Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

I had a short play, "Lost Planet", scheduled to be performed at The Flea, an Off Broadway theater, on July 11 and 12. We had been rehearsing the two person cast for several weeks. Just five days before the performance, my actor had a death in the family, my actress refused to work with his replacement, and my director melted down under the pressure of the moment. I had done everything right--cast early, found a director, rehearsed with plenty of time--and with days left until curtain, I had nothing left. It was like getting struck by lightning out of a clear sky.

The Flea Theatre came through like gangbusters. By the end of the following day, I had a new cast and director, and by July 11 we had a polished production, after just four days of rehearsals. My new director, Hannah Chase, is about twenty-two years old but took charge with the extreme self-assurance and grace of an old theater hand. I sat in the audience and watched my work performed, doubly moved because I had traversed that low moment when you believe that months of work and expectations have come to nothing. The theater is a place of hazards, like anything else in life, but also a place of miracles. Sometimes things just work out so much better than you expect.

Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.

You are an idiot.

Todd Wall milowall@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I recently ran across an essay on the on the fable of the frog and the scorpion in conjunction with the prisoner's dilemma. It came from the September, 1995, Ethical Spectacle. Did you write it? If not, could you tell me who did, please? Thanks.

It was my first encounter with your web site. I'm impressed and intrigued. I hope to revisit it and examine it in depth. Looks like a passionate work of very high quality.

Joseph Gaffney


I read your essay on Amadou Diallo. Yeah, the Diallo case is years old but it is relevant today because of the shooting in London of a suspect thought to be a terrorist. I was listening the Jay Severin show on 96.9 Fm talk show. The comparison between the two are there.

As I read your site I agreed with you completely.

I'm going to go on a limb and say that the idea here is not whether or not the shooting was justified but that the government progressively doesn't regard or want citizens to have rights.

You helped me to see that the government, not necessarily the people in the government, is out for more power and "human rights" if we really have any, only serve to get in their way.

Whatever you do, I would like to encourage you to fight for freedom in America.

Please remember that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and against wickedness in high places."

Thanks a lot for your website and for hearing me out.

Leonard Brooks


I just wanted to say thank you for helping me wade through a pile of religious indoctrination and realize that at the end of the day, it's all about what you have accomplished, whose life you effected positively and every new day starts with a zero balance.

All these are principles that help me reason out value and purpose to my life. I don't know if you have ever heard of Rick Garlikov, but he is a person who,(like yourself) has spent alot of time weighing, thinking, evaluating and scrutinizing commonly held irrational thought and has come up with some pretty profound reasonings in some reguard not unlike yours. I just thought you might enjoy checking him out. His website is www.garlikov.com . Thanks for all the diligence you have put to reasoning your way through this life and helping others to do the same.

Steve Thomason

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I imagine you must get dozens of these a day but I wanted to add my voice.

I stumbled across your Auschwitz pages by accident as part of an unrelated search, but immediately found myself captivated, appalled, terrified, and ultimately illuminated. I read the entire text from beginning to end, absorbing it as completely as I could.

Your conclusions--or 'What I learned from Auschwitz'--are identical to mine, after years of thinking about the "problem" of evil that the fact of genocide presents. To my mind your essay on lessons learned should be mounted somewhere large and permanent, and titled as the great lessons of the 20th century.

I work and go about my life, and tend my family and my beliefs with strength and conviction--but I am well fed and employed and still have all my human dignity. I have no illusions that this little strength would last for long in the face of History. We are on our own.

Jim Bishop