Japanese are discreet, Argentines arrogant, Italians hyperbolic… how do you define a Carioca (a citizen from Rio)?
The answer is slow to come. The first thing I see is a packed beach on a sunny Sunday, the uniform scream after a goal by Flamengo (popular football team), beer served in street corner bars, strident voices in restaurants, women with sculptural bodies… but how can you really define a Carioca?
History is meaningless
I look for a typical Carioca but cannot find him, even if thinking about several of them, all of whom can be described with ease. They are superficial, uninformed and intelligent. Intelligence meaning mind and eyes open for surprises, wit at the tip of the tongue, generosity and a taste for improvisation.
The perpetual summer heats his head, which is why History is a meaningless thing for the Carioca, who fails to consider it and immediately forgets it because the present moves like cold draft beer poured from a glass, in continuous and constant flow.
The very same future that produces sleepless nights for Europeans fails to worry the Carioca, because the God which created the beaches and mountains in a truly marvelous city is certainly working to fix it.
Love, sex and poetry. And Amnesia
The Carioca is made of love, sex and poetry, although sometimes he may forget it, and, in reality, I believe the most striking feature of these people is their Amnesia. Not the tragic Amnesia of Alzheimer, but the irresponsible Amnesia deriving from the principle of Pleasure when furiously attacked by the principle of Reality. Up to now, Pleasure has won the fight all throughout Guanabara Bay.
The Carioca has always had tourists around him, whom he hosts and respects without losing his natural good mood. Racism is unseen in his beaches, the skins are of all imaginable colors and all sexes get along in rare harmony.
A Carioca is Copacabana, but in fact Copacabana is absolutely meaningless, which in turn is absolutely meaningless too. What is important, then?
Life, the calendar that ages day after day, the summer that follows the summer after the summer. There are no seasons, so there can be no past, present or future. What you have is a scenic present dug into the Carioca’s unconscious, an unconscious state in the true sense of the word.
Nothing wiser, nothing more eternal. The Cariocas are unconscious.
Alberto Goldin is psychoanalyst. He moved from Argentina to Rio 29 years ago.