Issue 17 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine

Correspondence

There is something missing in your editorial stance (and consequently manifesting itself in the content of the magazine), i.e., politics. The word was mentioned once in the whole [New Age] issue and that was in the context of that world-government fantasy. Even the parable of the man and the mountain was, as I recall, misparaphrased. I think that Mao writes about that old man and the mountain; the result is the same (the mountain is moved) but the means are much different. The old man perseveres and raises an army of children and by their collective effort the mountain is moved. Why should we wait for the Almighty to send an angel down to help us do things we should be capable of doing for ourselves? Now that doesn’t mean I want you to be the Mother Earth News but . . . as Bob Marley (The Wailers, my #1 band, Jamaican reggae music) says: “Most people think / great good will come from the skies / take away everything / and make everybody feel high / but if you know what life is worth / you would look for yours on Earth / and now you’ve seen the light / you stand up for your rights / . . .” Who exactly reads THE SUN? Sometimes it seems like it’s some sort of weird alumni news for all the people that maybe graduated from college but somehow couldn’t face it, and are still lined up at the bar every night at Max’s waiting for the magic moment to descend. . . . I’m afraid that the number of people who can relate to a lament about the post-­college cut-the-cord blues is ridiculously small.

George Turner Eugene, Oregon

Thanks for the mag, which I enjoyed tremendously, comparing w/ Cal. mag BACK ROADS “Mind/Body” issue, & s’ help me, I like yours better (Have you seen Berk.’s SHAMBALA REVIEW? Is good comp. w/SUN!).

The LSD piece put me off some ’cause I’m off the stuff forever & probably a bit scared of the stuff; still, I did get through it.

Ron’s Armageddon piece powerful, upset a whole afternoon of mine. What’s w/escapism of saviours from space yet? How corny! Strange piece, good & bad. . . . What WERE the girls doing at this convention w/only bathing suits on etc., and not ALL members of my generation were so unliberated as he pretends — nor all of yours liberated for that matter!

Norm Moser Berkeley, California

From The Ascent of Man by J. Bronowski:

“We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people . . . all knowledge, all informa­tion between people can only be exchanged within a play of tolerance.”

I often feel that I am being talked to, not “with.” I’ll probably renew and care enough to offer this criti­cism.

John Harold Chapel Hill, North Carolina

As a writer myself, I am puzzled by Allen Ginsberg’s “Apprenticeship Project” at the Naropa Institute, offered now for the second consecutive year. For $90, the student gets to spend five weeks helping Allen assemble his own “long delayed projects” as well as answer mail that he’s ignored for months. In turn, Allen talks to you “as time and situation afford.”

What puzzles me is this — is Allen simply confusing the state of American letters with his own unanswered correspondence, or is this a trial balloon for Ken Kesey, whose cows you’ll get to milk at Naropa next summer, if you can afford it?

The Sun responds:

In his correspondence, George Turner takes THE SUN to task for political naivete. I’ve heard this before. It deserves comment.

Seeing All The President’s Men the other night, I was reminded of how a President was toppled by the dedication of two reporters who broke the Watergate story. If Woodward and Bernstein were sometimes willing to lie to get the scoop, we’re consoled by John Simon in New York magazine that “the trickster’s art is an admirable one as long as it is directed against Them, who are far worse than tricksters.”

I’ve heard this before, too. It’s an example of the politics we endure from the Left and the Right, the politics of Us and Them, of moral arrogance, intellectual bigotry, and cancerous spite. Does anyone doubt that, in Nixon’s view, his enemies were not “far worse than tricksters” too? It was Nixon’s fate to suffer his worst suspicions; he didn’t trust us because he feared we didn’t trust him. It was our fate to suffer Nixon; in a political atmosphere so clouded with mutual disrespect this is what dropped from the sky. Nixon is no more an aberration of American politics than Charles Manson; it is at the peripheries of our collective vision that we glimpse the violence in our spirit. Carelessly, sensationally, while Manson’s trial was in progress, the President called him guilty. That Nixon himself was soon to be so treated brought the matter full circle. If it was Sharon Tate who had, nonetheless, suffered the rudest of character assassinations, we will need her ghost to tell us what was on the missing tapes, and what heavy air so blinds and chokes us, and sucks up into its murderous psychic funnel all civility, all innocence, all love.

Perhaps it is nothing but our own breathing, just so personal and sour as that. Between the in-breath and the out, we create our island universes. But the air is common to us all, and maybe politics can begin with that.

That, at least, is where ours begins. THE SUN is its own political statement — a community magazine, in the truest sense, supported by the creative efforts of unpaid and often-as-not nonprofessional writers and artists whose contributions shape each issue. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t “stand up” for his or her rights, defining and redefining their politics daily by how they live and rediscovering the oldest political lesson: that if we are ever to fly, into that rarified air of justice and equality that is the goal of all social dreamers, we must first learn to walk, and trust the Earth, and the evidence of our senses. What is politics, anyway, but a statement of who we are? Like religion, or art, or sex, it is an exquisite and illusory and finally unfathomable metaphor for discovering, and learning to govern, ourselves. Learning well, and so making of democracy a living flesh, is the least naive statement I can imagine.

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