Artículos en Inglés de Tony Judt

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NIGHT Tony Judt I suffer from a motor neuron disorder, in my case a variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Lou Gehrig’s disease. otor neuron disorders are far from rare: !ar inson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of lesser diseases all come under that heading. #hat is distinctive a$out ALS%the least common of this family of neuro& muscular illnesses%is firstly that there is no loss of sensation (a mi'ed $lessing) and secondly that there is no pai

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  NIGHTTony Judt  I suffer from a motor neuron disorder, in my case a variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Lou Gehrig’s disease. otor neuron disorders are far from rare: !ar inson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of lesser diseases all come under that heading. #hat is distinctive a$out ALS%the least common of this family of neuro&muscular illnesses%is firstly that there is no loss of sensation (a mi'ed $lessing) and secondly that there is no pain. In contrast to almost every other serious or deadly disease, one is thus left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of one’s on deterioration. In effect, ALS constitutes progressive imprisonment ithout parole. irst you lose the use of a digit or to* then a lim$* then and almost inevita$ly, all four. +he muscles of the torso decline into near torpor, a practical pro$lem from the digestive point of vie $ut also life&threatening, in that $reathing $ecomes at first difficult and eventually impossi$le ithout e'ternal assistance in the form of a tu$e&and&pump apparatus. In the more e'treme variants of the disease, associated ith dysfunction of the upper motor neurons (the rest of the $ody is driven $y the so&called loer motor neurons), salloing, spea ing, and even controlling the a and head $ecome impossi$le. I do not (yet) suffer from this aspect of the disease, or else I could not dictate this te't. -y my present stage of decline, I am thus effectively uadriplegic. #ith e'traordinary effort I can move my right hand a little and can adduct my left arm some si' inches across my chest. y legs, although they ill loc hen upright long enough to allo a nurse to transfer me from one chair to another, cannot $ear my eight and only one of them has any autonomous movement left in it. +hus hen legs or arms are set in a given position, there they remain until someone moves them for me. +he same is true of my torso, ith the result that $ac ache from inertia and pressure is a chronic irritation. /aving no use of my arms, I cannot scratch an itch, adust my spectacles, remove food particles from my teeth, or anything else that%as a moment’s reflection  ill confirm%e all do do0ens of times a day. +o say the least, I am utterly and completely dependent upon the indness of strangers (and anyone else). 1uring the day I can at least reuest a scratch, an adustment, a drin , or simply a gratuitous re&placement of my lim$s%since enforced stillness for hours on end is not only physically uncomforta$le $ut psychologically close to intolera$le. It is not as though you lose the desire to stretch, to $end, to stand or lie or run or even e'ercise. -ut hen the urge comes over you there is nothing%nothing%that you can do e'cept see some tiny su$stitute or else find a ay to suppress the thought and the accompanying muscle memory. -ut then comes the night. I leave $edtime until the last possi$le moment compati$le ith my nurse’s need for sleep. 2nce I have $een 3prepared4 for $ed I am rolled into the $edroom in the heelchair here I have spent the past eighteen hours. #ith some difficulty (despite my reduced height, mass, and $ul I am still a su$stantial dead eight for even a strong man to shift) I am maneuvered onto my cot. I am sat upright at an angle of some 5567 and edged into place ith folded toels and pillos, my left leg in particular turned out $allet&li e to compensate for its propensity to collapse inard. +his process reuires considera$le concentration. If I allo a stray lim$ to $e mis&placed, or fail to insist on having my midriff carefully aligned ith legs and head, I shall suffer the agonies of the damned later in the night.I am then covered, my hands placed outside the $lan et to afford me the illusion of mo$ility $ut rapped nonetheless since%li e the rest of me%they no suffer from a permanent sensation of cold. I am offered a final scratch on any of a do0en itchy spots  from hairline to toe* the -i&!ap $reathing device in my nose is adusted to a necessarily uncomforta$le level of tightness to ensure that it does not slip in the night* my glasses are removed8and there I lie: trussed, myopic, and motionless li e a modern&day mummy, alone in my corporeal prison, accompanied for the rest of the night only $y my thoughts. 2f course, I do have access to help if I need it. Since I can’t move a muscle, save only my nec and head, my communication device is a $a$y’s intercom at my $edside, left permanently on so that a mere call from me ill $ring assistance. In the early stages of my disease the temptation to call out for help as almost irresisti$le: every muscle felt in need of movement, every inch of s in itched, my $ladder found mysterious ays to refill itself in the night and thus reuire relief, and in general I felt a desperate need for the reassurance of light, company, and the simple comforts of human intercourse. -y no, hoever, I have learned to forgo this most nights, finding solace and recourse in my on thoughts. +he latter, though I say it myself, is no small underta ing. As yourself ho often you move in the night. I don’t mean change location altogether (e.g., to go to the $athroom, though that too): merely ho often you shift a hand, a foot* ho freuently you scratch assorted $ody parts $efore dropping off* ho unselfconsciously you alter position very slightly to find the most comforta$le one. Imagine for a moment that you had $een o$liged instead to lie a$solutely motionless on your $ac %$y no means the $est sleeping position, $ut the only one I can tolerate%for seven un$ro en hours and constrained to come up ith ays to render this 9alvary tolera$le not ust for one night $ut for the rest of your life. y solution has $een to scroll through my life, my thoughts, my fantasies, my memories, mis&memories, and the li e until I have chanced upon events, people, or narratives that I can employ to divert my mind from the $ody in hich it is encased. +hese mental e'ercises have to $e interesting enough to hold my attention and see me through an intolera$le itch in my inner ear or loer $ac * $ut they also have to $e $oring and predicta$le enough to serve as a relia$le prelude and encouragement to sleep. It too me some time to identify this process as a or a$le alternative to insomnia and physical discomfort and it is $y no means infalli$le. -ut I am occasionally astonished, hen I reflect upon the matter, at ho readily I seem to get through, night after night, ee after ee , month after month, hat as once an almost insuffera$le nocturnal ordeal. I a e up in e'actly the position, frame of mind, and state of suspended despair ith hich I ent to $ed%hich in the circumstances might $e thought a considera$le achievement.+his coc roach&li e e'istence is cumulatively intolera$le even though on any given night it is perfectly managea$le. 39oc roach4 is of course an allusion to af a’s etamorphosis, in hich the protagonist a es up one morning to discover that he has $een transformed into an insect. +he point of the story is as much the responses and incomprehension of his family as it is the account of his on sensations, and it is hard to resist the thought that even the $est&meaning and most generously thoughtful friend or relative cannot hope to understand the sense of isolation and imprisonment that this disease imposes upon its victims. /elplessness is humiliating even in a passing crisis%imagine or recall some occasion hen you have fallen don or otherise reuired physical assistance from strangers. Imagine the mind’s response to the noledge that the peculiarly humiliating helplessness of ALS is a life sentence (e spea $lithely of death sentences in this connection, $ut actually the latter ould $e a relief).orning $rings some respite, though it says something a$out the lonely ourney through the night that the prospect of $eing transferred to a heelchair for the rest of the day should raise one’s spirits; /aving something to do, in my case something purely cere$ral and ver$al, is a salutary diversion%if only in the almost literal sense of  providing an occasion to communicate ith the outside orld and e'press in ords, often angry ords, the $ottled&up irritations and frustrations of physical inanition. +he $est ay to survive the night ould $e to treat it li e the day. If I could find people ho had nothing $etter to do than tal to me all night a$out something sufficiently diverting to eep us $oth aa e, I ould search them out. -ut one is also and alays aare in this disease of the necessary normalcy of other people’s lives: their need for e'ercise, entertainment, and sleep. And so my nights superficially resem$le those of other people. I prepare for $ed* I go to $ed* I get up (or, rather, am got up). -ut the $it $eteen is, li e the disease itself, incommunica$le. I suppose I should $e at least mildly satisfied to no that I have found ithin myself the sort of survival mechanism that most normal people only read a$out in accounts of natural disasters or isolation cells. And it is true that this disease has its ena$ling dimension: than s to my ina$ility to ta e notes or prepare them, my memory%already uite good%has improved considera$ly, ith the help of techniues adapted from the 3memory palace4 so intriguingly depicted $y <onathan Spence. -ut the satisfactions of compensation are notoriously fleeting. +here is no saving grace in $eing confined to an iron suit, cold and unforgiving. +he pleasures of mental agility are much overstated, inevita$ly%as it no appears to me%$y those not e'clusively dependent upon them. uch the same can $e said of ell&meaning encouragements to find nonphysical compensations for physical inadeuacy. +hat ay lies futility. Loss is loss, and nothing is gained $y calling it $y a nicer name. y nights are intriguing* $ut I could do ithout them. AUSTERITYTony Judt  y ife earnestly instructs 9hinese restaurants to deliver in card$oard cartons. y children are depressingly noledgea$le a$out climate change. 2urs is an environmental family: $y their standards, I am a prelapsarian relic from the age of ecological innocence. -ut ho traipses through the apartment sitching off lights and chec ing for lea ing faucets= #ho favors ma e&do&and&mend in an era of instant replacement= #ho recycles leftovers and carefully preserves old rapping paper= y sons nudge their friends: 1ad gre up in poverty. >ot at all, I correct them: I gre up in austerity. After the ar everything as in short supply. 9hurchill had mortgaged Great -ritain and $an rupted the +reasury in order to defeat /itler. 9lothes ere rationed until 5?@?, cheap and simple 3utility furniture4 until 5?B, food until 5?@. +he rules  ere $riefly suspended for the coronation of Cli0a$eth, in <une 5?D: everyone as alloed one e'tra pound of sugar and four ounces of margarine. -ut this e'ercise in supererogatory generosity served only to underscore the dreary regime of daily life. +o a child, rationing as part of the natural order. Indeed, long after the practice ceased, my mother convinced me that 3seets4 (candy) ere still restricted. #hen I protested that school friends appeared to have unlimited access to the stuff, she e'plained disapprovingly that their parents must $e on the $lac mar et. /er story as all the more credi$le $ecause the legacy of ar as ever&present. London as poc mar ed ith $om$ sites: here once there had $een houses, streets, railay yards, or arehouses there ere no large roped&off areas of dirt, usually ith a dip in the middle here the $om$ had fallen. -y the early 5?6s une'ploded ordnance had  $een mostly cleared and $om$ sites%though off&limits%ere no longer dangerous. -ut these impromptu play spaces ere irresisti$le for small $oys. Eationing and su$sidies meant that the $are necessities of life ere accessi$le to all. 9ourtesy of the postar La$our government, children ere entitled to a range of healthful products: free mil $ut also concentrated orange uice and cod&liver oil%o$taina$le only in pharmacies after you esta$lished your identity. +he orange uice came in rectangular, medicine&li e glass $ottles and I have never uite lost the association. Cven today, a large glassful prompts in me a su$limated pang of guilt: $etter not drin it all at once. 2f cod&liver oil, urged upon houseives and mothers $y $enevolently intrusive authorities, the less said the $etter. #e ere fortunate to lease an apartment a$ove the hairdressing shop here my parents or ed, $ut many of my friends lived in su$standard or temporary housing. Cvery -ritish government from 5?@ through the mid&5?F6s committed itself to large&scale pu$lic housing schemes: all fell short. In the early 5?6s, thousands of Londoners still lived in 3prefa$s4: ur$an trailer par s for the homeless, ostensi$ly temporary $ut often lasting for years. !ostar guidelines for ne housing ere minimalist: three&$edroom houses ere to comprise at least nine hundred suare feet of living space%a$out the si0e of a spacious one&$edroom apartment in contemporary anhattan. Loo ing $ac , these homes seem not merely po ey, $ut chilly and underfurnished. At the time, there ere long aiting lists: oned and managed $y local authorities, such houses ere intensely desira$le. +he air over the capital resem$led a $ad day in -eiing* coal as the fuel of choice%cheap, a$undant, and domestically produced. Smog as a perennial ha0ard: I recall leaning out of the car indo, my face enveloped in a dense yello ha0e, instructing my father on his distance from the cur$%you could literally not see $eyond an arm’s length ahead of you and the smell as aful. -ut everyone 3muddled through together4: 1un ir and the -lit0 ere freely invo ed ithout a hint of irony to illustrate a sense of national grit and Londoners’ capacity to 3ta e it4%first /itler, no this. I gre up at least as familiar ith #orld #ar I as ith the one that had ust ended. eterans, memorials, and invocations a$ounded* $ut the ostentatious patriotism of contemporary American $ellicosity as altogether a$sent. #ar, too, as austere: I had to uncles ho fought ith ontgomery’s Cighth Army from Africa through Italy and there as nothing nostalgic or triumphalist in their accounts of shortage, error, and incompetence. Arrogant music hall evocations of empire%#e don’t ant to fight them, $ut $y <ingo if e do, #e’ve got the ships, e’ve got the men, e’ve got the money too; %had $een replaced $y the artime radio lament of era Lynn: #e’ll meet again, don’t no here, don’t no hen. Cven in the afterglo of victory, things ould never $e the same. Eeiterated references to the recent past esta$lished a $ridge $eteen my parents’ generation and my on. +he orld of the 5?D6s as ith us still: George 2rell’s Eoad to #igan !ier, <.-. !riestley’s Angel !avement, and Arnold -ennett’s +he Grim Smile of the ive +ons all spo e to an Cngland very much present. #herever you loo ed, there ere affectionate allusions to imperial glory%India as 3lost4 a fe months after I as $orn. -iscuit tins, pencil holders, school$oo s, and cinema nesreels reminded us of ho e ere and hat e had achieved. 3#e4 is no mere grammatical convention: hen /umphrey <ennings produced a documentary to cele$rate the 5?5 estival of -ritain, he called it amily !ortrait. +he family might have fallen on hard times, $ut e ere all in it together.
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