Deadline Poet Hits Bull’s-Eye

Upper Marlboro, Md.


Deadline Poet Hits Bull’s-Eye

Upper Marlboro, Md.

Thanks to Calvin Trillin [“Deadline Poet,” Oct. 26], a neutron bomb just landed in Roman Polanski’s lap, where, one can hope, it did the most damage.


Lancaster, Pa.

It may be Trillin’s line about “one eighth grader” that does it in his “What Whoopi Goldberg (‘Not a Rape-Rape’), Harvey Weinstein (‘So-Called Crime’) et al. Are Saying in Their Outrage Over the Arrest of Roman Polanski.”


Lansing, Mich.

Calvin Trillin’s poem is powerful. I thank him for “naming names” in the title, and his line about the rules applying only to “the little people” is so accurate. I hope the poem is a catalyst for justice and that punishment for Polanski is swift and severe.


Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

The Hollywood apologists for Polanski’s disgusting behavior are enablers of every pedophile who slithers through the world preying upon children. It’s about time Polanski is called what he is.


Rand Corporation

Mt. Sterling, Utah

Richard Lingeman, in “Nader’s Road to Utopia” [Oct. 12], speculates that the 300,000 copies of Ayn Rand’s books sold this year were purchased by “Glenn Beckheads arming themselves to resist Obama ‘socialism.'” More likely they were sold to schools; Rand is routinely taught in high school. As a junior, my son suffered through Atlas Shrugged, an experience my daughter will share next year. The same school required permission slips for students to listen to the president’s speech in September.


Saving the Public’s Media

Carlisle, Pa.

William F. Baker, in “How to Save the News” [Oct. 12], rightly pleads for greater government support of our public media. Baker cites staggering numbers that show us to be woefully derelict in buttressing our public media. Based on population, Germany gives sixty-nine times more than we do; England, fifty-five times; Denmark, forty-five; Japan, twenty-eight; Canada, twenty; Ireland, fifteen. Then there are the massive impediments to impartial investigation and reporting of the vested interests of the agglomerators (think Clear Channel) and Clinton’s telecommunications sellout.


Portrait of the Artist


I thought to myself while reading Barry Schwabsky’s “Fever Charts,” on Jack Tworkov [Oct. 12], “This is an excellent article.” And I thought the same thing as I finished it, “What an excellent article.” In the next instant, though, it hit me that there wasn’t a single word about the work. What is the quality of Tworkov? I mean that in every sense. Tworkov was always in the right place, always respected; did his paintings add anything to the equation? Bradley Walker Tomlin was there too, and his pictures didn’t. I think it was in 1978 I saw some Minimalist paintings by Tworkov–solid gray and some linear geometry. It’s hard to get emotional about the unemotional, but they seemed more personal than his wavy Abstract Expressionism. Schwabsky’s views on Tworkov’s artistic strength, or lack of it, would be interesting.


New York City

I agree with Barry Schwabsky that it is so important that young artists see the paradox of having an amazing career and still feeling the stings of the art world! But I do differ in one respect, that is in my interpretation of the meaning of Tworkov’s lifelong experience for younger artists not so much as the cautionary tale Schwabsky suggested, of how depressing it is to be an artist–although certainly that comes up!–but also the other message Tworkov states as often and so eloquently, that art saves his life, that everything is redeemed in the studio. I was energized in my work on this book by the idea that young artists would see a model for how to be an artist over a lifetime, somehow always, even in old age and near death, finding a renewed path of excitement in the studio, not only art world or fame related.

MIRA SCHOR, editor
The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov

Schwabsky Replies


It’s nice to be praised by a writer as distinguished as John Spike, author of a fine book on onetime Nation art critic Fairfield Porter. But he’s not quite accurate in saying that my review of Jack Tworkov’s writings never mentions his paintings–though it’s conceivable that, like Eugène Fromentin or Robert Henri, Tworkov’s writings will have a richer afterlife than his art. In saying that insinuations that Tworkov was too heavily influenced by de Kooning “were not always wrong” I gave a pretty strong hint that I’d agree with Spike that Tworkov’s contribution to Abstract Expressionism, though solid, was not essential. On the other hand, I think I made it pretty clear in my last paragraph that Tworkov’s persistence paid off, and that the geometrically structured paintings of his later years were his strongest work. They certainly can’t be accused of looking like anyone else’s.

That last paragraph also makes possible my response to Mira Schor. My “cautionary tale” should be taken in its structural context–it’s a starting point but, while the shadows never quite go away, it’s not where the piece ends. Still, I do think it would be a good point for young artists to meditate on, were they really capable of doing so. What if the incredible optimism with which they embark on their careers is misplaced? Perhaps Tworkov really did “save his life” in the studio, but it’s misleading to imply that every artist can achieve the redemption Schor speaks of. At least, I’m not quite religious enough to believe it.


Haphazard Pursuits

Miami Beach, Fla.

It drives me crazy when people expound on the Declaration’s “pursuit of Happiness,” as Walter Mosley does in “Get Happy” [Oct. 5], without recognizing how the meaning of “happiness” has changed over the centuries. It has the same root as “happen,” “perhaps” and “haphazard” and refers to luck or chance. The pursuit of happiness might be defined as seeking one’s fortune–except “fortune” has also mutated. The Declaration refers to the right to create our own lives and strive for success, whatever that means to us. It does not guarantee freedom from sadness.



Katha Pollitt’s column last week should have said that the German Green Party was for the war in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

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