Letters to the Editor

(November 19, 2007)


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The Death of Laughter: Marie Rennard's Unauthorized Considerations Of A Housewife About Things She'd Better Not Feel Concerned With

To the Editor:

Thanks to Marie Rennard for reminding us of Alfred Jarry and 'pataphysics, a precious French contribution to world fantasy. But isn't it a waste of time for a poet to speculate on the relative merits of national languages? Why not hold to the rule of thumb that a language is only as good as the writer who uses it?

America had an excellent introduction to 'pataphysics in Vol.4, No.13 of Evergreen Review, May-June 1960. This quaintly illustrated special number had texts in English by Jarry, Queneau, Ionesco, Vian, Prévert, Daumal, and others. Evergreen was a marvel. Vol.1, No.1 of 1957 had writing by Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and Henri Michaux.

Like all good literary reviews Evergreen died young. (The print version in 1973.) Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse, excepté le souvenir. The 'pataphyscian Marcel Schwob wrote that "Laughter is probably destined to disappear. With so many animal species extinct, why should a tic peculiar to one of them persist?"

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - November 7, 2007


Did You Say Rationality? Gilles d'Aymery's The Inexorable March Into Iran: American People's Forgivable Irresponsibility

To the Editor:

Gilles d'Aymery's piece, "The Inexorable March into Iran," is another masterpiece of exposition and persuasion. Bush's current words and actions are so like those that led up to the invasion of Iraq, only a fool could miss the similarity.

There is only one thing missing in the author's argument -- motive. What would be the purpose of launching a second reckless war in the Middle East? No one believes there wouldn't be blowback of some kind or other from such a blatant act of aggression -- disruption of oil supplies, global recession, retaliation against US positions in Iraq, retaliation against Israel, greater destabilization of the Middle East, further fuel for al Qaeda recruiting, renewed terrorism within the U.S. and Europe.

To suppose that Bush and his advisors aren't aware of those dangers is to say that Bush and his whole circle are uniquely delusional and out of touch with reality. Tempting, but not likely! It's also to say that Bush has seized power in such a way that he's able to operate beyond the control of the traditional power elite in the U.S. -- something even harder to believe.

If Bush doesn't mean what he's saying, why is he saying it then? A recent NY Times editorial called Bush's threats "trash talking," and Frank Rich went on to suggest his motives may be more political than anything else. Talk of war and inculcation of fear in the domestic population always work as an electoral ploy, and maybe Republicans believe this is their only chance, as a party, for victory in 2008. This point of view would also explain why the Democrats have apparently signed on to Bush's bellicosity. They don't want to be painted as soft on national defense either.

Talk of imminent war seems way too widespread now. My instinctive contrarianism doubts it.

Robert Wrubel
Sausalito, California, USA - November 5, 2007


Torture and Democracy: Gerard Donnelly Smith's The Insurgent Word: Waterboarding and Carol Warner Christen's Torture Is An Abomination To Humankind

To the Editor:

Undoubtedly torture is an abomination and not a pure representation of democracy.

Paul F. Davis
Author of United States of Arrogance
Goldenrod, Florida, USA - November 7, 2007


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Published November 19, 2007
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