Brazil does not belong to the Anglo-Germanic world, and therefore Brazilian "geniuses" have been excluded from
an exclusive and self-important team of genius-making-nations from Northern Europe and North America. It is interesting
that one may ascertain thereby proxy, that those populations that assert values of a superior nature with their "geniuses", will
most likely also possess, incorporate, and enjoy those same values; and; superimpose those values on the rest of the world
ascribed with inferior values.
Take for example, the word genius. I invite the readers to think of the very first names that come to mind when they
think of a genius. Brazilians might have thought of different examples than those readers from North America, Europe, or the
British Commonwealth countries (i.e.; Australia, New Zealand). The overall list might look something like this, for example for
classical musicians: Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn; for scientists: Einstein, Freud, Marx, Darwin; and finally,
for writers and poets: Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Goethe, Byron, Shelly, Dickens.
If the reader will also take one moment to think about what happened to thinkers, scientists, musicians, inventors,
writers, poets and sportsmen from Brazil (or from Portugal). Are they not deemed to be a part of the so-called Western world?
Naturally, the Anglo-Germanic world does not seem to think so. (Today the term Western essentially means: white,
Anglo-Germanic, or Northern European and North American models of thought).
But, what ever happened to inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont;
indianist brothers Villas-Boas; anthropologist
Gilberto Freyre; writers Luis de Camões, Guimarães
Rosa, Machado de Assis, Jorge Amado, Euclides da Cunha
and Monteiro Lobato; architect Oscar Niemeyer;
painter Cândido Portinari;
composers Villa-Lobos, Martinho da Vila, Luiz Gonzaga,
Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Morais, Paulinho da
Viola; actor Grande Othelo; historian
Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, and soccer players
Pelé, Tostão and
Garrincha? They too deserve the genius aphorism.
In the so-called Western world, the term genius, almost always, conveys the notion of a scientist, a writer, a
philosopher, or a classical musician. Therefore, geniuses in other fields do not seem to belong to the model of measuring intelligence
(i.e.; exclusively mathematical or musical). When psychologists and social scientists emerge with new theories of intelligence
or genius, a North American and Northern European model is used for testing this intelligence. These models were also
used in the pseudo-scientific and racist treatise written by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, 1994 called:
The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American
Life, on the innate intellectual "inferiority" of US Blacks.
A Legacy from Germany and Britain
One may notice that, traditionally, figures of note who are deemed "genius", are almost always overwhelmingly
either German or British nationals (see the list of scientists, musicians and poets from above). Note that even if Marx, Freud,
Einstein, and Mendelssohn were Jews, they were, first and foremost, ascribed as Germans, and henceforth, conveniently
appropriated as Northern Europeans.
The "genius" examples are the centerpiece of the dominating culture of self-importance, inherited from the long-lost
era of Victorian-British pomposity and from German nationalistic
Volkgeist narcissism. The pageantry and arrogance of
those dominating cultures are today perpetuated by the semantics used in popular and pseudo-scientific cultures, thus also
influencing national consciousness in countries such as Brazil.
This influence may be illustrated in Brazilian popular culture by observing the insulting articles written by
Brazilian columnist Diogo Mainardi, in the weekly Brazilian magazine
Veja, as he constantly belittles and ridicules Brazilian
national figures, and praising foreign ones, particularly Anglo-Germanic.
There have been many a "genius" from other continents and countries other than from Northern Europe or Northern
America, however, they seem to disappear or not fit into the carefully constructed paradigms that serve the self-interests and
self-fulfilling prophecies of the Anglo-Germanic paradigm. A long process of semantic deconstruction is in order.
What is a genius? Is it an individual achievement in mathematics, physics or classical music? What is classical
music? What one calls classical music is interesting and revealing, because classical denotes established, orthodox, or
traditional, and furthermore dominating, albeit it is regarded as a time-period in music terms. But there is such a thing as
contemporary classical music, and it has become a musical genre.
Other countries in the world have culturally absorbed classical music, not through smooth osmosis, but through
cultural domination and acculturation. These countries find the need to resonate with the mainstream semantics, the orthodoxy
of classical, and also assimilate what is noted in North America and Northern Europe as superior, good-taste and quality,
genius or intelligence, of course, through the gospels of intellectual prophets belonging to these dominating cultures.
The debate over who was the "father of aviation" is controversial, and a perfect example of this contemporary
disregard and abandonment of non-Anglo-Germanic scientists, inventors, writers, and poets.
In Brazil every schoolboy and girl is taught that the Brazilian inventor, Alberto Santos-Dumont, is
pai da aviação ("father of aviation"). In the rest of the so-called Western world, it is widely held that the North Americans, the Wright brothers,
carry that title. There is much documentation and information available about Dumont's self-propelled flight around the Eiffel
Tower in Paris in 1906, with photographs and official awards.
The Wright brothers had already made a flight in 1903, but with dubious testimonials, nevertheless the title of "the
first" to fly, was unanimously given to them, and unfortunately, Santos-Dumont was forgotten, and merely known in the
Western world annals as an "eccentric Hispanic" inventor.
The debate over technicalities about who was the very first person to fly might be unproductive because of all the
impossible and detailed particulars in doing so, however, it is significant to note that Santos-Dumont unquestionably
deserves the same stature, status and recognition in the history of aviation as the Wright brothers. However, Santos-Dumont has
yet to be respected, recognized and acknowledged worldwide, as a
Brazilian inventor, not
Hispanic, and if he was not the first to fly, then at least, he was indeed one of the "great pioneers of modern aviation".
Mané Garrincha: A Brazilian Genius
"Intelligence" per se, is non-existent, as recently proposed by several psychologists and social scientists (Gardner,
1983; Montagu, 1994) it has an amorphous form, it tests "what the tester wants to test" (i.e.; whatever a dominating culture
"wants to prove").
Intelligence may be a manifestation of a human capability that exists in several forms, but not only visible through
achievement in mathematics and music, but also in other visual arts, sports, or visual and spatial thinking. In this manner, one
may immediately recognize such valuable "geniuses" from Brazil, such as writer
Machado de Assis, or the unrivaled soccer
player Mané Garrincha, but who are virtually unheard of and non-existent in the annals of mainstream Western world.
Only an unenlightened and retrograde elite with highly racist and "half-baked-scientific" politics would assert that
"intelligence" is measured by the individual or cultural achievement in mathematics and music alone, or worst still, by the
This concept of genius is linked to an interesting and forbidden discourse in the so-called Western world, that is,
the dangerously prejudiced association between heredity and physical appearance with cultural achievement and
intelligence, even if easily refuted.
Giselle Bündchen in the Land of Non-blondes
In a nation of non-blondes, blonde fashion models like the blue-eyed Giselle Bündchen seem to receive more
national adoration than Santos-Dumont, Machado de Assis or Villa-Lobos ever received. This seems to be indicative of Brazil's
ethnic self-doubt and of the Anglo-Germanic cultural influence and dominance over Brazilian national consciousness. Giselle
is from the south of Brazil, a region which has received significant German immigration. And as such, she also bears
physical characteristics that seem to resemble traditional Germanic standards of beauty.
However, it is remarkable and regrettable, that in a nation of non-blondes, she receives more admiration than the rest
of a nation of equally beautiful non-blue-eyed-non-blondes, so traditionally Brazilian. Henceforth, the notion of
blondeness, particularly in Brazil, is disturbingly linked to the notion of feminine beauty, thus, attesting to the overwhelming outside
influence of the Anglo-Germanic model of beauty and of thinking.
Nevertheless, Brazilian "geniuses" are yet to receive their long overdue respect, recognition and appreciation in the
so-called Western world, and also in their own nation of non-blue-eyed-non-blondes.
Gardner, H.. 1983. Frames of Mind. Basic Books Inc., New York, NY.
Herrnstein Richard J. and Charles Murray. 1994.
The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.
The Free Press, New York, NY.
Montagu, Ashley. 1997. Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race.
Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
Other articles written by this author on Brazilian ethnicity in Brazzil Magazine:
"Brazil: Northeasterners Get No Respect":
"Out of Africa: Race in Brazil and in the USA":
"Brazil? Which Brazil?":
Alan P. Marcus (Master's of Science in Geography, in progress) is a Brazilian living in the USA. He has also
written other articles on Brazilian identity, "race" and ethnicity for
Brazzil magazine. E-mail contact: email@example.com