Opinion – José Manuel Diogo: Sesc’s cultural production model should spread throughout the world


Imagine this place. It has a beginning and a middle and an end. One always leaves with more joy than when one enters, and the people who live there always smile, perhaps because they know that smiles were invented with the sole purpose of greeting those who arrive.

But it’s not just a place. It’s a way of life. An act made potency. Laboratory of ideas, research center and model of freedom. Spread across 44 facilities in the state of São Paulo, Sesc-SP is much more than an assistance service or a corporate emanation. It is a unique brand of civilization.

Professor Carlos Reis —who today shares with Pilar del Río the management of the foundation that manages the memory of José Saramago— was my professor when, more years ago than I like to remember, I was taking my first Portuguese degree in journalism at the University of Coimbra. and this story happened.

At that time, Reis taught the subject of semiotics, which the scientific council of the Faculty of Letters considered important to teach those who would later have the mission of telling the newspapers about things that happened in the world.

I remember like it was today when he introduced himself in the classroom. Like an actor, dramatizing the gesture, he placed the palm of his hand over one eye and announced. “As everyone knows, Camões was the greatest Portuguese-speaking semiotician of all time.”

The joke, easy for those who shared semantics, was impossible for those who just leaked syntaxes. An eye lost in the war for the greatest poet ever of our language, did not transform him, just by his half look, into an expert in the science of representing the world. Laughed who knew. Anyone who hasn’t read the course summary is silent, which I remember as if it were today because it started with a Latin phrase: “aliquid stat pro aliquod”, what is instead of.

But that approach to semiotics aimed at young journalism students was not intended to turn us into specialists in the general theory of representations. It was important to explain to future journalists that the language in which news is told is more powerful than simple code.

Roland Barthes said: from all eternity, the nature of power resides in words. Because the real power is in representing, in substituting and in this way making people imagine.

It is in this paragraph that the former journalism student, the megalopolis, semiotics and the place that he considered imaginary can be found. This one, with a beginning, middle and end, made by people and for them and where smiles, even more than words, are truly what is instead of.

Here, language almost exists without deception. Sesc’s cultural production model (and the joy of the people who smile there) are so inspiring that they should be spread all over the world.

It can’t be chance that got us here.

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