Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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The cover of the March 1994 issue is repulsive to me. I don’t think a woman’s hairy armpit is the least bit attractive.
What a lovely letter from that Michael Cohen person, graciously advising Sy Safransky to “be an editor” and keep his own writing out of The Sun [Correspondence, March 1994]. Now that Cohen has exposed the “dishonesty” of such self-serving behavior, I hope he’ll write similar letters to Eric Utne of the Utne Reader, Frances Lear of Lear’s, Lewis Lapham of Harper’s, Marjorie Kelly of Business Ethics, Marcia Ann Gillespie of Ms., John O’Sullivan of the National Review, Jeffrey Klein of Mother Jones, Richard Smoley of Gnosis, and . . . well, I can’t go on. The dishonesty — not to mention the sheer selfishness of all these people, taking up all that paper and ink that could otherwise be used by honest freelance writers like myself — is overwhelming me.
You have printed so many vivid descriptions of dying cancer patients, most recently “Mrs. Diest” [Sandy Gerling, February 1994]. It’s very discouraging to read these. Couldn’t you print a happy ending for a cancer patient now and then? I am recovering very well from a recent recurrence of non-Hodgkin’s disease lymphoma. It’s a rather rocky road to travel, and we need all the encouragement we can find along the way.
In his essay “The Talent of the Room” [January 1994], Michael Ventura describes the room as the place where the writer’s creativity emerges. But the room doesn’t belong only to writers. It belongs to all artists, whether they create writing, music, painting, or sculpture. It is the process of creativity inherent in all art forms. The courage, the pain, the ability to move out of the way so that real inspiration can come through is what art is about.
I disagree with Ventura that working with words is unlike working with color or sound or stone or movement. Each art form is full of secrets that are revealed as you go more deeply, and each leads to the same destination. For Ventura it is the soul. I see it as truth.
Ventura says that locking yourself up in the room is called being a writer. I say it’s called being an artist. What Ventura describes is called elitist.
I’ve been a subscriber for many years, eagerly anticipating each issue. I’ve canceled all other magazine subscriptions but yours. Why? Like nothing else, it never fails to help me cry.
Michael Cohen doesn’t understand that The Sun is a community as well as a magazine. In a magazine, maybe it makes sense for the editor to be just an editor. But in a community we offer both our best work and our whole and honest selves. In a community the quality of our work is connected to the integrity with which we live our lives. In a community many people have a voice. In a community there are elders who provide continuity and nurturance. In a community those who do the real work should have a voice. For all of these reasons, and because Sy Safransky’s writing is the rhythmic heartbeat that thrums throughout The Sun, I missed Sy’s essay in the March issue.