If We Only Had 100 Elizabeth Warrens…

Bellingham, Wash.

E.J. Graff’s “Elizabeth Warren: Yes She Can?” [April 23] was well researched and informative. I have been watching that race for clues about how the hack-versus-reformer split will play out. All the evidence supports Warren as a reform candidate. She fits in with Jimmy Carter, Paul Wellstone, Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, etc.

I expect to see every hack, Republican or Democrat, working to keep her out of power. Scott Brown gives evidence of being a gifted, disciplined, hard-working hack, self-interested and a team player. Brown poses no threat to power. If my twelve years of Democratic Party activism have any predictive value, we should see most of the Democratic establishment giving lukewarm endorsements, withholding support, infiltrating the campaign, making sure the candidate is double booked and that campaign materials are not printed on time. If Warren was going to receive establishment support, it would have shown up to make her head of the Consumer Protection Bureau. If she wins, can they redistrict her out of office?



New York City

Massachusetts voters are fortunate to have the chance to vote for Elizabeth Warren, whose outspokenness, independence and fierce determination make her one of the great women of our time, and whose record in Washington has earned her the admiration of Americans around the country. The GOP is so afraid of her, it prevented her from being named head of the Consumer Protection Bureau, which she created.



…and 100 Jonathan Schells

Sausalito, Calif.

In more than five decades of reading The Nation, I have never felt compelled to write a letter to the editor. Jonathan Schell’s passionate yet deliberative, incisive and indispensable “Thinking the Unthinkable” [April 23] changed that. Nothing is more important to those now alive and to posterity than the eradication of the nuclear option, and time is running very short. When President Obama received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, even those of us holding him in high and hopeful esteem viewed it as premature, a pronouncement on his promise rather than a reward for achievement. If, before he leaves office, Obama can craft the basis—as Schell specifies, “not a vision but a plan”—for eliminating the nuclear threat, he will have indisputably earned the prize, for all of us.



Lynchburg, Va.

Jonathan Schell makes a strong, excellent case for not bombing Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. I would add that Iran bought
116 kilograms (kg) of 20 percent enriched uranium from Argentina and has been enriching to 20 percent internally. It takes only 50 kg of 20 percent uranium to go “prompt critical,” a condition for a weapon, and the design of a “gun type” nuclear weapon is in the open literature (see The New Yorker, December 15, 2008). Therefore, bombing the centrifuges is no deterrent and not worth starting a war.

Iranian foreign minister Ali Sakehi has stated that nuclear weapons are “illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.” An unnecessary war would be a greater sin.



Long Live Katniss Everdeen!

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Without those last two sentences in Katha Pollitt’s treatise on The Hunger Games [“Subject to Debate,” April 23], there would have been no mention of the most numbing of the online reactions to the film: that Rue (“a dark-skinned girl” in Collins’s book) is played by a young black girl. An alarming percentage of the Gossip Girl/Twilight set had a problem with that. If anyone had doubts that our racial divide has worsened since Obama became president, this reaction to something as inconsequential as a Hollywood movie should erase them. Kudos to Pollitt for scoring a solid TKO over those whose sole job is to review films. Long live Katniss Everdeen, and may she triumph over the candy/perfume girls.



Learn Something New Every Day

New Haven, Conn.

Barry Schwabsky, in his perceptive overview of Alighiero Boetti’s work [“Putting the World Into the World,” April 23], devotes some quality critical time to a few of the artist’s “trippy apothegms,” but his lack of familiarity with idiomatic Italian prevents him from getting a couple of them straight. I am referring to the specular pendants Mettere al mondo il mondo and Dare tempo al tempo, which Schwabsky translates literally (as “Put the World Into the World” and “Giving Time to Time”), then struggles to elucidate, at one point even asking, with disarming critical candor, “Whatever can that mean?” Far from being the one most qualified (or willing) to answer this question, I will simply point out a significant difference between the two “maxims,” which tends to affect and complicate their meaning, especially in translation. Dare tempo al tempo simply reproduces an old Italian saying, “To take time, wait for the right time” (or even, more idiomatically, “Take it easy, don’t rush”), while Mettere al mondo il mondo is a typically Boettian wordplay based on the expression mettere al mondo (“to give birth, to bring into this world”), and therefore could be rendered “bringing this world into the world.” As with all idiomatic (or apothegmatic) expressions, they are both impossible to translate, but for quite different reasons: a popular saying embodies the linguistic wisdom of an entire culture (all Italians recognize and understand the expression Dare tempo al tempo), while an artist’s maxim represents the cultural idiom of one individual (or two: only Alighiero Boetti, or Alighiero and Boetti, could say whatever Mettere al mondo il mondo can mean—and perhaps not even him/them).



Schwabsky Replies


Although I may not be quite so unfamiliar with Italian idioms as Graziano Krätli assumes, having lived in Milan for a couple of years, it’s true I never came across Dare tempo al tempo until I encountered it, a long time ago already, in Boetti’s work. But even if I had known it as a common saying, it might not have changed anything. I’m not sure familiarity with phrases that, as Krätli rightly says, encapsulate “the linguistic wisdom of an entire culture” means that one actually understands them. After all, the wisdom of a whole culture may go too deep for any one person to plumb. Or maybe it’s just my problem. After all, I admit I’m still trying to get to the bottom of “a stitch in time saves nine.”




Antonia Juhasz, in “Two Years Later: BP’s Toxic Legacy” (May 7), wrote that Keith Langner went to an emergency room in January 2010—which was before the BP oil spill. His ER visit was in January 2011.