La Historia Oficial: El Poder y la Manipulación de las Masas

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Es evidente la relación entre el poder y la manipulación de las masas en la película “La Historia Oficial”. Este artículo tiene como objetivo analizar los mecanismos de tal relación y explorar las posibles causas y consecuencias de los eventos históricos que la generaron. López (2014) en su artículo sobre psicología de masas, brillantemente afirma que cualquier forma de gobierno, ya sean monárquicos, democráticos, comunistas o constitucionales dependen de la aceptación pública para que logren hacer política a largo plazo. El autor añade  que un gobierno sólo  es gobierno en virtud de la aprobación pública. De esta manera, uno constata que  la película “La Historia Oficial” está cargada de elementos que representan la manipulación de las masas a través del poder político,  social y hasta religioso.

La  Teoría de los dos demonios, presentada por Marcela Viscoti (2014) en su artículo “Lo Pensable de una Época: sobre la Historia Oficial de Luis Puenzo”, es indispensable para que uno comprenda mejor los mecanismos de la relación entre el poder y la manipulación de masas en la película. Esa teoría afirma que el terrorismo de Estado fue una repuesta al terrorismo practicado por grupos paramilitares; justificando así, el pasado dictatorial. A través de la teoría de los dos demonios, el Estado procuraba no solamente justificar la represión estatal pero también ubicaba  la sociedad en una posición de inocencia. Es decir, mientras el Estado promovía la idea de un pueblo inocente y ajeno  frente a la barbarie que sucedía ante sus ojos, la sociedad empezaba a percibirse a sí misma como libre de cualquier  responsabilidad social y política (3). En 1985, cuando la película fue estrenada, todavía había mucha gente que creía que los militares habían defendido a los argentinos de la subversión. El film de Luis Puenzo, divulgaba por primera vez a nivel nacional e internacional  el robo de niños, la dictadura y la manipulación popular. Otro concepto relevante y que la película  explora detalladamente es la complicidad civil con la dictadura. Puenzo muestra la complejidad de la complicidad civil desde el escenario empresarial- multinacional hasta las acciones cómplices de la iglesia católica. Además, la complicidad como negación social presentada en la película deja bien claro  que la supuesta inocencia de la sociedad es justificada en la pretensión de no saber (Viscoti, 2014). Por lo tanto, Alicia es la personificación perfecta de la complicidad social como negación y esto se ve bien claro cuando el profesor Benítez le dice: “Siempre es más fácil creer que no es posible, ¿no?” y “No hay nada más conmovedor que una burguesa con culpa”.

El personaje de Alicia parece vivir en su propio mundo, huyendo de la realidad y enseñando la historia oficial, en vez de la historia nacional.  Hasta se la podría comparar con Alicia en el país de las maravillas. Uno percibe la ajenidad de Alicia en la escena en que  está con sus amigas en un restaurante y vuelve a encontrarse con Ana, su mejor amiga, después de 7 años. Uno claramente nota que Alicia es muy diferente a Ana y las demás amigas. Durante la conversación, una de ellas menciona que una persona conocida suya tuvo que irse a Brasil: “Si se lo llevaron, por algo habrá sido, ¿no?”  Y Alicia inocentemente contesta: “¿Aie, pero de que están hablando? También, cuando la amiga dice: “El único hijo que le quedaba” y Alicia ingenuamente contesta: “¿Por qué? ¿Qué les pasó a los otros?  Ya en la escena con Ana, tomando licor de huevo, Alicia llega al colmo de la pretensión de no saber. Las dos pasan de las risas a los llantos y luego constatamos por la expresión facial de Alicia, cuanto le cuesta creer que su mejor amiga había sido torturada. Deltel (2012), en su artículo “La Historia oficial”, clasifica la ingenuidad de Alicia como insensata ya que Alicia le pregunta a Ana si ella habría hecho una denuncia y porque no la habría hecho.

Puenzo también denuncia  la manipulación socio-política a través de la escena del baño de Gaby, en la cual la nena canta “en el país de no me acuerdo”. Ya el abuso de poder también está claramente simbolizado por la escena del aeropuerto, en que Roberto dice a Alicia: “¡No pienses!”.  En ese contexto, Deltel (2012) presenta el concepto literario de Intrahistoria creado por Don Miguel de Unamuno en 1895 y demuestra como tal concepto está presente en la película de Puenzo a través de tres tipos de historia que son: la historia oficial, la historia nacional y la historia personal. Don Miguel de Unamuno hace una comparación de forma muy acertada acerca de “La Historia Oficial”  o sea, la gran historia que normalmente sale en la prensa, con la intrahistoria que reflejaría todo lo que pasa pero de lo cual no se habla en los periódicos. De este modo, “la intrahistoria es la verdadera historia, la realidad, lo que se esconde detrás de varias cosas” (Deltel, 2012). Uno claramente verifica la conexión entre los conceptos de poder, manipulación, intrahistoria y complicidad civil vivenciados por la sociedad argentina en la época de la dictadura y durante la emergencia y desarrollo  de la democracia. Puenzo genialmente simboliza cada uno de esos conceptos con sus personajes. La intrahistoria, por ejemplo, está presente durante toda la película puesto que el espectador sospecha todo el tiempo de la realidad por detrás de las apariencias. El espectador sospecha del exilio a Brasil en la escena del restaurante; también sospecha que Gaby probablemente reviviera un trauma inconsciente cuando sus primos entraron en su habitación jugando a ser policías; y sospecha que Ana probablemente  estuvo exiliada por siete años en algún lugar. Todas esas sospechas, de acuerdo con Deltel (2012) representan la intrahistoria. Siendo la intrahistoria tan presente, uno puede deducir que la historia oficial es lo que uno menos ve en la película. Puenzo, intencionalmente, provoca la sospecha en los espectadores y los hacen percibir la realidad de la historia nacional a través de las historias personales de cada uno de los personajes. La Historia personal de Roberto por ejemplo, lleva a los espectadores a deducir la historia nacional; o sea, Roberto representa la corrupción, el abuso de poder y la tiranía del gobierno dictatorial. La escuela, el rito del himno nacional, la clase de historia y la vida de Alicia representan la manipulación de las masas a través de la teoría de los dos demonios. Finalmente, la historia personal de Gaby nos lleva a la historia nacional de los robos de niños de padres “desaparecidos”.

El personaje de Alicia solamente empieza a sufrir una profunda modificación en su manera de ver al mundo cuando ella asiste a una manifestación de “Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo”.  Otra vez, uno percibe la perplejidad de Alicia a través de sus expresiones faciales. Alicia se da cuenta de que la realidad que se desvela ante sus ojos, no corresponde a la historia que ella ha enseñado por tantos años. La maestra  empieza a vivenciar una especie de conflicto de identidad y aprovecha que su marido se va de viaje y empieza a investigar la historia de Gaby. Curiosamente, la historia personal de Gaby le ayuda a construir su propia historia personal de ciudadana (Deltel, 2012). Puenzo deja al espectador imaginar un posible final para la historia. Quizás, Alicia iba a empezar a participar de las manifestaciones de las Madres de Mayo y luchar en contra de su historia oficial.

Para concluir, desafortunadamente, la manipulación de las masas objetivando hegemonía política ha existido desde el proceso de colonización de América Latina. Casi siempre los jefes de Estado logran manipular las masas a través de la educación o la falta de educación. Es decir, la película muestra un sistema educativo basado en el positivismo de Auguste Comte, en lo cual los estudiantes son “programados” para  aprender la historia oficial y los maestros “programados” para enseñala. Contrariamente,  aquellos que abren sus ojos para la realidad sufren las consecuencias políticas y sociales de sus actos.  Afortunadamente, con la restitución de la democracia en la República Argentina, los medios de comunicación y la libertad de expresión permitieron que películas como la de Puenzo denunciasen la realidad histórica argentina objetivando la promoción del pensamiento crítico a nivel nacional e internacional.

Referencias

Deltel, Luis. “La Historia Oficial (Luis Puenzo 1985).” Madri Más. 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 1 May 2015. <http://www.madrimasd.org/blogs/imagen_cine_comunicacion_audiovisual/2012/12/14/12607

López, German. “El Poder Y La Manipulación De Las Masas.” Pueblos 31 Aug. 2014. Print.

Viscoti, Marcela. “Lo Pensable De Una Época: Sobre La Historia Oficial De Luis Puenzo.”Universida De Buenos Aires (2014). Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://www.aletheia.fahce.unlp.edu.ar/numeros/numeros/numero-8/articulos/lo-pensable-de-una-epoca.-sobre-la-historia-oficial-de-luis-puenzo&gt;.

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How much does grade configuration matter?

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 Great books for young adults

               Some scholars affirm that grade configuration seems to play an important role on students’ academic achievements. Nonetheless, Schwerdt and West (2011) highlight that the way grades are set is still largely ignored by most of the literature about the differences in students’ achievements across the country.  According to a study carried out by Schwerdt and West (2011) in Florida public schools, students who move to middle schools have their academic performance substantially decreased in subjects such as math and reading. One of the reasons is that they have a hard time transitioning from the elementary school to the middle school setting. In addition, they are also more prone to drop out of school by grade 10.  In the 1960s, educational reformers started to argue that as young adolescents have peculiar social, cognitive and neural needs, it would be best to place them in completely separate buildings with well-prepared middle school teachers (p.3). Although it was one of largest efforts at educational reorganization in the history of American education, just the fact of designating an institution as “middle school” would not guarantee that young adolescents would have their needs met (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p. 79). Therefore, there have been organizations such as the Nacional Middle School Association (NMSA) in 1973 and the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1986 that have advocated and developed strategies to meet teens’ specific developmental needs. For instance, due to neural and cognitive changes during early adolescence, middle schoolers have the need of “challenging learning experiences in order to sustain cognitive growth process” (p. 27). In other words, preparing middle school students for reaching proficiency in high-stakes tests should not be an educational goal per se; it should be the results of a well-rounded education. Problem-solving skills, critical thinking, historical awareness and scientific knowledge are critical in a society in which the focus has shifted from industrial production to knowledge/ innovation production.

             The K-8 Model is another grade that has been discussed in the educational field. Some advantages would include having a smaller school and mitigating behavioral problems that normally occur in large middle schools (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p. 88).  In another study developed by Schwerdt and West (2011), this time using data from schools in New York City, they found that students attending grades 5-8 or K-8 schools outperformed middle school students in grades 6-8. On the other hand,   Brown and Knowles (2007) alert for the pitfalls of the K-8 model such as less exploratory and extracurricular activities directed specifically for young adolescents; less common planning time, and educators might not be well-prepared to teach teens and address their unique needs, since the organizational focus of the institution is on the elementary rather than the middle school level.  With regards to junior high schools, one can clearly realize that as the K-8 model, junior highs lack the appropriate staff and are more concerned with keeping the content-specific curricula instead of developing practical and active curricula designed to address early adolescents’ specific transformations.

           After all, one might infer that the key problem is not the structure of the school, but how they address young adolescents’ unique developmental needs (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p. 89). One might also think that in order to facilitate the process of staffing and create specific school protocols, the middle school grade configuration might be the best option.  Yet, the physical structure or grade configuration of a middle school serves solely as a facilitator to implement the needed curricula change, which is also a change in the mechanical world view paradigm. I strongly believe that students need just as much socio-emotional development as academic excellence and that without socio-emotional development, academic excellence will hardly be achieved. Therefore, it is crucial that schools, parents and community work together in order to create middle schools that fit into young adolescents’ physical, cognitive and neural transformations.

References:

Brown, Dave, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Schwerdt, Guido, and Martin West. “The Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes through Middle and High Schools.” Harvard Graduate School of Education (2011): 49. Ed Week. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://www.edweek.org/media/gradeconfiguration-13structure.pdf

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Teaching Middle School: a Tricky Business

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         When it comes to the topic of teaching middle school, most of us will readily agree that physical, cognitive and neural changes play a major role in the principles and methods of instruction. In order to have a successful educational system, it is determining factor that middle school teachers understand those transformations and are able to respond to them efficiently. In other words, teaching early adolescents goes beyond specific methods of instruction of a given subject, it requires an array of information about developmental topics and the broadening of one’s clinical skills (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p.13).

     Adolescents’ sleeping patterns, physical and cognitive development and socio-emotional regulation are variables that will interfere in their academic results. In addition, the developmental differences between male and female and the difference in time, might even increase conflicts in the classroom environment. The cognitive transition explained by Brown and Knowles (2007) might also result in classroom disparities since students might move from concrete to formal thought at different paces. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers cognitively challenge early adolescents in order to optimize learning during this period of brain growth (33).

      It is unquestionable the impact of physical, cognitive and neural changes in the personal and academic life of a young adolescent; however, one should also pay close attention to the socio-emotional aspect of those changes, and how teachers and parents could help their students/children learn to regulate themselves.  As in early childhood development, early adolescents might have a hard time regulating their emotions due to those drastic changes. Another interesting point in common is that both infants and young adolescents face intense brain growth through brain connections and pruning. That said, one might infer that the socio-emotional component of development in early adolescence is as important as in early childhood. In other words, parents and teachers should “be there” for their child/ student. They should make efforts to truly understand the early adolescents’ conflicts and not diminish their degree of importance. Parents and teachers should promote a safe learning and exploring environment, welcoming their children back to either delight in their new discoveries or comfort them.

      The concept of secure attachment developed in the early years is certainly extended to adolescence and adult life, and should also be well known and practiced by middle school teachers (Circle of Security, 2015).  An example of the consideration of the socio-emotional aspect of development in the early adolescents’ lives is given through the story of Rimm in our text book, “[…] this year a teacher liked me. She told me I was good at writing, math, and music and that I had a good personality. Her confidence made me feel different, but in a good way. I started making friends and felt smart and better about myself (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p.23).” The teacher mentioned clearly comforted the student when he needed to have his “cup filled”. After that, one can clearly see the circle of security restarting again, where the student can finally “go out” and safely explore and feel good about himself.  To conclude, I believe that equal importance should be given to all the major physical, cognitive, neural and socio-emotional changes in early adolescents’ lives since they affect academic performance, and that teachers should be well prepared to respond to them in an academic and clinical way. All of that certainly makes “teaching middle school a tricky business”.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. “Understanding the Young Adolescent’s Physical and Cognitive Growth.” What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

“Circle of Security.” Circle of Security. 19 Dec. 1998. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://circleofsecurity.net/resources/handout/&gt;.

La Muerte de Artemio Cruz y la visión psicoanalítica

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En “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz” por Carlos Fuentes, los conceptos de poder, degeneración social, política y humana, y la conciencia del “yo” son de fundamental importancia para poder comprender su obra mejor. Consecuentemente, objetivando  facilitar el análisis de la novela, también se torna relevante exponer los contextos socio-políticos, culturales y hasta la geografía espiritual del escritor. Carlos Fuentes viene de una familia bien acomodada y de un alto nivel cultural. Haber vivido en diversos países enriqueció muchísimo su vida cultural. Además uno percibe que Fuentes rechazó al radicalismo político ya que ha alabado la figura de Fidel Castro, elogiado la apertura de Raúl Castro, consolidado amistades con hombres como Bill Clinton y Jacques Chirac y declarado ser un admirador de las ideas de Franklin Roosevelt (Román, 2011). Esta neutralidad ideológica del autor, probablemente tiene sus raíces en la diversidad cultural en la cual creció.

El contexto socio-político en que Carlos Fuentes escribe la obra literaria, se destaca el proceso de la Revolución Mexicana y el periodo posrevolucionario. El tema de la reforma agraria resulta en la lucha de los indígenas contra los dueños de las haciendas y en el clamor por tierra y libertad (Román, 2011). En ese aspecto, Emiliano Zapata se destaca como el comandante revolucionario que más apoyaba a la reforma agraria. No obstante, cuando Carranza llega a presidencia de México (1917-1918), él se olvida de este espíritu reformador y empieza a defender los intereses de los hacendados. En esta pelea de intereses, Zapata es asesinado (1919) y luego Carranza (1920). Durante la presidencia de Álvaro Obregón (1920 -1924), se va dando lentamente una reforma agraria parcial, pero la política está más enfocada a favorecer empresas nacionales y a la inversión extranjera. En este periodo, también son favorecidos los sectores de la educación y de la diplomacia, ampliando así las relaciones diplomáticas con la Unión Soviética. Uno claramente percibe que hay un conflicto ideológico entre capitalismo y socialismo- comunista en el contexto socio-político mexicano. Un ejemplo de la influencia marxista en la vida política de México, es el periodo presidencial de Plutarco Elías Calles (1924 – 1928). Calles combate la religión Católica y sus cultos y hasta permite el asesinato de sacerdotes jesuitas. En esta perspectiva de corrupción, Lázaro Cárdenas es uno de los pocos presidentes mexicanos que trabaja de acuerdo con los ideales revolucionarios (1934). La mayoría de aquellos que se dicen “revolucionarios” acceden al poder y gobiernan con los mismos intereses financieros de sus predecesores, lo que resulta en violencia por parte de la población revuelta.

Culturalmente, Fuentes se depara con una extensa y muy rica producción artística en México en la mitad del siglo XX. El surrealismo es introducido por André Bretón en uno de sus viajes al país azteca a fines de la década de 1930. En poco tiempo, artistas como Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera y Octavio Paz empiezan sus creaciones bajo los postulados del surrealismo. La influencia surrealista en Fuentes es clara ya que “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz” es clasificada como una obra surrealista donde la realidad está basada en los sueños y el subconsciente (Román, 2011). Es importante mencionar que la geografía espiritual del escritor seguramente contribuye a un desarrollo más profundo de la novela en términos de reflexión, condena y aceptación del “yo”. Uno no esperaría que una mentalidad puramente materialista reflejara cuestiones morales-espirituales como lo hace el personaje de Cruz en su lecho de muerte. “¿A quién chingarás hoy, para existir?, ¿a quién mañana? ¿A quién chingarás: a quién usarás? te fatigas no la vences oyes los murmullos de las otras oraciones que no escuchan tu propia oración: que no sea nuestra respuesta ni nuestra fatalidad: lávate de la chingada […]” (Fuentes, 72). Por consiguiente, queda claro que Fuentes ha desarrollado su religiosidad de una manera equilibrada, es decir, una fe más razonada. Como ejemplo, se puede citar una entrevista de La Revista de la Universidad de México, en la cual Fuentes habla de su relación con Dios, “Contrapongo esa idea de Dios a la figura de Jesús, porque Jesús realmente es el hombre que nos acerca a la posibilidad de lo divino. Nos dice: Dios no es todos los hombres pero todos los hombres pueden ser Dios. […] hay la posibilidad de la dimensión sagrada en todo ser humano. Esto me parece extraordinario y totalmente contrario a la locura dogmática del Dios impuesto, del Dios invisible, el Dieu cache, como lo nombró Pascal” (Alonso y Gordon, 2011).

Teniendo en cuenta el contexto histórico de la vida del escritor, su trayectoria personal y la ayuda de algunos conceptos psicoanalíticos, uno logra hacer una lectura más profunda de la “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz”. Al conectar la información socio-política con la diversidad cultural e intelectual de Fuentes, uno infiere que el escritor a pesar de ser un ciudadano del mundo busca la creación de un vínculo más fuerte con México, haciéndolo evidente en “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz”. “I discovered that my father’s country was real.  And that I belonged to it. Mexico was my identity yet I myself lacked an identity” (Fuentes, 1987). El autor escribe la novela de manera fragmentada, por eso es difícil a primera vista descifrar el perfil psicológico del protagonista. Para hacerlo posible, es fundamental que uno analice la obra también de manera fragmentada. Por ejemplo, la instancia narrativa del relato está fragmentada entre YO, TU y ÉL.  Así haciéndolo, el lector tiene una visión más amplia del protagonista. Él expresa sus sensaciones por medio del YO. ” YO sé que me atraviesan la piel del antebrazo con esa aguja; grito antes de sentir dolor alguno; el anuncio de ese dolor viaja a mi cerebro antes de que la piel lo sienta… ah… a prevenirme del dolor que sentiré… a ponerme en guardia para que me dé cuenta…” (Fuentes, 152). Profundizando un poco más, el YO tiene una connotación muy importante en el psicoanálisis puesto que es visto como una entidad que está dentro de nuestra psiquis y nos hace seres complejos. Fuentes trata de construirlo en Artemio Cruz a través de la fragmentación, o sea, el escritor fragmenta la narración, el tiempo y hasta la estructura de la novela con el propósito de constituir el YO del protagonista. A diferencia de una telenovela, donde los personajes normalmente son psicológicamente superficiales y el foco está en el desarrollo de la acción; en “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz” Fuentes busca crear un YO complejo para su protagonista.

Para explicar un poco más acerca de la formación del YO de Artemio Cruz, sería interesante utilizar la Teoría del Espejo de Lacan. De acuerdo con esa teoría, la psiquis se estructura en tres fases diferentes durante la niñez: El bebé con el cuerpo fragmentado, el encuentro con el idéntico y la mirada de la madre (Farias, 2007). Se puede detectar la fase del bebé con el cuerpo fragmentado, cuando Artemio Cruz así como los bebés no logra manejar sus emociones ya que sus movimientos físicos no obedecen a su cerebro, eso crea una situación mental caótica y angustiante. “Yo despierto… Me despierta el contacto de ese objeto frío con el miembro. No sabía que a veces se puede orinar involuntariamente, siento el miedo de pensar en mi propio cuerpo” (Fuentes, 115). La segunda fase, “el encuentro con el idéntico”, es un proceso de apaciguamiento donde el bebé ve su reflejo en el espejo, sonríe y el “espejo” le sonríe. Hay un establecimiento de comunicación y eso disminuye la angustia sufrida por el niño. En “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz” este encuentro sucede de manera paradójica, ya que Artemio se ve reflejado en el espejo como los bebés, pero no logra sentir felicidad. Cruz recibe una imagen degrada de sí mismo, que simbólicamente significa la imagen degrada de México en medio a su turbulencia política y social. “Otro. En un espejo colocado frente a la cama del enfermo. El otro. Artemio Cruz. Su gemelo. Artemio Cruz está enfermo. No vive: no, vive […]” (Fuentes, 12). La teoría lacaniana dice que “la mirada de la madre” que corresponde a la tercera fase del proceso de formación del “yo”, es la más importante. De acuerdo con Lacan, los individuos se van a estructurar en la mirada del otro y nuestra personalidad es el resultado de como fuimos mirados, tocados y comprendidos por nuestro primer espejo: la figura y la mirada materna. (Escobar, 2009) A esta altura del análisis, uno percibe dos eventos extremamente importantes en la vida de Artemio Cruz que impactan en la formación de su “yo”. El primero es que el protagonista no puede mirar los ojos de su madre ya que ella es asesinada por Atanasio. “Cruz, Cruz sin nombre ni apellido verdaderos, bautizado por los mulatos, con las sílabas de Isabel Cruz o Cruz Isabel, la madre que fue corrida a palos por Atanasio: la primera mujer del lugar que le dio un hijo” (Fuentes, 156). Como consecuencia, en el segundo evento Artemio Cruz no logra tener sus mensajes decodificados por las mujeres presentes en su vida ya que su relación con la figura materna es prácticamente inexistente. Eso resulta en la frustración del protagonista y en una visión negativa del mundo y de sí mismo. Él se encuentra consigo mismo en la mirada de los otros, pero, es sorprendido por un Artemio degradado, no amado y corrupto.

Para concluir, a pesar de ver México de lejos, Fuentes trae sus perspectivas políticas y morales acerca del país a la novela. Él construye el “yo” de Artemio Cruz de manera disfuncional representando así la disfuncionalidad política, social y económica de México. A través del autoanálisis, el escritor establece la muerte como evento facilitador al cuestionamiento moral. Finalmente aunque no menos importante, Fuentes fragmenta la instancia narrativa del relato en YO, TU y EL lo que hace que Artemio Cruz sea un personaje con gran profundidad psicológica.

 Referencias:

Alonso, Guadalupe. Gordon, José. “Entrevista Con Carlos Fuentes: Palabras Que Marcan.” La Revista De La Universidad De México 19 Dec. 2011. Print

Escobar, José Manuel Ramírez. “En  El Espejo Con Lacan: 60 Años De La Presentación Del Estadio De Espejo.” Psicología Revista 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. http://psicologias.uprrp.edu/articulos/espejoconLacan.pdf

Farias, Irene Zunilda. “Fragmentación Y Paradoja En La Muerte De Artemio Cruz De Carlos Fuentes.” Universidad Nacional De Lomas De Zamora. 19 Dec. 2007. Web. 30 Jan.2015. https://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/especulo/numero36/cfuentes.html

Fuentes, Carlos. La Muerte De Artemio Cruz. Madrid, 1967. Print.

Fuentes, Carlos. The Discovery of Mexico. Granta 22.19 Aug. 1987. Web. 30 Jan, 2015

Román, Salvador. “LA Novela Surrealista: LA Muerte De Artemio Cruz.” Monografías. 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. http://www.monografias.com/trabajos93/analisis-literario-novela-la-muerte-artemio-cruz/analisis-literario-novela-la-muerte-artemio-cruz2.shtml

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Film Analysis: Tambiem la Lluvia by Iciar Bollain

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In “Tambien la Lluvia” by Iciar Bollain, the atrocities of imperialism are seen through the lenses of modernity. Roughly 500 years later, the indigenous populations are still belittled by the ones in possession the power. Historically, the film happens among the “water war” in which Cochabamba is the scenario of violent protests against the excessive fees for water and the privatization of Bolivia’s water supply in 2000. Concurrently, the film is also about a cinematic production that addresses the stories of 16th priests who were the first to speak up against the colonizers cruel practices (Even the Rain Movie, 2010).

Paradoxically, the cinematic production crew that arrives in Cochabamba expressing their outrage feelings against imperialism, are “imperialists” themselves since their only concern is to get the film done at the lowest price possible. Fortunately, as time goes by, the whole crew except Sebastian is forced to dive into their own emotions showing some sort of involvement within the “water war” chaos. One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is that the colonialist social context remains affecting the relationships and experiences of the characters almost 500 years after the Spanish colonization. For instance, the movie production crew could be a symbolism of the Spanish colonizers who want to exploit the indigenous population since they pay them $2.00 per hour for their work.  Costa underestimates Daniel when he speaks in English with the production’s financial backers in the U.S about the budget and how they got the perfect extra-actors for as little as $ 2.00 per hour. At this point, Daniel understands the conversation letting Costa know that he is not a fool and for some reason, Costa starts seeing things differently. Another important point is that Sebastian’s production was affected the whole time by the social context of the film. The set location had to be changed; Sebastian and Costa had to use their “influence” to get Daniel out of jail in order to film; some of the actors were terrified and wanted to go back to Europe; tension was present almost the entire time in the movie.

The film aims to portray the conditions in which the story occurs through Costa’s inner transformation such as when he starts off saying, “I don’t give a damn about what happened yesterday, much less 500 years ago”  and when he is finally moved by those people’s situation and understands and respects their acts towards freedom ( Walsh, 2010).  In addition, the film portrays the conditions in which the story occurs by addressing the themes of social warrants and dominance.  Anger, outrage, greediness, power, awareness, sorrow, empathy, helplessness, courage and hope are the emotions that the film communicate. They are very well expressed through the camera close ups on the actors’ eyes and the philosophical debates among the crew during dinner, which also contrasts the European greed and the indigenous innocence.

Power is depicted through the conflictive relationship of social warrants and dominance through indigenous resistance to colonizers and riots during the “water war”.  First with colonialism and then with neo-colonialism, as Paulo Freire sheds light in his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, when he talks about the “myth of the right of everyone to education”. One might question whether social warrants are nothing but social myths since they are defeated by social dominance in the film. Finally, I believe that the director Bollain did well on expressing her beliefs in the film when it comes to the difficulty of filming in a poor country and the risks to end up exploiting the population just because it’ll be good for the film’s budget.

References:

Walsh, David. “Even the Rain and the Need for Dealing with Complexity.” World Socialist Web Site. 1 Oct. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2014. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/10/tff3-o01.html

“Tambien La Lluvia.” Even the Rain Movie. 1 Oct. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2014. http://www.eventherainmovie.com/synopsis.html.

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By Kaye

In “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, Achebe discusses elements such as racism, “adjectival insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensive mystery”, moral ambivalence, dehumanization of Africa and Africans, and the concepts of culture and identity. Conrad writes about the ivory trade, natural resources exploitation, colonialism and madness using word embellishment and Achebe (1976) does corroborate that in his essay “An image of Africa”, “I would not call that man an artist, for example, who composes an eloquent instigation to one people to fall upon another and destroy them. No matter how striking his imagery or how beautiful his cadences fall, such a man is no more a great artist than another may be called a priest who reads the mass backwards or a physician who poisons his patients” (p.9)

The cultural and identity elements in Conrad’s work addressed by Achebe has to do with the Western image of Africa. Interestingly, one can link Achebe’s thoughts with Clark’s (2008) explanations of the term ‘new racism’, in which inferiority and biological difference are not as important as cultural differences. The idea of cultural identity is so rooted with individuals that it is impossible for two cultures to co-exist (p.518). Achebe expresses those cultural and identity elements as desire or even needs of “the Western psychology to set Africa up as a foil to Europe”; dehumanizing Africa and Africans throughout history, denying their culture and undermining African people. Even when some sort of humanity is expressed by Marlow in the novel, it is nothing but social conventions of half decent liberal Englishmen who are “required” to be shocked when witnessing atrocities that characterized the time in which King Leopold ruled Belgium.

Achebe also talks about moral ambivalence when he mentions the missionary Albert Schweitzer, “The African are my brothers, but my junior brothers”, one can clearly realize how the missionary judges the African as being inferior or in need of civilization, when in reality, Africa and Africans have rich cultural and artistic elements that were appreciated by artists; for instance, there is the “mask that had been given to Maurice Vlaminck in 1905”, and that consequently inspired other artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Vollard (p. 12) Last but not least, Achebe highlights the matter of “ adjectival insistence” that the English critic F.R Leavis addressed. According to the author, Conrad’s “insistence upon inexpressible and incomprehensible mystery” call into question artistic good faith since it assails the reader with emotive words, almost like a hypnotic process.

I agree with Achebe’s assessment that Western literature misrepresents Africa and that unfortunately a lot of us still live the consequences of the preconceived image of Africans. I strongly believe that Achebe has a point in his essay “An image of Africa” and that he successfully demystifies the Western view of Africa in both of his works: “Things fall apart” and “An image of Africa”.

References:

Clark, Simon “Culture and Identity.” The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis.  (2008):  Aug. 16 2014. <Http:/www.sage-ereference.com/view/hdbk_culturanalysis/n24.xml>

Chinua, Achebe. “An Image of Africa”. Research in African Literatures, Vol. 9, No. 1, Special Issue on Literary Criticism. (Spring, 1978), pp. 1-15. 1978), pp. 1-15.

 

 

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- Offensive? Deplorable?

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By Kaye

In “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, the author states his experiences as captain of a steamer in the Congo River for a Belgium trade company. The author tells his story through elaborated language usage and the hypocrisy of Imperialism in his time.  For instance, Chinua Achebe fiercely criticized Joseph Conrad and consequently the novel, saying that “Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist” and the novel is “offensive and deplorable” (107). There are many interesting dual aspects in the novel such as good and evil, man and nature, colonialism as means of “civilization” and “improvement of natives” when, in reality, it was exploitation.

“It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: “Exterminate all the brutes!”” (50), indicates how the Europeans see the Africans as mere objects that can be discarded if high functionality is not achieved.  Another excerpt that demonstrates the classical English Liberal perspective in which portrays the natives in Africa as savages and cannibals is:  “They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force- nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind- as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much (82) […]” Last but not least, “It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—the suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough […]” (49).

Those passages demonstrate how the effects of colonialism were apathetically seen by Conrad. Although he amply describes the atrocities suffered by the Africans through language embellishment, he remains indifferent to their suffering and even justifies exploitation in the name of “progress” and “civilization”. Obviously, Conrad’s views describe him as a man of his time and place which, in my opinion, does not justify colonialism policies and colonial violence. The Africans are not characterized in the novel, they are dehumanized, and, Africa is a mere scenario. Power, moral and values seem to be enigmas that the author tries to decipher in the novel.

References:

Davis, Paul, Gary Harrison, David Johnson, Patricia Smith, and John Crawford, eds. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Twentieth Century, 1900- The Present. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. New York: Bedford / ST. Martins, 2003. 1448. Print.

 

How to Tame a Wild Tongue- Summary and Response

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Summary: How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua

                                                                 By Kaye

In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, Gloria Anzaldua exposes her feelings about social and cultural difficulties that Mexican immigrants face when being raised in the United States. She establishes comparisons among English, Spanish and their variations and how cultural imperialism influence on people’s “preference” to speak one language rather than the other. She brings to debate important social problems such as sexism, cultural imperialism, racism, low self-esteem, reprimand, and identity construction. The author brilliantly starts the article with a metaphor in which she defines the acculturation process as something extremely violent and cruel. In addition, the article aims at showing both sides of the acculturation process: the Anglo side and the Hispanic side. On the Anglo side, there is the urgency of adaption. In other words, if an individual choose to immigrate to the United States, he should embrace the language and culture in order to be “accepted”; on the Hispanic side, there are the Mexican parents who want their children to succeed and live the American Dream, thus they’d better speak proper American English with minimum or no accent. It seems that all the author desires is to be able to freely speak Chicano Spanish and have their own language and identity respected. According to the article, some progress has being made. There are books published in Chicano Spanish, and political parties who defend Chicano’s rights. Nonetheless, there is still an interrogation mark with regards to their race, identity, language, culture, sense of belonging, freedom to express their thoughts in whatever English/Spanish variation they want and sexism due to the “macho” features of Latinos in general. In addition, the author expresses her feeling of outrage, exposing how Chicano Spanish is belittled by Latinos and Anglo people. To conclude the author points out that Chicanos are linguistically orphans and how it seriously affects their self-esteem.

Response:

The article “How to Tame a Wilde Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua is extremely valuable since it brings to discussion important social issues such as sexism, cultural imperialism, racism, low self-esteem, reprimand and identity formation.  The article has a solid argument base which can be corroborated by scholars such as Foucault, Goffman, Zizek and Fanon. Although it was publish in 1987 as part of Anzaldua’s book “Borderland/ La Frontera”, she was a contemporary of the Chicano Movement in the 60s. Culturally, she was influenced by the social turmoil when she wrote the article. In other words, the richness of her writing goes beyond knowledge, it also comes from personal experience.

One of the article’s strengths is clearly stated by the author when she qualifies the acculturation process as violent.  She uses the term “linguistic terrorism” and explains how the First Amendment is violated, when an individual has his form of expression attacked with intend of censure. Another interesting point is the view of languages as subjective and passive of changes that go beyond new grammatical rules. Those changes incorporate social and cultural factors. In addition, there is an intriguing questioning on whether identity construction is a social input and to what extent individuals have control upon their own identity formation.  All these thoughts were developed by the author among social turmoil caused by the Chicano Movement and I strongly believe that it contributed to the general strength of the article. Historically speaking, the Mexican- American society in California and Texas had been going through over twenty years of segregation. Among the claimed civil rights was the right to quality education in which Mexican-Americans would receive equal college opportunities and not merely be pushed into vocational schools. Mexican-American children or Chicanos, would be ashamed of their origins and of speaking Spanish since they were physically and psychologically punished at school for speaking Spanish in the classroom. Cultural imperialism promoted a stereotyped and stigmatized Mexican population: passiveness and low intellectual aptitude resulted in thousands of students dropping out of school.

At this point, I strongly believe that the author exposed her feelings and experience supporting them with historical facts in a very effective way. In a country where the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Find Law); one should have the right to live according to their cultural backgrounds up to the point of not overstepping the bounds of the others.  That said, I strongly disagree with the author, when she states, “[…] until I’m free to write bilingually and switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I’d rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate” (Anzaldua, 1987, p.80).  One have the right to freedom of expression and might protest for things he believes will benefit society; however, how can one demand the majority to accommodate the language needs of the minority, when the official spoken language in the country, in this case the United States is English? At this point in the article, I sense that the author’s outrage oversteps the limit of common sense and she basically desires to pay back all the segregation she has faced so far in her life. I’d like to provide an example out of the American context in order to illustrate better my thoughts. Brazil is a country that received many Asians and Europeans immigrates during and by the end of World War ll. The official language is Brazilian Portuguese, there are many Italian, Japanese and German communities. Those communities are small when compared to the rest of the Brazilian population. Do Brazilians learn Italian to talk to Italians or do Italians learn Portuguese because they are living in Brazil and need to be able to integrate themselves into the Brazilian society? Are they going to be less Italians because they learn Portuguese? I don’t think so. The point I’m trying to make is: there are many advantages of being multicultural and one should try to accommodate the others’ needs to the best of their abilities. To conclude, I strongly believe that the author has a valid point when it comes to cultural imperialism, sexism, identity construction, racism, low self-esteem and reprimand in a country that has liberty as one of its pillars. 

Thesis:

Thesis # 1: Identity construction is indelibly linked to social inputs. It is a variable that depends on political, economic and bellicose hegemony.

Thesis # 2: Language and culture are inseparable; with language suffering variations as the culture varies or changes. Political, economic and geographical conditions will determine cultural characteristics that will result in language variation.

Thesis # 3: Individuals play different roles in society that are pretty much socially determined.

 

References:

Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue?” Borderland/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Second Edition. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987. 217. Print.

“First Amendment – U.S Constitution.” Find Law. 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 9 Aug. 2014. <http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html&gt;.

 

Global Warming Denial – Paper Review

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GlobalWarmingDenial

This week we were asked to review some peers’ papers and this one specially caught my attention.

The reason it caught my attention is because people still deny global warming.

My peer made several grammatical mistakes that are highlighted in red.

In addition, I also suggested  some  modifications in the formulation of his thesis.

The article being analyzed and answered by my peer is, ” Why Bother” by Michael Pollan.

It can be found at this address : http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/why-bother/ 

 

My  Revision Notes

I find global warming an excellent subject to discuss. Maybe the author’s intention was exactly to be thought-provoking, inciting societal changes. Maybe that’s the reason you had so many questions when you finished reading it. It is common knowledge that global warming has affected us in different ways such as climate changing. There are several researches out there with data information that prove the existence of the effects of global warming. Honestly, I don’t believe that planting a garden would be the solution for global warming since the major damage caused to the planet is in industrial scale. Even when multinationals implement social responsibility programs, the pollution scale is exponentially disproportional if compared to the “environmental repair” scale. That said, I’d suggest you to focus on global warming and the ineffectiveness of social responsibility programs.
Just building a garden in your backyard is not going to make up for all the industrial pollution responsible for the carbon dioxide rates of 399 parts per million. You could also discuss about how multinationals take advantage of global warming to promote their trade mark via social responsibility programs.

I’d also suggest you to review grammar and punctuation.

I don’t quite understand your first and third thesis. The second one is pretty much already answered by other scholars.


 

My peer’s summary

 

Summary: Article: Michael Pollan, “Why Bother?”

                In this article by Michael Pollan, “Why Bother?” we are asked to look into the question of global warming. The author is trying to implant the urgency of what we can do to solve the problem. Is the problem going to be fixed by people making their own choices to help or is it going to be a government push to fix the problem. (?) The article is also covering the point of even if us “Americans” make the changes needed will other places around the world follow the lead and do the same or will our improvements be over powered by other countries’ lack of improvement. We our pointed out the things that he feels we can do to change, from using are air conditioners less, trying to drive less or trade in your gas guzzling Tahoe’s for more economical battery powered toaster hybrids. Although I feel there are plenty of choices to make, I feel the author picked maybe one of the smallest choices we can of planting your own garden. Planting a garden is great, I agree but, out of all the things we can do I don’t see that being a significant change. How much can planting a garden help? Michael Pollan brings up the “cheap-energy mind” and how everything translates to money, that it will take incentives to make people make the changes needed. We are pointed out threw out the article of “Why Bother” and if you do bother why going green is important. Change your carbon foot print in the world and make your change, stop spending your hard earned money on what other people provide for you and provide yourself with your own home grown garden.

Response:

                When first reading this article, I was grasped by the importance of it. Michael Pollan did a great job of bringing the reader into what he feels is a huge challenge for the world to overcome. We are lead on to believe that if we don’t do anything ourselves we could be pushed or forced too. He goes back as far dated as when Al Gore was president, and his urgency in the situation. But just how bad are we? I don’t feel that there were enough statistics stating where we stand today. Although I do agree we need to make changes I also feel after reading the article and speaking about it to others and getting their opinions I feel that the opinions of others steered me away from my original feeling that I should run out and plant my own garden and purchase a hybrid vehicle stop eating meat and never turn on my air conditioner. It took me 20 minutes to read an article that made me feel I should do my part but then it took 5 minutes in a conversation to make me rethink it, after asking others there believes some have made me question is global warming really effecting are daily lives or is it a government conspiracy? We are given the option of planting our own garden and what an impact it will make, but I do not feel there was enough information there about what a garden can do, because honestly what can 3 rows of fruit or vegetables in my back yard do (?) and there should have put more in the article to make me feel that it will be worth my while, even though he did go on to tell us that planting a garden can lead to other choices like having your own compost pile but does not go on to provide the reader with what out of our own waste can we use. I do not expect a guide to growing your own garden and making your own compost but feel it left me with too many questions. I was not convinced that by growing my own garden to help global warming, but I was impressed with the fact that if global warming is such a problem and the vast amount of oil and gas we all feel is there went away we would eventually all fall into providing ourselves with our own food.  I realize that his point was to grow your own garden but if he wants people to change the way they live their lives and change their carbon foot print he should have focused on some areas that might make a bigger impact. He could have also focused more on what kind of money we can save. He did focus on the incentives some might receive but I want more I want to know what I will gain. For most Americans who have fallen into debt what will this do for me? It is selfish to think about putting money over the condition of the world but in today’s world you almost have to. Even though I have started to change my initial opinion on global warming I have not changed my opinion that we still need to do something, and that’s where I feel the author failed to enforce that even if planting a garden is not what you want to do that there are plenty of options we can choose from. Elaborate on these other options convince me that I can make a change. I do feel this is a great article on global warming and the impact we humans have but feel it left me with too many questions and I will have a lot of research to do to make my own opinion on where I will spend my time helping the cause. I still feel that I am left with the title of the article “Why Bother”?

Thesis #1: How can I “bother” the climate change?

Thesis #2: Is global warming fact or fiction? Or is it a government conspiracy?

Thesis #3: My garden is providing healthy air for you to breath.