Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   May 2, 2019

The Crux of The Crucible

Our production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible (based on the Arthur Miller play) was neither conceived nor performed as a political statement about the times in which we live, but rather focused on the allegorical context of the fallible nature of humankind and finding ultimate redemption: often at a heavy price. That is how our brilliant stage director, Stephanie Havey and I, after many lengthy discussions, chose to present The Crucible this past weekend. 

Enthusiastic audience feedback confirmed that we met our goal and we are grateful to all who attended, and for our entire Opera Santa Barbara family who brought this message to life. 

Kostis Protopapas
Artistic & General Director
Opera Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Thank you for this important feedback. As we understand it, your letter was prompted by the line of questioning that our correspondent took, in that he attempted to ascribe contemporary comparisons to Arthur Miller’s 1952 McCarthy-era play. As editors, we constantly strike out most of that kind of thing, but you would – or perhaps you wouldn’t – be surprised to learn that many reviewers and writers find it imperative to promote their political leanings during an interview, whether it be with a rock star or a florist. We believe our Editorial page and the Letters section should be the only place where such issues are voiced. Unless, of course, it is an interview with a politician, or if the subject being interviewed is involved with public policy. – J.B.)

Romantically Sublime 

During Great Britain’s Georgian Era, estate landscapes strewn with boulders, clumps of uprooted trees, and crumbling cottages were not dismissed as wastelands devoid of any compositional logic. In their storm-ravaged and dark recesses, they gave testament to a sense of the Romantic Sublime, or an introspective form of melancholy – a certain Byronic allure. 

These unfrequented haunts, grottos, and sun-deprived glades offered not only darkness, but also niches for a sagacious sense of solitude. Many estate owners, then, built hermitages, only to discover themselves to be neither particularly contemplative nor sagacious.

The obvious solution was to hire an able eremite and plop him down in said venue. Evidently, the tradition has not, as believed, died out. As evidenced by this relatively recent Craig’s List offering:

Gentle Lady Seeks Ornamental Hermit

Me, a gentlewoman: of good birth and in the bloom of youth, possessed of vast estates and holdings, including a natural cave under a waterfall in the midst of my Edenic gardens, ideal for hermit life, of refined sensibilities and a melancholy disposition.

You, an ornamental hermit: not younger than 30, not yet older than 50; possessing a great, grizzled beard; true lover of solitude.

The successful candidate shall be provided with books, water, spectacles, a cape, an hourglass, and food from the house. 

Terms of the Agreement include seven years of service, during which you shall not: 

cut your hair or beard, trim your nails, bathe, leave the premises of the hermitage, accept money from my gentle guests.

Duties shall include: reminding all passersby of our shared mortality; living most simply, as our forefathers did; serving as occasional bartender at fetes and balls.

An etching of our last hermit is provided for your reference. Your response is kindly requested.

James N. Powell

Cognitive Dissonance

The Santa Barbara Sentinel “An Independent Mind” columnist Jeffrey Harding‘s article on “How to Have a Closed Mind” defines cognitive dissonance thusly:

“The result is that we can hold two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time. What an amazing, singularly human trait. One would think that would drive us nuts. And it sort of does: the “mental discomfort” it causes is what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.”

My (not Mr. Harding’s) possible examples of cognitive dissonance (or simple failure to reason):

You support cheating when legalized by the state through “Affirmative Action,” but are outraged when parents cheat to give their children an advantage to college entrance.

You endorse the concept of hate crime and hate speech, while believing in equal justice and free speech.

You believe in rule of law while witnessing multiple judicial decisions overturned and/or decided by slim majority opinions.

You think the state protects your right to privacy and property while filing an invasive income tax return and parting with your property.

You believe women are more vulnerable and disadvantaged than men while ignoring the fact men are killed and maimed by the millions in wars they didn’t start or elect to join.

You advocate government transparency, but are unfazed (or jubilant) when Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Julian Assange suffer government revenge for exposing its worst secrets. 

You consider yourself an informed, free thinker, but have no problem with narrow, regimented government schooling. 

Timeless quote of the day:

“The only thing I respect is intellectual honesty, of which, of course, intellectual courage is a necessary part. A Socialist who goes to jail for his opinions seems to me a much finer man than the judge who sends him there, though I disagree with all the ideas of the Socialist and agree with some of those of the judge.” – H.L. Mencken, In Defense Of Women.

Steve King

Same Old, Same Old

Of late, there have been a few more progressive letters to the editor among the usual very right-of-center rants. Thank the Ink-Gods. This is a hopeful drift. Cotty Chubb‘s “A Suspicious Mind” (MJ # 25/15) reflects what a large number of Montecitans think and say, even if not in the presence of Trumpies. That, indeed, the Mueller Report in no way exonerates the President, that he is mad as a hatter, that he’s “a tax dodger, a liar, and a cheat.”

Trump has an Attorney General who serves “der donald” instead of the American people. Yet Barr somehow slipped his duty to carefully redact by letting us read Trump’s infamous outcry upon being told he was being investigated.

“OMG! This is terrible: the end of my Presidency. I’m f*****d.”

This confession of his consciousness of culpability should be repeated by every fair-minded political candidate in the coming election, whether running for City Council or the one who will defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

Josie Levy Martin

(Editor’s note: Hmmm. Where have we heard all this vitriol before? Oh, now I recall: every talking head on every single CNN and/or MSNBC show has been saying more or less the same thing since before the Mueller Report was released, announcing as it did, that there would be no more indictments, and that the president did not, nor did any of his staff, work, conspire, or collude with “the Russians” to steal the election. Oh well, we’ll have to wait to see what happens in November 2020. In the meantime, maybe you should switch channels too. – J.B.)

Sanity Restored?

Last week’s Letters to the Editor section represents the diverse concerns, attitudes, opinions, and facts our vocal community expresses. I think you have restored a degree of editorial integrity to your publication. Thank you. 

Karen Friedman

Perish the Thought

About 5,000 years ago, something disappeared. It was Mega Chad, the largest fresh water reservoir on Earth. Once covering about 139,000 sq miles in the Sahara Desert, Lake Chad now spans a pitiful 137 square miles.

Did the domestication of horses and/or chickens, construction of thousands of Brazilian pyramids using (now-extinct) mollusk shells, Sumarian ziggurats, the tower of Babel, CO2 emissions from Egyptian cattle, or the Sun cause this disastrous disappearance?

Are plants, fish, cattle and humans more likely to survive a global cooling or a global warming?

With the Sun approaching a Solar Minimum, shouldn’t we be pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere so we don’t freeze to death?

Shivering at the thought,

Dale Lowdermilk

Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: As Queen may have said, “Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter,” because regardless of what happens it will be deemed Man’s (and Woman’s) fault. There is cause for worry, if not alarm, however, as we inch towards an Earthly population of ten billion souls. Let’s face it, if, say, elephants (or beavers) were allowed to breed indiscriminately and successfully conquered all their predators, Earth would look a lot worse too. It’s just a personal survival instinct, but all of us really should be a little more careful in our daily lives. Funny enough though, if you are right, Mr. Lowdermilk, and the Solar Minimum brings freezing temperatures back to Earth, threatening the introduction of a New Ice Age, we may just find ourselves pumping plant-loving CO2 into the atmosphere at triple speed. – J.B.)


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