domingo, 27 de septiembre de 2015

El (nuevo) sentimentalismo… en el arte y en los negocios

‘We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for.’ - Oscar Wilde

…imagine that I want you to like me, but don’t want to pay the true price of friendship. I want to feel we’re friends (which is a very nice feeling). But I don’t want to back you up when you are in difficulties, I don’t want to hear about your problems or give you tricky bits of advice: I don’t want to actually have to do the things real friends do.

The sentimentalist is a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.’
- Oscar Wilde
Unconvincing, airbrushed representations of family life encourage an equal and opposite reaction. Exposure to sentimentality leads many people to suppose that a wholly dark view is likely to be true.
The basic thing that happens in sentimental art, is that the negative aspects of life or a situation are repressed; and something is instead presented as wholly nice and lovely.
In the middle – between maturity and cynicism – is the mature assessment, which usually means acknowledging that things have good and bad aspects that are unfortunately deeply intertwined. Maturity involves giving up on the attractions of a clearer, simpler (but actually unfair) assessment, whether totally negative or totally positive. Maturity means realising for instance that a single person might be both kindly and generous sometimes and quite greedy at other points. Or that a nation might be really quite admirable in some ways and rather horrific in others.
Sentimentality in Art – and Business | The Book of Life

Why would a corporation resort to sentimentality? What is sentimentality for in advertising? It’s partly an expression of deep anxiety: the anxiety that the audience is in no position to face reality. Sentimentality is a symptom of the sheer difficulty of ambivalence. Adverts don’t trust us enough to share a more complicated view of the world with us. They are – wrongly – afraid that we might run away completely if we were let in on the secret that their products can’t make us entirely happy, that they are good enough but not perfect and that corporations never really love their customers, they’re trying at best to make them a little happier in one or two areas of life.

Businesses are also tempted by sentimentality in their dealings with their own employees. When companies make general statements about how they approach their employees, the shadow side is typically missing.

There are two causes of sentimentality in business. The first is a fear of the fragility of the audience, a worry that it won’t be able to cope with the truth. You think the truth is actually OK. But you fear that other people will get excessively agitated and upset. For businesses the shadow side is this: companies have to make a profit. Businesses have to follow demand. Employees sometimes have to be pushed quite hard or fired to raise profits. They are always means, not ends. Many decision have to be based on the bottom line. Because these facts aren’t fantastic, companies get very nervous about being honest around them.
The second reason for business sentimentality is darker. People sometimes get very sentimental when they feel very guilty, when something pretty bad is going on just off-stage. It’s a kind of bubble wrap around brutish things.
Societies or businesses with a backdrop of pretty cynical attitudes are also often those where there’s a lot of overcompensatory moves. When the sugar coating has to be very thick, it’s often a sign of something pretty bitter underneath.
The solution to this sort of sentimentality is to relieve the pressure of a bad conscience by changing one’s ways.

In the Utopia, there would be less brutality, and therefore less cynicism and less sentimentality. We’d be able to discuss the truth – because the truth felt bearable.

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