In the midst of all the chaos, in December I managed to fulfill one important item from my wish list: I watched a shuttle launch, which I describe in this month's lead essay.
I thought the fox's lesson from The Little Prince (which I've just noticed I referred to in last month's letters column as well) was an appropriate note for a New Years' wish: what you win over to yourself, you are responsible for, forever. The fox also points out: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye."
With this in mind, I remember the single most moving letter I have received in the four years of The Ethical Spectacle, from a fourteen year old Italian girl reacting to An Auschwitz Alphabet. She wrote:
"I hope for one best world."
I hope the New Year brings you everything you have wished for. You can reach me, as always, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I liked your article Not a Christian Nation, but alas, I think it was premature. At least out here in the West, it still IS a Christian nation:
Sarah Thompson email@example.com
YOU SURELY MUST REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CHRISTIAN NATION, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD OR IN HISTORY. AS THE WORST THINGS ARE DONE IN THE NAME OF GOD OR JESUS, OR ALLAH OR YWH. WHOEVER INVENTED RELIGION WAS AN ANCESTOR OF MACHIAVELLI- WHAT A BRILLANT STROKE- CHURCH & STATE UNITED TO KEEP THE MASSES SEPARATED AND CONFUSED AND FRIGHTENED, AND THEMSELVES IN POWER AND CONTROL. A HIGHER POWER BY ANYOTHER NAME IS STILL GOD. CALL HIM/HER, THE GREAT SPIRIT, TUNKASHILA, THE MOTHER GODDESS, THE GREAT MYSTERY, THE GREAT MIND/THOUGHT, THE CREATOR, OR ANYTHING ELSE- GOD -THERE IS ONLY ONE.
CARMEN VAZQUEZ CAR_JOE@webtv.net
Suddenly, November is almost gone, and I haven't written to say how excellent the issue of E-S was this month. Your discussion of art and its purpose was quite unique, and very welcome in this digital domain that seems so commercialized. I hope it will be posted permanently somewhere.
Having produced some art work over the years, it isn't difficult to understand some of the questions you pose. Many of the arts seem to have roots in ancient rituals, presumably to prepare for hunting, or enhance fertility. This sort of shamanistic art seems to have occured everywhere and at all times, even to this day, so it must fill some important need of people. We could also wonder about the ancient beginnings of sports, which probably had a similar development. Tennis, for example, was begun by French monks who were taking there exercise in the walled monasteries.
You move on to the idea that art "closes a loop" in the psyche of the artist, and the public decides if they share this same sense of closure. I think this is very close to what happens, and in this sense the artist is a servant of the public's well being. But art is also a Spirit of the Times, and as such may not be accepted in its own time. Cubism reflects the sort of fractured psyche that began this century, while the dark abstractions that followed WW2 express the sense of a world on the brink of destruction. Pop Art cannot reflect the spirit of the Renaissance, and Impressionism would hardly fit in a Gothic cathedral. On the other hand, some religious motifs are very conservative, and resist changing for centuries.
I hope you've read Jung's _Man and his Symbols_ which offers possibly the best discussion of how art is related to the psyche. Of course, this is only one aspect of the great adventure.
Regards, -- Jack Howard firstname.lastname@example.org
As you asked at the bottom of your web page, I've decided to send you an E-mail about it. I'm glad that someone has actually spent the time and effort to put something like this together, as there is surprisingly little about Auschwitz on the net.
I am a 14 year old schoolboy from England and I am studying Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish martyr, who died in Auschwitz.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much stuff about him, and I was wondering as to whether you could help me on this.
As far as I can see, there is absoloutly nothing about him on the internet, and it would be great if you either had any information on (Maximilian) Kolbe or could get me in touch with anybody.
I just wanted to thank you for setting up the Auschwitz Alphabet. I am an NYU film student working on a period piece about the Holocaust and it has been an invaluable source of information. I've been browsing through it, my stomach in my throat, and that's the way it should be.
Anna Boudinot Acb203@aol.com
I just read one of the article and made me very upset. I have two little girls and I understand the fillings what the mothers went through, is horrible to be separated and lead away to be killed.
I visited Dachau, and also I know people who were prisoners in Aushwitz, They told me many awful think.
Very very sad stories.
I hope it will never happen again.
Janos J. Bimbo email@example.com
I just surfed onto this site and am admittedly not up to speed on this subject but where does it say I HAVE to buy Cybersitter? I do not have to buy it, be impacted by it, etc. Clue me in; where am I, or anyone else, in danger here. (I am not a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)
-- Randy Ringwald firstname.lastname@example.org
I just wanted to compliment you on a fantastic website. Thought-provoking articles are so rare on the 'Net, it's wonderful to find a site devoted to reason. Just as an aside, I believe that the Internet should be unregulated, and that it is time for individual parents to take control of their children, instead of letting the government or commercial products do it. Programs such as Cybersitter are not the answer. If you do not want your children going to sites you don't approve of, do not let them surf the internet when you aren't present. My sixteen-year old sister isn't allowed to go on my father's computer (the only one with Internet access in the house) without one of my parents there. She can use her own computer to play games, and write papers, but her Internet time is supervised. Personally, when I have children I won't be so strict, but the point is this: My parents are raising their daughter to their standards, and not allowing someone else to do their job.
Thank you for your time,
One of the most unfortunate spin-offs of the computer/Internet revolution is the prevalence of pornography in every corner of the net. It is not as though someone has to seek it out to have waived in your face. Recently, while seeking information about topographical maps for Arizona with a search engine and the keywords "topographical+maps+software+Arizona" I was directed to several sights wherein I could find the info I sought. I was also invited to a "secret sex sight" where I was promised "free pornography" and the details of what I would see were explicitly spelled out.
The peddlers of such material are able to corrupt the web by using any "keywords" they wish to snag surfers to their merchandise. It is quite obvious that there is a lucrative market for Internet pornography. What most parents should, (but probably don't) know is, that these sleaze merchants are targeting everyone, (including young kids) with this material by planting keyword "seeds" everywhere. As such, a twelve-year-old trying to find material for his or her school science project will likely be confronted with offers to look at Pamela Anderson perform oral sex "FREE-FREE-FREE!" in the process.
Our Constitution protects an adult's right to publish or view almost any material. To tamper with, or qualify such freedoms according to anyone's idea of inherent value is doubtless a greater hazard than the existence of pornography. Ultimately, there is only one solution to the dilemma of such exposure to "adult" material to those who are not adults. It (appropriately) comes down to parental responsibility.
Contrary to the opinions of most liberals who seek a "government nanny" solution for every threat, responsibility for properly raising our children belongs to parents. I strongly urge that parents that purchase computers their children will use, find, purchase, and use "blocking" software. Even then, they should monitor what their kids are doing while using the computer. Just as the constitutionally protected right of having a gun in a home dictates that adults take responsibility for safety, owning a computer that children can access dictates that precautions be taken. To do anything less is pure negligence.
There is a group in PA that has formed to address many of the issues you write about, and most often your essays agree with their philosophy. Take a visit. Their URL is: http://www.padnet.org/frame.html
As a non-religious Jew, I am sometimes in awe of your writing, and feel it is me you are taking the perspective of. One thing you miss living in the melting pot of NY (and L.I.) is the anti-semitic bias that comes from lack of knowledge. My name is of Spanish origin, so the locals are carfeul not to trash Puerto-Rican-s, Latino's, and Hspanic's in front of me, but since my name doesn't hint of Jewish roots, they expose themselves for what they are. I have found that generally the type of bigots we have here in Northeast PA are less insidious than the overt type we all imagine when we think of Skin-heads, etc. What we find are people who hate "Blacks" or "Jews" or "Asian" based upon the stereotype they believe is accurate. We also find that generally, these same bigots have a good friend or relative that is black, Jewish or Asian. When asked about the conflict between their bigotry, and their friendship, the response is that they (the friend) are different.
Most often I have found that this barrier of ignorance cannot be easily overcome. Either befriend them for what they are (and become the exception) or keep away. They believe the stereotypes are true, and one or two exceptions in this area with little diversity will not change their mind. Some of the more recent television programming may help change these stereotypes, but I doubt it. Here I reefer to the type that breaks the images that demean minorities, (middle-class black families, gay people that are not effeminate, or emasculated.
Keep up your good work, and let me know what you think of the PAD site I referenced above.
Jeffrey Gonzalez email@example.com
Great article! I especially enjoyed the application of the Prisoner's Dilemma to contract software development (my day job) and love (my night job?).
Larry Daniele Larry@CompanionSoftware.com
In researching a film lecture, I came across your essay on Schindlers List. Your assertion bears a relationship to my comment that Schindler's List, list like so many other mainstream films, is a "white tour guide" movie. You can substitute many words for white (male, gentile, Northeast establishment, etc.) but the point is that Hollywood is not capable of making a film just about a culture with the point of view coming from someone from that culture. A film like The Gods Must Be Crazy is actually very rare, where there is no outside, "one of us" to hold the viewer's hand through the experience of meeting cute and cuddly "others." The list is very long, but Witness, The Air Up There, Tootsie, etc. are all about seeing another culture through the mainstream or white male gaze.
Let me know what you think. It would be interesting to formulate this idea as another film essay.
Adrienne Redd firstname.lastname@example.org