(September 7, 2009)
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Critique of a reader's friendly interpretation of Louis Proyect's Saul Bellow In Retrospect
To the Editor:
God save Louis Proyect from his admirers. In June 2005 he wrote a perceptive piece for Swans called "Saul Bellow in Retrospect." It was original in the way he inserted Bellow in a trajectory of Jewish intellectuals who began life in the Great Depression. As they made money, they shed their left-wing views and moved to the right. Proyect recognized in this progression a parallel to the development of the state of Israel.
All through Proyect's article you can feel his sadness at what he saw as Bellow's ultimate exchange of "soul" for "social power." Proyect was sad, because, as he says, "Despite his conservative bent, Saul Bellow was a great writer capable of deep humanitarian insights." It was a greatness flawed by hurtful prejudice and personal foible, both of which were very enlightening as to Bellow's place and time.
In August 2009, along comes a letter to Swans from Richard Rudinger. He misreads Proyect's article as a total dismissal of Bellow and co-opts it as ammunition in what looks like a campaign to rescind the novelist's 1976 Nobel Prize. With superficial friends like that, who needs unreasonable enemies.
Lecce, Italy - August 24, 2009
Jan Baughman's Death By Socialism
To the Editor:
I, as one of the 47 million uninsured, share with Jan Baughman the disgust directed at a system that allows the unfair treatment of so many. I do not however share the same solution she proposes or even the same recognition of the guilty parties. I have been having the health-care debate with my friends and although I didn't quote Locke, I used (what I thought) were those very ideas in supporting my positions.
I resent being prevented from seeking health care at reasonable prices and from sources of my choosing. I resent the guile of those proposing to provide for my healthcare needs and using at the same time a threat of harm to my life, my health, my liberty, and my possessions. What is the crime in allowing me and any others to seek the services of an unlicensed caregiver, indeed why isn't it a crime to cause harm by encouraging or enforcing the existing state directed system? Doesn't it seem odd to use force instead of free choice when promoting a system so central to our lives?
Gibsonville, North Carolina, USA - August 24, 2009
Wave Good Bye to Texas...and other Antediluvian States.
In the deluge of depressing reports about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the wounded economy, the attacks on health reform and the breakdown of bi-partisanship, it is truly edifying to read that Texas is considering secession from the union. Suddenly, amidst the accumulating black clouds, the sun breaks through. How glorious it would be if the loonies in their oversized Stetsons were to gather themselves together and sever ties from the American continent. What a plus that would be for democracy, literacy, and simple old-fashioned American Good Sense.
If Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas could be persuaded to join the pull-out, what bliss it would bring to honest, hardworking, right-thinking Americans throughout the nation. But even if the secession were restricted to Texas alone, what a relief it would be to shut the iron door on the most backward, bigoted, conceited, inhumane state in the union.
Just think: no more ten-gallon hats, systematic executions, vapid rodeos, or clunky country & western tunes sung with repellent nasality.
We mustn't discourage this sentiment for withdrawal but do everything we can to fan its flames. It is the most liberating impulse that has occurred in America for over two centuries and it deserves the support of right-minded Americans throughout the 50 states.
Los Angeles, California, USA - September 1, 2009
Kenneth Rexroth on Children at the Bureau of Public Secrets
To the Editor:
Kenneth Rexroth writings on children and childhood are now available at the Bureau of Public Secrets Web site:
"The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren"
Rexroth's Childhood (from his Autobiography)
"A Bestiary for My Daughters"
"Homer in Basic"
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - September 3, 2009
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