A GREAT IDEA AT THE TIME
The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
By Alex Beam
Illustrated. 245 pp. PublicAffairs. $24.95
|Ewerthon Tobace |
De Tóquio para a BBC Brasil
|Editora japonesa é especializada em adaptar clássicos da literatura|
A iniciativa foi da editora japonesa East Press, que resolveu incluir estas duas obras na sua coleção Clássicos da Literatura em Mangá.
“A idéia é oferecer ao leitor a possibilidade de ler um clássico e entender os conceitos em apenas uma hora”, explicou o editor-chefe Kosuke Maruo à BBC Brasil.
Mein Kampf é um livro polêmico, pois contém as sementes da ideologia anti-semita e nacionalista que marcou o nazismo. “A idéia não é apresentar Hitler como vilão ou herói, mas apenas mostrar quem era e o que ele pensava. Não estamos preocupados com polêmicas”, disse Maruo.
O editor lembra também que o livro, cuja publicação e venda são proibidas em alguns países, já foi editado no Japão. “Além disso, todo mundo já conhece a história inteira e como os nazistas pensavam”, reforça ele, que diz não ter recebido até agora nenhuma reclamação de leitor.
O mangá conta a história do líder nazista, desde a infância, até culminar na Segunda Guerra Mundial. Fala também do ódio que ele sentia pelos judeus. “Vendo a história de vida dele, não dá para achar que era uma pessoa totalmente ruim. Ele era apenas uma pessoa triste”, defendeu o editor-chefe.
Entre as obras conhecidas da literatura e da filosofia que viraram mangá pela East Press estão Crime e Castigo, de Dostoiévski, Fausto, de Goethe, Rei Lear, de Shakespeare, e Guerra e Paz, de Tólstoi.
No total são 27 títulos lançados até agora, sendo 13 de autores estrangeiros.
Outros dois – Os Miseráveis, de Victor Hugo, e O Desespero Humano -
Doença até a Morte, do teólogo e filósofo dinamarquês Soren Kierkegaard – já estão no forno e devem chegar às livrarias no começo de 2009.
|Para o editor-chefe Kosuke Maruo, livros dão oportunidade para se ler clássicos e entender conceitos|
O campeão de vendas é Kanikousen, inspirado na obra do escritor japonês Takiji Kobayashi. Na seqüência vem Os Irmãos Karamasov, de Dostoiévski. “Os títulos da série são obras que as pessoas conhecem, mas não têm muita paciência para ler até o fim”, justificou o editor-chefe. Daí o sucesso de vendas.
Ao todo, segundo Maruo, já foram impressos 1,2 milhão de exemplares da série toda. Marx e o recém lançado mangá de Hitler chegam ao mercado com 30 mil cópias cada.
O lançamento de O Capital em mangá não poderia vir em um momento mais apropriado.
Muitos no Japão culpam o capitalismo - principal alvo de crítica na obra de Marx - pela atual crise financeira global.
Entre os principais conceitos da obra de Marx levados para a história do mangá estão a exploração do trabalhador, as diferenças de classes sociais e o surgimento da moeda geradora do lucro. “Com a recessão econômica que o país enfrenta agora, esperamos uma boa saída de O Capital”, disse Maruo.
|A editora East Press tem uma série de mangá baseada em clássicos da literatura e filosofia|
O editor-chefe garante, porém, que não foi proposital o lançamento da obra neste atual momento de crise. “Já estava nos planos da editora”, disse ele, ao lembrar que um mangá, para ficar pronto, demora até cinco meses.
Diversidade de temas
Apesar da East Press ser uma das poucas no mercado a trabalhar com clássicos da literatura mundial, o segmento de mangás no Japão já vem usando há anos os traços orientais dos desenhos para explicar diversos temas.
Relações diplomáticas com a China, degustação avançada de vinhos, epidemia da gripe aviária, parábolas da Bíblia e até a nossa capoeira já viraram mangá no país. O formato compacto, o baixo custo e a linguagem popular ajudam a transformar este tipo de publicação em sucesso de vendas.
da BBC Brasil
A cidade de Hamelin, no norte da Alemanha, poderá precisar novamente dos serviços do lendário flautista para afastar uma nova infestação de ratos.
O problema agora se concentra em um lote de terra abandonado nos limites da cidade que se transformou no foco da infestação, com ratos passeando por alimentos jogados fora e pelo lixo que está no local.
Ao invés de atrair os ratos para o rio da cidade com música, como o flautista teria feito segundo a lenda, as autoridades municipais pretendem colocar armadilhas em volta do lote abandonado.
Segundo a lenda, em 1284 a cidade de Hamelin foi invadida por ratos, mas um flautista os atraiu com sua música para o rio. O flautista também teria atraído para o rio as crianças da cidade, pois a cidade não pagou pelo serviço.
Em 2009 a cidade planeja marcar o 725º aniversário da lenda do flautista de Hamelin com vários eventos, incluindo um grande desfile de crianças pelas ruas da cidade.
Um porta-voz das autoridades municipais de Hamelin, Thomas Wahmes, afirmou que o problema ainda é restrito aos limites da cidade, mas existe a ameaça de que os ratos possam invadir um conjunto habitacional vizinho.
Segundo Wahmes a população de ratos "explodiu" no terreno, mas a prefeitura não pôde exterminar os roedores, pois ainda não se sabe quem é o dono do local e as autoridades não podem invadir uma propriedade particular.
"Precisamos enfrentar os ratos diretamente no local", disse Wahmes à BBC na quarta-feira. O porta-voz afirmou que a área infestada é do tamanho de um campo de futebol.
A história da "nova" infestação de ratos em Hamelin foi muito divulgada pela imprensa alemã e as ofertas de ajuda à cidade vieram de todo o país.
"Não existe um problema com ratos no centro da cidade e esperamos que dentro de algumas semanas tenhamos removido esta ameaça", afirmou Wahmes.
A GREAT IDEA AT THE TIME
The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
By Alex Beam
Illustrated. 245 pp. PublicAffairs. $24.95
The humble book has survived many attacks on its integrity over the centuries, whether from tyrannical clerics or fearful governments or the new electronic wizard that promises a peculiarly modern “pleasure of the text” via limitless accessibility. Nevertheless, publishers continue to produce books, while countless numbers of people read them and — a word that crops up frequently in relation to books — love them.
In the middle of the last century, a committee of commercially minded academics came up with its own strategy to undermine the enjoyment of reading. With the backing of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Mortimer Adler and a few others whittled the literary, scientific and philosophical canon down to 443 exemplary works. They had them bound in 54 black leatherette volumes, with the overall designation Great Books of the Western World, then hired genial salesmen to knock on suburban doors and make promises of fulfilment through knowledge. In a postwar world in which educational self-improvement seemed within everyone’s reach, the Great Books could be presented as an item of intellectual furniture, rather like their prototype, the Encyclopedia Britannica (which also backed the project). Whereas the Britannica justified its hulking presence in the home as a reference tool, however, the Great Books made a more strident demand — they wanted to be read. Unfortunately, once opened, the volumes were forbidding. Each was a small library in its own right, with slabs of text arranged in monumental double columns. The Great Books of the Western World were what books should not be: an antidote to pleasure.
The great minds behind the Great Books were Hutchins and Adler. Hutchins was a precocious academic administrator — dean of Yale Law School at age 28, president of the University of Chicago at 30 — Adler a philosopher of ideas, author of works like “How to Read a Book” and a man who, in the words of Joseph Epstein, a colleague in the 1960s, “did not suffer subtlety gladly.” The Great Books project was many years in the making and was intertwined with Hutchins’s desire to reform the humanities curriculum at Chicago, but in 1952, after years of planning and bargaining with fellow members of the Great Books team — “If Dickens goes, Melville goes” (Dickens did; Melville didn’t) — he and Adler saw their dream become a well-upholstered reality.
In “A Great Idea at the Time,” Alex Beam presents Hutchins and Adler as a double act: Hutchins the tall, suave one with a gift for leadership; Adler “a troll next to the godlike Hutchins,” with a talent for putting students to sleep. Making the acquaintance of Hutchins through his works was, to Beam, “like falling in love.” By contrast, “to be reading Mortimer Adler’s two autobiographies and watching his endless, self-promotional television appearances was a nightmare from which I am still struggling to awake.” As an appendix to the Great Books, Adler insisted on compiling a two-volume index of essential ideas, the easily misspelled Syntopicon. A photograph in “A Great Idea at the Time” shows Adler surrounded by filing-cabinet drawers, each packed with index cards pertaining to a separate “idea”: Aristocracy, Chance, Cause, Form, Induction, Language, Life and so on. The cards registered the expression of those ideas — Adler arrived at the figure of 102 — in the Great Books of the Western World.
Hutchins and Adler’s Great Books were a mixture of books you wouldn’t dream of reading; books you think you ought to read but know you never will; and many books that, if you haven’t read them already, you would admire and possibly enjoy. The last category included the “Iliad,” works by Chaucer and Shakespeare, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” a few novels — “Tom Jones,” “War and Peace” — and various works of philosophy. The commercial aspect played on the common desire to harbor all of knowledge — Euclid, Kepler, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Adam Smith, to name but a few — under one roof.
The texts were presented, however, without annotation, which would prove a hindrance even in the case of relatively accessible works, like Shakespeare’s sonnets. The 54 volumes contained practically nothing written in English in the previous 100 years (two works by Charles Darwin, one by William James), but heaps of Plato and Aristotle, some alarming medical remedies of Hippocrates — “Make the irons red-hot, and burn the pile until it be dried up” — and column after column of ancient science, of little interest to anyone but specialists, who would have equipped themselves with more advanced texts anyway. When asked for his views on which classic works to include among the Great Books, the science historian George Sarton pronounced the exercise futile: “Newton’s achievement and personality are immortal; his book is dead except from the archaeological point of view.”
Hoping to offer the reader what many of the Great Books fail to provide — entertainment — Beam falls over himself in the effort to be breezy and upbeat. No Mortimer Adler, he. “It is hard to resist poking fun,” he writes, and resistance is easily overcome. “From the culture’s point of view, Adler was a dead white male who had the bad luck to still be alive.” When reporting that “War and Peace” was among the selections of Hutchins and Adler, Beam fails to resist adding “no ‘Anna Karenina’; too readable!” His plain-man slangy style, which will be appreciated by fans of his column in The Boston Globe, is just as likely to be off-putting to others. Hutchins and his colleagues, Beam writes, “signed a pact with the devil of commerce” and “hawked their books” the way their ad man, William Benton, sold Crest toothpaste. “Forget that it cleans your teeth; you’ll be popular! Wisdom of the ages, schmisdom of the ages. Forget about learning — your boss will be impressed, women will seek you out (‘Oh! You’re reading Fourier’s “Theory of Heat.” . . . How fascinating!’), your kids will get into college, and so on. . . . Soon enough the Great Books were synonymous with boosterism, Babbittry, and H. L. Mencken’s benighted boobocracy. They were everything that was wrong, unchic and middlebrow about middle America.”
If not a great book, “A Great Idea at the Time” acts as a good guide to the rise and fall of the project. For a brief period, the Great Books were at the heart of the curriculum at Chicago, and continue to feature strongly elsewhere. In one of the reportorial chapters toward the end of his account, Beam visits St. John’s College in Annapolis (it also has a campus in Santa Fe), which still operates a teaching program based on “all Great Books, all the time.” In 70 years, little has changed at St John’s. “If a boy or girl wants to attend medical school,” Beam writes, “that means an additional year . . . of memorizing facts in conventional biology and chemistry classes, not learning the ‘truth’ behind the science, Great Books-style.”
Hutchins and Adler foresaw many obstacles on the way to ushering the Great Books into classrooms and living rooms, overcoming them by persistence, financing — the compilation of the Syntopicon alone took eight years — and a not always likable self-belief. But not even the distilled wisdom of the 54 volumes could have helped them predict that by the 1980s students on campuses throughout the United States would be forming groups and chanting, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Western culture’s got to go!” sometimes with support of politicians. By then, the Great Books notion had fallen from its commercial and academic high point to being the focus of readings groups. Beam relates his own adventures in one of the “850 active chapters” of the Great Books Foundation, discussing Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and other writers overlooked even in the updated edition of 1990. The Great Books of the Western World are not what they were. But the world’s great books, in some mysterious, muddled way, endure.James Campbell’s collection of essays, “Syncopations: Beats, New Yorkers and Writers in the Dark,” was recently published. He writes a weekly column in The Times Literary Supplement.
This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:
An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.
Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.
His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.
Mr. Obama spoke candidly of the failure of Republican economic policies that promised to lift all Americans but left so many millions far behind. He committed himself to ending a bloody and pointless war. He promised to restore Americans’ civil liberties and their tattered reputation around the world.
With a message of hope and competence, he drew in legions of voters who had been disengaged and voiceless. The scenes Tuesday night of young men and women, black and white, weeping and cheering in Chicago and New York and in Atlanta’s storied Ebenezer Baptist Church were powerful and deeply moving.
Mr. Obama inherits a terrible legacy. The nation is embroiled in two wars — one of necessity in Afghanistan and one of folly in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s challenge will be to manage an orderly withdrawal from Iraq without igniting new conflicts so the Pentagon can focus its resources on the real front in the war on terror, Afghanistan.
The campaign began with the war as its central focus. By Election Day, Americans were deeply anguished about their futures and the government’s failure to prevent an economic collapse fed by greed and an orgy of deregulation. Mr. Obama will have to move quickly to impose control, coherence, transparency and fairness on the Bush administration’s jumbled bailout plan.
His administration will also have to identify all of the ways that Americans’ basic rights and fundamental values have been violated and rein that dark work back in. Climate change is a global threat, and after years of denial and inaction, this country must take the lead on addressing it. The nation must develop new, cleaner energy technologies, to reduce greenhouse gases and its dependence on foreign oil.
Mr. Obama also will have to rally sensible people to come up with immigration reform consistent with the values of a nation built by immigrants and refugees.
There are many other urgent problems that must be addressed. Tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance, including some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens — children of the working poor. Other Americans can barely pay for their insurance or are in danger of losing it along with their jobs. They must be protected.
Mr. Obama will now need the support of all Americans. Mr. McCain made an elegant concession speech Tuesday night in which he called on his followers not just to honor the vote, but to stand behind Mr. Obama. After a nasty, dispiriting campaign, he seemed on that stage to be the senator we long respected for his service to this country and his willingness to compromise.That is a start. The nation’s many challenges are beyond the reach of any one man, or any one political party.
By MICHAEL J. SOCOLOW
Frank Stanton sensed trouble. Sitting in his living room on the night of October 30, 1938, the young CBS executive tuned in to catch Orson Welles's adaptation of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds. The program sounded crisp and engaging — but a bit too realistic. Stanton grabbed his coat and headed back to CBS' headquarters on Madison Avenue. Pushing his way through chaotic hallways jammed with reporters, police, and network employees, he reached his desk and telephoned his friend Paul Lazarsfeld.
Stanton and the sociologist Lazarsfeld set out to measure the panic as quickly and accurately as possible before it subsided. Their basic results would spur a remarkable conversation that reverberates 70 years later in social psychology, media theory, federal regulation, and other fields.
The "War of the Worlds" broadcast remains enshrined in collective memory as a vivid illustration of the madness of crowds and the deeply invasive nature of broadcasting. The program seemingly proved that radio could, in the memorable words of Marshall McLuhan, turn "psyche and society into a single echo chamber." The audience's reaction clearly illustrated the perils of modernity. At the time, it cemented a growing suspicion that skillful artists — or incendiary demagogues — could use communications technology to capture the consciousness of the nation. It remains the prime example used by media critics, journalists, and professors to prove the power of the media.
Yet the media are not as powerful as most think, and the real story behind "The War of the Worlds" is a bit more complex. The panic was neither as widespread nor as serious as many have believed at the time or since.
Nobody died of fright or was killed in the panic, nor could any suicides be traced to the broadcast. Hospital emergency-room visits did not spike, nor, surprisingly, did calls to the police outside of a select few jurisdictions. The streets were never flooded with a terrified citizenry. Ben Gross, the radio columnist of the New York Daily News, later remembered a "lack of turmoil in front of CBS" that contrasted notably with the crowded, chaotic scene inside the building. Telephone lines in New York City and a few other cities were jammed, as the primitive infrastructure of the era couldn't handle the load, but it appears that almost all the panic that evening was as ephemeral as the nationwide broadcast itself, and not nearly as widespread. That iconic image of the farmer with a gun, ready to shoot the aliens? It was staged for Life magazine.
So what accounts for the legend? First — and perhaps most important — the news media loved the story, and Welles loved the news media. The panic became a global story literally overnight. Even the Nazis could not resist commenting, noting the credulity of the American public. Americans certainly appeared gullible, but they were not alone. The news media, handed a sensational story of national scope, reported every detail (including fictional ones) about Welles, the program, and the reaction.
Welles's greatest performance that evening wasn't in the studio; it was in a hallway, at the improvised news conference, when he feigned a stunned, apologetic demeanor. In reality, as Paul Heyer notes in The Medium and the Magician, Welles carefully concealed his satisfaction with the hysteria while expressing concern over the rumors of deaths attributed to the program. The threats of investigation coming from the Federal Communications Commission bothered Welles, too, but they were primarily CBS's problem.
It was the government, and its relationship to CBS, that worried Stanton. While Welles spoke to reporters a few floors away, he and Lazarsfeld created a brief survey instrument to gauge the significance of the panic. Without consulting his bosses, who were occupied at the time, Stanton phoned a trusted survey organization to conduct nationwide interviews as soon as possible. Data were compiled over the following 24 hours and immediately forwarded to Stanton's CBS office.
Unfortunately, those data, if they still exist, are unavailable to scholars. CBS, unlike NBC, severely restricts access to its archives. But Stanton's survey has trickled down to us through a classic study in the emerging field of social psychology, Hadley Cantril's The Invasion From Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic (1940). Cantril, a Princeton social psychologist; Stanton; and Lazarsfeld had created the Office of Radio Research, a Rockefeller Foundation-supported project based at Princeton that can be considered the first significant attempt to empirically analyze the effects of mass media.
Cantril's study, which remains the most enduring source for what we know about that night, combined the CBS data, a second survey conducted six weeks later by the American Institute of Public Opinion, and a series of detailed interviews with 135 people, of which "over 100 were known to have been upset by the broadcast." Admitting that his interviews did not comprise an accurate sample of either the national population or the radio audience that evening, Cantril nevertheless filled his short volume with narratives of terror and fear. The interview subjects — all from New Jersey "for reasons of finance and supervision" — were found by the "personal inquiry and initiative of the interviewers" hired by Cantril. They were a self-reporting, self-selected cohort. Cantril did attempt to interview people identified in newspapers as frightened, but that effort proved almost entirely futile.
Such reliance on qualitative measures, while using an unrepresentative sample, only begins to hint at Cantril's methodological problems. Cantril's estimates of how many people actually heard the broadcast, and how many were frightened, are wildly imprecise. Because CBS's Mercury Theatre on the Air lacked sponsorship, the C.E. Hooper Company, the commercial ratings service used at the time, did not rate Welles's program. The American Institute of Public Opinion national survey (taken six weeks after the program, following an avalanche of publicity) found 12 percent of respondents claiming they had heard the broadcast. That represents an audience of almost 12 million Americans — a number that is certainly far too high. Slightly less than four million Americans had tuned into Welles's Mercury Theatre on the Air the week before "The War of the Worlds."
From such disparate approximations Cantril offered the "conservative estimate" that six million Americans heard the broadcast. The public-opinion institute's survey found that 28 percent of the listeners believed the broadcast contained real news bulletins, and of that 28 percent about 70 percent were "frightened or disturbed." These numbers undercut several of Cantril's assertions about the scope of the panic; they reveal that about three out of four listeners knew the program was fiction. So Cantril did what many social scientists faced with disagreeable data do: He spun the numbers. The low numbers, he wrote, represent the "very minimum of the total number actually frightened" because "many persons were probably too ashamed of their gullibility to confess it in a cursory interview." He candidly admitted that "there is the possibility that some people heard so much about the broadcast that they reported actually hearing it."
In other words, Cantril concluded that many respondents probably lied.
Cantril's assertions about the data are largely forgotten. His book is cited far more for its tales of panic than for its faulty statistical analysis or sampling anomalies. His study survives because it supplies what many scholars and journalists need: academic proof for what they think they already know. It legitimized the myth of the night of terror as perhaps nothing else could.
Neither Stanton nor Lazarsfeld was satisfied with Cantril's work. On the personal level, Cantril and Lazarsfeld did not get along. One was a Harvard-trained WASP with the social connections needed to land a prestigious post at Princeton; the other was a thickly accented, chain-smoking, Jewish refugee from Vienna trained at the intersection of economics, mathematics, and applied psychology. Nor did it help that Lazarsfeld once made a pass at Cantril's wife, a piece of information Stanton relayed to me in an interview.
A few years after the publication of Cantril's book, Stanton and Lazarsfeld excoriated their colleague in confidential interviews with Rockefeller Foundation officials. Stanton told an interviewer that Cantril's original manuscript was "completely unsatisfactory," and he admitted he had "no respect for Cantril's scholarly standards." Lazarsfeld was even more brutal, telling the interviewer that some of Cantril's conclusions were "laughable." Because Cantril was "pathologically ambitious," according to Lazarsfeld, he was "a highly dangerous influence in the field." Stanton told the foundation officials that he and Lazarsfeld essentially rewrote the manuscript and allowed it to be published under Cantril's name.
That explains why some of the book's less-emphasized conclusions foreshadowed important findings about the power of the media. The hypodermic model of media effects, which prevailed at the time, posited that the media injected ideas, more or less directly, into the consciousness of the audience. The book's data seriously undermined that model, demonstrating empirically that each member of the mass audience filters the media's messages through a matrix of personal variables (education, critical ability, class, etc.). Those data complicated media theory tremendously and intensified the research focus on the complexities of audience reception.
Lazarsfeld surprised many by concluding in The People's Choice, his classic study of the 1940 election, that the media's effects are, in general, much more selective and limited than we assume. Other forms of communication, from those in the education system to religious communication to interpersonal communication, were apparently more powerful. The mass media were but one part of a larger web of influence, and as one factor, their actual influence was mediated by several other variables. Thus, the media's ability to control us was far less pronounced than assumed.
That is the ultimate irony behind "The War of the Worlds." The discovery that the media are not all-powerful, that they cannot dominate our political consciousness or even our consumer behavior as much as we suppose, was an important one. It may seem like a counterintuitive discovery (especially considering its provenance), but ask yourself this: If we really know how to control people through the media, then why isn't every advertising campaign a success? Why do advertisements sometimes backfire? If persuasive technique can be scientifically devised, then why do political campaigns pursue different strategies? Why does the candidate with the most media access sometimes lose?
The answer is that humans are not automatons. We might scare easily, we might, at different times and in different places, be susceptible to persuasion, but our behavior remains structured by a complex and dynamic series of interacting factors.
Later media theory, and empirical research, would complicate and refine those earliest findings. But the basic problem of audience reception remains stubbornly resistant, and as long as the mass media exist, we'll have empirical studies with dueling conclusions concerning effects. Many people, including scholars, will continue to believe something they intuitively suspect: that the media manipulate the great mass of the nation, transforming rational individuals into emotional mobs. But notice how those who believe this never include themselves in the mob. We are, as the Columbia University sociologist W. Phillips Davison once pointed out, very susceptible to the notion that others are more persuadable than ourselves.
Would you have fallen for Welles's broadcast? If not, why do you assume so many other people did?
Michael J. Socolow is an assistant professor in the department of communication and journalism at the University of Maine at Orono. He is completing a manuscript on regulation and competition in the first two decades of American network radio.
Lonely men ought to flaunt their copies of New Scientist. Women looking for both one-night stands and long-term relationships go for geniuses over dumb jocks, according to a new study of hundreds of university students.
"Women want the best of both worlds. Not only a physically attractive man, but somebody in the long term who can provide for them," says Mark Prokosch, an evolutionary psychologist at Elon University in North Carolina, who led the study.
To many women, a smart man will appeal because he is likely to be clever enough to keep his family afloat. But he may also pass on "good" genes to his children, say Prokosch and his colleagues at the University of California, Davis.
Rather than ask women to rate qualities they seek in men, as other studies had done, Prokosch's team asked 15 college men to perform a series of tasks on camera.
The volunteers read news reports, explained why they would be a good date, and what would be the ramifications of the discovery of life on Mars. They also threw and caught a Frisbee to parade their physical appeal. Each potential suitor also took a quantitative test of verbal intelligence.
More than 200 women watched a series of these videos before rating each man's intelligence, attractiveness, creativity and appeal for a short-term or long-term relationship.
While the difference between short- and long-term mates may amount to a boozy decision students face each weekend, it has some evolutionary significance, Prokosch says. In potential husbands, women look for signs that a man might be a good provider and father. In one-night stands, women are on the prowl for little more than good genes, not to mention a good time.
Women proved to be decent judges of intelligence, with their scores generally matching each man's intelligence test results.
As for picking a bed-mate, the men's actual smartness proved a reliable indicator of their appeal for both brief hook-ups and serious relationships – which came as something of a surprise. Other studies have suggested that, for women anticipating short-term relationships, a man's braininess isn't foremost in their minds.
The disparate results may be due to women's lack of awareness that intelligence also affects the attractiveness of candidates for quick flings – how intelligent women perceived a man to be influenced his desirability as a long-term mate much more than his appeal for a one-night stand.
Martie Haselton, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles, also notes that although women were good judges of intelligence, they weren't perfect. In many cases, women rated good hook-ups as dunces, when their intelligence scores indicated otherwise.
"There could be aspects of intelligence that we pick up on when we interact with a person and that affect our assessment of them, even if we wouldn't label it as intelligence," she says.
But some things never change. Looks were still a much more powerful predictor of sex appeal than brains. "Women are still going for the hunk," Prokosch says. "If you had an option to pick from five different people, you would pick the most attractive one."
So in a perfect world, women want a Nobel prize winner with movie-star looks. Creativity also proved to be a sought-after trait, and Prokosch's team is currently working on an objective measure of creativity, similar to the intelligence test they used.
However, in a world of limited resources, not every woman gets what she wants, and some are bound to fall for ugly, unintelligent and uncreative men. "There's always other people out there that find everything attractive," Prokosch says.
Journal reference: Evolution and Human Behavior
Cartas do autor a d. Pedro 2º, nas quais defendia o cativeiro no país, são pela 1ª vez publicadas em livro, 140 anos depois
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
1. Tente entender...
Veja, caro leitor, se você consegue entender este filósofo francês, muito lido e muito citado em certos círculos acadêmicos:
“Assim, por um lado, a repetição é isso, sem o que não haveria verdade: a verdade do ente sob a forma inteligível da idealidade descobre no eîdos o que pode se repetir, sendo o mesmo, o claro, o estável, o identificável em sua igualdade a si. E apenas o eîdos pode dar lugar à repetição como anamnésia ou maêutica, dialética ou diática. Aqui a repetição se dá como repetição de vida. A tautologia é a vida, só saindo de si para voltar a entrar em si. Mantendo-se junto a si na mnéme, no lógos e na phoné. Mas, por outro lado, a repetição é o próprio movimento da não-verdade: a presença do ente perde-se nele, dispersa-se, multiplica-se por mimemas, ícones, fantasmas, simulacros etc.” (J. Derrida, A Farmácia de Platão. SP: Iluminuras, 2005, p. 122).
Entendeu, leitor? Provavelmente não, mas não se preocupe, eu também não entendi nada, mas não me preocupo mais com isto: há muito tempo desisti de tentar entender esses filósofos franceses, que converteram em hábito – praticamente uma profissão – os atos de escrever difícil e de falar complicado, apenas para épater la galerie e impressionar o distinto público, no que eles foram, aparentemente, bem sucedidos (alguns ficaram ricos e famosos com toda essa empulhação). Aliás, acredito que esse autor não estava querendo explicar absolutamente nada a ninguém: estava apenas gozando da cara de eventuais alunos e de leitores desprevenidos. No que me concerne, não me deixo impressionar por falcatruas intelectuais.
Agora, considere este outro filósofo francês, ainda mais lido e mais citado nos mesmos meios (provavelmente não pelas boas ou corretas razões), e que se converteu em verdadeiro paradigma das ditas ciências sociais, quando ele, na verdade, é apenas um comentarista filosófico da história (o que não o impediu de monopolizar várias áreas das ciências humanas, impregnando todo o discurso acadêmico durante mais de uma geração):
“Deveríamos fazer uma tentativa de estudar o poder não a partir dos termos primitivos da relação de poder, mas a partir da relação de poder em si, na medida que ela mesma determina os elementos sobre os quais se estabelece: em lugar de pensar em indivíduos ideais aos quais se pede que cedam algo de si mesmos ou de seus poderes para serem submetidos, deveríamos indagar como as relações de dominação podem por si mesmas construir os indivíduos. Da mesma forma, em vez de investigar a única forma, o ponto central ao qual todas as formas de poder derivam como conseqüência ou como desenvolvimento, deveríamos abordar sua multiplicidade, suas diferenças, suas especificidades, sua reversibilidade: estudá-las, portanto, como relações de força que se entrecruzam, se excluem mutuamente, convergem ou, ao contrário, se opõem e tendem a se anular. Em resumo, em lugar de considerar a lei uma manifestação do poder, nos seria talvez mais útil tentar descobrir as diferentes técnicas de coerção que coloca a lei em funcionamento.” (Michel Foucault, trecho do Résumé des Cours; Paris: Collège de France, 1989)
Bem mais compreensível, não é mesmo, caro leitor? Você acha que poderia “trabalhar” com ele, por exemplo, para sustentar a argumentação teórica de algum ensaio acadêmico, talvez “encomendado” ou sugerido pelo seu professor orientador?