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Les  robots vont modifier la psychologie humaine

Satisfaction des désirs, solitude, mémoire, relation à l’espace… Pour le psychiatre Serge Tisseron, les machines dotées d’une intelligence artificielle vont bouleverser non seulement notre quotidien mais aussi notre manière d’être au monde.

Serge Tisseron est psychiatre, docteur en psychologie et, depuis 2015, membre de l’Académie des technologies. Il a cofondé, en 2013, l’Institut pour l’étude des relations homme/robots (IERHR), dont il est toujours un membre actif. Serge Tisseron participera à deux rencontres dans le cadre du festival international de journalisme de Couthures-sur-Garonne : vendredi 13 juillet, à 16 heures, sur « Peut-on tout faire avec un sexbot? » et samedi 14 juillet, à 12 heures, sur « Fausses émotions, vrais sentiments ».

The International Consumer Electronics Show

Comment l’omniprésence de machines dotées d’une intelligence artificielle (IA) dans notre quotidien va-t-elle modifier le psychisme humain ?

Les robots vont modifier la psychologie ­humaine autant que les progrès de l’alimentation et de la médecine ont modifié nos corps. Notre taille et notre corpulence ont changé, notre résistance aux maladies et à la douleur aussi, mais nous ne nous en rendons pas compte car ces changements nous sont devenus naturels. Il en sera de même avec les ­machines intelligentes, qui vont bouleverser non seulement notre quotidien mais aussi notre manière d’être au monde.

Quatre domaines, au moins, seront profondément modifiés. D’abord, notre capacité à différer la satisfaction de nos désirs. Le téléphone, puis le mail, ont déjà commencé à altérer notre capacité de résistance à l’attente relationnelle : avec la livraison quasi instantanée par drone, nous allons aussi devenir intolérants à l’attente des objets. Le degré suivant sera probablement l’intolérance à nos attentes de reconnaissance, car nos robots de proximité pourront nous gratifier de quantité de félicitations et gentillesses. Dès lors, serons-nous capables de supporter que la société humaine qui nous entoure soit moins aimable avec nous ? Aurons-nous seulement envie de continuer à la fréquenter ?

Le deuxième changement concerne le rapport à la solitude et au discours intérieur. Avec nos « chatbots »[« agents conversationnels »], nous allons développer une tendance à nous raconter en permanence. Contrairement à la plupart des humains, ces machines nous ­feront constamment rebondir par des questions, des plaisanteries et des gentillesses. Pour une raison simple : la capture de nos données personnelles…

Mais, du coup, la ­notion de solitude changera : la compagnie ne se définira plus seulement par la présence d’un humain, mais aussi d’une machine. Que deviendra la possibilité de se tenir à soi-même un discours intérieur, sans interlocuteur, lorsque nous serons habitués à en avoir un à demeure, prêt à nous écouter aussi longtemps que nous le voudrons ?

Les deux autres domaines dans lesquels l’IA va modifier notre psychisme sont notre ­mémoire et notre relation à l’espace. Demain, notre smartphone ne sera pas seulement en mesure de stocker quantité de nos données personnelles, il pourra les classer à notre place, participant ainsi en permanence à la construction de notre biographie.

Quant aux outils de géolocalisation, ils nous permettront bientôt de nous déplacer dans l’espace sans en avoir la moindre compréhension. Si la téléportation, aujourd’hui banale dans les jeux vidéo, existe un jour dans le monde réel, elle sera perçue comme totalement naturelle, car nous avons déjà perdu la représentation des espaces intermédiaires entre le point dont nous partons et le point où nous arrivons !

Les robots vont-ils obliger l’homme à redéfinir l’idée qu’il se fait de lui-même ?

Dans toutes les technologies inventées jusqu’alors, les objets étaient à mon service : je les mettais en route quand j’en avais besoin, comme un chef d’orchestre. Ce qui sera nouveau avec les objets dotés d’IA, c’est qu’ils pourront m’interpeller et me proposer leurs services comme des partenaires à part ­entière. Lorsque je rentrerai dans ma voiture autonome – Ford prévoit sa commercialisation pour 2021 –, je serai accueilli par une voix couplée à une petite caméra, qui me dira par exemple : « A voir ton visage ce matin, j’ai ­l’impression que tu as mal dormi ! »

Si j’ai oublié mon parapluie avant de sortir, ce ne sera pas ma femme ou mes enfants qui me le feront remarquer, mais mon assistant personnel qui me morigénera : « Rappelle-toi, je t’ai dit ce matin qu’il allait pleuvoir ! » Nous ­serons de plus en plus confrontés au fait que les machines ont des compétences que nous n’avons pas, c’est-à-dire à notre incomplétude humaine. Avec le risque d’une certaine honte face à nos insuffisances… Et celui d’une ­confiance de plus en plus aveugle dans leurs capacités. Nous serons ainsi graduellement enfermés dans une dépendance affective croissante vis-à-vis d’elles.

Comment la psychologie peut-elle étudier ces nouveaux phénomènes ?

Il va lui falloir intégrer notre relation aux ­objets comme un élément d’appréciation de la qualité de notre relation au monde – autrement dit de notre santé mentale. On estime aujourd’hui que celle-ci est bonne lorsqu’on a un bon réseau social, une sexualité satisfaisante, un travail à peu près stable…

Il faudra y ajouter la reconnaissance d’une dépendance affective saine aux objets. Elle pourrait en ­effet devenir pathologique, comme c’est le cas pour ceux qui souffrent de manque quand ils sont privés de jeux vidéo, de réseaux sociaux ou d’alcool. Un autre risque étant de glisser du bonheur de l’anthropomorphisme (je projette mes émotions et mes pensées sur un objet ou un animal, mais je sais qu’il s’agit d’une projection) aux illusions de l’animisme (je prête à l’objet en question des capacités cognitives et émotionnelles identiques aux miennes).

Pourquoi les machines intelligentes vont-elles augmenter ce risque d’animisme ?

Parce qu’elles pourront prendre l’initiative de la relation, et aussi parce que leurs fabricants alimenteront l’illusion qu’elles ont des émotions. Cela aggravera le phénomène constaté, il y a plus d’un demi-siècle, par l’informaticien Joseph Weizenbaum. Il avait écrit un programme baptisé Eliza, un précurseur des chatbots destiné à simuler un psychothérapeute dont la méthode consiste à reformuler les propos du patient en se concentrant sur ses réactions émotionnelles. Weizenbaum s’aperçut que certains des étudiants qui l’aidaient dans cette tâche avaient tendance à penser que la machine les comprenait vraiment ! Il eut alors cette phrase, qui devrait être inscrite au fronton de tous les laboratoires de recherche en IA : « Je n’aurais jamais cru qu’un programme aussi simple puisse provoquer chez des gens normaux de tels délires. »

C’est ce qu’on appelle un phénomène de dissonance cognitive : on a beau savoir que ce sont des machines, on ne peut pas s’empêcher de développer avec elles la même relation qu’avec des humains, et croire qu’elles ont des émotions. Plus récemment, l’état-major américain a découvert que certains soldats envoyés en Irak et en Afghanistan s’attachaient de manière déraisonnable à leur robot démineur : les dommages que ­subissait celui-ci les affectaient gravement, et ils voulaient absolument qu’on le leur répare plutôt que de recevoir un robot tout neuf sorti de l’usine. Pendant le combat, certains pouvaient même mettre leur vie en danger pour lui éviter des dommages.

Vous écrivez dans votre dernier ouvrage : « Si j’étais plus jeune, je créerais un ­laboratoire d’étude de la psychologie des IA. » Inventer une psychologie des machines, est-ce vraiment nécessaire ?

J’ai été conforté dans cette évidence par ce qui s’est passé avec Tay, une IA censée jouer le rôle d’une adolescente capable d’interagir sur les réseaux sociaux. Mise au point par Microsoft et « lâchée » sur Twitter en mars 2016, elle avait été programmée pour apprendre par imitation et renforcement. Résultat : après une journée et plus de 96 000 Tweet, des internautes mal intentionnés lui avaient fait tenir des propos misogynes, racistes et antisémites, contraignant Microsoft à suspendre en urgence son compte Twitter. Ce qu’il faut retenir de cette expérience désastreuse, c’est que les machines douées d’apprentissage évolueront différemment au contact de leurs utilisateurs.

S’agit-il à proprement parler de psychologie ? D’une certaine façon, oui. Si l’on s’en tient à ce qui est observable, des machines élevées dans des environnements différents se distingueront les unes des autres par leurs comportements, par leurs propos, voire par les émotions qu’elles simuleront. Il nous faudra donc étudier la manière dont ces IA se transformeront au fil des inter­actions avec les humains. Et aussi au fil de leurs propres interactions !

Car on l’oublie trop souvent, les communautés de robots vont prendre une importance croissante : ils pourront par exemple se connecter la nuit à un serveur central, une sorte d’école du soir qui corrigera leurs ­apprentissages les plus antisociaux. Cette ­interconnexion est le grand défi que nous poseront les objets dotés d’une IA. Les ­informaticiens nous présentent leurs créatures comme des objets « autonomes », mais leur puissance d’apprentissage et de stockage des données sera basée sur leur interconnexion permanente.

Les robots, dites-vous, vont changer notre rapport à la culpabilité. De quelle manière ?

D’une part en nous culpabilisant, de l’autre en nous déculpabilisant. Les machines vont pouvoir nous culpabiliser car nous allons leur donner le droit de nous punir. Reprenons l’exemple de la voiture autonome, dans laquelle le conducteur est censé rester ­disponible en cas de nécessité. Pour s’en assurer, le véhicule vous envoie régulièrement un ­signal, auquel vous devez répondre en mettant la main sur le volant. Si vous ne répondez pas au signal – parce que vous dormez, ou êtes plongé dans un film sur la banquette ­arrière –, que se passe-t-il ? L’algorithme vous sanctionne en vous obligeant, la prochaine fois que vous prendrez votre véhicule, à ­conduire vous-même, à l’ancienne.

Accepterons-nous de telles punitions comme relevant d’un pacte social ? Certains se sentiront-ils persécutés par leur machine ? C’est à ce genre de questions que les psychologues de demain seront confrontés. Mais les machines auront aussi le pouvoir de déculpabiliser, avec le risque de rendre certains ­d’entre nous de plus en plus inhumains. Les « robots tueurs », ces machines militaires programmées pour ouvrir le feu sur telle ou telle cible, présentent déjà ce danger. A partir du moment où l’homme sort de la boucle des décisions, il lui devient plus facile de se déresponsabiliser et d’accepter pour son propre ­intérêt des « dommages collatéraux » plus importants, autrement dit un plus grand nombre de morts civils.

Même si leurs fabricants font tout pour nous en donner l’illusion, les robots n’éprouvent ni émotion ni souffrance. Cela pourrait-il changer un jour ?

Il n’y a aucune raison de donner des émotions aux robots, bien au contraire. Rappelez-vous HAL, dans 2001 l’Odyssée de l’espace, et son ­fameux « J’ai peur » : c’est à partir de là que tout tourne mal. Mais une grande rupture surviendra probablement quand les robots combineront des matériaux inertes et biologiques. A ce moment-là, les humains eux-mêmes seront probablement transformés. Il n’y aura plus alors que des créatures métissées, des cyborgs. Certains plutôt humains, d’autres plutôt machines, sans que la limite entre les deux soit peut-être très claire.

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Lewis Carroll’s adventures in Russia

TLS ONLINE

By Mark Davies

We “found the expedition well worth the discomfort we had to endure from first to last”. This is a sentiment no doubt expressed by many English football fans who made the long trip to Nizhny Novgorod for the recent World Cup match with Panama. But these words were written more than 150 years ago by Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll (1832–98), on his first and only overseas holiday.

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Dodgson was travelling with his old Oxford University friend the Revd Henry Parry Liddon (1829–90), and Nizhny was the most distant and exotic destination of their two-month trip in the summer of 1867. Dodgson went there to experience Nizhny’s famed “world fair” of commerce rather than of football. In a letter to his sister, Louisa, he wrote that “the whole place swarms with Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Persians, Chinamen, etc., besides the native Russians”. To this list Liddon added Circassians, Tartars and Cossacks.

They had to stay overnight unexpectedly, which was just as well: “all the novelties of the day were thrown into the shade by our adventures at sunset”, Dodgson wrote of his first experience of a muezzin’s call, emanating from the Tartar Mosque. “It was the strangest, wildest thing you can imagine – ringing through the air over our heads” with “an indescribably sad and ghost-like effect”.

The two men had left Dover a month earlier, on July 13, and travelled across Europe by train. Liddon had a particular purpose: to assess the prospects of greater union between the Anglican and the Russian Orthodox Churches. Dodgson went along more for the ride and the view, and his diary is more concerned with the new foods, customs, languages and peoples to which he was exposed. He writes of Cronstadt Harbour (the main seaport for St Petersburg), for example, that “the place looked something like an ant-nest: hundreds of workmen swarming from end to end of the great hollow”; “we got a very good general idea of the great scale on which the works here are carried on, and the resources disposable in case of war”. He describes Ems, on the other hand, as a “delightful place where people have nothing to do, and all day to do it in. It is certainly the place for thoroughly enjoying idleness”.

His love of the absurd shows through too: a green parrot in Danzig (Gdansk), for instance, which refused all encouragement to “commit itself to any statement” because it was from Mexico and so “spricht nicht Englisch . . . nicht Deutsch”. Of the service at their Königsberg (Kaliningrad) hotel, Dodgson wrote, “we enjoy one unusual privilege – we may ring our bells as much and as often as we like: no measures are taken to stop the noise”. (Kaliningrad, incidentally, was the scene of England’s less successful match against Belgium last week.) In Warsaw he was much taken with a “tall and very friendly” greyhound who attempted to drink Dodgson’s bath water as quickly as it was poured, and in Berlin he perceived that the fondness for statues of “a colossal figure of a man killing, about to kill or having killed . . . a beast” made parts of the city look like “a fossil slaughter house”.

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Perhaps the strangest encounter of all, however, was with some people he already knew very well. On August 10, soon after their return from Nizhny, he was invited to dine at the house of the chaplain of the English Chapel in Moscow. Two other guests that evening were Thomas and Martha Combe. Dodgson had known the Combes for years, most notably because Thomas Combe (1796–1872), as superintendent of Oxford University’s Clarendon Press, had overseen the printing of the first copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland two years earlier. Yet Dodgson recorded this surprising meeting without any further comment and no hint as to how it came about. It might be possible to infer from this an element of friction between the two men. It was perhaps a meeting neither of them had anticipated or wanted. It was Combe who had been ultimately responsible for the poor quality of that first edition of Wonderland, and Dodgson who had suffered the financial consequences when John Tenniel insisted that it was so poor that it should be withdrawn (with the result that the few copies that survive are enormously valuable).

Yet Dodgson also had good reason to be grateful to Thomas Combe, whom he visited regularly at his home in the Press in Jericho. It was there that Dodgson’s own illustrations for his draft story of “Alice” were criticized by the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner; it was Woolner’s opinion among several that ultimately persuaded Dodgson to engage Tenniel for the role. Combe’s patronage of other Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Holman Hunt, Millais and Rossetti helped Dodgson to befriend and photograph them. It was also at the Combes’ house that Dodgson met Alexander Macmillan, who subsequently published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and it was the Jericho church where Combe was a warden in which Dodgson preached his first ever Oxford sermon.

Dodgson’s travelling companion Liddon also played his part in the evolution of “Alice”. With the success of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dodgson was already entertaining a “floating idea of writing a sort of sequel to Alice” during this Russian trip. According to Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, Dodgson’s nephew and first biographer, “it was Dr. Liddon who suggested the name finally adopted”, that is, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. One thing Alice finds is a train. It enables her to move, as a pawn, to the fourth row of the chessboard. Dodgson had taken a travelling chess set with him, which proved a boon on some of their long train journeys; he also recorded his first impression of Moscow as “bulging gilded domes, in which you see as in a looking-glass distorted pictures of the city”.

The whole trip lasted exactly two months. Dodgson’s journal demonstrates the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a touristic debutant, with the only hint of home sickness coming on the night ferry home, on seeing “the lights of Dover, as they slowly broadened on the horizon, as if the old land were opening its arms to receive its homeward bound children”. All the indications are that he had a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening adventure – yet he never left England again. Curiouser, you might say, and curiouser.

 

অবরোধ-বাসিনী

বেগম রোকেয়ার অবরোধ-বাসিনী থেকে দুয়েকটি অবরোধবাসিনী থাকুক এখানে।

পশ্চিম দেশের এক হিন্দু বধূ তাহার শাশুড়ি ও স্বামীর সহিত গঙ্গাস্নানে গিয়াছিল। স্নান শেষ করিয়া ফিরিবার সময় তাহার শাশুড়ি ও স্বামীকে ভিড়ের মধ্যে দেখিতে পাইল না। অবশেষে সে এক ভদ্রলোকের পিছু পিছু চলিল। কতক্ষণ পরে পুলিশের হল্লা।―সেই ভদ্রলোককে ধরিয়া কনস্টেবল বলে, ‘‘তুমি অমুকের বউ ভাগাইয়া লইয়া যাইতেছ।’’ তিনি আচম্বিতে ফিরিয়া দেখেন, আরে! এ কাহার বউ পিছন হইতে তাঁহার কাছার খুঁটি ধরিয়া আসিতেছে। প্রশ্ন করায় বধূ বলিল, সে সর্বক্ষণ মাথায় ঘোমটা দিয়া থাকে ― নিজের স্বামীকে সে কখনও ভাল করিয়া দেখে নাই। স্বামীর পরিধানে হলদে পাড়ের ধুতি ছিল, তাহাই সে দেখিয়াছে। এই ভদ্রলোকের ধুতির পাড় হলদে দেখিয়া সে তাঁহার সঙ্গ লইয়াছে।

শিয়ালদহ স্টেশনের প্লাটফরমে ভরা সন্ধ্যার সময় এক ভদ্রলোক ট্রেনের অপেক্ষায় পায়চারি করিতেছিলেন। কিছু দূরে আর একজন ভদ্রলোক দাঁড়াইয়া ছিলেন; তাহার পার্শ্বে এক গাদা বিছানা ইত্যাদি ছিল। পূর্বোক্ত ভদ্রলোক কিঞ্চিৎ ক্লান্তি বোধ করায় উক্ত গাদার উপর বসিতে গেলেন। তিনি বসিবা মাত্র বিছানা নড়িয়া উঠিল ― তিনি তৎক্ষনাৎ সভয়ে লাফাইয়া উঠিলেন। এমন সময়ে সেই দণ্ডায়মান ভদ্রলোক দৌড়িয়া আসিয়া সক্রোধে বলিলেন, ― ‘‘ মশায়, করেন কি? আপনি স্ত্রীলোকদের মাথার উপর বসিতে গেলেন কেন?’’ বেচারা হতভম্ব হইয়া বলিলেন, ‘‘মাফ করিবেন মশায়! সন্ধ্যার আঁধারে ভালমতে দেখিতে পাই নাই, তাই বিছানার গাদা মনে করিয়া বসিয়াছিলাম। বিছানা নড়িয়া উঠায় আমি ভয় পাইয়াছিলাম যে, এ কি ব্যাপার!’’

বেহার অঞ্চলে নারীক ঘরানার মহিলাগণ সচরাচর রেলপথে ভ্রমণের পথে ট্রেনে উঠেন না। তাঁহাদিগকে বনাতের পর্দা ঢাকা পালকিতে পুরিয়া, সেই পালকি ট্রেনের মালগাড়িতে তুলিয়া দেওয়া হয়। ফল কথা, বিবিরা পথের দৃশ্য কিছুই দেখিতে পান না। তাঁহারা ব্রুকবণ্ড চায়ের মত Vacuum টিনে প্যাক হইয়া দেশ ভ্রমণ করেন। কিন্তু এই কলিকাতার এক ঘর সম্ভ্রান্ত পরিবার উহার উপরও টেক্কা দিয়াছেন। তাঁহাদের বাড়ির বিবিদের রেলপথে কোথাও যাইতে হইলে প্রথমে তাঁহাদের প্রত্যেককে, পালকি বিছানা পাতিয়া, একটা তালপাতার হাতপাখা, এক কুজা পানি এবং একটা গ্লাসসহ বন্ধ করা হয়। পরে সেই পালকিগুলি তাঁহাদের পিতা কিম্বা পুত্রের সম্মুখে চাকরেরা যথাক্রমে―(১) বনাতের পর্দা দ্বারা প্যাক করে; (২) তাহার উপর মোম-জমা কাপড় দ্বারা সেলাই করে; (৩) তাহার উপর খারুয়ার কাপড়ে ঘিরিয়া সেলাই করে; (৪) তাহার উপর মুম্বাই চাদরের দ্বারা সেলাই করে; (৫) অতঃপর সর্বোপরে চট মোড়াই করিয়া সেলাই করে। এই সেলাই ব্যাপার তিন চারি ঘণ্টা ব্যাপিয়া হয়― আর সেই চারি ঘণ্টা পর্যন্ত বাড়ির কর্তা ঠায় উপস্থিত থাকিয়া খাড়া পাহারা দেন। পরে বেহারা ডাকিয়া পালকিগুলি ট্রেনের ব্রেকভ্যানে তুলিয়া দেওয়া হয়। অতঃপর গন্তব্য স্থানে পৌঁছিবার পর, পুনরায় পুরুষ অভিভাবকের সম্মুখে ক্রমান্বয়ে পালকিগুলির সেলাই খোলা হয়। সেলাই খুলিয়া পালকিগুলি বনাতের পর্দা ঢাকা অবস্থায় রাখিয়া চাকরেরা সরিয়া যায়। পরে কর্তা স্বয়ং এবং বাড়ির অপর আত্মীয় ও মেয়েমানুষেরা আসিয়া পালকির কপাট খুলিয়া মুমূর্ষা বন্দিনীদের অজ্ঞান অবস্থায় বাহির করিয়া যথারীতি মাথায় গোলাপজল ও বরফ দিয়া, মুখে চামচ দিয়া পানি দিয়া, চোখে মুখে পানির ছিটা দিয়া বাতাস করিতে থাকেন। দুই ঘণ্টা বা ততোধিক সময়ের শুশ্রূষার পর বিবিরা সুস্থ হন।

Music Man

Leonard Bernstein Through His Daughter’s Eyes

On the centenary of his birth, a memoir captures what it’s like being raised by a man with mythic successes and long-held secrets.

By David Denby

What happens if you are Cinderella and the prince turns out to be your father? Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein’s firstborn daughter, has written a memoir of her family, a family that her overwhelming dad—loving, inspired, and sometimes insufferable—dominated for decades. The author grew up wriggling inside a paradox, struggling to become a self when so much of her was defined by her brilliant parent. “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein” (HarperCollins) is unique among classical-music memoirs for its physical intimacy, its humor and tenderness, its ambivalence toward an irrepressible family genius. In the year of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary, with its worldwide celebrations, this book is a startling inside view—not a corrective, exactly (Jamie rarely thought her dad less than great), but a story of encompassing family love, Jewish-American style, with all its glories and corrosions. No one lives easily on the slopes of a volcano; Jamie Bernstein has been faithful to her unease. Truth-telling, rather than dignity, is her goal.

 

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As a young man, Leonard Bernstein was prodigiously gifted and exceptionally handsome, and he slept with many men and with women, too. He seemed to be omnisexual, a man of unending appetite who worked and played all day and most of the night, with a motor that would not shut down until he was near collapse. Conducting, composing for the concert hall, composing for the theatre, playing the piano, teaching, writing about music, talking about it on television, suffering over everything he wasn’t doing—he burned the candle from the middle out. From the nineteen-forties into the eighties, he was everywhere, an intellectual American Adonis, our genius—erudite, popular, media-wise, and unstoppably fluent. Many people long to be at the center of attention; Leonard Bernstein was actually good at the center—he routinely gave more than he received.

On the podium, he was so expressive that he embarrassed the fastidious, who thought there was something inappropriate (i.e., erotic) about his full-body conducting style. Using his hips, his arms, his back, his eyebrows, he acted out the music, providing an emotional story line parallel to the piece itself; he was narrative in flight. At some point in his adolescence, Bernstein must have discovered that he could express with his body whatever he thought or felt, a discovery that was just as important as a sexual awakening, though in his case the two were obviously related. Bernstein, one might say, liberated the Jewish body from the constraints felt by the immigrant generation, including his father, Sam, who relinquished his severe, stiff-collar demeanor only when celebrating the High Holidays with the Boston Hasidim. For Lenny, every day was a High Holiday. Most of the audience and his collaborators got used to his turbo-mobile style, or found it beautiful, even thrilling. But how, if you are his child, do you cope with a father whose sensuality enfolded everything?

After a whirlwind life as a young man, Bernstein married Felicia Montealegre, in 1951. He was thirty-three; she was twenty-nine. Montealegre was raised in Chile; her mother was Costa Rican and Catholic; her father, an American Jew, was a wealthy industrialist. A South American aristocrat who became socially ambitious in America, Felicia was an accomplished actress with an elevated elocutionary style that was losing favor to so-called naturalistic modes; she was good at narrating oratorios. Still, she had serious work for a while on the stage and in the burgeoning field of live TV drama. Once Bernstein became the music director of the New York Philharmonic, in 1958, she entertained the musical and social world at home. In general, she required rules and order, while her husband luxuriated in his own habits, some disciplined, some not. They were temperamentally at odds, but they adored each other.

They had three children: Jamie, who is now sixty-five; a boy, Alexander, and another girl, Nina, followed. Jamie says that her father was an ardent family man, attentive, affectionate, an unending didact who crammed his kids with poetry, music, Hebrew lessons. He was very much at home—when he was at home at all. The details of Jamie’s memoir are intimate: Lenny eating Connecticut corn in the summer with his hands drenched in butter; or, back in New York, half awake and fragrant in the mornings. “In my mind’s eye, my father is always in a scruffy brown wool bathrobe; my cheek still prickles at the memory of his scratchy morning hugs,” she writes. You couldn’t say of Bernstein, as you might of John Cheever (as revealed in his daughter Susan Cheever’s sombre, brilliant book, “Home Before Dark”), that he was unreachable at times, or that his art absolutely came first. On the contrary, family was emotionally central to Bernstein. And family meant not just Felicia and the kids but his loving and foolish immigrant parents; his talented brother, Burton, a New Yorker writer; and his ebullient sister, Shirley, who ran a theatrical literary agency. Even in mid-career, Lenny would go off on holiday with Burtie and Shirley, the three of them joined in hilarity over childhood memories, complete with an invented nonsense language.

An eager paterfamilias at home, he remained sexually active with men. Felicia knew from the start and was hardheaded about it. At the time of their marriage, she wrote to him, “You are a homosexual and may never change—you don’t admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depends on a certain sexual pattern, what can you do? I am willing to accept you as you are, without being a martyr or sacrificing myself on the L.B. altar.” But he did live a double life, and Felicia wound up tending the altar.

Jamie and the younger children knew nothing of their father’s adventures away from home or of Felicia’s way of coping with them. On the contrary, in Jamie’s account of her childhood, one detects something like the fervent nostalgia of Russian expatriates for life before the revolution. There was glory then, ample country luxury as well as city luxury, faithful servants, tennis with Isaac Stern, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the windows of their apartment in the Dakota, and live music, much of it generated by Lenny sitting at the piano. The family gatherings were a conspiracy to have fun. Parents and children created rhyming nonsense songs for special occasions; they made clowning home movies (“What Ever Happened to Felicia Montealegre?,” an overwrought salute to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford). If Lenny’s effusiveness was sometimes hard to bear, plenty of smart people couldn’t get enough of him, including Mike Nichols, Richard Avedon, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and the young Stephen Sondheim. Lillian Hellman, terrifying to Jamie, was a growling presence. With that crew around, however, and L.B. driving the entertainments, the long evenings could become barbed—anagrams and other word games were played as life-and-death matters, and more than one participant, Jamie says, left the room in tears.

Jamie Bernstein’s writing is devoted to what she directly experienced, altered, it seems, as little as possible by the passage of time. Leonard Bernstein is always “Daddy,” not a figure in a novel, or the hero of myth, but an all too palpable man, with an endless capacity to please her or hurt her. Like the Tom Stoppard play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” the book offers an off-angle view of a genius. We hear relatively little about Leonard Bernstein as a composer or as a working musician, studying scores, rehearsing orchestras and singers. The musical triumphs away from New York, in Vienna, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, and Bernstein’s citizenly public life—his advocacy of civil rights and world peace—are no more than a distant excitement, like the sound of an offstage band. Nor is there much sense of his development as a composer. (For that, one should read Allen Shawn’s excellent “Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician.”) The four great Broadway scores (“On the Town,” “Wonderful Town,” “Candide,” and “West Side Story”) were all composed before Jamie was born or when she was a small child.

She did, however, live through the composition and the première, in 1976, of “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” which Bernstein wrote with the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, and, for the first time, she experienced some doubt about her father’s grip on things. “The two collaborators wanted to make a major statement about the meaning of democracy: to remind their country of its true purpose,” she writes. The high-minded show was so resounding a flop that it was never recorded. “Our father had been unassailably magnificent to us—just as he had been to the world,” she goes on. “Now he seemed complex, flawed, mortal.” Yet the music was not entirely lost. In 1997, the Bernstein and Lerner estates put together a concert piece for voices and orchestra called “A White House Cantata,” which has been recorded by soloists and the London Symphony Orchestra, with Kent Nagano conducting. It is one of Bernstein’s retrieved scores, an element in the continuous revaluation of his work, and much of the music, as Jamie Bernstein says, is inventive and tuneful.

Leonard Bernstein found conducting easy and composing excruciatingly difficult, yet he was sure that it was more important for him to compose. Despite his many sufferings, and a hostile initial reception to much of the concert work, he managed to produce a great deal of music. It’s now a safe bet that the following will remain active repertory pieces: the three symphonies; the ballets “Fancy Free” and “Dybbuk”; the Serenade for violin, strings, percussion, and harp; the choral work “Chichester Psalms”; the film score for “On the Waterfront”; as well as the four early musicals and (maybe) “A White House Cantata.” Bernstein wrote a satirical, jazzy short opera about a warring honeymoon couple, “Trouble in Tahiti,” in 1952. Thirty-one years later, he folded “Trouble” into a longer, tragic opera about the couple’s family, “A Quiet Place”—a combined work that’s both dazzling and bewilderingly sad. In all, the reputation of his classical compositions has gone way up in recent decades. A single historical marker will suffice to show the shift. In 1983, Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College and the conductor of the American Symphony, wrote, in Harper’s, a lengthy, contemptuous dismissal of Bernstein as a classical composer and conductor. “His career until now has been an accumulation of false starts, spent opportunities; a record of extensive exposure with ephemeral results.” Yet last fall Botstein programmed Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) with his own orchestra, and, from the stage, he acknowledged that Bernstein has had the last laugh. The centenary year completes the restoration: most of Bernstein’s early work as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic—part of the activity that Botstein was condemning—has been recently reissued in a hundred-CD box set from Sony, including classic performances of Ives, Copland, Mahler, and Stravinsky. At the moment, Bernstein’s music is being played all over the world. On a single day, June 23rd, there will be concerts featuring his work in Richmond, Kansas City, Hong Kong, Bilbao, and Klingenberg am Main. Two Hollywood bio-pics, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Bradley Cooper, are on the way.

“Kaddish,” with its literally Heaven-storming narration (“O my father, ancient, hallowed, lonely, disappointed Father, rejected ruler of the universe”), will always remain troublesome—at least until someone satisfactorily rewrites the rambunctiously blasphemous text. But the piece has some of Bernstein’s most powerful and lyrically affecting music. The other monster—the Mass, composed for the opening of the Kennedy Center, in 1971—can never settle into routine concert life, since mounting it at all requires huge forces. The Mass is led by a priest, the Celebrant, who is joined, and sometimes assaulted, by a chorus of street kids, dancers, syncopated jazz, rock, and several other forces, in frenzied antiphonal bursts, questioning the necessity of faith. Near the end, the Celebrant breaks down, in a fourteen-minute monologue that reduces audiences either to tears or to exasperation, followed by a boy soprano singing “Sing God a simple song.” Mixing Broadway, rock, jazz, and classical, it’s the most ecumenical of Masses, with pages of exciting music—a pleasure-seeking rebellion, Jamie says, against “the rigidity of the musical Establishment, who decreed that all ‘serious’ music had to be composed using the twelve-tone system.”

In 1973, Bernstein appeared to settle the tonal/atonal question, in the extraordinary videotaped Norton Lectures, “The Unanswered Question,” in which he insisted, using Chomsky’s linguistics as an analogue, that tonality was rooted in human biology and in the laws of physics. (Despite these assertions, he occasionally blinked, flirting in his post-Norton music with both atonality and twelve-tone rows.) The Norton Lectures are the most ambitious of his pedagogical efforts, adding historical and theoretical context to his warm-spirited earlier work for the Young People’s Concerts, which CBS aired in prime time during the nineteen-fifties and sixties, and to his many filmed commentaries on Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich, and others. So much productive activity (there are a half-dozen books, too) is almost impossible to imagine.

In 1970, before entering Harvard, Jamie Bernstein spent the summer at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where her father had flourished as a young man. After a while, she heard tales of his earlier days (“moonlit naked swims in the lake, scurrying between practice cabins . . . you weren’t supposed to hear such things about your own father”). His other life became inescapable, and she wrote him a long letter, demanding answers. He denied everything, at Felicia’s insistence, as Jamie now believes—an assertion that (perhaps unfairly) places the blame for lying on her mother. In any case, Jamie’s sense of her father as a sexual being, and his superabundant warmth with his children, added to her own romantic difficulties. There were many boyfriends, some good, some not, but all, apparently, lacking the divine spark. The phrase for this, I suppose, is emotional incest; Lenny was all over her life, tying her up without meaning to. He enjoyed rock music in the sixties, especially the Beatles, and would accompany her to concerts and clubs. But sometimes his enjoyment spilled over:

 

<blockquote>One night we all went to Casino Vail, a disco. They began playing the theme from “Zorba the Greek,” of all things, and Daddy grabbed me. The next thing I knew we were dancing full tilt to the bouzouki music, just the two of us, while the crowd made a ring around us, clapping in rhythm and egging us on. Daddy pulled out a handkerchief and was waving it around above his head—then he was down on his knees! I danced in a circle around him; what else could I do? I was trapped: a mortified moon, doomed to eternal orbit around an ecstatic, sweaty, handkerchief-swirling sun.</blockquote>

She was dazzled, embarrassed, vaguely disgusted. In 1972, when she was a junior at Harvard, her father appeared with a young lover, Tom Cothran, and took up residence in Eliot House, his old dorm. For an academic year, he prepared the Norton Lectures. Professor Daddy, the campus hero! He stayed up half the night with undergraduates, talking and playing music, stealing her college social life.

After the early reveries of family happiness, frustration runs through the narrative; the story grows increasingly shadowed and anxious. Jamie had wanted to be a musician, but as a child she hated piano lessons. “Well, you’ll never be a great pianist,” Lenny told her, holding her in his lap, a remark that could be seen as hostile—or, possibly, as a benevolent warning against heartbreak. In any case, she was more of a rock fan than a classical kid, and for years wrote and performed songs herself, without much success. In the end, she wrote songs for her father on special occasions.

She looks back on her family life with an understanding of the distance between desire and happiness. Even Leonard Bernstein felt that distance. Fifty years ago, he could not live openly as a gay man, but he couldn’t stop loving his wife, either, and he felt terribly guilty about what he put Felicia through. After twenty years of marriage, she was not doing well. Willing to serve as “Mrs. Maestro,” she had given up most of her career. She developed eccentricities and odd illnesses, engaged in passionate busywork (collecting, decorating, gardening); she made paintings and threw them away. And then, in 1970, meaning well, she stepped into the social disaster of the century—a fund-raising party for the Black Panthers held in the Park Avenue family apartment, an event attended by Tom Wolfe, of New York, who published a poisonous (and funny) lampoon. Lenny, who was accustomed to brickbats, picked himself up and kept his conducting dates, but Jamie believes that Felicia, suffering from public humiliation, was never the same. At dinner one night, she pronounced a curse upon her husband: “You’re going to die a lonely, bitter old queen! ” Jamie says she uttered it as a joke, in the self-parodying tones of theatrical high camp. Maybe so, but it still sounds like the maledizione from “Rigoletto.” Felicia turns out to be a victim of the family romance; perhaps next time the story needs to be told from her point of view.

By the mid-seventies, she was ill with cancer, and Lenny, having broken up with Cothran, returned to their apartment and nursed her until her death, at fifty-six, in 1978. And then, guilty and lost, he fell apart. The body electric no longer charmed everyone in sight. Adonis had become Silenus, sometimes drunk and mean, talking of sex too much, his hands too active, his tongue placed down unwilling throats. The extraordinary craving for sensation, for love, for contact, which he converted, refined, and fed back to his audience in lavishly expended musical effort—a gift to everyone—was wearing him out. Despite every medical warning, he smoked incessantly, even in doctors’ offices. When he could sleep at all, he slept an entire day. Mortified by his increasing physical squalor, Jamie was also dismayed by the entourage that surrounded him away from home. At the 1983 Houston première of his late opera “A Quiet Place,” or in some distant foreign city, the after-concert party would include his manager, his publicist, various musical assistants, his audio engineer, his video director, local notables and social lions, handsome young men, and assorted hangers-on. The reception had become a champagne-and-caviar version of a Rolling Stones tour stop.

As he turned seventy, in 1988, there were worldwide celebrations and a huge event at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony, at the conclusion of which, Jamie writes, “everyone was awash in emotion,” but Bernstein, incontinent, “was awash from the waist down. And of course he had to go on stage and hug everyone. On camera.” For Jamie, the difficulties in his last decade figured as both the ordinary disasters of old age and the awe-inspiring decay of a national monument. “Everything had become such an effort for him: his breathing, his insomnia, and all the additional threescore-and-ten indignities. His belly was terribly distended; while the rest of him seemed to be collapsing in on itself.” Yet, in thinking of Bernstein’s later years, one has to invoke the mysteries of artistic will, its capacity to redeem and transcend many kinds of failure. Perhaps only Thomas Mann could have mastered the ironies of Bernstein’s story. As he fell apart physically and morally, he wrote some demanding and beautiful music (including the song cycle “Arias and Barcarolles”), and his work on the podium became ever more disciplined, often profound, even visionary.

Not all the performances from the nineteen-eighties are at the same level, but the best ones, recorded live at concerts, put him among the immortals. There was a series of Mozart symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic; a fresh Mahler cycle recorded in Vienna, Amsterdam, and New York; a majestic Sibelius Fifth; Haydn, Schumann, Copland, Shostakovich; his own much abandoned, much revived 1956 show “Candide.” The public acclaim and the music itself kept him going, and, again and again, he pulled himself together for a performance. Right at the end, in 1989, as the Wall was coming down, he led a powerful Beethoven’s Ninth in Berlin, which was broadcast all over the world. The orchestral players were drawn from London, New York, Munich, Dresden, Paris, and St. Petersburg, in a kind of universal shout of happiness that Soviet Communism was finished. On the podium, the superb bone structure of his handsome brow was intact; a tuxedo pulled in the belly; his movements were not as fluent as earlier—he used his fists more—but he was completely in command. It was his last great public event. (All this late work—videotaped concerts and recordings—has been rereleased by Deutsche Grammophon as a gigantic box set. The recordings are individually available as well.)

He died in 1990, at seventy-two (young for a conductor), not alone, as Felicia had predicted, but attended by family and friends and saluted, as the cortège passed through the city streets, by New York hardhats (“Goodbye, Lenny!”). Charles Ives and Aaron Copland were great composers, but Bernstein was by far the greatest American musician. Occasionally, one is startled by a reminder. On YouTube, there is a filmed performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, from 1972, with the Vienna Philharmonic (the sound with good headphones is fine) that is astonishing for its transparent textures, its bold transitions from one mood to another. That symphony, with its musical sleigh bells, so reminiscent of childhood bliss, is a recurring motif in Jamie Bernstein’s book. It’s her Rosebud.

After L.B.’s death, chagrin gives way to relief; life resumes its usual shapes of success and failure. The overwhelmed children try to pull themselves together, and Jamie Bernstein finds a way—many ways, actually—of making a life out of music without being a musician, narrating concert works, creating an equivalent of the Young People’s Concerts (the Bernstein Beat, devoted to his music), making a film about the training of young American instrumentalists. She and her brother and sister have devoted themselves to their father’s name, his work, and his recordings, and have helped along restorative efforts on his compositions and much else. As the daughters of great men go, Jamie Bernstein has had a happy fate: the existence of this well-written book, with its poignancy and its shuddery detail—her father’s fragrance in the morning—is a mark of sanity and survival. In telling his story, she got to write her own.

পার্থক্য না বুঝলে আমি বিরক্ত হই

বার্মা রাখাইনে রোহিঙ্গাদের জাতিগতভাবে নিশ্চিহ্ন করে দিতে চেয়েছিল কিনা, রোহিঙ্গাদেরকে তাদের আবাসভূমি রাখাইন অঞ্চল থেকে বিতাড়িত করতে নিপীড়ন ধর্ষণ ও হত্যার পরিকল্পিত পদক্ষেপ নিয়েছিল কিনা এই বিচারের জায়গাটা আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধ বিচারের জায়গা এটা আমাদেরকে সবার আগে বুঝতে হবে। এবং এটা যদি আমরা বুঝতে পারি তাহলে আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধ আদালতের মিয়ানমারের বিচার চাওয়ার সাথে একাত্ম হয়ে বাংলাদেশ সরকারের মিয়ানমারের বিচার চাওয়ার মধ্যে আর কোনো দ্বিধাই থাকতে পারে না।

বার্মার রোহিঙ্গা শরণার্থীদের বাংলাদেশ থেকে মিয়ানমারে প্রত্যাবর্তনের দ্বিপাক্ষিক সমাধান প্রচেষ্টার সাথে আমরা যখন বার্মায় রোহিঙ্গাদের উপর সংঘটিত জনজাতিনিধনযজ্ঞের বিচার চাওয়াকে হুমকি মনে করি তখন বুঝতে হবে আমরা দুটোর মধ্যে পার্থক্য না ধরতে পেরে ভুল পন্থায় চিন্তার দিকে পা বাড়াচ্ছি।

আর এভাবে পার্থক্য না বুঝলে আমি বিরক্ত হই।

বাংলাদেশের সামনে স্পষ্ট পথ হল বার্মায় রোহিঙ্গাদের উপর সংঘটিত আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধসমূহের বিচার করার যে সম্ভাবনা তৈরি হয়েছে আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধ আদালতের প্রাথমিক পদক্ষেপে সেই সম্ভাবনার প্রতি পূর্ণ সমর্থন জানিয়ে বিচারের ক্ষেত্র প্রস্তুত করার সম্পূর্ণ সহযোগিতার দিকে অগ্রসর হওয়া।

আর রোহিঙ্গা শরণার্থীদের প্রত্যাবর্তন ও প্রত্যাবাসনের ক্ষেত্রে দ্বিপাক্ষিক অবস্থানকে সমুন্নত রেখে বার্মার উপর আন্তর্জাতিক চাপ বাড়িয়ে এগিয়ে যাওয়া।

আমি চাই বাংলাদেশ কোনোভাবেই যেন বার্মায় রোহিঙ্গাদের উপর সংঘটিত আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধের বিচার এবং রোহিঙ্গা শরণার্থীদের প্রত্যাবর্তন ও প্রত্যাবাসনের বাংলাদেশ মিয়ানমারের যৌথ প্রচেষ্টার সমঝোতা স্মারককে গুলিয়ে না ফেলে।

বাংলাদেশ উভয় পথেই নিজেকে উচ্চকিত রাখবে এটাই ঠিক কূটনীতি কারণ বার্মা যেমন রোহিঙ্গাদের উপর সংঘটিত আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধে অপরাধী তেমনি বার্মাকে রোহিঙ্গা শরণার্থীদের প্রত্যাবর্তন ও প্রত্যাবাসনও করতেই হবে।

কমিউনিটি ব্লগে : রোহিঙ্গাদের উপর সংঘটিত জনজাতিনিধনযজ্ঞের বিচার এবং রোহিঙ্গা শরণার্থীদের প্রত্যাবাসন দুই পথেই চলতে হবে বাংলাদেশের কূটনীতি

জিভভ্রমণ পেটভ্রমণ

এই যে যাকে রান্নার বই বলে সেরকম একটা বই লেখার ইচ্ছে আমার অনেক দিনের কিন্তু সময় সুযোগ ব্যবস্থা সম্মেলনের অভাবে এই বই আর লেখা হচ্ছে না আর কখন লেখা হবে বা আদৌ কখনও লেখা হবে কিনা তাই বা কে বলতে পারে তাই আমি ভাবছি কোথাও কোনো খাবার পানীয় ভাল লেগে গেলে বা কোথাও কোনো খাবার পানীয় খেতেই গেলে বা কোথাও গিয়ে কোনো খাবার পানীয় খুব ভাল বা অভিনব লাগলে তাই নিয়ে কিছুনাকিছু লিখে ফেললাম ব্লগে এটা হলেও বা মন্দ কী। তো লেখার শিরোনাম ভাবতে গিয়ে প্রথমে মনে এল পেটভ্রমণ পরে ভাবলাম খাবার পানীয়ে পেটটা আমার কাছে মুখ্য নয় আমি মূলত স্বাদ নিতেই পছন্দ করি পেট ভরাতে নয় তখন মনে এল জিভভ্রমণ শেষ পর্যন্ত ভাবলাম দুটোই থাক পেট না ভরুক কিন্তু পেটে না গেলে চলবে কেন তাহলে হল জিভভ্রমণ পেটভ্রমণ।

ভারত বাংলাদেশ সম্পর্ক শেখ হাসিনার চারটি চুনি মুক্তো

এক অসাধারণ কূটনৈতিক উদাহরণ – এক অসাধারণ ভবিষ্যৎ নির্মাণের দ্রষ্টা – আমি মনে করি শেখ হাসিনাকে উপমহাদেশ যুগ যুগ স্মরণ করবে, ভারত বাংলাদেশ সম্পর্ককে তিনি যেউচ্চতায় তুলে দিয়েছেন তা কূটনীতির এক অন্যধারার ‘প্রতিদান চাই না’ শিক্ষার সূত্রপাত করবে।

আমি কোনো প্রতিদান চাই না। প্রতিদানের কী আছে এখানে? চাওয়ার অভ্যাস আমার একটু কম। দেওয়ার অভ্যাস বেশি।

আমরা ভারতকে যা দিয়েছি সেটা ভারত সারা জীবন মনে রাখবে। প্রতিদিনের বোমাবাজি, গুলি; আমরা কিন্তু ওদের শান্তি ফেরত দিয়েছি। এটা তাদের মনে রাখতে হবে। কাজেই আমরা ওগুলোর প্রতিদান চাই না।

আমাদের মহান মুক্তিযুদ্ধে তারা যে আমাদের সমর্থন দিয়েছে, শরণার্থীদের তারা সাহায্য করেছে, লাখ লাখ মুক্তিযোদ্ধাদের ট্রেনিং দিয়েছে। যুদ্ধের ময়দানে একসাথে রক্ত দিয়েছে, আমরা কৃতজ্ঞতার সঙ্গে সেটা স্মরণ করি।

প্রতিবেশীদের মধ্যে তিক্ততা থাকতেই পারে। কিন্তু আমার কোনো বক্তব্যে এই তিক্ততা যেন না হয়।