“El mito del salvaje”, Roger Bartra

La Real Academia de la Lengua Española consigna seis usos diferentes, en el mundo hispano, de “salvaje” como adjetivo. Las primeras cuatro se refieren, en orden de consignación, a: 1) plantas, 2) animales, 3) terrenos montuosos, 4) sinónimo de necio, terco o rudo. No es hasta el quinto apartado en que encontramos una definición aplicable al ámbito humano: “Se decía de los pueblos primitivos y de los individuos pertenecientes a ellos.” Se decía. ¿En pasado?

El mito del salvajismo humano constituye una de las columnas vertebrales más longevas en la construcción de occidente; en la construcción física, geográfica, institucional, pero también en su estructura espiritual, cultural, identitaria.

Y en efecto, el mito del otro, del habitante periférico de occidente ya no utiliza, en efecto, “salvaje” como un adjetivo en su discurso. Pero eso no implica, ni por asomo, que el mito se haya desvanecido; el salvaje hoy se llama grupo vulnerable, país en vías de desarrollo, barrio marginal, subcultura, altermundo, oriental, cultura originaria… pero cada vez que occidente despierta, el salvaje sigue estando ahí.

La década de 1990, dentro de la trayectoria imprevisible de Roger Bartra (Ciudad de México, 1942), estuvo marcada por la profunda inmersión en la mitología de lo salvaje, el cúmulo de sus expresiones plásticas y su rol central en el discurso de construcción de toda una civilización, de muchas sociedades y de más de una etapa de la historia clásica y moderna. El resultado: dos clásicos de la antropología cultural de su siglo: El salvaje en el espejo (ERA/UNAM, 1992) y El salvaje artificial (ERA/UNAM, 1997), que hoy son reeditados y reunidos por el Fondo de Cultura Económica como un monumental estudio unitario: El mito del salvaje (FCE, 2011).

La publicación original de los textos, a cargo de Gonzalo Celorio y Vicente Rojo como proyecto de coedición entre la veterana ERA y la Coordinación de Difusión Cultural de la UNAM, marcó el primer alejamiento de Bartra del que hasta entonces parecía su único terruño natural: la sociología política, la teorización del agro mexicano y la discusión académica sobre la izquierda.

A más de uno sorprendió el recordatorio de que, después de todo, Bartra se había formado como etnólogo. Sus estudios sobre lo salvaje, referenciales por donde se les mire, marcan el puente entre su primera etapa —de inspiración marxista, nunca ortodoxa— y la siguiente, cercana a la antropología cultural y a la sociología de la cultura.

Es éste último período de su obra, el más reciente, el que ha arrojado obras maestras como El Siglo de Oro de la melancolía (UI, 1998), El duelo de los ángeles (FCE, 2004) o Cultural líquidas en la tierra baldía (CCC-Barcelona, 2006); pero son los estudios reunidos en El mito del salvaje los que aportan luz y prólogo a ellos.

Sea pues éste un saludo a una nueva, necesaria y original reedición, de compra recomendada incluso para quien ya posee las ediciones anteriores; su nuevo formato —de bellísima factura— está ricamente ilustrado e inteligentemente rediseñado, el trabajo tipográfico es de una elegancia muy agradable y merece ser conservado como objeto y como referencia, punta de lanza de uno de los ensayistas más estimulantes del México contemporáneo.

RMM/SBH

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