Web Letters | The Nation


The General in His Labyrinth

I like Pan's Labyrinth very much. While the magic and fantasy unfold, the film remains anchored in a very real life drama. Del Toro should get the highest of marks for this balancing act. The classic odyssey takes the protagonist far from home only to return after slaying the dragon. The fact is that most odysseys in life take place in the middle of the nightmares we live at home, and, unfortunately, as Del Toro put it, children often die. He should also be commended for the tight editing. The film moves and has no annoying or time stretching plot fringe. The violence, though hard on my stomach and mind, seemed real to the circumstances.

Nevertheless, I prefer the poetic subtlety in Victor Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive. I agree with you that the films are from two very different eras and two different approaches are legitimate. Del Toro uses fantasy to conjure up the horror of a time more than 65 years ago. Erice's film was made during Franco and he needed no monsters to convey the cruelty and pain of war and its aftermath. The wounds were open and still very bloody in 1973, (and Erice has to tell his story through poetry the censors can’t read). The result is that Erice makes a film for adults with poetry, psychology, and childs play. Del Toro makes a children's film with fantasy, brutality and adventure that ends tragically.

As different as they are Del Toro needs to fess up a bit more as to the degree to which his film resembles or was influenced by Beehive!! As someone put it, Labyrinth is "Spirit of the Beehive meets Alice in Wonderland".

There is also the matter of the two child actresses, both of whom I think are outstanding. But Ana Torrent broke the mold and Del Toro took a huge risk in creating a role so close to the one she did in Beehive.

Beverly Brown

Detroit, Michigan

Feb 25 2007 - 2:07pm

The Care Crisis

Wonderful analysis--thank you for tying so many threads together.

I'm a 26-year-old woman, armed with a graduate degree, and practical experience in nonprofits and writing/editing positions. I'm also one of the millions who are uninsured, I live beneath the poverty line, and I owe tens of thousands of dollars in loans. I feel stymied about the expenses of moving, let alone starting a family.

And I can't help but feel resentful that my choices are so limited--my ability to push forward in fields where I have passion and energy are undercut by my need to shape my existance by a dollar sign.

It's comforting (sort of) to know I'm not alone.

Anna Clark

Boston, Massachusetts

Feb 25 2007 - 12:40pm

A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial

I disagree with the writer: People who want to harm the USA need to know if and when they are caught they are going to face any means available to us to extract the most information out of them.

If, during the time of sensory deprivation, they experience anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, significant psychological distress, depression, and anti-social behavior, that is the price of being NO GOOD terrorists or enemy combatants.

Does the writer think we should have put them in jail and give them the opportunity to achieve a university degree? Did the writer give a thought to what would have happened if American soldiers would have be thrown into a Muslim run jail? They would not see tomorrow; their heads would have come off in no time!

This is our trouble: being nice to people who are not nice to us and never will be and they are taking advantage of our niceness and think we are nothing but fools.

Nurit Greenger

Los Angeles, California

Feb 24 2007 - 9:30pm

Mad Mel and the Maya

I have no idea why men like you love to run people down like Mel Gibson and are so quick to bring racism into the equation. It boggles the mind!

Now if he ran arround spouting white power remarks then I could see why you would call him a racist, but to call someone a racist that you don't even know and from what I gather is pobably because of his well publised encounter with the police not long ago is totally wrong. The man was drunk!

Sir, don't you know anyone who's gotten a bit too tipsy and said some stupid things before? Things they would never say to anyone had they been sober. I guess there really are some perfect people out there. People who think that the things they write and say are never offensive to someone like me who prays that maybe one day the people of this nation will stop letting the colors of our skin seperate us from the people we used to be Americans.

Sir, Please understand me I'm not trying to defend the things he said I'm just trying to get you to be open to the idea that maybe he's not the monster you believe him to be.

No one but God can accurately portray the pure innovation of this amazing civlization and the wonderful lives they lived, but at least the man did his best and now more people will know who they were and what they did. That should count for something, shouldn't it?

Tabatha Marie Emel

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Feb 24 2007 - 5:42pm

Attack Iran, Ignore the Constitution

I happen to be an ex-Marine and served my county without hesitation, and when I read things like this it is the perfect example of weakness and how terrorist feed off it, what I suggest is that you get out of America if you can't handle the fact that as soon as the exstremist can nuke or get us that they will and no matter what you think that we can live in a peaceful world with them you are out of your mind.

One thing I know is that actions speak louder than words when it comes to dealing with them. So please don't insult me or my country anymore by sitting at your little safe desk and whining about it!

Alex Holder

Venice , VFL

Feb 24 2007 - 3:37pm

White History 101

Kudos to Mr. Younge for his well-written article!

One thought, though, as a Jew, I am proud of the moral stand that lead Goodman and Schwerner to the South, and take issue with Mr. Younge's defining Goodman and Schwerner as "white." I have never thought of myself as "white." "White" people generally don't accept me and mine as 100 percent white, and I'm not sure I'm too sad about that.

Goodman and Schwerner were certainly not considered white by the bigots who murdered them--how much shall we wager that some anti-Jewish slurs were thrown at them before they were slaughtered?

Dr. David Zuckerman

Sacramento, California

Feb 24 2007 - 2:43pm

The Care Crisis

While I agree that there is an obvious need for more investments in community-based support, the care crisis requires a more radical social change.

As Ruth Rosen points out, market fundamentalism has not, up to this point,provided a solution or changed our attitude about who will care for our elderly and children.

My mother is at the moment trying to establish care for two elderly relatives--a job that as a woman, she is expected to fulfill.

Carter-Ann Mahdavi

Boston/Paris, Massachusetts

Feb 24 2007 - 2:24pm

Bloggers on the Trail

I think you missed the point.

What Amanda et al blogged about the nativity of Jesus was offensive to Christians period. Edwards would like to have those folks supporting his campaign.

As a Christian woman, wife, mother, American worker, I am unlikely to through support behind a candidate who allows my basic religious beliefs to be mocked in such a fashion. It's really that simple.

The margin for victory in this closely divided nation is slim. You can't narrow it further by purposely thumbing your nose at traditional religious beliefs. Edwards knows that.

And that's why that blogger's resignation was instantly accepted.

Elena LaVictoire

Akron, OH

Feb 24 2007 - 1:41pm

A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial

Naomi Klein is a bringer of light. And lord knows we sorely need more light. This is the darkest time I can remember for this country. It seems as though all of our most cherished beliefs have been turned on their heads.

What could possibly be the purpose of destroying the minds of these unfortunates? I can only conclude that the our intelligence agencies know that these people are merely window dressing for our War on Terror (a tactic) full of shadows, false flag atrocities, outright stupidity.

The law of karma mandates that we will pay for such crimes. That karmic debt will be born by both the perpetrators and those of us who stand by watching with disgust.

Anne Winn

Kimberton, Pennsylvania

Feb 24 2007 - 12:42pm

The Care Crisis

I see it as an underlying problem with our current economic structures.

We need to abandon the idea of regional retail "hubs" which are bound up in the unsustainable culture of the car. We need to support community investment and regional manufacturing and distribution. We need to fight against retail monopolies and give incentive and investment to smaller, locally owned chains and business. We need money that stays in our communities and enriches our communities so we can have things like Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and Humane Shelters along with such amenities as movie theaters, restaurants and libraries. We need a network of family farms to avoid the nighmare of centralized food and its dangers. We must make it possible for people to stay home.

When I was born my great-aunt Katherine moved in with us in our three bedroom proto-suburban ranch and cared for me and later me and my brother while our parents worked in factories. It was common for extended families to live together with the old caring for the young and the young caring for the old. In Katherine's generation she had a sister who died in childbirth and the other three sisters rallied to raise the child together and Katherine, who was raised on a farm and who worked in factories all her adult life, first rolling cigars and later making television tubes, helped raise my father. He was the unexpected youngest of eight, born when my grandmother was 44. She helped give him a delightful childhood and me a fabulous eight years.

My parents divoreced when I was eight. By then Katherine was showing signs of Alzheimers though no one knew it as that at the time. It took another year of increasingly bizarre behavior before she had to go to a retirement home and then a secure nursing home. My dad took care of it all just like he took care of Katherine's sister Isabelle, childless because a Priest told her it would be a sin to have surgery, and who lived to be 94. He is now taking care of his second wife's mother, who is 100.

I think now we are beginning to see that many of the decisions made over the last 40 years weren't so healthy after all. But the only way to address that is through sustainable economies based around the traditional, pedestrian friendly, market square that can nurture and sustain extended family units.

Laura Wilkerson

Owensboro, Kentucky

Feb 24 2007 - 9:51am