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Gilberto Gil: "A drastic event like the pandemic helps strengthen humanity's desire to advance"


The composer says that he prays for the president of Brazil to understand and embrace what is different from him at a time when the culture of destruction is being lived.

Brazilian singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil.Play / Instagram

Gilberto Gil is experiencing various feelings during the pandemic. The outrage with the people who skip the vaccination line and the clandestine parties provoke a serious face in the composer, as if the serenity that characterizes him disappeared. But he quickly recovers. "A dramatic and drastic event like this helps humanity to strengthen its desire to move forward," he said in a video call interview with EL PAÍS. This duality between good and evil is, for Gil, the main component of humanity. "The human race is the wound on / A beauty, a rot", say the verses of the song

Raça Humana

, from the mid-1980s. "We are always between virtue and sin, all the time," he says. When it comes to analyzing President Jair Bolsonaro, Gil takes a breath. "I want human development to occur in all individuals, even those who do not share a generous vision of society," he explains. But man does not live by compassion alone. "They are people who want to destroy us, who do everything to make a base vision of goodness prevail," he says.

The artist analyzed the environmental crisis - he has just released a song in collaboration with the Instituto Terra, by photographer Sebastião Salgado -, the situation of Brazilian culture, of which he was Lula's minister, and his own almost octogenarian existence, recently celebrated with the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the campus of the University of Berklee in Valencia, whose headquarters are in Boston, United States.


How do you see the situation of culture in the current government?

What impression has Secretary Mário Frias made on you so far?


[Culture] is not a central issue in government. At least it is not being so until now. I don't see any appreciation in the governmental mindset for that aspect of people's life. Or at least they should have a vision of what culture is or what culture should be, but that vision does not include everyone. In reality, it is a monoculture, with a total aversion to everything that does not fit into that little box they chose. They despise a different way of seeing culture, they attack what was done before and they want an after that we do not know what it will be. It is very difficult to understand and understand them; even help them, if that's the case. But what we see is destruction and the inability to build together with society and to understand the various parts of Brazil that need to be convened to carry out a project. Actually,it is the lack of a project. A Brazilian cultural project would have to consider the greatness of our variety. What is happening against us blacks (the journalist is black) at the Fundação Palmares [public body for the promotion of Afro-Brazilianness, chaired by Sérgio Camargo], is a discriminatory vision, which wants to prevail and hinders any agreement. We run out of ways to contribute and help. And apparently they don't want to. They want to insist on a pattern of constant rejection.that wants to prevail and makes any agreement difficult. We run out of ways to contribute and help. And apparently they don't want to. They want to insist on a pattern of constant rejection.that wants to prevail and makes any agreement difficult. We run out of ways to contribute and help. And apparently they don't want to. They want to insist on a pattern of constant rejection.

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Recently, when asked about President Jair Bolsonaro, he said that he prayed for him and that he would like "a whole being to come to him and rule his energies."

What is the hope that he can assume another form?



I want human development to occur in all individuals, not just my relatives or friends.

I want that possibility of a more loving existence to also reach those who do not share a generous and positive vision of society.

They are people who want to destroy us, who do everything to make a base vision of goodness prevail.

When I speak of the president of Brazil, I speak of a difficulty in assuming considerations about human variety and diversity. That insistence that the world has to be what he and his friends want. It seems to me that there may, or should be, a means for him to come to share the human being in his universality. Have the capacity for forgiveness. When I refer to praying, I do it in that sense: to continue believing that we are the result of a great universal motherhood that encompasses us all, and, with which, everyone should benefit from that condition of being and understanding us. Bolsonaro and anyone else is the depositary of that hope.


There is a very strong authoritarianism in the environment, but that is something of our history, with slavery and the military dictatorship, for example. Can we get rid of it or are we doomed to live more or less authoritarian cycles?


. It is something that we carry from the colony, through the Empire, through the republics that followed, all precarious. All this is a source of reference in the ways of doing politics and exercising power. They are inheritances that guide us. But, at the same time, the word democracy has come into permanent use, with its meanings and meanings increasingly firm in society. When we have a government like this one, with a diminished vision of the importance of democracy, there are a huge number of people who complain. These are discussions that are on the Brazilian and world agenda, of regimes that flirt with authoritarianism and intolerance. The will of human society has been directed towards that broader way of life offered by the democratic vision. That is irreversible.



He has just released


, a song about the environment, an area in which Brazil is being pressured internationally.

How do you analyze the current situation?


. The environmental movement, the need that we must preserve the nature of our own predatory capacity, is something that has been there for 40 years. These are issues that were gaining strength after the Second World War, with that destructive capacity of nuclear weapons, with the lack of care we had with the forms of exploitation of nature, of the earth, by nourishing ourselves and by giving back to nature. that capacity for nutrition, and the consolidation of a permanent circuit of taking and giving back. The current government is also despising all that ecology has brought with it. Respect for the environment is something that a significant part of Brazilian society carries within, and that is reacting not only to inertia, but to the prevailing ignorance.The global environmental movement is an important conquest in the last decades in the world, and when Brazil reacts in that insensitive way to all these conquests, the countries demand that this sensitivity return.


The photographer Sebastião Salgado says that the search for progress and the extraction of natural goods, with the evils that come from there, were the contradiction of our species.

How do you get out of this dilemma?


. Assuming that it is a dilemma and that we have to prepare ourselves to face it and understand the positive and negative variables. There is no permanent resolve. "That's it, it's over!" Well, then the movement of things also ends, humanity, everything is resolved and we will finally reach a full life in which nothing makes sense anymore, because there is no contrast with anything. That contrast between life and death is what will continue to drive us to understand the advances in ways of thinking and how we adjust human production to healthier productivity. How to free ourselves a little more from the wars between us, men, and also against other species of nature. How to get rid of the evil caused by economic systems,with a capitalism more supportive and less submissive to the idea of ​​endless accumulation and without distribution of the wealth that is produced by all. The attempts made by socialism were partially thwarted. The economic system is in check, as well as the techno-scientific system, the existential, in the forms of human relationships. That means we have to schedule the next move on the board in this great game of chess. The question is: which piece to move? Where?What piece to move? Where?What piece to move? Where?


You have said that the pandemic has generated a feeling of anguish not only due to the impact on their families, but also on humanity, as something common to all.

At the same time, we see cases of people skipping the line to get vaccinated and clandestine parties.

Are we being as supportive as the moment demands?


Humanity continues to resemble what it always has been. A set of beings with personalities, individualities, varied reactions to the stimuli of life and the world. Varied cultivations of values, different levels of regard for those values, crossed by religions and philosophies. We men are sinners and we are always between virtue and sin. In this situation of more acute pressure, about who we are and what we should be, that dimension of reality becomes more evident. In some respects there is progress in social relations; but in others, no. We remain conservative, reactionary at times. In the aspect of solidarity, which at this time would be more demanded, there are those who react better and worse.The general hope is that we will be able to move forward in relation to a generally accepted standard of relating. When we see those clandestine parties or people sneaking in to get vaccinated, they are the old human ways of being, without the empathy that the situation deserves. That we can improve.



The pandemic has accentuated something that we already experienced during other periods, such as the conflict between scientific knowledge and the beliefs of faith, of religions.

Are we dealing with the dilemma correctly?


. What is it correctly? The fair middle is in the equal possibility of the extremes. The extremes of good and evil, of good work and bad work, are still there, they are in permanent dialogue. The general expectation is that humanity will advance. But be careful, where to go? Moving forward means getting rid of certain ways of being and adopting others. At the same time, all these things depend on values ​​that come from ethics, from morals, from the religious dimension. There is no universally perceptible result in the sense of saying that we are manifesting a new quality in human relationships or, conversely, that we may be presenting an older disqualification of humanity. Inequalities have become more apparent at a time like this. There is a very large imbalance between the possibilities of some and those of others.

How the poorest are most affected.

The pandemic only accentuates a number of very broad issues.

At the same time, the effort to move forward continues.

A dramatic and drastic event like this helps humanity to strengthen its desire to want to go further and find ways to help those most in need.



We are living a very hard period from the point of view of mourning and loneliness in some cases.

There is a verse that says: "It is enough for the heart to say no / when the mind tries to take us to the house of suffering."

Do you have a spiritual refuge that takes you away from the house of suffering?


. Yes. It is something that we are building throughout our existence, it is a lifelong search, in the sense of appeasement, pacification, resignation, capacity for acceptance and also for overcoming. It is a place where I feel comfortable to declare what I think, in my positions before the injustices of life and the world, in relation to the most varied forms of pain. At first, with the first news of mass deaths of the elderly in Spain or Italy, in those moments when there was an uncertainty about what the disease was, I was very distraught. And now we are experiencing something very difficult in Brazil, which is the epicenter of the pandemic, with so much horrible news everywhere. This victimization of humanity brings us much suffering.The attempt to face that suffering is something constituted throughout a life, a search that comes from the sufferings that affect us in our day to day, the little annoyances or annoyances. It is a house that is being reformed over the years. We are always looking for a stronger roof that can withstand the harshest storms.



You said that being focused on the pandemic you did not feel the urge to compose.

I remembered his time in prison, when he composed

Cérebro Eletrônico, Futurível




What was the creative impulse that the prison gave you and that the pandemic is blocking it?


. The two existential moments must be taken into account. At that time I was a boy in his early twenties, with new energies and in search of conditions to manifest those energies. Now I am an older man of almost 80 years, with other energies. Those energies of yesteryear are attenuated, they have naturally drained into the tributaries of the youthful force and flowed into this great estuary which is the old condition of existing. Today's are very different demands than when I was in a cell. For example: during those two months in prison I ended up being possessed by a minimal delight in thinking, writing and exercising my human condition, and that resulted in some songs. Now is another story. I'm here playing my guitar, relax. Something may result from those periods lived a little in Bahia,here in Itaipava (the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro) or in Copacabana, the result of this constriction of the possibility of living. But the delight, the search for that result, are not the same as those of that time. It is another form of stillness.


I heard that the records that were made in the 1970s, starting with

Expresso 2222

(1972), are more


than those made in the previous decade, and that they served as an influence for names like Ney Matogrosso and Novos Baianos, among others. Has that musical and attitude aesthetic been fully incorporated into Brazilian song?


. The world explodes and all the shreds fall on Copabacana, as Caetano would say in


. It's all there. There was a rain of



caused by that cloud that passed by or that bomb that exploded. All those boys who make songs within popular culture in Brazil, who are eventually in the theater or in the cinema, have a

very clear



. What happens is that in this way, manifested in fragments, sometimes diaphanously scattered around, this capture of the



is hampered, sometimes annulled. But what we wanted and put into practice is there: diversity, freedom, pluralism, a whole repertoire and ideology that was the basis of the



Everything is loose on the air platform, as Luiz Melodia would say.


You have already done some live shows on the internet during the pandemic using the repertoire of your entire career, defining yourself as a “visitor to your creative territory”.

Is the journey on your own path pleasant or are there potholes?


. There are potholes, of course, because they are natural to life. These are moments of my existence, when I wanted to translate feelings, some forms of experience. The paths are tortuous, because they are the result of the transformation of my internal intensity into language, into expression, in my case as a singer and composer. That desire to express myself, which is a natural symptom of being alive, manifests itself full of contradictions. And in the middle of the road there is an expectation that this will lead to new ways of communicating, that it will be transformed into songs, music, encounters. During the pandemic we are trying to do it with live performances, and later, as the pandemic evolves, this will also influence our poetics and artistic endeavors.

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Source: elparis

All life articles on 2021-05-03

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