Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

16
Oct

Coriolano

Written on October 16, 2007 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature

Coriolano_3Miguel Herrero

Su historia es conocida, de fuerza, de odio, de traición y de amor. En los primeros tiempos de la República, cuando Roma luchaba por la supremacía del Lacio, Cayo Marcio destacaba entre todos por carácter y valor. Llevó a los romanos a la victoria en incontables batallas, y la conquista de Coriolos le dio un nombre que aún resuena. Pero pronto perdió en el fango de la política lo ganado en la arena de la guerra. Acérrimo patricio, enfrentado a la plebe, arrogante y colérico, el mismo ardor que derrotaba ejércitos le ganaba a diario enemigos entre el pueblo y el Senado. Como tantos guerreros en tiempos de paz, su suerte estaba echada. El partido plebeyo lo acusó de cargos calumniosos, se defendió con soberbia e improperios, y fue condenado al exilio. Y en esa hora amarga, dejando atrás los llantos de los suyos, la injusticia le hizo volverse contra la patria que lo expulsaba, y se puso al servicio de los viejos rivales de Roma, los volscos, que acogieron a su antiguo enemigo con todos los honores. Al mando de los volscos, saqueó los campos y derrotó a los ejércitos romanos, que huían con sólo reconocer a su antiguo y temido general. Y al fin, acampó delante de la ciudad para tomarla.

Entonces el Senado envió a su tienda a embajadores, sacerdotes, patricios y antiguos amigos, para que le convencieran de deponer su cólera, con súplicas, halagos y promesas. Pero Coriolano les despidió airado, porque en su corazón sólo ardía la venganza. Y cuando el terror ya reinaba en la ciudad por la invasión inminente, entonces salieron a suplicarle las mujeres, conducidas por su madre Volumnia. Al reconocerlas, Coriolano enmudeció, y su madre habló: “sábelo: no podrás invadir tu patria sin antes pisar el cuerpo que te parió”. Tras un silencio eterno, su hijo, conmovido, respondió: “¡qué me has hecho, madre mía! tuya es la victoria, y tu victoria es la salvación de mi patria, pero es también mi muerte. Pues me retiro vencido, pero sólo por ti”. Y mandó retirarse a las tropas. Y como preveía, pocos días después fue muerto a manos de los volscos, despechados por la frustrada esperanza de acabar con Roma.

La leyenda de Coriolano ha sido contada muchas veces desde antiguo hasta este blog. Georges Dumézil estudió en Mito y Epopeya su origen indoeuropeo –pues los romanos trasponen a su historia nacional de hombres heroicos los mitos que los griegos y los indios atribuyen a sus dioses–. Pero nunca se cuenta igual dos veces una historia, y el mismo personaje se pinta distinto en cada cuadro. La tragedia de Coriolano vuela de siglo en siglo y de arte en arte. Tito Livio quiso mostrar que a Roma sólo un romano la podía derrotar; Plutarco en sus Vidas Paralelas lo emparejó con el griego Alcibíades, otro gran genio de creación y destrucción; Shakespeare le dedicó la última y más política de sus tragedias, que llevó a la perfección de la escena Sir Laurence Olivier, más romano que César; Beethoven compuso una obertura en su honor, en la que resuenan los momentos alternos de su vida cambiante y siempre arrebatada; y yo, que, modestamente, me pongo el último de la lista, di su nombre a mi gato Coriolano, cuyo temperamento de tigre temen visitas y veterinarios, y que sólo una mujer logra amansar.

16
Oct

Lost Paradises in the Enlightment.

Written on October 16, 2007 by Arantza de Areilza in Literature

Arantza de Areilza                                        (Click here for this post in Spanish)

Montesquieu_2 I recently reread the book by Carmen Iglesias Cano, member of the Royal Spanish Academy of History and Language, entitled "Reason and Feeling in the 18th Century," in which chapter five discusses the lost paradises in Montesquieu´s "The Persian Letters" and the Rousseauian discourses.   

The author analyzes the popular belief of the Enlightment in an original innocence, in a primitive perfectionism in which a man invaded by nostalgia yearns to return.  This signifies the perfect communion between the spiritual and the material, represented by Rousseau in the figure of the "bon sauvage" (the good savage).  However, this good savage will remain childlike throughout generations, something rather unlikely in the presence of man´s capacity for perfectionism.   

Rousseau considered the search for riches, the thirst for discovery and the desire for social and professional reconnaissance as an excess of one’s self, "an alienation in appearance" and the maintaining of "a torn duality."  In reference  to his education, he wrote:

"I no longer want anything to do with a delusory occupation in which it is thought that everything is done for wisdom, and everything is done for vanity."

This original nostalgia reveals a disappointed vision of the historic moment.   

Adversely to Rousseau’s moralistic severity, we find illustrated theses such as  Mandeville’s "The Fable of the Bees," in which happiness springs forth as the ultimate end for a man in detriment of virtue.  Luxury and trade appear like a phenomenon, intrinsic to the development and power of Nations.  According to Carmen Iglesias, it is in this moment in which vice becomes virtue.   

Contrary to Rousseau, the author analyzes how Montesquieu focuses on searching for the mechanisms that adapt institutions to the natural inclination of man to liberty.   He rejects the notion of free will, which Rousseau defends.    He argues for the necessity of suitable institutions for mankind as guarantees of their freedom and emphasizes his opposition to uniformity.

Rousseau moves through history as a totalitarian democratic thinker with his famous maximum "obligation to be free" in his nostalgia for lost Paradise. 

Do you think that paradises can be recovered?  In the affirmative case, do you think that the ends justify the means?   Can you oblige somebody to be free?

12
Oct

Paraísos perdidos

Written on October 12, 2007 by Arantza de Areilza in Literature

Saturraran_5_2Arantza de Areilza 


Hablaba de paraísos perdidos, de Pío Baroja, doctor del alma vasca, narrador del mar antiguo, de tierra entrañable y herida. Hoy, he querido recordar su voz pura; la huella perdida del ultimo antihéroe venerado por las lamias de los regatos fronterizos. Hoy, en que Basojaunes y sorguiñas rondan el naufragio en alguna playa querida.

Recordad este pasaje como esperanza frente la ira que invade a la noble tierra vasca:…Ahora, en este momento en que toda la vida oscura de la Naturaleza palpita en el misterio; en que se oyen los mil ruidos furtivos de la noche; en que el agua de este arroyo va llevando su canción mixta de alegría y queja al mar… Ahora que en que el negro cielo tiembla una estrella de plata; ahora que el terrible Basojaun lanza su mirada roja por entre las ramas del bosque; en que la Leheren Surgía, de las cuevas pirenaicas, extiende sus siniestras alas por el aire, y la corneja lanza su grito agorero en las selvas; ahora el poeta oye la voz de la soledad, la voz del silencio, que se levanta como la vaga niebla del amanecer, y dice a sus vasallos, a la terrible fauna que puebla el inquieto imperio de la noche: ¡Hadas! ¡Silfos! ¡Sorguiñas! ¡Basojaunes! ¡Lamias!, que peináis vuestros cabellos de oro en los arroyos de Zugarramurdi (…) Y cuando Cupido, en combinación con Morfeo, haya dormido los espíritus de nuestras beldades…, vosotros, hidalgos, caballeros, gentileshombres, velad su sueño, defendedlas contra las hidras y los dragones que vagan en la noche y arrancad las alas de las mariposas y cubrir con ellas delicadamente sus pupilas para que no las dañen los rayos perniciosos de la luna…"

Pío Baroja

8
Oct

Papyrus resists

Written on October 8, 2007 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature, Philosophy

Papyrus

Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui


“Time will tell” is the easiest opinion one can have about practically everything. Whenever one does not want to risk a thought on a fishy subject, it is advisable to stick to the judgement of Time. Apart from avoiding the dangers of reflection, appealing to Time has the glamourous flavour of cosmic justice. Old Chronos does not ask your name or place of birth, but only one question: What are you worth remembering for? As if History had an internal Darwinistic clock, people and facts, independently of their glory among contemporaries, are set by Time in their due place. So are books, so will be even blogs, perhaps.

Yet Time’s monarchy is not fair (classical political theory would call it tyranny). Take, for instance, the case of books. Of all the prose and poetry wrote by the ancients, only the few works which were thought worth being copied time and again throughout the centuries survived till the age of Gutemberg. The rest turned dust and ashes. And the transmission of ancient texts is so full of accidents, censorships, arbitrarities, burnt libraries and sunk ships that talking of balanced judgement of what should be preserved and what deserved oblivion seems pure mockery. N. Wilson’s Scribes and Sholars is a classical account of that process. And in the first of his fine best-sellers, Eco (with the immensurable help of Sir Sean Connery) put before everyone’s eyes the arbitrary destiny of ancient books. The third book of Aristotle’s Poetics on comedy is lost forever. Now, in the age of bits and bytes, anybody’s thoughts, no matter how dire they are, can be turned everlasting just with clicking on “save”. Is this justice? Is that fair?

Only some few chosen fighters keep resisting Time’s tyranny. Their name is papyri. Ancient books were written in papyrus rolls, which have survived only in extremely dry conditions. The burning sands of Egypt have given back to us most of these new texts from the remotest past: many poems of Sappho, for one, which were not copied by medieval monks for obvious reasons, are read and sung again thanks to the papyrus findings. Out of Egypt, accidents are needed, ancient tragedies which turn to be strokes of good luck for us: the sealed jars of Qumran, in Israel, were abandoned while fleeing from slaughter against their holders; the Derveni Papyrus, in Northern Greece, was going to be burnt in a funerary pyre, but it rolled out to the miraculous point were it would be far away from the fire not to burn and close enough to get dry and survive; the lava of Pompeii and Herculaneum, while destroying lives and cities, carbonized whole libraries and preserved them for modern scholars who patiently retrace ancient wisdom back from the ashes. Much has been discovered in Herculaneum, but there may be much more – tragedies, philosophy, new epics with old myths– waiting down there for us to dig, unroll and read: have a look at www.herculaneum.ox.ac.uk, where fighters against the tyrant  have joined the battle. There is yet hope. Time will not prevail.

8
Oct

Saturraran7_2

Arantza de Areilza

This blog forms part of an initiative by IE Business School designed to bring humanities and social sciences closer to the world of business and law, and born of the conviction that humanistic disciplines such as art, history, literature, philosophy or music form an integral part of mankind’s intellectual development. Knowledge moulds the way we perceive and understand the world and ourselves, and enables us to participate in the creation of new values that serve as a catalyst for the change and development that are essential in all modern societies.

The different faces of culture foster the development of the imagination, the appreciation of humanistic values, aesthetic perception and critical reasoning, all of which play a key role in the human capacity for self-betterment and perfectionism. It is a permanent, liberating challenge in everyone’s life, which is the reason it forms a core part of our training programs.

This blog is an invitation to extend the vision of all those who are always curious to know more, and who want to share with us their ideas and experiences in the broad range of fields that comprise our environment.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the blog authors for their enthusiasm for this idea and their generous collaboration. And now, without further ado, it’s my pleasure to invite you to reflect and comment on the first subject, lost paradises, that someone once described like this:



A Frayburu en despedida

¿Oyes como los murmullos de relatos resbalan en el verdín de tus rocas?

¿Las estelas de chalupas nocturnas en contrabando,

el chapoteo alegre de las pozas marinas escondidas, los laberintos de sirenas,

Y el nido de búho en la arboleda?

¿El gorgojeo de la llegada del agua de mar a la piscina probática,

la canción del viento del norte en el cañaveral?

¿Recuerdas la pita en flor envuelta en la rosaleda indomable,

El ancla de galeón en la entrada del zaguán,

Las dunas hechas de tiempo y las  higueras de tentación?

¿Los muros de piedra y las vigas que anuncian tormenta?

Viejo caserío de mirada atávica al mar,

playa de ánimas donde hoy mora una más.

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