World Begin

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