Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter187



Letters to the Editor

(March 22, 2010)


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The dead kept out of sight

To the Editor:

I'm a student of Professor Guido Monte, and this is a letter for the friends of Swans to sensitize the public opinion on the daily tragedy in the Channel of Sicily:

Dear friends of Swans:

A game which takes place in the Mediterranean sea: an all-desired hope, the parliamentary debate between moral values and the country's needs and then the cowardly choice of leaving the decisions to another country. This is what now happens in the Mediterranean area. Overcrowded boats with young men, women, and children who hope to start a new life and instead they end up being floating corpses. There were 75 immigrants on the boat, floating across the sea for 20 endless days, and only 5 Eritreans finally disembarked at Lampeduse. Maltese and Italian authorities are still looking for the other 70. A new tragedy, which will probably not be the last, happened in the Sicilian channel. In the same way that no one heard the screams of the Jews from the train carriages, nobody heard the desperate screams from the hold of the "boat of death" either.

Thanks and good work!

Maura Demma
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - March 12, 2010


A subversive ecological-sci-fi breakthrough? Charles Marowitz on James Cameron's Avatar

To the Editor:

I appreciated Charles Marowitz's review of Avatar, but I think it misses the point of James Cameron's deeply subversive ecological-sci-fi breakthrough. US audiences have shelled out over $700 million, and worldwide audiences over $2.5 billion, to see this film, precisely because of its violence, its typical Hollywood sheen, and its stunningly innovative technology. But therein lies the power of the accomplishment. Reaching orders of magnitude larger audiences with a message almost identical to no-budget documentary What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire is quite a momentous feat.

The central message is much more subtle than the Iraq allegory that activists seem to want from it. For a better understanding of what Cameron was going for, and what he brilliantly succeeded in doing, check out his interview with the LA Times.

That we are all connected -- humans and non-humans -- through an interdependent web of life, is the major political, economic, social, and ecological truth that our species must fast learn to grapple with. The planet is already facing horrific consequences from our inability to do so, but these consequences will grow much worse the more we postpone the inevitable. Now is the time to be reaching mass audiences with a new story, and I'm thankful for Cameron for doing it so well.

Eli Beckerman
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA - March 8, 2010


Charles Marowitz on interviewing T.S. Eliot

To the Editor:

How lucky we are at Charles Marowitz's bravery in unearthing his historic interview with TSE on that old recorder propelled by what he modestly and inaccurately calls a jejune mind. Absolutely brilliant literary archaeology. And entertaining as hell. Charles caught him discreetly not wanting to comment on an author then being published by his own Faber & Faber. Good for Charles, good for Swans, and good for the rest of us.


Art Shay
Deerfield, Illinois, USA - March 8, 2010


Greenways and Dave Patterson's Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I was very pleased to see Dave Patterson's letter about his book, Greenways, and hope Swans publishes a review of it. I have not waited for that, but sent in an order to Amazon.com. The cost is greater than I usually am prepared to pay for books (of which I order a large number), but it partly compensates for having downloaded free Dave's previous book, They're building a Box, and You're In It. I referred to the section of that book on the great money-creation scam by banks in my Swans article of June 30, 2008. It looks as if this gigantic fraud is also covered in Greenways. I certainly hope so, as it cannot be overemphasized in my opinion, although I usually seem to be ploughing a lonely furrow in trying to convince people on the true Left about that and to use it as a hefty weapon against capitalism.

Now I know that political labelling can be overdone, but I have to say that I was glad when Dave actually used the word "socialist" in describing what should replace capitalism -- and I don't mind at all it being linked with anarchism (with a salute to Howard Zinn who will be sorely missed) any more than linking it, vitally, with democracy. In his previous book Dave seemed to avoid saying socialism, preferring social democracy I think, which unfortunately has been used to denote something quite different from Dave's version. This reminds me of Michael Albert's "Parecon" substituting for socialism. He defends that well enough, and I find his vision for a different world more or less the same as the one I have and call socialist -- or ecosocialist nowadays. We always need to remember anyway, that whatever name it is given, the Right will smear it if they can't just ignore it, as I think they have been able to do with Parecon so far.

Good look with your book, Dave!

Charles Pearson
Cambridge, U.K. - March 8, 2010


Greenways and Dave Patterson's Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Thank you most kindly for publishing my letter. I hope some of Swans readers find their way to Green Island. It really is a big step towards at least my way of answering Gilles d'Aymery's question (which I have been asking for years) -- when are we going to start building our better world? ... (in the sense of, we cannot start building something until we know what it is we want to build). Green Island is my way of putting forth a positive vision. Complaining about "what is" is 99% of what I see the "alternative" press doing these days, and it's fine to a point, more people need to understand this -- but after that what? For me, Green Island is a start.

Dave Patterson
Hat Yai, Thailand - March 8, 2010


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Published March 22, 2010
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