Abstract

For six years between 1959 and 1965, Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena and Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser lived in the state of São Paulo, in Brazil, where an emergent nationalist movement instated a dictatorship. Even though poet and theorist never met, both simultaneously reflected on the nature of nationalism and immigration, theorizing nation as an impossible and artificial model of social division. Through a formalistic return to early avant-garde (Surrealism and Dada), Flusser's The Freedom of the Migrant: Objections to Nationalism (2005) and Sena's Peregrinatio ad loca infecta (1969) coincidentally suggest that nationalism works through a logic of inclusion/exclusion, which we inherited through a Western obsession with humanism. Nevertheless, with anti-humanist figures and an introspection into the human psyche, both poet and theorist ultimately propose that, in the labyrinthine world of language, we find the potential to subvert national identity and to question our age-long humanism. For them, the figure of the poet, theorist, and migrant are parallels: they indulge in wordplay and disestablish norms. In that sense their works produce a new form of thinking of migrants as “vanguards of the future.”

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