domingo, 14 de outubro de 2007

LESSING SOBRE A LINGUAGEM


Extracto de artigo publicado no New York Times em 1992 e republicado agora da autoria da escritora britânica Doris Lessing, Prémio Nobel da Literatura deste ano (na foto, imagem da escritora em 1956, quando ainda era comunista):

"While we have seen the apparent death of Communism, ways of thinking that were either born under Communism or strengthened by Communism still govern our lives. Not all of them are as immediately evident as a legacy of Communism as political correctness.

The first point: language. It is not a new thought that Communism debased language and, with language, thought. There is a Communist jargon recopgnizable after a single sentence. Few people in Europe have not joked in their time about “concrete steps,” “contradictions,” “the interpenetration of opposites,” and the rest.

The first time I saw that mind-deadening slogans had the power to take wing and fly far from their origins was in the 1950s when I read an article in The Times of London and saw them in use. “The demo last Saturday was irrefutable proof that the concrete situation...” Words confined to the left as corralled animals had passed into general use and, with them, ideas. One might read whole articles in the conservative and liberal press that were Marxist, but the writers did not know it. But there is an aspect of this heritage that is much harder to see.

Even five, six years ago, Izvestia, Pravda and a thousand other Communist papers were written in a language that seemed designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything. Because, of course, it was dangerous to take up positions that might have to be defended. Now all these newspapers have rediscovered the use of language. But the heritage of dead and empty language these days is to be found in academia, and particularly in some areas of sociology and psychology.

A young friend of mine from North Yemen saved up every bit of money he could to travel to Britain to study that branch of sociology that teaches how to spread Western expertise to benighted natives. I asked to see his study material and he showed me a thick tome, written so badly and in such ugly, empty jargon it was hard to follow. There were several hundred pages, and the ideas in it could easily have been put in 10 pages.

Yes, I know the obfuscations of academia did not begin with Communism — as Swift, for one, tells us — but the pedantries and verbosity of Communism had their roots in German academia. And now that has become a kind of mildew blighting the whole world.

It is one of the paradoxes of our time that ideas capable of transforming our societies, full of insights about how the human animal actually behaves and thinks, are often presented in unreadable language." (...)

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