Free Thinking

2001-10-25

Michael Gartner notes the following wisdom from E.B. White: "In a free country, it is the duty of writers to pay no attention to duty. Only under a dictatorship is literature expected to exhibit an harmonious design or an inspirational tone." It seems that White, best known as the author of Charlotte's Web, was a powerful, and free-thinking, essayist. Time for a visit to the Denver Public Library to see what of his they have in stock.

Speaking of books, I just finished my latest Ibsen play, Hedda Gabler. This one was towards the odd side of his output and I found none of the characters sympathetic. I much prefer the last one I read, The Lady from the Sea. Next on the list is The Master Builder. I'm still hoping to finish reading them all by the end of the year.

It seems that in the current atmosphere of war, some controversial websites are being suppressed. When your ISP gets a call from the FBI, I guess your days on the web are numbered. John Perry Barlow's Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace feels like an age and a day ago.

At least dissidents in some Islamic countries are using Internet technology to get around draconian restrictions on free speech. From the descriptions in this article, Saudi Arabia sounds almost as repressive as the People's Republic of China. Why does the U.S. government support these royalist thugs?

Here's a summary of what's in the new anti-terrorism bill. Some scary stuff in there. Is the current hoopla merely an example of sunshine patriotism? Are we giving up our freedoms in the name of freedom?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Ben Franklin

"To be 'ultra' is to go to the extreme. It is to attack the sceptre in the name of the throne and the mitre in the name of the altar; to abuse the cause one supports; to rush one's fences, outdo the executioner in the grilling of heretics, charge the idol with insufficient idolatry, insult by excessive adulation, find the pope insufficiently papist and the king insufficiently royalist. It is to denigrate the whiteness of alabaster or snow or the swan or the lily in the name of flawless whiteness; to be a partisan of causes to the point of becoming their enemy; to be so vehemently for as to be in fact against." --Victor Hugo

Since I'll probably visit the northeastern U.S. around the end of the year, hopefully I can visit the Philadelphia Museum's Thomas Eakins exhibition, which closes January 6th. Looks wonderful.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal