Archive for the ‘Arts & Cultures & Societies’ Category

16
Oct

Los hijos son para el invierno

Written on October 16, 2007 by Rafael Puyol in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Rafael Puyol

Winterkids

Los hijos solteros porque los casados, como las bicicletas, son para el verano. Me explico. No son pocas las familias españolas que siguen albergando en su seno hijos con la juventud madura, que han terminado sus estudios o siguen cursándolos. Aún no trabajan o realizan sus primeros pinitos laborales, pero dependen para sus necesidades de acomodo e intendencia del presupuesto familiar.
Son los hijos del invierno (y del otoño y de la primavera…)  que, sin embargo,en verano ponen tierra mar o aire por medio y buscan la independencia y el bullicio en “horizontes lejanos”. Con ese distanciamiento temporal podría pensarse que sus padres añorarán su presencia crónica, por supuesto aceptada y querida, pero a veces excesivamente prolongada ,por razones  inmobiliarias que no dependen de esos chicos.
El matrimonio hace  triste las maletas , se van al mar o a la montaña y se acomodan en su remanso estival ; pero apenas tienen tiempo para interiorizar la añoranza. Con el calor llega a la casa la hija o el hijo casados, con su cónyuge, un par de angelitos y una interna inmigrante que completa el kit de ese desplazamiento temporal. La joven pareja acude con vocación de permanencia, despliega su impedimenta, okupa la casa, aposenta el servicio, da instrucciones a la abuela y se va a cenar con los amigos.

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13
Oct

IF – Kipling

Written on October 13, 2007 by Santiago Iñiguez in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Santiago Iniguez

Rudardkipling

I am sure you are familiar with Kipling’s “If”, originally written for his son, as it has been one of the most recited and quoted poems in recent times. I have heard it at numerous toasts and speeches made by managers. It is fresh, positive, forward looking and humane. You have probably identified yourself with one or some of its verses at some stage in your career.

I hope you enjoy:

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

11
Oct

Dependencias

Written on October 11, 2007 by Rafael Puyol in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Rafael Puyol

13_toiletsq_women_inv

En Agosto estuve en un curso de verano en La Granda hablando de envejecimiento e inevitablemente de discapacidad y dependencia, un estado que afecta ya a una de cada tres personas con mas de 65 años y a una de cada dos de mas de 85. Somos 45 millones de habitantes y tenemos un millón y medio de dependientes mayores, sobre todo mujeres.

Alguien ha dicho que ser mujer, inmigrante y trabajadora resulta una mezcla explosiva que alimenta el atropello, favorece el abuso y sustenta un portillo abierto para la explotación. La combinación mayor, mujer y viuda produce unos estados carenciales comparables y sitúa a muchas mujeres en la peligrosa antesala  de la pobreza relativa.

El envejecimiento, la discapacidad y la dependencia son retos ineludibles a los que debe enfrentarse nuestra sociedad y nuestro Estado .Y es preciso reconocer que, hasta ahora, ha respondido mejor la primera que el segundo.

No se muy bien que sería de nuestros mayores si al quite de sus necesidades no estuviese la institución familiar.

La familia que es hoy compleja y heterogénea, constituye, sin embargo, uno de los instrumentos imprescindibles de la sociedad del bienestar, particularmente en la atención a las personas de edad a las que cuida en sus necesidades y apoya en su soledad. No hace falta que convivan bajo un único techo. La familia extensa tradicional que vivía concentrada en un mismo hogar, ha dado paso a un nuevo modelo de familia extensa discontinua en el espacio, debido a que muchas personas mayores ,que pueden hacerlo ,prefieren vivir solas. Solas pero próximas a quienes se encargan de proporcionarles la ayuda y los cuidados que requieren.

Hasta ahora, las políticas públicas han sido subsidiarias de esas atenciones, pero ya va siendo hora de que cambien las cosas .Resulta necesario, no solo definir, sino financiar y aplicar medidas legales y estrategias con carácter integral capaces de responder al desafío de la dependencia, que hoy soporta en exceso y bajo condiciones de inequidad, la institución familiar.

11
Oct

Rolf Strom-Olsen

The famous US film-maker Ken Burns, whose name is familiar to North American audiences thanks mostly to his ground-breaking 1990 film on the US Civil War, has perpetrated another epic documentary. Burns latest subject is more war, this time "The War"  (as the documentary is called, a depressingly ambiguous title for a European audience). But for Americans, "The War" is World War Two, a conflict that has produced a seemingly never-ending spate of nostalgic and sentimental homages to what is modestly coined (in US collective memory) as the "greatest generation." Among the more recent grandiose offerings, we have had director Steven Spielberg’s film, "Saving Private Ryan," US broadcaster Tom Brokaw’s book "The Greatest Generation" and a wildly popular television adaptation of historian Stephen Ambrose’s "Band of Brothers". Burns’ film follows in the same vein, insofar as it is an unapologetically US-centred examination of World War Two (there is not a single non-US voice in the film). But the film avoids the theatrical triumphalism of these other efforts and achieves a degree of nuance and dignity by focusing on individuals remembering what they experienced. This parochialism might turn off a non-US audience (I was watching in Canada), but in its depiction of war as a remembered event, Burns is asking a subtle question about history that lifts the film above its narrow national focus: what is the value of memory to our understanding of history?

"Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost" wrote Walt Whitman, not counting on modern filmmakers to prove the sentiment wrong. Burns’ apparently decided to make a film about The War in 1999 when he discovered that upwards of a thousand US veterans were dying every day.  That’s an impressively large number, and a sombre reminder not only of how many people actually fought in the conflict, but just how many lives were intimately affected by it. Indeed, the scope and impact of the conflict is hard for us to fathom, wherever we are. As one interviewee commented: "it was like our lives were suspended for the duration". Burns is a historian of a peculiar sort – he describes himself as an archaeologist of emotion.  As such, he asks:  how does that happen? More importantly, how does that feel?

Emotion, not cold historical analysis, is the central theme in this 15-hour outpouring. But these are not the yellow-patina memories of old snapshots, or whitewashed celebrations of heroism. I can rUs_tank_crew_tunisia_1942emember one of Burn’s interviewees, Paul Fussell, a noted historian, author and himself an infantryman in The War, commenting that when people die in war, they usually don’t die well: they die in a fusillade of agony, of mutilation and disfigurement. For Fussell, this is an important point: war is gruesome. Burns follows him lockstep; he wrenches from his subjects the horrifying carnage they witnessed. It is a mighty thing to see a kindly grandfather figure reminisce about shooting down a fellow twenty-year old, still agonising fifty years later over what he has done. War dehumanises; the philosophy of war strives to offer a simple choice to the young men and women who are called to prosecute it: them or us. But, we learn through the uneasy recollections of the now-elderly men who actually pulled the triggers and threw the grenades, not completely, nor forever and, for many, not at all. That’s an important point that most histories of conflict are not comfortable, or perhaps even capable of making.

Americans have memorialised The War as Their War. Despite the savagery unleashed by the conflict, The War is still seen in American eyes as a virtuous, even noble, enterprise. Even fifty years later, the enemy are still easy to loathe, and still comfortably fit the stereotypes which made that "us/them" trigger-impulse possible. The War earns its definitive article because, even with the passage of time, it is still imbued with an aura of epic righteousness. In American memory, liberation is pitted against Buchenwald, freedom against the Bataan Death March. Lest we fail to get the point, the film’s narration helpfully frames the question for us: anger, arrogance, bigotry, victimhood and the lust for power on one side; courage, perseverance, selflessness, faith, leadership and the hunger for freedom on the other. No points for guessing which side the Americans were on.

Clarity, particularly ideological clarity, makes an uneasy bedfellow with historical fact. But this is a different specie altogether: memory-fact. The War exists as a set of specific events and geopolitical forces. But it is also how a society remembers, or wants to remember, the conflict. It is how that conflict was (and still is being) shaped, and how it in turn shaped people’s lives. Some critics have noted the inevitable distortions (errors really) of a historical narrative that coalesce around individual memories. Pre-war America is recalled by many of the film’s subjects in idyllic terms: all sunny afternoons and cherry blossoms. Given the extraordinary deprivations of the Great Depression, this is factually absurd.

However, from a historical view that gives the curious entropy of memory its due, such recollections are a fascinating and deeply-moving testament to how cataclysmic The War must have been for a generation looking back, even for those far-removed from the theatre of war. The breadlines, unemployment, dust bowls and general misery of the 1930s were shaded by the events that follow into an American Pastoral. Accurate? Of course not, but no less true for it and, for a historian, well worth noting.

The War exists as a collective memorial in varied ways: urgently, as an epic struggle of Good against Evil, but parochially as sons sent off to fight leaving behind their families, narrowly, as small groups of men who fought more to save each other than for any greater purpose, and tragically, as lives cut short and friendships savagely ended. For the tens and tens of millions of people caught up in the immediate events, such a revelation is hardly surprising. But for those who were thousands of miles away, the fact that the War had a similarly monumental, intimate and profound impact is well-worth considering.

"The War" is not a rejoinder to the current imbroglio in Iraq and Afghanistan – its origins predate both. But it makes an implicit point about current events. Even if the triumphalism of the Allied victory in 1945 can be overstated, the larger contours of that struggle highlight the lack of focus and intent in America’s current missions. Clarity of purpose matters: its absence does not just undermine the present; it promises to despoil the memory of events for generations to come and will be an important part of how we write its history.

9
Oct

Susan Sontag (1933-2004): Regarding The Pain of Others

Written on October 9, 2007 by Santiago Iñiguez in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Santiago Iniguez

It is an honour to be invited to participate in this blog, which will be the showcase for many of the intitiatives of the new Department of Humanities here at IE Business School lead by Arantza de Areila.

Susansontag
Susan Sontag (1933-2004): Regarding The Pain of Others

In today’s Western World, most of us are lucky to live distant from
external violence. Although our chances of suffering a violent attack
or an accident may vary, depending on countries, lifestyle or jobs,
they are not comparable to the defencelessness experienced by our
ancestors, centuries ago. The evolution of institutions, the rule of
law and moral progress achieved in our societies make the experience of
external violence an improbable event. However, we can still regularly
see violent phenomena through TV and other media, watching news on
wars, terrorist attacks, murders, natural disasters and similar
horrible events.

In a post I wrote in BizDeansTalk, I referred to Simone de Beauvoir’s splendid novel "Les Belles Images",
where the French café-philosopher and novelist describes a situation
which could be transferable to present days. The protagonist, a
conscientious mother, wonders why her daughter is worried about some
inevitable evils that exist in the world but occur far from home
–hunger, epidemics, natural disasters- and cause devastating effects
among huge numbers of poor people of the third world, although these
problems can not be solved solely by one person (if at all). This
impotence of the single individual to solve a given evil produces a
natural, defensive reaction in many humans. People like "belle images"
–beautiful images- and are not prepared to be constantly exposed to the
image of horror or suffering. The natural reaction of the mother is,
then, to change the TV channel or the subject in order to avoid the
exposure of her beloved daughter to the cruellest aspects of life. The
extreme version of the "belle image" syndrome is just to avoid talking
or showing pictures of some particular disaster. I am sure you identify
the syndrome I am talking about.

Sometimes I hear that managers should avoid being sensitive or
compassionate, since they should take hard decisions that may affect
thousands of people while keeping themselves calm and unaffected at the
same time. Imagine that you have to fire half of your team as a
consequence of a merger or a company downsizing. How could you cope
with the personal tensions derived from such measure without detaching
yourself enough to avoid suffering personally. Indeed, some managers,
and humans in general, develop some sort of defence mechanisms to
protect themselves from mental disruptions in times of crisis.

Read more…

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