(December 19, 2005)
[Ed. As a reminder to Letter writers: If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
War is a racket: Bob Wrubel's "Why We Should Never Go To War"To the Editor:
This is very well stated in the article. It seems so painfully obvious -- to me, anyway. But I listen to people's conversations sometimes and am driven to despair.
A short monograph that I came across only about two years ago states the reasons "Why We Should Never Go To War" rather forcefully:
War is a Racket, by Major General Smedley Butler (USMC), 1935 (!)
This is about the most remarkable piece I've come across: for its content; but more especially for the time when it was written and the background of its author. Some comments were so uncannily prescient about what was about to break out in a few years that I'm tempted to think the piece was a hoax. But then I'm looking at things through a distorting lens, namely history as rewritten post WWII. It's likely that many people at the time were more clear-sighted and less sentimental. At any rate, it's clear that our masters would have every reason to suppress the piece, so I shouldn't be surprised that I'd never run across it before. It's probably more surprising that it was allowed to survive at all. There are reasons for hope and despair in this.
Kimball, Nebraska, USA - December 9, 2005
Right on the Nose: Milo Clark's Soldier DeadTo Milo Clark:
I thought that your comments about my book, Soldier Dead, were right on the mark. Thank you for taking the time to read it as thoroughly as you must have... I believe it has yet to be fully recognized for what it is.
Louisville, Colorado, USA - December 8, 2005
Milo Clark responds: Mr. Sledge, Soldier Dead is in the Hawaii State Library System. My wife subs at the local library and brought it home for me. I did read it very carefully, rereading parts to fit them into my perspectives.
A Wonderful TreatiseDear Mr. d'Aymery:
A wonderful treatise by Milo Clark.
His conclusion is well taken when he writes, "If there is validity to the laws of Karma, those who have led us into this most recent war will carry their burdens beyond the end of time." Well said, because those profiled in my completed book will carry their burden to death.
This is what I sent to about 100 addies tonite. I wish you'd convey it to Mr. Clark.
Willard D. Gray
Sumner, Illinois, USA - December 5, 2005
Ann Landers, no less! Quote regarding great/average/small minds in last edition's LettersGilles:
I remember reading that quote from (are you ready for this?) ANN LANDERS about forty years ago and it struck me both for its simplicity AND wrong-headedness. Who knows where she got it from, but it dovetailed perfectly with her constant evocation of American homespun truths, especially the idea among middlebrow folk that gossip ("talking about people") was somehow wrong. NOT -- it depends on the motives behind the talk: resentment, say, OR seeking to understand others' lives.
I don't buy the "great minds" - "small minds" dialectic for one thing, but worse is the explicit separation of ideas from people. To me, the ONLY thing worth talking about is people (humanity) which can't be done without utilizing ideas. And when you factor in EVENTS, large or small, in people's lives (collectively or individually), you have really the collective knowledge of humankind. You get the idea... That little bit of "wisdom" is completely wrong.
Vernon, British Columbia, Canada - December 5, 2005
"It is not the triumph of Science which characterizes our 19th Century, but the triumph of Scientific Method over Science."
The despairing hands: Eli Beckerman's A Silent Wind (December 2003)To the Editor:
I'm surprised the article is still posted. And so near the top of Google's "Silent Wind." As in the "Silent Wind" I can see you -- but can't hear you. I too have been a silent wind in the process the author describes -- I won't attempt to bore you about all that I have written and spoken on the subject; the flaming, rejection, the labels of "traitor," and so on. You must have experienced all of that. Again, we open our mouths and all that comes out is a silent wind. Worse than any nightmare. At least one wakes up, and very few nightmares are as lucid as the ones we are experiencing. It's not getting any better. The frightening part for me is that the longer this goes on the less I feel I can support the immediate withdrawal of our armed forces because I feel that the mess we leave will only make things worse. I rip my shirt and all I hear is the silent wind. Why wind don't you speak, at least to me, if no one else? Why do I think on the one hand that we should not pull out immediately? My other hand says it is all futile, anyway.
Tiger, Georgia, USA - December 11, 2005
The need for Arts & Culture: Charles Marowitz's Cinematizing ShakespeareGilles,
I wanted to compliment Charles Marowitz on his entertaining and readable article on Translating Shakespeare to the Cinema. I studied and taught Shakespeare myself, and I can tell you Marowitz's appreciation is several notches above the usual academic level.
And I compliment you for running the article in Swans -- there's a need now and then to break from the dreary preoccupation with politics and society. Shakespeare himself wrote in one of the bloodiest ages, under one of the most repressive monarchies, but it didn't prevent him from imagining Bottom, Falstaff and Malvolio.
Sartre commented about tragedy that we are not supposed to identify with the characters on stage at all, but rather witness them acting out their awful destinies in isolation. He thought movies and literature on the page were different, in that they almost require us to identify with the characters. On this observation, Sartre based his theory that theater had to be almost painfully remote from us to be authentic. I don't know if this makes any sense in the real or theatrical world, or is just an example of Sartrean idiosyncrasy. Maybe Mr. Marowitz has an opinion.
Sausalito, California, USA - December 11, 2005
Usual yearly whine: Alma Hromic's NaNoWriMo: Now you too can be a writer! (October 2002)To the Editor:
I could not believe my eyes when I first read your [ed. Alma Hromic's] article, entitled, "NaNoWriMo: Now you too can be a writer!" Albeit, this letter comes quite literally years late, since I did not check out the nanowrimo site until this year. Most definitely, this letter will not be published. I, for one, do not care. What I read in your article, quite simply, made me laugh. It was too ridiculous! The point of the site called nanowrimo.org (National Novel Writing Month) is not to write a near-perfect, well-researched, edited time and time again, novel. For almost every participant, most likely, it is not even to be considered being revised or even published. The idea behind the site is to prove to yourself, and possibly to a few others, that you CAN, in fact, create a novel. Whether it be in thirty days or thirty months. As someone had already mentioned, the definition of a novel is not a piece of work that took months and months to write, got published and you got paid for it, and maybe even was read by quite a few people. If that is your definition, you are sadly mistaken. The literal definition of a novel is nothing like that. It is a work of fiction of "considerable length" created by a person.
I believe that the editor may have taken this nanowrimo site much too seriously. Far more seriously than most would have. Those who choose to write a 50,000-word piece of work that most probably will never be published are not threatening this editor's profession. They are not screaming into everybody's faces: Look! I'm a writer! Acknowledge me and love this piece of junk that I wrote in only thirty days! They are saying that they can sit down and write a piece of work.
There is a bit of a writer in everyone. As someone once said, "All are born artists. Most just choose not to be." Let's say that there is a piece of a story floating around in someone's head. They would maybe like to get it down on paper -- someday. Because this person knows that they have work to do and responsibilities to take care of. And they understand that there are simply too many things to do, for them to sit down and write it. Heaven forbid they ever actually sit down in front of a computer and actually finish it! But, along comes a person who says, "Hey, forget about the responsibilities. Just for a bit. Just long enough to get out the story in you. Forget your inner editor (the worst editor of all) who screeches about exactly what this particular sentence HAS to say, or how to tie in all the ideas perfectly in that paragraph. Just get the idea on to paper and just DO IT!"
It's not such a bad idea. An idea that I for one support and believe is healthy for someone's self esteem: to know that they can create for the joy of it, and see it to the end.
Riga, LV, Latvia - December 14, 2005
[ed. Alma Hromic did hit a nerve on the part of would-be writers with her October 2002 opinion piece. Every year, during the nanowrimo month (November), we get a letter poo-poohing her views. Shohna Neumann is the latest in a long series (many we did not publish). Rendez-vous in 2006! If you discover the inner writer in you, send us an article.]
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