quinta-feira, dezembro 07, 2006

A grande perplexidade

Em 1983, num breve texto introdutório a uma colectânea de ensaios seus, o filósofo George Steiner identificava retrospectivamente da seguinte forma aquele pesado paradoxo que acreditava ter em grande parte presidido a muita da sua reflexão em torno da literatura e da cultura em geral:

Even before I began writing, let alone reaching or publishing, it seemed to me that the problem of relations between culture and politics, between humane literacy and the politics of torture and mass-murder, was such as to put in question every aspect of the life of the mind. Educated in the classical framework of ‘the humanities’, feeling myself utterly drawn to the life of intellectual argument and the arts, of philosophy and poetics, I was confronted by an overwhelming, brutal paradox. The edifice of total warfare and of death-camps, of totalitarian torture and ‘the big lie’, has its base, had its contemporary triumphs, in the heart-lands of western culture. The spheres of Auschwitz-Birkenau and of the Beethoven recital, of the torture-cellar and the great library, were contiguous in space and time. Men could come home from their day’s butchery and falsehood to weep over Rilke or play Schubert.

E prossegue um pouco mais à frente:

How can a man ‘teach literature’ (itself a highly problematic concept), how can he engage the best of his capacities in the explication and transmission of philosophic or aesthetic values, if he does not seek to know what the effects, if any, will be on the quality and survival of society? How can scholarship and criticism be divorced from the crisis of the humane without, by this very divorcement, being reduced to academic trivia?

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