Arquivo da categoria: literatura

>O futebol na terra do homem cordial

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Fundação Getúlio Vargas abre as portas para o futebol e discute a relação do esporte com a sociedade, a literatura, a museologia e o cinema.

Thiago Camelo
Ciência Hoje, 02/06/2010

Estádio lotado. Um esporte que se confunde com as nossas emoções mais profundas e, por isso, ajuda a entender quem somos (foto: CC BY-NC 2.0 / Yan Boechat).

Kaká, Ronaldinho, Pelé e Tostão. Craques brasileiros, ídolos. Alguns mitos. Mitos com uma singularidade: têm apelidos de gente comum, diminutivos carinhosos. O que poderia ser apenas uma engraçada coincidência é, na verdade, prática repetida à exaustão com milhares de jogadores brasileiros. Então, fica a pergunta: o que será que os inhos no final do nome dos nossos ídolos dizem sobre o Brasil?

Para o ensaísta, compositor, pianista e – também – fã de futebol José Miguel Wisnik, os apelidos dos ídolos dizem muito sobre o que somos.

Os apelidos dos jogadores de futebol 
– Ronaldinho, Robinho, Jairzinho – 
dizem sobre como somos

Em um debate na sexta-feira passada que uniu futebol e ciências sociais e humanas na Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV – RJ), o autor do livro Veneno remédio (2008), obra que traça as linhas de encontro e desencontro entre o futebol e os hábitos dos brasileiros, disse:

– A gente não abre mão de chamar nossos heróis de forma infantil. É a nossa clássica mistura do privado e do público, como explica Sérgio Buarque em Raízes do Brasil. Temos medo de assumir responsabilidades. Não somos como os europeus. Quando eles entram em campo, vemos um desfile de sobrenomes.

Wisnik, que estava na mesa junto com o mediador Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda, era só parte de um evento. Durante todo o dia, falou-se também de temas como o Museu do Futebol, em São Paulo, e a relação do cinema com o esporte.

Dribles em palavras

É inegável, no entanto, que o ponto forte do dia foi a manhã, quando Wisnik falou. Quem já o viu dissertar, seja sobre música, política e outros assuntos, sabe o dom que o ensaísta tem com a palavra. E sabe também a sua capacidade – nada leviana – de fazer a ligação de tudo com qualquer coisa. Ouvindo-o, acreditamos que o mundo é feito de conexões.

Assim, a comparação do homem cordial (aquele que pretere as formalidades), de Sérgio Buarque, com o modo que o brasileiro trata o futebol não soa forçada. Também vai bem a analogia entre Macunaíma e Garrincha, “um avatar do personagem de Mário de Andrade”, segundo Wisnik.

Em época de Copa do Mundo, não houve como fugir da pergunta: qual seria o Brasil representado pela seleção de Dunga?

Wisnik responde no vídeo abaixo.

Um museu popular

Na mesa da tarde, foi a vez da diretora do Museu do Futebol, Clara Azevedo, contar sua experiência em São Paulo: tocar um museu destinado à preservação do esporte num lugar que se intitula ‘país do futebol’. E mais: organizar a empreitada dentro do estádio do Pacaembu, casa informal do Corinthians, o maior clube da cidade.

“É muito legal ter um museu sobre futebol 
dentro de um estádio. É a história 
acontecendo debaixo do seu nariz”

– É muito legal ter um museu sobre futebol dentro de um estádio. É a história acontecendo debaixo do seu nariz. Em jogos menores, o estádio funciona junto com o jogo, dá para sentir a vibração da arquibancada – conta Clara, que tem de lidar com algumas críticas. – Muita gente diz que o museu usa só tecnologia, que é um museu sem acervo. Acho isso uma besteira.

Oferta de acervo, aliás, é o que não falta ao Museu do Futebol. Clara diz que vários colecionadores já quiseram deixar aos cuidados dela suas preciosidades, que variam de “15 chaveiros do Corinthians” a “fotos antigas de jogos de futebol”.

A diretora do Museu de Futebol, Clara Azevedo, fala em evento na FGV. Para ela, o futebol permite que as pessoas vão ao museu e opinem com o sentimento de entender sobre o que estão falando (foto: Thiago Camelo).

A diretora acha a questão delicada, já que não pode lidar com tanta demanda para conservação de objetos. Mas avisa que anota todos os pedidos e, otimista, pondera:

– No fundo, é uma questão positiva. Porque em nenhum outro museu acontece de ter gente oferecendo peças de modo gratuito. É sinal de que o país tem uma preocupação com a memória.

A bola na tela

Na última mesa, estavam os professores Hernani Heffner e Victor de Melo, ambos para falar sobre os filmes que têm o futebol como temática. O cerne do discurso dos dois foram “as dificuldades” – os contratempos técnicos de se realizar um filme sobre futebol, esporte tão imprevisível que não comportaria o cinema – e a já conhecida incapacidade de se conservar películas no Brasil. (Esta última ‘dificuldade’ soa irônica num espaço em que, logo antes, a curadora do Museu do Futebol dera o seu relato sobre futebol e memória.)

Outra curiosidade, e agora sobre o evento como um todo, foi o assunto insistente nas três mesas: a imprevisibilidade do futebol e como ela afeta a área de interesse dos palestrantes. São muitos os relatos, mas fica a citação de Wisnik – o homem que acha o elo entre qualquer tema – do trecho da letra de O futebol, de Chico Buarque, que canta o que a mágica do drible pode fazer com a vida.

parábola do homem comum
roçando o céu
um
senhor chapéu

Thiago Camelo
Ciência Hoje On-line

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>O maior túmulo do samba (isto é, as ciências cognitivas), levado ao absurdo

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Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That You Know

By PATRICIA COHEN
The New York Times, March 31, 2010

To illustrate what a growing number of literary scholars consider the most exciting area of new research, Lisa Zunshine, a professor of English at the University of Kentucky, refers to an episode from the TV series “Friends.”

(Follow closely now; this is about the science of English.) Phoebe and Rachel plot to play a joke on Monica and Chandler after they learn the two are secretly dating. The couple discover the prank and try to turn the tables, but Phoebe realizes this turnabout and once again tries to outwit them.

As Phoebe tells Rachel, “They don’t know that we know they know we know.”

This layered process of figuring out what someone else is thinking — of mind reading — is both a common literary device and an essential survival skill. Why human beings are equipped with this capacity and what particular brain functions enable them to do it are questions that have occupied primarily cognitive psychologists.

Now English professors and graduate students are asking them too. They say they’re convinced science not only offers unexpected insights into individual texts, but that it may help to answer fundamental questions about literature’s very existence: Why do we read fiction? Why do we care so passionately about nonexistent characters? What underlying mental processes are activated when we read?

Ms. Zunshine, whose specialty is 18th-century British literature, became familiar with the work of evolutionary psychologists while she was a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the 1990s. “I thought this could be the most exciting thing I could ever learn,” she said.

At a time when university literature departments are confronting painful budget cuts, a moribund job market and pointed scrutiny about the purpose and value of an education in the humanities, the cross-pollination of English and psychology is a providing a revitalizing lift.

Jonathan Gottschall, who has written extensively about using evolutionary theory to explain fiction, said “it’s a new moment of hope” in an era when everyone is talking about “the death of the humanities.” To Mr. Gottschall a scientific approach can rescue literature departments from the malaise that has embraced them over the last decade and a half. Zealous enthusiasm for the politically charged and frequently arcane theories that energized departments in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s — Marxism, structuralism, psychoanalysis — has faded. Since then a new generation of scholars have been casting about for The Next Big Thing.

The brain may be it. Getting to the root of people’s fascination with fiction and fantasy, Mr. Gottschall said, is like “mapping wonderland.”

Literature, like other fields including history and political science, has looked to the technology of brain imaging and the principles of evolution to provide empirical evidence for unprovable theories.

Interest has bloomed during the last decade. Elaine Scarry, a professor of English at Harvard, has since 2000 hosted a seminar on cognitive theory and the arts. Over the years participants have explored, for example, how the visual cortex works in order to explain why Impressionist paintings give the appearance of shimmering. In a few weeks Stephen Kosslyn, a psychologist at Harvard, will give a talk about mental imagery and memory, both of which are invoked while reading.

Ms. Zunshine said that in 1999 she and about 10 others won approval from the Modern Language Association to form a discussion group on cognitive approaches to literature. Last year their members numbered more than 1,200. Unlike Mr. Gottschall, however, Ms. Zunshine sees cognitive approaches as building on other literary theories rather than replacing them.

Ms. Zunshine is particularly interested in what cognitive scientists call the theory of mind, which involves one person’s ability to interpret another person’s mental state and to pinpoint the source of a particular piece of information in order to assess its validity.

Jane Austen’s novels are frequently constructed around mistaken interpretations. In “Emma” the eponymous heroine assumes Mr. Elton’s attentions signal a romantic interest in her friend Harriet, though he is actually intent on marrying Emma. She similarly misinterprets the behavior of Frank Churchill and Mr. Knightly, and misses the true objects of their affections.

Humans can comfortably keep track of three different mental states at a time, Ms. Zunshine said. For example, the proposition “Peter said that Paul believed that Mary liked chocolate” is not too hard to follow. Add a fourth level, though, and it’s suddenly more difficult. And experiments have shown that at the fifth level understanding drops off by 60 percent, Ms. Zunshine said. Modernist authors like Virginia Woolf are especially challenging because she asks readers to keep up with six different mental states, or what the scholars call levels of intentionality.

Perhaps the human facility with three levels is related to the intrigues of sexual mating, Ms. Zunshine suggested. Do I think he is attracted to her or me? Whatever the root cause, Ms. Zunshine argues, people find the interaction of three minds compelling. “If I have some ideological agenda,” she said, “I would try to construct a narrative that involved a triangularization of minds, because that is something we find particularly satisfying.”

Ms. Zunshine is part of a research team composed of literary scholars and cognitive psychologists who are using snapshots of the brain at work to explore the mechanics of reading. The project, funded by the Teagle Foundation and hosted by the Haskins Laboratory in New Haven, is aimed at improving college-level reading skills.

“We begin by assuming that there is a difference between the kind of reading that people do when they read Marcel Proust or Henry James and a newspaper, that there is a value added cognitively when we read complex literary texts,” said Michael Holquist, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Yale, who is leading the project.

The team spent nearly a year figuring how one might test for complexity. What they came up with was mind reading — or how well an individual is able to track multiple sources. The pilot study, which he hopes will start later this spring, will involve 12 subjects. “Each will be put into the magnet” — an M.R.I. machine — “and given a set of texts of graduated complexity depending on the difficulty of source monitoring and we’ll watch what happens in the brain,” Mr. Holquist explained.

At the other end of the country Blakey Vermeule, an associate professor of English at Stanford, is examining theory of mind from a different perspective. She starts from the assumption that evolution had a hand in our love of fiction, and then goes on to examine the narrative technique known as “free indirect style,” which mingles the character’s voice with the narrator’s. Indirect style enables readers to inhabit two or even three mind-sets at a time.

This style, which became the hallmark of the novel beginning in the 19th century with Jane Austen, evolved because it satisfies our “intense interest in other people’s secret thoughts and motivations,” Ms. Vermeule said.

The road between the two cultures — science and literature — can go both ways. “Fiction provides a new perspective on what happens in evolution,” said William Flesch, a professor of English at Brandeis University.

To Mr. Flesch fictional accounts help explain how altruism evolved despite our selfish genes. Fictional heroes are what he calls “altruistic punishers,” people who right wrongs even if they personally have nothing to gain. “To give us an incentive to monitor and ensure cooperation, nature endows us with a pleasing sense of outrage” at cheaters, and delight when they are punished, Mr. Flesch argues. We enjoy fiction because it is teeming with altruistic punishers: Odysseus, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Hercule Poirot.

“It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction,” Mr. Flesch said, “but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”