An Indian
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positions: east asia cultures critique 11.1 (2003) v-vi



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An Indian

Words and music by Caetano Veloso


From a shining colored star will descend an Indian
From a star that spins with dazzling velocity
that will lodge in the heart of America in an instant of clarity
after the extermination of the last indigenous nation
with the spirit of birds, of springs, of limpid water
yet more advanced than the most advanced of the highest of technologies
He will come
more fearless even than Muhammed Ali
He will come that I see
passionately like Peri*
He will come that I see
as tranquil and infallible as Bruce Lee
He will come that I see
with the energy of the afoxé of the Sons of Gandhi
He will come [End Page v]
An Indian preserved in his full physical presence
In solid, in gas, and in liquid
in atoms words soul color in gesture in smell in shadow in light
in magnificent sound
at a spot equidistant between the Atlantic and the Pacific
From an object so resplendent the Indian will descend
and the things that I know he will say I do not know how to say explicitly
He will come
more fearless even than Muhammed Ali
He will come that I see
passionately like Peri
He will come that I see
as tranquil and infallible as Bruce Lee
He will come that I see
with the energy of the afoxé of the Sons of Gandhi
He will come
And what is to be revealed at that moment to the people
will surprise everyone not for being exotic
but for its power to have always remained hidden
when in fact it was obvious


 

Translated by Andrew F. Jones and Eric Allina-Pisano

* Peri is the romanticized indigenous Brazilian Indian hero of José Alencar's 1857 novel O Guarani.

Afoxé is a carnival dance consecrated to the spirit of Oxum, a spirit or orixá in the pantheon of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. Afoxé is linked to the Sons of Gandhi (Os Filhos de Gandhi), a working-class carnival group from Salvador, Bahia, which has become a lightning rod for Afro-Brazilian cultural awareness and political activism.

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