*************************************************************************************

................................

Os 80 ciclos de Amir Haddad

Jornal O Globo, 23/06/2017


Décadas à frente: os 80 ciclos de Amir Haddad

Ator e diretor com centenas de peças no currículo prega a volta às origens do teatro por meio de relação mais intensa e honesta com a plateia

Amir Haddad completa 80 anos no dia 2 de julho - Leo Martins

POR THALITA PESSOA
23/06/17 - 16h25 | Atualizado: 23/06/17 - 18h21

RIO — Prestes a completar 80 anos no dia 2 de julho, o ator e diretor Amir Haddad confessa ter alguma dificuldade em detalhar a cronologia ao longo das décadas de trabalho que o alçaram ao posto de um dos grandes nomes do teatro brasileiro com cerca de 250 ou 300 peças dirigidas, pelas suas contas. Ou melhor, do pós-teatro, como nomeia o que faz. O Teatro mesmo, com T maiúsculo, posto no pedestal e encarado como forma de arte superior, inabalável e imposta — ou seja, da forma como a conhecemos e somos apresentados, pontua ele —, Haddad não vê a hora de que seja extinto.

—Basta um segundo de teatro no pós-teatro para estragar tudo — enfatiza.

Para ele, o pensamento linear responsável pelas tais linhas cronológicas, incluindo a de seus 80 anos, não é capaz de apontar os rumos futuros das manifestações artísticas porque não revisita o passado. Tudo é cíclico, em sua visão, e o pós-teatro disponibiliza isso. "Não existe contemporaneidade sem ancestralidade", repete o diretor durante a entrevista em sua casa, em Santa Teresa. Ele sente ter vindo a esta vida com a missão do teatro.


É na rua, falando e interpretando para o povo, sem palco ou delimitação de paredes para a cena ("Não foi a arquitetura que inventou o teatro, o teatro é que inventou a arquitetura", diz), que ele cumpre a incumbência e se sente conectado à arte de Ésquilo, Sófocles, Eurípides e outros dramaturgos da Grécia Antiga. No nascedouro do teatro, as encenações eram feitas nas praças, ao ar livre. Mesmo após tanto tempo, seus textos persistiram conhecidos e icônicos porque representam o passado, o presente e o futuro em cena, acredita o diretor. O texto de "Antígona", de Sófocles, com Andréa Beltrão e sob a direção de Haddad, mostra-se tão atual que comprova isso (a peça estreou em novembro de 2016 no Rio e agora viaja pelo Brasil).

Assim, ele fundou em 1980 o grupo Tá na Rua, com espetáculos produzidos para o povo e no meio dele, como feito nos primórdios. Neste cenário, existe a interação entre ator e plateia que Amir Haddad sempre perseguiu. Isso é pós-teatro, defende:

— O teatro passou a ser o local de pessoas interessantes fazendo uma arte ruim. É um sal bom em carne estragada e que fica tão putrefato quanto ela. Em "Antígona", com a Andréa, a gente esquece o Teatro. É fácil diferir o teatro do pós-teatro: no pós-teatro, o público gosta, tem prazer de ver, se sente respeitado. A relação do palco com a plateia é horizontal, o ator é uma carta aberta, não é afirmativo nem impositivo. O teatro é amor, cheiro, suor. O pós-teatro remete ao início do teatro, não é uma exibição do ego. Só existe essa preocupação nos atores inteligentes que buscam se livrar disso, como a Andréa, a Renata Sorrah, a Adriana Esteves, que querem sair desse lugar acomodado.


A experiência adquirida ao longo dos anos, jura, lhe permitiu saber diferir o joio do trigo com facilidade ímpar.

— Quando vou ver Teatro, sou capaz de identificar logo se é algo bom ou ruim. Se for ruim, na primeira fala já penso "me f..., vou ficar horas preso aqui para ver essa porcaria" — relata.

Algo bem diferente do tempo empregado em seu ofício. Quase num transe, firmado num pacto entre atores e público, o encenado fica suspenso da atuação dos ponteiros.

— A noção de tempo abstrato desaparece porque ela é uma invenção do mundo e por ser eu fruto do teatro da maneira como fiz. Ele me tirou dessa abstração, me levando às dobras do tempo. É muito normal que nos meus espetáculos tanto os atores quanto a plateia percam esta noção. É como uma antevisão que na hora vira só uma confirmação daquilo que já foi vivido. Por isso, a sabedoria de hoje é um produto do trabalho — afirma.

E acrescenta:

— Einstein estava certo: o tempo não é linear. "2001 — Uma odisséia no espaço" (filme de Stanley Kubrick, de 1968) também está, ao mostrar o mesmo homem novo e velho ao entrar nessas dobras de tempo. Saber disso te dá uma liberdade grande, uma força, reforça sua vitalidade, e sexualidade. O tempo não para porque ele não é igual.

O conceito que melhor se aplica a tudo que viveu e vive graças ao seu dom ele tira do conceito grego do oroboro, também presente nas culturas egípcia e chinesa e nas ciências místicas, expresso na simbologia da serpente que morde a própria cauda. Oroboro representa eternidade, continuidade e perpétuo retorno, que ajudam a explicar como ainda pequeno Haddad, então com 7 anos, encontrara sua vocação.

— O insight aconteceu recitando um poema na escola. Ali eu já era um homem do teatro. O arrebate que aquele menino sentiu no momento é o que sinto eternamente. É o que sinto hoje quando vejo que cumpri o meu destino. O oroboro é a serpente que morde a própria cauda. É como me sinto: um corpo só com o que fui e o que vou ser, num perpétuo movimento — explica Haddad.

Com a clareza e a maturidade adquiridas por experiências passadas e futuras com as quais se comunica nas tais dobras do tempo, ele se diz satisfeito com a obra e as pessoas que conseguiu tocar ao longo da vida.

— Alguém que tem 80 anos tem dificuldade de fazer uma cronologia. Passado, presente e futuro... é tudo igual, são partes de uma coisa só. A vida te dá essa clareza, de saber que você é quem era para ser, de que cumpriu a sua tarefa. E este momento de sabedoria me deixou encantado. Emociono-me por perceber que passei 80 anos aproveitando a vida. Se você tem 80 anos e não sonhou, passou a vida em branco, não fez valer a pena — celebra.

TEATRO COMO SOBREVIVÊNCIA

A vida inteira de Amir Haddad foi dedicada ao teatro. Ainda novo, quando tinha por volta de 16 ou 17 anos, chegou a trabalhar por seis meses numa casa bancária. Mas a raiva do trabalho era tanta que acabou deixando o local, que não tardou em falir. O seguinte "bico" escolhido acabou sendo bem menos conservador: na década de 1970, surgiu a opção de vender baseado "só para ajudar a complementar a renda e pagar o aluguel", conta ele. Ainda assim, Haddad não tem do que reclamar em relação às oportunidades que teve.



Nascido em Guaxupé, em Minas Gerais, e criado em Rancharia, no interior de São Paulo, foi para a capital para cursar a Faculdade de Direito do Largo São Francisco. Acabou abandonando o curso ao viver a efervescência cultural de uma São Paulo em crescimento nos "cinquenta anos em cinco" do governo do presidente Juscelino Kubitschek. O dom de ator e diretor encontrara terreno propício para florescer. Assim, conseguiu cumprir sua missão no mundo.

— Tem de se estar no lugar certo para aproveitar as melhores condições. Fui de uma cidade com cinco mil habitantes para outra que, na época, tinha dois milhões. Cheguei em São Paulo na segunda metade de 1950, no início da industrialização. Era uma cidade efervescente e com inteligência sensível ao novo, às ideias, com vida cultural intensa, que abrigava o teatro brasileiro de comédia. Era o momento em que o Brasil saía de uma realidade obscura e de pobreza intelectual, arrastando todos para um novo patamar e eu fui junto — lembra.

Haddad agradece à formação que recebeu no colégio público para decidir o próprio caminho.

— Foi onde me ensinaram Manuel Bandeira, latim, filosofia. Foi no pátio do colégio que vi minha primeira peça, com Sérgio Britto e Eva Wilma. Eu me sinto grato por ter vivido entre 1950 e 1960 no Brasil. Quando veio o golpe militar, já estava imune ao que ele produziu — conta.

A alma de artista, já bem estruturada na época, não impediu, no entanto, que fosse barrado no teste da Escola de Arte Dramática. Um não que ele endossa não ter sido um erro circunstancial.

— O Sérgio Mamberti morava na mesma pensão e me chamou para fazer o exame na Escola de Arte Dramática, do Alfredo Mesquita. Ele passou e eu fui reprovado. Um ano depois, fundei o Teatro Oficina, ao lado do Zé Celso Martinez Corrêa e do Renato Borghi. Desde o primeiro momento comecei dirigindo, e bem, até conseguir juntar o ator e o diretor. Não é possível ser um bom diretor sem a vivência do ator. A Escola de Arte estava certa: eu não servia para aquilo. Até hoje vivo para demolir a escola de arte, para demonizá-la — afirma.



Com o passar dos anos, numa prova do destino selado, quando Haddad teve a chance de ensinar o pós-teatro, teve de lidar com a dificuldade de tirar a arte do pedestal.

— Quando o ator chega até mim, tem que se desarmar. O que eu proponho é um processo doloroso, de desfazer essa imagem de si, de deixar essa persona que é a máscara que ele usa. Como pode uma máscara usar outras máscaras? Uma das prisões do ator é ser o ator de só um tipo de papel, que é diferente do que acontecia na comédia dell'arte, onde uma pessoa fazia o mesmo papel a vida inteira. Lá, o ator se especializa na máscara a tal ponto de ter um discurso próprio. É diferente do ator falando um texto de outra pessoa — compara.

No processo de preparação de ator, Amir Haddad garante: não precisa de malha preta, declamação, nada disso. No seu modo de ver, são o discurso e o seu desenvolvimento na coletividade que devem ficar em foco.

— A Fernanda Montenegro é quem fala: "Amir, com você ou o ator melhora ou desiste". Acho que por isso muitos nem vieram (até mim). Um terço dos que me procuram desistem porque não entendem o que eu faço. Teatro é afeto vivo, é verbo, não é virtual. É lugar de sobrevivência. O teatro entrou nesse lugar para a burguesia protestante capitalista e está apodrecendo com ela. Teatro é ideologia e reflete a decadência da sociedade. Por isso, não tem como ser salvo e caminha para o fim. Não quero salvar nada do que está aí — enfatiza ele.

DEVORAR E SER DEVORADO

Em cartaz com a peça "Antígona", de Sófocles, Andréa Beltrão declara estar "completamente apaixonada" pelo espetáculo e pelo que representa Amir Haddad, com quem trabalha pela primeira vez. A montagem vai desembarcar no Cine Teatro Brasil Vallourec, em Belo Horizonte, no fim de semana em que o diretor completará 80 anos. Ao fim da apresentação do dia 1º, à meia-noite, o local se transformará na casa que abrigará comemorações e honras ao aniversariante. Homenagens logo após uma peça que, segundo Haddad, é "um espetáculo que dura uma hora ou mais mas que levei a vida inteira para ter a maturidade para ele"



— Eu tinha vontade de trabalhar com o Amir e essa peça sempre estava na minha gaveta. Abria e lá estava, "Antígona". Quando decidi fazer, eu me enchi de coragem para ligar para o Amir. No que ele atendeu e falou "E aí, o que você manda?", eu pensei "F..., agora vou ter que falar que sou eu e o que eu quero fazer". "Antígona" me transformou, me deu uma vida diferente, nova. Quando chamei o Amir para me dirigir, ele me perguntava o porquê de querer fazer essa peça, onde eu queria chegar. Eu respondia "Eu não sei", mas só queria fazer se fosse com ele. Foi uma experiência radicalmente nova — conta Andrea.

Mesmo sem saber onde queria chegar, ela embarcou no exercício proposto por Haddad. E garante não ter se arrependido.

— Começamos as conversas mesmo sem saber se ia mesmo ter a peça. Não tinha data, prazo, não estava na esteira de produção. Só havia a vontade enorme de descobrir se nós dois íamos nos apaixonar um pelo outro. Começamos no zero total. Ele me passava pesquisas e trabalhos para fazer. Tive de estudar muito para corresponder ao que ele queria. construímos uma relação muito honesta, sincera. Eu perguntava "E se ficar um horror?", ele respondia "Então a gente não faz". Quando eu queria desistir ele me dizia: "Não, vamos fazer, tem coisa legal aí, calma". E no meio desse processo nos apaixonamos um pelo outro, perdidamente — garante ela, que vai além. — Ele é uma figura, um homem especial, um homem de teatro muito raro. É preciso aproveitar a sabedoria dele, devorá-lo, como ele diz, para fazermos. Porque a gente entra no palco para ser devorado. É preciso perder para ganhar.

Andréa fala ainda com carinho da reação do diretor no dia em que errou uma das falas da peça. Incomodada com a troca da fala por uma gíria, ligou para Haddad:


Reconhecimento. Haddad e Renata Sorrah em entrega de prêmio - Cristina Granato (15-11-2016) / Agência O Globo
— Com ele, eu sinto que estou lidando com os meus limites o tempo todo, os meus vícios, as minhas dificuldades. O espetáculo dessa maneira vira uma coisa viva, que se mexe. O Amir brinca comigo que teatro é a liberdade eterna, que você não pode ter vergonha de nada. No fim da peça, quando só tinha mais duas falas, me foge uma completamente fundamental e eu troco uma frase do Sófocles, imagine, por uma gíria. Então parei, pedi perdão ao público e falei que ia retomar — conta Andréa. — Quando liguei e falei para o Amir, ele me falou no telefone: "Que maravilha!, que ótimo!, meus parabéns!". Então eu contei que tinha trocado a fala por uma gíria e ele: "Que erro bonito!", que erro enorme, agora você está livre, é a liberdade eterna!". Naquele dia eu senti que foi o meu batismo.

Fernanda Montenegro também não poupa elogios a Amir Haddad e ao que representa para o teatro brasileiro.

— Toda maneira de amar vale a pena. A maneira de amar o teatro que o Amir tem é de suma relevância. É importante porque ele tira a poeira, o presumido, o pré-decodificado. É muito rico isso. É um desafio para o intérprete, um susto, talvez seja o mergulho no impossível. Chego a achar que o trabalho do Amir é único no teatro brasileiro — analisa ela.

A atriz consegue traduzir em palavras uma das máximas do diretor de que o teatro acontece antes da peça e que não se restringe ao palco:

— O Amir se concentra no humano, no ator. Não precisa cenário ou figurino, o importante é ter o desafio de renascer dentro do mesmo processo. O Amir nem quer que a gente entenda, ele quer que a gente sinta, no sentindo da sensualidade, da pele, mais do que do invólucro. Isso para um ator é algo explosivo, desafiador, contestador. É possível que muitos queiram se queixar desse processo. O ator com o Amir ou muda ou desiste porque com ele é tirar tua pele para carnificar de outra maneira.



VERSÃO CLÁSSICAO GLOBO ©2017

What Is Distant Reading?


The New York Times
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/books/review/the-mechanic-muse-what-is-distant-reading.html


THE MECHANIC MUSE
What Is Distant Reading?
The Mechanic Muse - What Is Distant Reading?


ILLUSTRATION BY JOON MO KANG (SOURCE: STANFORD LITERARY LAB)
By KATHRYN SCHULZ
JUNE 24, 2011
"Ars longa," the ancient saying goes, "vita brevis." Art is long, life short, and the problem is intensifying. As the literary ars lurches exponentially more longa — accommodating the printing press, "Gravity's Rainbow," Google Books — our collective TBR pile towers ever more vertiginously overhead. Which raises a question: What are we mortal beings supposed to do with all these books?

Franco Moretti has a solution: don't read them. Moretti is not a satirist. He's an Italian literary scholar and the founder of the Stanford Literary Lab, which opened last year, published its maiden pamphlet in January and followed up with another last month. The first pamphlet asks whether computers can recognize literary genres, and the second uses network theory to re-envision plots.

As its name suggests, the Lit Lab tackles literary problems by scientific means: hypothesis-testing, computational modeling, quantitative analysis. Similar efforts are currently proliferating under the broad rubric of "digital humanities," but Moretti's approach is among the more radical. He advocates what he terms "distant reading": understanding literature not by studying particular texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data.

We need distant reading, Moretti argues, because its opposite, close reading, can't uncover the true scope and nature of literature. Let's say you pick up a copy of "Jude the Obscure," become obsessed with Victorian fiction and somehow manage to make your way through all 200-odd books generally considered part of that canon. Moretti would say: So what? As many as 60,000 other novels were published in 19th-century England — to mention nothing of other times and places. You might know your George Eliot from your George Meredith, but you won't have learned anything meaningful about literature, because your sample size is absurdly small. Since no feasible amount of reading can fix that, what's called for is a change not in scale but in strategy. To understand literature, Moretti argues, we must stop reading books.


The Lit Lab seeks to put this controversial theory into practice (or, more aptly, this practice into practice, since distant reading is less a theory than a method). In its January pamphlet, for instance, the team fed 30 novels identified by genre into two computer programs, which were then asked to recognize the genre of six additional works. Both programs succeeded — one using grammatical and semantic signals, the other using word frequency. At first glance, that's only medium-interesting, since people can do this, too; computers pass the genre test, but fail the "So what?" test. It turns out, though, that people and computers identify genres via very different features. People recognize, say, Gothic literature based on castles, revenants, brooding atmospheres, and the greater frequency of words like "tremble" and "ruin." Computers recognize Gothic literature based on the greater frequency of words like . . . "the." Now, that's interesting. It suggests that genres "possess distinctive features at every possible scale of analysis." More important for the Lit Lab, it suggests that there are formal aspects of literature that people, unaided, cannot detect.

The lab's newest paper seeks to detect these hidden aspects in plots (primarily in Hamlet) by transforming them into networks. To do so, Moretti, the sole author, turns characters into nodes ("vertices" in network theory) and their verbal exchanges into connections ("edges"). A lot goes by the wayside in this transformation, including the content of those exchanges and all of Hamlet's soliloquies (i.e., all interior experience); the plot, so to speak, thins. But Moretti claims his networks "make visible specific 'regions' within the plot" and enable experimentation. (What happens to Hamlet if you remove Horatio?)

Some insights do emerge from this paper's 57 diagrams, as when the nascent divide between court and state in Renaissance Europe becomes visible in the network. Reading the paper, though, I mostly vacillated between two reactions: "Huh?" and "Duh!" — sometimes in response to a single sentence. For example, Moretti, quoting a colleague, defines "protagonist" as "the character that minimized the sum of the distances to all other vertices." Huh? O.K., he means the protagonist is the character with the smallest average degree of separation from the others, "the center of the network." So guess who's the protagonist of Hamlet? Right: Hamlet. Duh.

Distant reading might prove to be a powerful tool for studying literature, and I'm intrigued by some of the lab's other projects, from analyzing the evolution of chapter breaks to quantifying the difference between Irish and English prose styles. But whatever's happening in this paper is neither powerful nor distant. (The plot networks were assembled by hand; try doing that without reading Hamlet.) By the end, even Moretti concedes that things didn't unfold as planned. Somewhere along the line, he writes, he "drifted from quantification to the qualitative analysis of plot."

I admire Moretti's honesty in saying this: most scholars, whatever their disciplinary background, do not publish negative results. But I would admire it more if he didn't elsewhere dismiss qualitative literary analysis as "a theological exercise." (Moretti does not subscribe to literary-analytic pluralism: he has suggested that distant reading should supplant, not supplement, close reading.) The counterpoint to theology is science, and reading Moretti, it's impossible not to notice him jockeying for scientific status. He appears now as literature's Linnaeus (taxonomizing a vast new trove of data), now as Vesalius (exposing its essential skeleton), now as Galileo (revealing and reordering the universe of books), now as Darwin (seeking "a law of literary ­evolution").

The trouble is that Moretti isn't studying a science. Literature is an artificial universe, and the written word, unlike the natural world, can't be counted on to obey a set of laws. Indeed, Moretti often mistakes metaphor for fact. Those "skeletons" he perceives inside stories are as imposed as exposed; and literary evolution, unlike the biological kind, is largely an analogy. (As the author and critic Elif Batuman pointed out in an n+1 essay on Moretti's earlier work, books actually are the result of intelligent design.)


But Moretti isn't interested in the unquantifiable, inscrutable actions of intelligent human beings trying to write stuff. There will always be some people for whom new technologies seem to promise completeness and certainty, and Moretti, enthusing over the prospect of "a unified theory of plot and style," is one of them. Literature, he argues, is "a collective system that should be grasped as such." But this, too, is a theology of sorts — if not the claim that literature is a system, at least the conviction that we can find meaning only in its totality.

Moreover, as theologies go, Moretti's is neither new nor, at present, rare. The idea that truth can best be revealed through quantitative models dates back to the development of statistics (and boasts a less-than-benign legacy). And the idea that data is gold waiting to be mined; that all entities (including people) are best understood as nodes in a network; that things are at their clearest when they are least particular, most interchangeable, most aggregated — well, perhaps that is not the theology of the average lit department (yet). But it is surely the theology of the 21st century.

Kathryn Schulz is the author of "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error."

RELATED COVERAGE
Up Front: Introducing The Mechanic Muse JUN 24, 2011
More In Books
NONFICTION
Stranger Than Fiction: The Best True-Crime Stories
From Hollywood's Black Dahlia case to killing sprees in 1950s London and 19th-century Paris, new books probe the grisly worst of human nature.
FICTION
A Roundup of New Horror, All Indebted to an Early Master
Richard Matheson's legacy is felt in stories of mysterious figures and horrible, dawning realities.
FICTION
Our Villains, Ourselves: A Thriller Roundup
Six spooky fall thrillers, whose plots range from a campus crime to an international spy hunt to a young girl's mystical self-murdering, all unsettle the neat distinctions between "hero," "villain," and even the reader.
Back to top
Home
World
U.S.
Politics
The Upshot
New York
Business Day
Technology
Sports
Opinion
Science
Health
Arts
Photos
Style
Video
Most Emailed
More Sections
Settings
Download the NYTimes app
Help
Subscribe
Feedback
Terms of Service
Privacy
© 2017 The New York Times Company

Reading by the Numbers: When Big Data Meets Literature

Main Menu
The New York Times
Search
SUBSCRIBELOG INArts

Reading by the Numbers: When Big Data Meets Literature

The literary critic Franco Moretti has argued that to truly understand literary history one needs the the help of computers to crunch data from thousands of books at a time.

ALEX WELSH FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
By JENNIFER SCHUESSLER
OCTOBER 30, 2017
The history of literary criticism is filled with would-be revolutionaries. But few have issued as radical a cry as Franco Moretti, the professor famous for urging his colleagues to stop reading books.

Most literary criticism is grounded in close reading, with scholars poring over individual texts to tease out subtle meanings. But to truly grasp the laws of literature, Mr. Moretti has argued in a series of polemics, requires "distant reading": the computer-assisted crunching of thousands of texts at a time.

It's a pie-in-the-sky idea, perhaps, but one that Mr. Moretti has put into practice. Since 2010, Stanford Literary Lab, which he founded with Matthew Jockers, has issued a string of pamphlets chronicling its research into topics ranging from loudness in the 19th-century novel to the evolving language of World Bank reports.

A dozen of the pamphlets have now been collected in "Canon/Archive," out next week from n+1 Books. The publication provides something of a retrospective occasion for Mr. Moretti, 67, who retired last spring from Stanford. But it also prompts a larger question at a time when the broader field of digital humanities is booming: What has the Big Data approach to literature added up to?


It's a question that draws heated answers. Digital humanities has been accused of fetishizing science, of acting as a Trojan horse for the corporate forces threatening the university, and worse. A recent broadside in The Chronicle of Higher Education called "The Digital-Humanities Bust" took a bludgeon to the field's revolutionary rhetoric, with Mr. Moretti among those accused of issuing a stream of vague "promissory notes" for results that never arrive.

Mr. Moretti — who prefers to call the lab's work "computational criticism" — tends to greet such challenges with a mixture of modesty and bravado.

"Our results are not as good as what I had hoped for 10 or 15 years ago," he said in an interview earlier this month, during a brief trip to New York. "We have not yet created a revolution in knowledge. But how much of literary scholarship is even trying to do that?"

[Read about some of the Stanford Literary Lab's findings.]

Mr. Moretti, who was born to teacher parents in a small town in northern Italy (his brother is the filmmaker Nanni Moretti), represents something of a paradox. He's an intellectual trained in the grand European tradition who questions its most cherished methods. And he's a professor who has achieved some measure of celebrity by promoting a ruthlessly impersonal idea of both scholarship and literary history itself.

Literary criticism typically tends to emphasize the singularity of exceptional works that have stood the test of time. But the canon, Mr. Moretti argues, is a distorted sample. Instead, he says, scholars need to consider the tens of thousands of books that have been forgotten, a task that computer algorithms and enormous digitized databases have now made possible.

"We know how to read texts," he wrote in a much-quoted essay included in his book "Distant Reading," which won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. "Now let's learn how to not read them."


These days, Mr. Moretti has softened his rhetoric, though the underlying point is the same.

"Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures," which we "would be insane" to give up, he said. "But the question is whether reading and knowledge are continuous with each other."

Mr. Moretti's own output has a similar dividedness. His early work was grounded in close reading, and his last book "The Bourgeois: Between Literature and History," included fine-grained analysis of classic works.

That his digital provocations command wide interest even among highly skeptical colleagues may owe something to what Leah Price, professor of English at Harvard, called a "Nixon in China" effect.

"Only because his own close readings are so dazzling, does Moretti have the credibility to say: Read as closely as you want, but if you want to understand literary history you'll need other tools," she said.

The literary quality of the lab's pamphlets, which are usually credited to teams of researchers, also doesn't hurt. Yes, they bristle with bar charts, scatterplot diagrams and sometimes eyeball-blistering terminology. ("'Operationalizing' must be the ugliest word I've ever used," Mr. Moretti writes in the first sentence of a solo-authored pamphlet called… "Operationalizing.")

But they are also full of witty asides and suspenseful first-person narration that acknowledges surprises, dead-ends and the collaborative, experimental nature of the lab's work.


"They're very good at dramatizing the method," said Ted Underwood, a professor at the University of Illinois who also uses computational analysis. "That's part of the fun of reading them."


The publication of some of the Stanford Literary Labs pamphlets in "Canon/Archive" prompts a larger question: What has the Big Data approach to literature added up to?
ALEX WELSH FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Some of the lab's results may seem less than earthshaking. For example, it turns out that what distinguishes the Gothic novel isn't just castles and ghosts, but more frequent use of the certain verb tenses and prepositions. (The critic Kathryn Schulz, writing about some of the early pamphlets in The New York Times Book Review in 2011, said she "mostly vacillated between two reactions: 'Huh?' and 'Duh!'")

But even modest-seeming results — like the finding that from 1785 to 1900 the language of the British novel steadily shifted away from words relating to moral judgment to words associated with concrete description — unsettle established ideas of literary history.

"We tend to see literary history as a story of movements, periods, sudden revolutions," Mr. Underwood said. "There are also these really broad, slow, massive changes that we haven't described before."

Some of the lab's findings have themselves had sudden, and totally unexpected, real-world results. Mr. Moretti noted with amusement a flap last spring at the World Bank, where Paul Romer, the chief economist, was relieved of some management duties at its research arm after demanding, among other changes, that its publications reduce their use of the word "and" — one of the stylistic tics mocked in "Bankspeak," a Lit Lab pamphlet analyzing the bank's drift over 60 years toward more abstract and "self-referential" language.

"How many literary critics can say they got the chief economist of the World Bank, O.K., not fired, but deprived of some of his power?" Mr. Moretti said with a laugh.


Since retiring from Stanford, Mr. Moretti has moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he is helping to create a new digital humanities program at the country's leading polytechnic.

He also has a full slate of writing projects, including a study of forgotten 19th-century British best-sellers and an algorithm-free book based on his undergraduate lectures on American culture, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Even if the results of computational criticism never catch up with his early polemical fervor, Mr. Moretti remains unapologetic about trying.

"I'd rather be a failed revolutionary," he said, "than someone who never tried to do a revolution in the first place."

Follow on Twitter: @jennyschuessler

RELATED COVERAGE
The Book Crunchers OCT 30, 2017
The Mechanic Muse: What Is Distant Reading? JUN 24, 2011
Forecast Cloudy: At the World Bank, a Shortage of Concrete (Language) APR 14, 2016
Humanities 2.0: Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers DEC 3, 2010
Most Popular on NYTimes.com

How to Be a C.E.O., From a Decade's Worth of Them

OP-ED COLUMNIST
Trump's Legacy: Damaged Brains

Limit on 401(k) Savings? It's About Paying for Tax Cuts

2 Navy SEALs Under Suspicion in Strangling of Green Beret in Mali

North Korea Rouses Neighbors to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons

Virtual Reality Gets Naughty

John Mayer Knows He Messed Up. He Wants Another Chance.

Trump Tries to Shift Focus as First Charges Reportedly Loom in Russia Case

World Series 2017: How the Astros Won Game 5, Inning by Inning
Back to top
Home
World
U.S.
Politics
The Upshot
New York
Business Day
Technology
Sports
Opinion
Science
Health
Arts
Photos
Style
Video
Most Emailed
More Sections
Settings
Download the NYTimes app
Help
Subscribe
Feedback
Terms of Service
Privacy
© 2017 The New York Times Company

TRUMP, BREXIT, FRENCH UPHEAVAL: A NOW OVER TO BRAZIL



(SEARCH sldinfo.com)
Submit

(E-MAIL)
Submit
SUBSCRIBE to our Weekly Update
HOME
WHAT'S NEW
IN BRIEFS
ISSUES & TRENDS
ABOUT US
MEDIA KITS
1
TRUMP, BREXIT, FRENCH UPHEAVAL: A NOW OVER TO BRAZIL

2017-04-23 By Kenneth Maxwell

Brazil is continuing its long plunge into the murky world of profound political crises.

Past corruption revelations, simmering judicial conflict between the federal judges and the political and private sector elites, and challenges to a system of government and the constitutional arrangements, which emerged when Brazil re-democratized in the mid 1980's, are all in play.

The crisis in Brazil is self-made.

Although Brazilian intellectuals (and Brazilian politicians) are always prone to blame all their ills on the machinations of nefarious outsiders, particularly on the United States, this one is "made in Brazil."

The depth of the crisis is existential for the regime. It has profoundly shaken the political and business elites of Latin America's most important country.

But fixing the crisis of democracy will be fraught with difficulties.

The government of Michel Temer is part of the problem. It lacks legitimacy, is extremely unpopular, and is composed almost entirely of men in the 70's, who have been for decades been part of the problem.

There are some new leaders on the political scene, but they are political outsiders, most prominently the new mayor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, a Trump like figure from the private sector who ran the Brazilian TV edition of "the apprentice."

Meanwhile the economic crisis continues.

Brazil is suffering its worse economic recession in over half a century. The nation's fiscal problems are also critical: A huge and bloated obligation to pensions for example which the country can ill afford, but where reforms are strenuously, and at times violently, opposed by those who most benefit from them, particularly the police (the state military and civil police and the armed forces).

But it is clear that the Brazilian federal government, and the governments of the Brazilian states, can ill afford these escalating obligations in the long term.

Already Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, and Minas Gerais, three of the most important Brazilian states are bankrupt, and have difficulty in paying their civil servants and their police forces.

A police strike in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo in February led to widespread looting, dozens of murders, and a breakdown of order on the streets, and forced President Michel Temer to send in 200 troops.

The depleted public finances have crippled basic health services, education, and public security in other states as well.

The political parties (and there are any of them) are all now revealed to have been involved since the end of military rule in the mid-1980's in cozy clandestine cartels where payoffs and kickbacks, and toxic relationships between the public sector, politicians, and state enterprises, linked them all in a downward spiral, which has undermined and subverted the very functioning of the democratic state.

Because Brazil is now a major international player in the petrochemical and petroleum industries, in the export of raw materials, and in agricultural-business, these shady cartels have all had international ramifications, which has made hiding their dealings (legal and illegal) from international scrutiny much more difficult.

In the end this has contributed to their revelation to public view.

And all of this has been helped by the simultaneous grown of the internet in Brazil. Brazil is now the second largest user of Facebook in the world. Very little that passes does not very soon become public.

The "car-wash" ("Lavo-Jato" in Portuguese) got its name from a money laundering operation at a petrol station in Brazil's capital, Brasilia. The investigation by the Federal Police of Brazil, Curitiba Branch, and judicially commanded by Federal Judge Sergio Moro, revealed corruption at the highest levels of government and at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, where executives were accepting bribes to award contracts.

The investigations have already led to large (and expensive) legal settlements for Petrobras in the U.S. and in Switzerland.

The investigation also led to the activities of the large Brazilian multinational construction company Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate involved in engineering, construction, chemical and petrochemicals, with operations in South and Central and North America, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.

It is one of Brazil five largest private sector manufacturing companies, and owns Braskem, one of the county's largest petrochemical companies.

In June 2015 the CEO Marcelo Odebrecht was arrested. On March 7, 2016, Judge Moro sentenced him to 19 years and 4 months in jail for arranging US$30 million in bribes to executives of Petrobras in return for contracts and influence.

Odebrecht has been involved in corruption fueled deals in Cuba, Peru, Angola, the Dominican Republic, where it will pay US$ 184 million, twice what it paid in bribes for public contracts between 2001 and 2014. In the U.S. the Department of Justice released documents detailing US$788 million paid by Odebrecht in 12 counties in Latin America and Africa.

On April 17, 2017, Judge Raymond Dearie, of the U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn ordered Oderbrecht to pay a fine of US$2.6 billion for bribing public officials abroad: US$ 2.39 to Brazil: US$ 93 million to the US: and US$116 million to Switzerland. This is the largest settlement in the U.S. since Siemans settled for US$ 1.6 billion in 2008.

These revelations have been helped in part by the new global transparency of financial transactions and off-shore bank accounts. It has been added as well by publicity about them though leaks to the press and over the internet, and as a result of Swiss-leaks, the Panama Papers revelations (and the use of the British "overseas territories" in the Caribbean island "fiscal paradises" for off-shore and clandestine banking operations), and the new banking transparency in Switzerland where many of the corrupt Brazilian politicians had parked their ill-gotten cash.

The "car wash" investigation reached new depths just before Easter when the list of those being investigated was released by the Brazilian Supreme Court justice, Luiz Edson Fachin, who had assumed the responsibility for the case on the supreme court following the death of Justice Teori Zavascki, in a plane crash when approaching the airport in the Rio de Janeiro's colonial tourist city of Paraty.

Justice Fachin's "list" included 8 ministers in the government of Michel Temer, who had become president of Brazil after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. It also included 24 senators, 3 governors, and 39 Federal deputies. The ministers in Temer's government include Eliseu Padilha, who is his closest political ally and is the head of his "casa civil" (the head of his presidential staff), Moreira Franco (Secretary-General of the government), Blairo Maggi (Agriculture), Aloysio Nunes (Foreign Affairs), Helder Barbalho (National Integration), Marcos Pereira (Industry) and Gilberto Kasseb (Communities).

So far all remain in office.

It is also apparent from Marcelo Oderbrecht's testimony that Michel Temer, former president Dilma Rousseff, Guido Mantega, former minister of finance, Senator Aecio Neves, the leader of the PSDB and former PSDB presidential candidate in the last presidential election when he was defeated by Dilma Rousseff, and Graça Foster, the former head of Petrobras, are also involved.

All strenuously deny the allegations.

But like so much in this case the videotaped testimony of those imprisoned by Judge Moro is now available on the Internet, much of it released prior to the Easter weekend. Brazilians now have the opportunity of watch and to make up their own minds about who is (and who is not) telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Dilma Rousseff has been visiting American university campuses (of all places given the history of her government's polices and its relationship with Washington during her term in office), where she had been received a martyr for democracy.

But the key target in Brazil remains former Brazilian president, Inácio Lula da Silva.

Despite the multiple scandals that have engulfed Brazil and the Worker's Party and many of his closest associates over the past three years, Lula he remains, according to the most recent public opinion polls, the most popular candidate for the next presidential election in 2018.

But the noose is tightening.

Last week the patriarch of the Oderbrecht familty, Emilio Oderbrecht, claimed in testimony before Judge Moro that "I was, basically, not the owner of the government, I was the stooge of the government." (Eu, no fundo, nao era o dono do governo, Eu era o otario do governo").

And Jose Aldemario Pinheiro, known as Leo Pinheiro, ex-president of OAS, a major privately owned Brazilian multinational conglomerate, involved in civil construction of highways, airports, hydro-electric power plants, dams and ports, said in testimony that Lula knew off payments to the "caixa dois." These are the black boxes of Brazilian politics where corrupters meet the corrupted in off-the-books payments for political campaigns, and expect to receive preferential treatment, favorable legislation, and bloated government contracts, where they could often skim an extra 5 per cent over costs.

Moreover, Leo Pinheiro also said that OAS had paid for Lula's luxury triplex apartment in Guaruja, a tourist coastal town known for its beaches in Sao Paulo.

Lula has adamantly denied that he even owns the triplex apartment in question or knows anything about these valuable freebees. Though photographs have emerged of Lula and the late wife, Leticia, who died in early February (they had been married for 43 years), visiting the apartment and ordering improvements.

Leo Pereira also testified that Lula had at a secret meeting in May 2014, instructed him to destroy all evidence of their relationship because of the "Lava-Jato" investigations.

Lula's supporters dismiss all these allegations and leaks as being part of a plot to remove him as a presidential contender.

But Lula has been called to testify before Judge Moro on May 3. Also Judge Moro has ordered that Lula be present during all testimony the 87 witnesses called by the lawyers for the prosecution and by the defense.

This May will be an "interesting" month for other reasons as well. The Brazilian Supreme Court is scheduled in late May to decide on restrictions on the "foro priveligiado". That is the law, which in effect protects member of the government and members of congress by restricting the cases only to the Supreme Court. A majority on the court is apparently in favor of lifting these restrictions so that lower federal courts can take on these cases, but this opposed by at least two members of the court.

The web of corruption revealed by the "car wash" investigations and the plea bargaining with the large private sector company owners and executives, and with the money launderers and publicity agents, in order to obtain reduced sentences in return for credible and proven testimony (the "delacoes premiados" in Portuguese), have also implicated other leaders of the main opposition party the PSDB.

In addition Aecio Neves, including the current governor of Sao Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin has been implicated as well.

But above all it has involved Jose Serra, the former mayor and governor of Sao Paulo, former presidential candidate for the PSDB, and former foreign minister under Temer, until he resigned to return to his senatorial seat from Sao Paulo, ostensibly he has claimed because of "back problems"

The next major shoe to drop in Judge Moro's investigations is the potentially devastating testimony of Antonio Palocci, who was Lula's former long term intimate colleague, his former finance minister, campaign chairman, and PT insider and bigwig. Palocci if anyone (apart from Jose Dirceu, Lula's former factotum, who is also held in jail by Judge Moro), certainly knows where the bodies are buried.

He has indicted in testimony before Judge Moro that: "I believe I could open the way for what might be another year of work – but work that would be good for Brazil." Palocci could well make the plea bargain of all plea bargains, if he strikes a deal to speak on the record.

And what he has to say will be instantly available on the Internet as well.

Much of the focus of the investigations has been has been on the so-called "caixa dois" that is the black box of undeclared contributions to the political campaigns at all levels of government, from the municipal, to the state, to the federal, as well above all to the presidential campaigns.

Odebrecht kept a list of the nicknames it used for the recipients of these off-the-book political donations. Emilo Odebrecht said in his testimony before Judge Moro that this had been going on for thirty years. And he was surprised he said that anyone was surprised by these cozy relationships between private business, state enterprises, and government officials.

Undoubtedly it began much earlier under the military regime (and probably much earlier than that).

But Emilio Oderbrecht should know all about this from the history of his Bahia based enterprises, and the intimate relationship he enjoyed with the "boss" of Bahia and national power broker, Antonio Carlos Magalhães, whose son is now the the mayor of Salvador, Bahia's capital.

The one bit of good news is that parts of the system do work in Brazil.

It is Brazilian investigators  and judges, and the supreme court, which have all acted, and have brought the perpetuators of these crimes to justice. Leading politicians and leading businessmen have been jailed, and many sentenced to long periods in prison.

But it does appear the scale of corruption increased exponentially under the PT governments after 2003. Though the "delações privilegiado" have already (reportedly) also implicated the other great icon of democratic Brazil, former two term PSDB president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (who has also always been very associate of Jose Serra.)

Like, Lula, who succeeded him as a two term president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) also adamantly denies these allegations. The investigators have set their sights on the banking and financial institutions which have turned a blind eye to money laundering, and to the parts of the judiciary which tolerated these shady dealings.

But already the lives of federal investigators and judges have been threatened. And such threats are not to be taken lightly in Brazil.

But the sad truth is that the "new republic" established in the mid 1980s has been paralyzed by these multiple scandals, betrayed by the very politicians from both sides of the political spectrum who promised so much, and offered so much hope, but in the end, unfortunately for Brazil, delivered so little.



Video of the month
Sponsorships & White Papers
F-35 Consortium
Contact Feedback Privacy Policy SLD Magazine SLD Forum
"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking."
—General George Patton Jr.
©2017 sldInfo. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions.