Etymology


 

It was a week ago that I arrived in the Complexo do Alemão.  Arrived at Barraco #55.
I had mixed feelings and mixed ideas before coming here, I was happy and scared and a bit anxious. I didn’t know what to expect or whether to expect or even to know anything at all.

The thing is that a week ago I got to the Rodoviaria of Rio de Janeiro and then took a kombi that drove to Nova Brasilia almost at the speed of light.

We got out of the kombi and into another one that actually left us in front of Barraco. From the beautiful tropical mountains that I had seen from the bus to the enlightened night view of the big city, the journey had been intense. Eddu opened the door of the house: the house, the art residence, the barraco. I entered and felt at peace. Peace is not likely to be the first word you think of when you think of a favela, even after the ‘pacification’ process. But I really mean it when I say that I did feel at peace.

There is a kind of harmony in this complex Complexo. A noisy, colorful and extremely alive harmony. People and things and streets and music. Açaí and coxinha and maracujá juice. Peruvian cumbia and old silent films from the 1900. Dutch cheese and chimarrão.
I have been searching for the etymology of the word ‘favela’ without much success. But now that I think about it: Do I really need the etymology of a word? As I am living here, am I not already coming across the meaning of this word day after day? Experience after experience?

I could even say that words for themselves do not have an exact value, it is the life around them that makes a word come to life, have an actual meaning and impact.

The other day we went to Serra da Misericordia, a place full of nature on top of the morro. As I was walking there I could not stop thinking what a beautiful place that was and it got my attention that no one else was there. Later I was told that that beautiful place had been some kind of clandestine cemetery used by drug dealers and it didn’t really have a positive connotation. So here we’ve got death, peace, beauty, violence: nature. One word next to the other, into the other, on top of the other, on top of the silent hill, being resignified and losing meaning at the same time.

Meanings are vast and open. Also possibilities.
Come on into possibility.

Melisa Rheingrüber

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