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colonized mind

It’s been a month since I’m back in Brazil for an indefinite period of time:

“Life is a lie with an infinite, and death is the only definite” (If I Should Die Tonight by Andre Prefontaine)

I left my home country a while ago. By that time, I had my eyes wide open to news ways of being and living. Since then I’ve seen and lived so much. Now, in a strategical return to the South continent, here I am: home sick in my own home. Home is a pretty indefinite concept for me now.

I found myself “lost in translation” on my ‘own’ country. I confess I’ve never had good writing skills on any language, but nowadays shit has gotten real. I can’t make myself understood using my written Portuguese. It’s frustrating and a real shame. Shame on me, oh yeah.

But the topic that has filled my evenings, my pillow debates, my discussion with friends and work colleagues (professors) is the famous and resilient “colonized mind”. Before going to Canada and the US, I’ve fought a billion times and fallen in love another billion times with it …. the colonized in me. In a colonized mind, you can only be the worst, you can only be mediocre, you can only make and build the minimum, you will never make something relevant. These are the silent but powerful thoughts of a colonized mind.

“The interesting—and complicated—thing about colonialism is that it encompasses not just politics and economics, but consciousness. Critical theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire have pointed this out.” (Peter D’Errico)

I have never fit it, ever. There is an exception, a really specific place where I am not a weirdo, I’m just a weirdo as everyone else: in Cambriville. Montreal falls behind, catching up on emotional aspects more than intellectual ones. But no matter where I find in Earth, I’ve broken the deal with the colonized thoughts that haunted me for years. My biggest fear back here is to deal with them again. The inside checkpoints are prompt but the battles with external colonized thoughts are brutal and miserable.

‘A colonized mind tends to reproduce the oppressor’ said Paulo Freire. These minds when worn with power can only diminish an entire culture and country. There is no critic mass to evaluate or even understand slightly outstanding or innovative thoughts. There is fear, pessimism, and inefficient competition.

A colonized mind can never receive a new idea with enthusiasm and optimism. Instead of getting pumped with an a-ha moment, and later list limitations, concerns, and a critic view on what could go wrong; the colonized mind will give you a quick solution for your creative distress: ironically, it will be really efficient on listing everything that could or certainly will go wrong. It will give you the quickest and simplest solution of not even bother trying. The result: mediocre projects, research, ideas, products.

My long-term friend and physician told me a wise anecdote:

“guy X had been in inpatient care for years and years, because he’d see and talk to a dog that didn’t exist. one day, he comes to the doctor and says: ‘hey, that dog thing was ridiculous, there is no dog!’. hence, the doctor discharges him. leaving the hospital, guy X says: ‘see, cute dog, we fooled him, now we are free.'”.

It seams that I need a lot of adaptation to my ‘own’ culture, including fooling myself. It is always a good time to learn new tricks, some of them are just really annoying to play. I’d say treats.

1 Comment

  1. Uau…..it was hard to read….it was like traveling in my memory. I understand you so clearly I think. I was feeling just like that when I returned from a 6 year stay in Germany (where Maílis was born). Until now, sometimes I don’t know where I really belong….and right now it is even more difficult, because I can’t love Germany any more, because Germany became the colonial power (or a t least the most visible one). You know that until now people sometimes think that I am not Portuguese, because they say I have a different accent….and maybe they are right. But see, in the meanwhile I stopped trying to find a place, I decided to became a sort of citizen of the world traveling around my room, and I think we have a very good example for that, Fernando Pessoa himself 😉 And I love my country so much, but it is a sensations love, the light, the burning of the sun, the smells, the noise of the waves, the silence of the mountains, the sight of history and sometimes…..the incredible kindness of people……but I don’t like the colonized mind….and Portugal is the weird case of a colonial power with a colonized mind.
    I don’t know how to help you, but I wanted to write this, so that you understand you are not alone. In practical terms – Maílis would have told you that I am a very pragmatical person 🙂 – a successful process of “re-adaptation” takes more or less one full year. In the meanwhile keep writing…..perhaps in 6 month you will be able to write in Portuguese again…..and to dream 🙂

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