Issue 60 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine


Your magazine is real and aware but it doesn’t get preachy. Let’s face it — we all can get into chocolate chip cookies, so why deny yourself and condemn everyone else? Thanks for letting people bare themselves and be human, not pseudo-saints.

Karen Jolissaint Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I love your magazine. I have had many magazine subscriptions but this is the first time I have read one cover to cover in the first two days after I receive it. I like the honest, unpretentious approach.

Christie Mercer San Francisco, California

Got a copy of your Issue 49 having in it “First Sexual Experiences.” Let me say America has gone plumb nuts on sex, even making it a parlor sport. The Pope who said “Sex was not for pleasure” echoed nature in which sex is only used for survival of the species — never for pleasure — without being prurient about it.

Nobody has said it better than Reinhold Niebuhr: “A sophisticated effort to destroy modesty and shame by the simple device of making the function of sex more public is bound to aggravate rather than alleviate the difficulties of man’s sex life. . . . Man, having lost the true center of his life in God, falls into sensuality; and sex is the most obvious occasion for the expression of sensuality and the most vivid expression of it.”

And because of man’s undue self-love and pride, he puts the mark of SIN upon his sexual indulgence and it is ironical and pathetic that modern knowledge can’t see or is too myopic to see this factor of SIN.

Paul Brinkman, Jr. Cannon Beach, Oregon

I’m sticking with you. I just hope you don’t become too New-Agey. I happen to like the grit of Slobovia, perhaps Spangler’s swamps, to say nothing of my own.

David Grant Americus, Georgia

I have arrived in Iowa City where I now find myself more or less entrenched for the next two years. It is a nice place, actually, despite the occasional wafting odors of pig offal and sorority perfume.

I am writing both to renew our correspondence and to make a suggestion for a monthly column in THE SUN which I propose to write. Your magazine is a very fine, wholesome venture if ever there was one. Numerous individuals who have seen it, while I attempted to force them to look at (and praise extensively) my cartoons, have all seemed to think you are doing a great job. But isn’t there something about wheat germ that makes you want to eat a Big Mac? Isn’t there something about Mahatma Gandhi that makes one long ever so wistfully for the MX missile system? Isn’t there something about an enterprise dedicated to illuminating human potential and decency that makes you want to cry out in unexpurgated depravity and disgust! Of course there is — the innate human argumentativeness leaves its slug trail on all of us.

I propose you give me one small page a month for a sick short story. I do not promise great craftsmanship. I do not promise great insight into la condition humaine. I do not even promise wit. What I will try my damnedest to provide is a grotesque little tale of sex and depravity designed to titillate, outrage, nauseate, or at the very least make your readers roll their eyes back in empathetic embarrassment for my adolescent pretensions.

Okay. So how do we justify such an inclusion to the readers? It would be like Guidepost sponsoring a monthly column entitled “The Anti-Christ Speaks.” Well, the way I see it, you don’t necessarily have to espouse the view of the radical yogurtist all the time, do you? I’m sure there are many SUN readers out there who also subscribe to Soldiers of Fortune. And even if there aren’t, what self-respecting reader of Herman Hesse could ever turn his back on Abraxas, into whose benevolent bosom all the evil of the universe is also safely tucked. I just want to tuck a little of it into an inconspicuous nook in THE SUN. Come on now, give it some thought.

I should probably announce to you a rather shocking and unexpected turn of events in my life. Somehow, God only knows how, I have become an exceedingly handsome sort of blade. Strange, alluring girls have of late been known to drift like ghosts from nowhere and tell me that I alone am in color while the rest of the hapless guests at parties are in black and white. In all seriousness, I seem to be harvesting a lot of sexual attention these days and my only explanation for it is that I will from time to time let it slip out that I own an apartment “development” in Florida. Have I ever explained to you my theory about EP? EP stands for “earning potential” and it is the single greatest turn on for women devised to date. In fact, it is my experience that most women are such money grubbers that the mere mention of trust fund is enough to trigger an orgasm.

By the way, the above outlandishly offensive sentence is an example of the kind of response I am hoping to capture in my column, tentatively titled “The Scumsucker Speaks.”

Please do let me know what you think of the idea because I’m sure there could be worse ways to use up space. I might even be cajoled into illustrating some of my little stories in that inimitable art style of mine.

P.S. Having digested the previous paragraphs, I am proud to report that I am not quite the nut case I may seem to be. I think my malaise boils down to a few things, not insurmountable to be sure, but which, now that I realize their existence, I can hopefully begin to ameliorate. First of all, I find myself here in Iowa with the same old fear I have always had, i.e., that my imagination is about ready to sputter off into the irretrievable nether regions. This is not pleasant to contend with, although I have had a great deal of practice since I first began to worry along these lines seven to eight years ago. All right then. We shall temporarily ignore that fear as being simply an artifact of a deeper neurosis. I think you may have in the past noticed a tendency on my part to value cleverness pretty highly, at least in so far as I might receive the psychological equivalent of a dog biscuit every time I come up with something that seems sort of smart. Similarly, non-stop joking might be construed as a glutton’s technique for storing up enough of these biscuits to tide himself over during lean periods. If one were to extend cleverness and joking so as to include any activity which will call positive (or negative, for that matter) attention to oneself, and to this add the native competitiveness of an identical twin, then we are likely to find a boy who will jump through “hogsheads of real fire” just to keep from being ignored. Finally, if to all this we add a disillusionment borne of an unexpected bonanza of romantic/sexual activity with a plethora of girls who, despite their smorgasbord allure, leave me somewhat cold, then it is not so terribly difficult after all to understand why I now find myself fixated in the foul miasma of cynicism and disgust. I must admit, lest I swing too far in the opposite direction, that I do not view “human potentiality movements” as a very ready ally. I honestly cannot foresee myself becoming a “nice guy” all of a sudden. Still, though I don’t want to find myself stripped of irreverence and the comic capacity of satire, neither do I want to wake up someday like an old jack-o’-lantern with only a few dried and bitter seeds rattling around in my skull. I suppose it is a lesson hard to learn: cynicism without an underlying hopefulness, no matter how eloquently it’s expressed, is in the final analysis just so much whining racket.

Thus, please disregard my request for “The Scumsucker Speaks” column.

I would appreciate any tips you have on tightroping your way across the twin gorges, one of which is filled with acid and the other with syrup concentrate.

Jim Thornton Coralville, Iowa
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