The Cannibalist Manifesto

by on Feb.20, 2011


"Abaporu" ("the man that eats"), a painting by Tarsila do Amaral, inspired Andrade's manifesto.

In the Jodorowsky/Marilyn Manson interview Monica wrote about, Jodorowsky says, “The title of your album is ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’. Straight away, I think of the symbology of Christ. What happens every day at church? Catholics eat and drink their God. I believe that makes them vampire cannibals…”

If the artist is a victim, like the Catholic worshiper or God, it is because she is also a cannibal.   She cannibalizes others; they cannibalize her.  This is what Brazilian Modernism declared along postcolonial lines via Oswald de Andrade’s “Cannibalist Manifesto”:

“Carnal at first, this instinct becomes elective and creates friendship.  When it is affective, it creates love.  When it is speculative, it creates science.  It deviates and transfers. We arrive at utter vilification. In base cannibalism, our baptized sins agglomerate – envy, usury, calumny, or murder. We are acting against the plague of a supposedly cultured and Christianized peoples.  Cannibals.”

Inspired by the eating of Bishop Sardinha by the Caetés Tupi tribe, Andrade pronounces, “Tupi or not tupi, that is the question.” 

Brazilian Modernism thus swallows Shakespeare and European culture, tropicalizes it, and barfs out a rhapsodic and farcical novel like Mario de Andrade’s Macunaíma.  As in the novel, this film adaptation depicts the main character as a black “baby” who is transformed into a white prince:

7 comments for this entry:
  1. aaaaa

    have you read “Signs Taken for Wonders” by Homi Bhaba? Same topic and also the best.

  2. Daniel de Culla

    Jesus Christ was a Vampire¡

  3. Ken Chen

    I was actually just going to make a similar post! More soon!

  4. Lucas de Lima

    aaaa, you’re right, cultural cannibalism is a kind of mimicry.

    Can’t wait for your post, Ken. I think I stood next to you at AWP at some point, but only realized it later.

    Also wanted to add that the trope of cannibalism made a comeback 40 years after Andrade’s manifesto through Tropicalia. By mixing a messy variety of influences, musicians and artists like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, and Helio Oiticica also saw themselves as cannibalists.


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  6. James Pate

    Great post! Cannibalism has a long artistic history, a history that repeatedly gets ignored…you see it in the Oresteia where Thyestes is tricked into eating his sons, in the Ramayana where the demons threaten to gruesomely devour Sita if she does not marry Ravana, and in the climax of The Inferno, with another scene of a father eating his sons…

    I think there is something shape-shifting about the image of the cannibal…the very eating of another self implies a tearing down of a certain image of the first self. The image of the cannibal is that of a border crosser in multiple ways…

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