Dear Editor

Dear Editor Education Past My memories were stirred by James Harkness' sensitive memoir of his Mississippi high school ("Grammar and Gardenias," NL, May 2) The North Carolina institution I...

...Dear Editor Education Past My memories were stirred by James Harkness' sensitive memoir of his Mississippi high school ("Grammar and Gardenias," NL, May 2) The North Carolina institution I attended struck me as hell at the time My fellow students and I considered the place the headquarters of dullness and pettiness Like Harkness, though, I discovered when 1 went to college that my preparation for the rigors of more serious studying was superior to those who matriculated from some of the nation's snootiest prep schools My high school teachers were either prunes or bilious martinets, yet their fury at us students was brought on by our muhshness about learning—and we never thought of disrespecting them A far cry from what passes for education now Boston William Gordon 1 laughed ruefully at James Harkness' description of the near-reverent respect that his high school teachers were accorded These days teachers walk the halls trembling for fear of assault, or worse One English instructor of my acquaintance told me that he has to restrain himself from echoing the outburst of Kurtz m Heart of Darkness Exterminate the brutes' New York City C Hamilton It may be true that "you can't go home again,' and return to the former emphasis on the three Rs in American schools, as James Harkness suggests Nevertheless, Harkness has nothing to put in the place of the present nightmare of American schools In the absence of a concrete alternative, the "back to bastes" claque will carry the day In fact, although Harkness cautions against looking backward for our vision of effective education, that is precisely what he does when discussing the virtues of his secondary education Los A ngeles Michael Gerard Hitchcock For years I had been aware of the uglier aspects of Alfred Hitchcock's talent, yet i always ignored the blemishes when watching his films My enjoyment of Psycho, Strangers on a Train and The Lady Vanishes overcame the facets of the director's personality that John Simon dwells on in reviewing Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius The Life of Alfred HitchThe New Leader welcomes comment and criticism on any of its features, but letters should not exceed 300 words cock (" Portrait of a Shallow Genius," NL, May 16) But Simon makes a persuasive case Now I won't be able to enjoy the films with my former innocence New York City JrM Couohlin Ignored Advice In a weak moment I decided to see Flashdance, despite Robert Asahma's sternly worded warning ("The New Gift Wrapping," NL, May 2) The mistake was mine Far from being enjoyably trashy, the film is incoherent to the point of unwatchabihty I have to confess, though, that the audience loved it—they cheered and rocked along with the songs on the soundtrack I suppose there really is no accounting for tastes New York City Donald Morgan Clarification "The Road to Bayreuth" (NL, May 2), my review of Martin Gregcx-DeUm's Richard Wagner HisLife, His Work, His Century, puts me on record as saying two things that are seriously at variance both with my manuscript and with my beliefs First, part of the opening paragraph in the printed text reads "In our century, the anti-Semitic delirium of Die Meistersinger and Der Ring des Nibelun-gen acquired an extra gloss in the eyes of the self-styled master race " What I said—and meant—was "[Wagner's] record of paranoid anti-Semitic delirium lent Der Ring and Die Meistersinger an extra gloss " In other words, the Nazis liked these operas even better than they might have anyway because Wagner had an anti-Semitic record they could project onto the works, though in fact the works do not themselves embody the anti-Semitic sentiments There is no anti-Semitic delirium in Die Meistersinger or The Ring In the second instance, the published version reads " [Wlhile the Ring celebrates charismatic leaders and totalitarianism, it predicts the crumbling of empire in under a thousand years " ! wrote, and meant "fTlo the extent that The Ring celebrates charismatic I left the extent in doubt because it ts in doubt The published version asserts positively that The Ring celebrates charismatic leaders and totalitarianism, which I believe to be a naive and simplistic misreading of a profoundly tragic vision New York Citv Matthew Gurewttsch...

Vol. 66 • June 1983 • No. 12

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