Ancestral Future

Ailton Krenak

Manuscript in Portuguese, partial in English Original publisher: Companhia das LetrasEnvironment

On behalf of: Companhia das Letras

Sometimes, the idea of the future haunts us with apocalyptic visions. At other times, it appears to us as an opportunity for redemption. In fact, both of these perceptions are illusions which prevent us from remaining conscious of the current state of the world.

This provocative new essay collection features Ailton Krenak’s writing from 2020 and 2021. Informed by Indigenous thought, the text takes the reader on a journey of discovery, rejecting the commonplace in favour of wonder and awe.

In his writing, rivers, the soil, and trees are living entities, which reveal the planet’s vital cycles of metamorphosis. Rivers determine our futures – a future that is ancestral. In other words, the past is and will continue to act as an eternal presence in our lives.

Demonstrating a deep care for the world, Ailton Krenak’s poetic vision invites readers to reassess their philosophies of the Earth and its futures.

Text by Muniz Sodré:
Ailton Krenak is a native philosopher: he carves from Indigenous thought a structure that Westerners are used to recognizing as “philosophy,” and confronts it with European speculative thought and other traditional cosmovisions, in doing so bringing the two together.

In this book, Ailton tells us that the future is ancestral, immediately invoking Heraclitus’ famous phrase ‘Character is destiny’. But Ailton goes beyond that, referring implicitly and explicitly to ancestry as earth itself – a concept similar to some traditional African ideas. That is to say, what has always been close to who we were in the past remains – and will continue to be – an eternal presence of being.

Reading these collected essays allows you to leave your surroundings behind in search of something not yet known, but already felt. Full of passion, the journey of the text leads the reader into a trance of discovery.

Watu and other rivers Ailton mentions, alongside their beings, are living entities, intelligent enough to plunge down in search of phreatic surfaces and escape the harsh concrete tiles that attempt to imprison their flow, as well as surviving the ecocide of toxic waste.

But rivers, earth, and trees are with us – both externally and internally – throughout the planet’s vital infinite cycles of metamorphosis. In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates teaches us that philosophy is music. In recent times, it’s become more similar to poetry. Demonstrating a deep care for the world, Ailton Krenak’s musically poetic words invite readers to travel through this dazzling philosophy of earth.