Note from the Editors

We begin this edition in recognition of the centenary of Simone de Beauvoir's birth -- a remarkable woman, philosopher, writer, and feminist who had a profound impact on so many people in myriad ways. Karen Moller shares her perspective of the beatniks and the role model that Beauvoir provided her as she struggled with the men of that movement who treated women like chattel. Marie Rennard writes of France in the 1970s, where Beauvoir took on the patriarchal system on behalf of access to free abortion. This battle also had a profound impact on Gilles d'Aymery, who pens a deeply personal essay on his past and the woman whose books revealed to him that another world was possible. For his part, Peter Byrne examines the coverage of this anniversary in the European media and Beauvoir's love affair with American writer Nelson Algren, whose centenary falls next year and whose last novel Byrne reviews in a separate article. Finally, Louis Proyect discusses Beauvoir's The Coming of Age, one of the grand narratives of the French existentialist movement that remains relevant today as another generation struggles with aging.

A common thread among these worthy articles is that today's youth take for granted the battles Beauvoir and her contemporaries fought and won for us. Sadly, as Carol Warner Christen points out, in our technological age the young no longer read and their minds are programmed by media advertising whose commercial interests are far from the values Beauvoir and her peers promoted. Those very advertisers portray the American Way (as in violence, militarism, and consumption) in squeaky-clean abstractions that send Martin Murie on a forceful rant. And what to make of the chanting mania in Barack Obama's campaign, or from the right side of the audience at Mr. Bush's last State of the Union Address? Charles Marowitz is reminded of the collective mania of the Nuremberg Rallies, an observation worth considering and certain to push a few buttons. We end with poetry by Guido Monte and Francesca Saieva, and our Martian's Blips on subprime swindlers, energy price gougers, Libertarian defenders, middle-class homeowners, greed and stupidity, and more.

Last but foremost, this past fortnight has not been kind to these quarters. On February 2nd, we learned that Swans old companion and columnist Philip Greenspan has had a recurrence of cancer that has spread widely to his bones. The following Tuesday, Luigi, our 18-year-old feline friend, decided (surely of no choice of his own) to join Bijou, his mother who died last year, in her resting place in the small redwood grove near the house. There are mornings, in the midst of foggy and rainy winter days, when one wishes to stay in bed and not wake up. But Phil would admonish us, stating that he did not contribute 129 pieces and a lifetime of activism to see Swans fold upon sad news. The show ought to continue, he'd stress -- remember the long chain of life... And so it continues, with Phil and his wife Fran on our minds and in our hearts.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans. It's your voice that makes ours grow.

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Special Simone de Beauvoir

Karen Moller:  Simone de Beauvoir One Hundred Years After Her Birth

Simone de Beauvoir was a literary influence on the beat generation, but she was ahead of her time with her anti-conformist, feminist attitude within a movement in which women were far from liberated.   More...


Marie Rennard:  The Unfinished Business Of Simone de Beauvoir

While Simone de Beauvoir led the fight for legal abortion and women's rights that subsequent generations enjoy, so long as she is remembered for her body and not her brain, the fight is far from over.   More...


Gilles d'Aymery:  The Mother Of Us All

Gilles d'Aymery conveys the impact of Simone de Beauvoir on his life: in the face of illegal abortion, abuse, and the oppression of women, Beauvoir revealed that another world was possible.   More...


Peter Byrne:  Not Shutting Up For A Second: Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)

On the one-hundredth anniversary of Simone de Beauvoir's birth, Peter Byrne examines her incongruous relationship with American writer Nelson Algren.   More...


Louis Proyect:  Simone de Beauvoir's The Coming of Age

Simone de Beauvoir's The Coming of Age is one of the grand narratives of the French existentialist movement that remains relevant today as another generation struggles with aging.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Peter Byrne:  Snared In The Devil's Stocking

A review of the significant American writer Nelson Algren's last novel, The Devil's Stocking.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Carol Warner Christen:  The Other Light

Programming, like electronic light, presents the angle at which we are to see and understand the world according to those who own the cameras.   More...


Activism Under the Radar Screen

Martin Murie:  Pristine

A rant against careless use of abstractions, from 'pristine' (as in environment) to 'the American Way' (as in violence, militarism, and consumption).   More...


US Elections & Democracy

Charles Marowitz:  Obamania: Curb Your Enthusiasm

From the Obama rally cries of "Yes We Can" to the cheering Republicans at Bush's State of the Union address, one is reminded of the collective mania in the Nuremberg Rallies. It's time for a level-headed analysis of the real state of our union, and the qualifications, not character, of the presidential candidate best suited to improve it.   More...


Multilingual Poetry

Guido Monte & Francesca Saieva:  Journey To The Sleep Doors n. 4: Foglie

What guide can we follow in the darkness of our times? Monte and Saieva find "lead-gifts," for not going only under the power of death and oblivion. Photo by Dario Fiorentino.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #65

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk, from subprime swindlers to energy price gougers; Libertarian defenders and free-market fundamentalists; and those who pay the price for it all in the Culture of Greed.   More...


Letters to the Editor


Musings from one Peter Byrne to another; a lesson in economics and the definition of fleecing; Big Gav on the dilemma of green techno-libertarians; recommended Libertarian literature from une amie de Savarin and Ron Paul; and more.   More...


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SWANS - ISSN: 1554-4915
Created: February 11, 2008