October, 2009

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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. T hey 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. (This month's example is the following letter from Joel Olive, quality70905@yahoo.com).

I have one major problem with a comment you made in your article Ethics of Gun Control that:

Humans want to use the tools they love, and the complete fulfillment of the handgun involves the killing of another human being.

You obviously do not know what you are talking about because I, for one, have NEVER thought of my gun ownership in this way, so to make a broad sweeping statement such as this is ignorant.

Joel Olive

{ I responded that I probably should have said that some gun owners daydream of killing people. There must be some who don't, just as there are some husbands who have never daydreamed about anyone other than their wives. Mr. Olive answered:)

I have never had a "satisfying dream" about having to defend my family against a criminal, as that is something I hope I never have to do. Would I? Yes. Is it a desire?...NO. And having a sexual fantasy is not the same as killing someone, except for maybe sicko serial killers. See, people like you have never been inside my mind, so there is no way that you can make a "catch all" statement such as that. You assume too much, so I stick by my statement that it is ignorant. Do you believe that because a person may carry a pocket knife, they fantasize about slicing someone up with it? If you do, I feel sorry for you, because you have a very bleak view of human nature. It's a warm blooded American thing...you wouldnt understand.

Joel Olive quality70905@yahoo.com

Dear Jonathan:

Re Right and Wrong: Great article as always. I must confess, though I spend six hours every Monday cooking in a local soup kitchen, I've never dwelt too much on the morality or ethics of the thing. I guess I'm sort of like the army grunt who feels he's doing something worthwhile (defending freedom, feeding the hungry) but the main reasons I show up every week have more to do with the comraderie of my fellow volunteers and to not leave Michael, the fellow who runs the kitchen, in the lurch. He's been running the soup kitchen for twenty-five years and though he is a self-avowed atheist he is still one of the most dedicated and moral people I know. I do find it curious that a number of the soup kitchens in Seattle are associated with the Lutheran Church. Speaks volumes for their adherence to their "Christian" beliefs. As to morality and ethics in government, I've been trying to formulate my own thought experiment on what type of constitution I would write "If I ran the Zoo." Pieces like yours help get the mental juices flowing and I thank you for them.

Tom Vincent

PS Music buskers are still the only street people I will unfailingly give money to. It matters not what they play or even if they're any good. It does matter to me that what they play be live, acoustic, and played with heart. Any street musician that needs amplification or a drum machine to communicate, doesn't need my money. Thanks again.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I cannot tell you how profoundly your article On Lying has touched my life. I have saved it under favorites. I send it out time and again to friends and loved ones. Retorts to your article are varied. My opinion of the viewpoint, reflected in your words, never changed. What a world it would be if everyone could see the black and white in what you have written here.

Thank You Kathleen

Dezr Mr. Wallace:

I just read your beautiful article from the May, 1999 Spectacle, Beckett....Entropy....Hawking....Time. I was using the term "Arrow of Time" in writing about the difference between eastern and western religious traditions, and a Google search on "Arrow of Time" and "Hawking" brought up your article as an option. What a delight to plunge into an ocean of linked images and ideas from Beckett and the second law of thermodynamics and Hawking's cosmology - all of which have filled hours of delighted speculation for me over the years - finishing with Escher's lizard image. I went to your website, looked at your bio and some fiction and skimmed some of your Spectacle issues, and found a kindred soul, thirteen years my junior. Thank you for your pithy, consciousness-expanding writing. Keep it up!

Jack Phillips

Dear Jonathan:

Re: Rags and Bones. Wonderful column. You cover a lot of ground. For the record, I've worked on Macs since the early 90's and like most Mac fanatics, my contempt for Gates' software is endless. Until this year, I only used Word when I had to attach a document to an e mail (like this one) At which time, I'd copy/paste from an Apple WP program. This year, I got a client who needed me to work in Word from scratch so we could share the document in progress. That meant I had to actually learn how to use Word which has only increased my contempt for Gates' bloated dysfunctional software. Gates' talent is predatory marketing, so I view his philanthropy as an attempt to buy his way into heaven after robbing the world blind. Since 2000, I've been producing films inspired by my husband's poetry. I have to make these films at a public access TV station where I'm forced to use PC's. PCs don't just crash, they eat films. One of my films was destroyed by a massive lockup/crash that I compare to taking a 1,000 piece puzzle and throwing it up in the air. The pieces were still present. They were just all over the place. What caused this disaster? I changed the name of a document... And yes, I agree Scalia is sociopathic. He has all the initial charm of a narcissist until, at some point, you realize he isn't listening to anything at all but himself. My biggest problem with your site is I don't have the time to read and comment on it, but I find myself doing it anyway. I'm a Big movie fan. I don't get TV reception anymore which, for me, means more time for movies of which I own a great number. I'm not a Spielberg fan. I wouldn't waste words on AI or ET (though I'll admit, I did watch them...), but I liked Schindler. Maybe because my expectations were so low. (All I could think when I heard he was making Schindler was ET meets Hitler???) Anyway, I have watched it several times and I find Schindler well shot and I think the girl in the red dress is a nice touch. I also like the way he degenerates things, bit by bit, into total chaos. However, you're absolutely right that 'The Boat is Full' is a much better movie. Its minimalist approach yields a wallop of an ending. BTW, in a great moment, the little boy snatched by gentiles is one character who is not sent back. Instead, he's carried off to a gentile future. What will he remember of this moment when his fate was altered? That's what I call an ending that provokes thought. I am also not a fan of Sophie's Choice; either book or movie. I normally loathe most commercial renditions of the Holocaust, but this one I find especially repugnant. Styron's prose is always very fluid, but the plot of Sophie is larded up with characters who are mere window dressing for the plot's dramatic gimmick; Sophie being force to choose between her children. I'm not saying things like this didn't happen, but framing the choice as a climax in order to maximize the effect is a cheap trick. If you set out to make a book or film about such a difficult subject, then bite the bullet and focus on the subject. Current darling of Hollywood who is my candidate for a one-trick wonder; Tarentino.

Best - Toni