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Letter from the editor | 119

A country seen by multiple ways and paths

This first issue in 2006 of Pesquisa FAPESP, marked by a few visual innovations created with the same affection and esthetic rigor as ever by our art director, Hélio de Almeida, offers the reader some original and very stimulating ways to think about crucial aspects of Brazilian society, its formation and its future.

The fine cover story, for example, about the censorship of the Brazilian cinema imposed by the military dictatorship, reveals, from page 78 onwards, to what point obscurantism and ignorance, protected by the force of arms, attacked the capacity for intellectual creation in this country, in the most somber period of its recent history. There are passages in the text prepared by the humanities editor, Carlos Haag, that, for the absurdity of the situation they reveal, go so far as to be hilarious, like the one that refers to the summary that a censor did of Macunaíma, by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, in my judgment one of the great films of the Brazilian cinema. Or another relating to the same film, in which the censor determines the cutting of a scene in which actress Joana Fomm appears in a dress supposed to have the colors of the Alliance for Progress, an American organization seen with extreme distrust by the military of the period.

The old authoritarianism ruling in Brazilian political life, which emerges from each line of the article about the censorship of the cinema, reappears in a ping-pong interview that I did with Professor Luís Henrique Dias Tavares, about Brazil’s war of independence waged in Bahia. This war, which took practically the whole year of 1822 and was prolonged until July 2, 1823, in spite of its importance for the consolidation of Brazil as a nation independent of Portugal, remains as an episode widely and unjustly unknown outside the geographical limits of Bahia – it does not even appear in the textbooks on the History of Brazil. It is worth checking out, starting on page 12, the most recent information in this regard offered by a specialist on the theme.

I have to observe that the rather infrequent, but much merited, weight of the humanities in this issue is not indicative of a loss for the lovers of other areas of knowledge. On the contrary. Hence, in the field of health, worth highlighting is an important article on asthma, a chronic respiratory problem that affects from 150 million to 300 million persons in the world, and, every year, leads 15 million victims to lose a year of healthy life. The assistant editor for science, Ricardo Zorzetto, tells, from page 42 onwards, how a better understanding of the role played by messenger molecules of the defense system in controlling the production of substances that spark off the crises of asthma may lead to more adequate treatments of the insupportable crises of the disease.

In the field of ethology, that is, of the study of animal behavior, the magazine brings an article that all the readers that are fond of dogs are certainly going to adore, and the others may find fascinating. In it, special editor Marcos Pivetta tells, from page 36 onwards, which Sofia, a very charming mongrel, understands and differentiates phrases made up of two distinct terms and communicates with human beings by availing herself of a special keyboard.

And to sum it up, showing that research in our country is alert to the well-being of the population in all its aspects, I want to point out the report from the technology editor, Marcos de Oliveira, on page 72, about a new kind of mouse developed by a researcher from USP that provides more comfort for the user and prevents muscular pains. It is glad tidings for all those who in the daily exercise of their tasks have already seen themselves in the grip of a persistent tendinitis caused by the continuous use of the computer.

A great and happy 2006 to all.