Frontlines

Arguments for art’s sake

December 3 1979
Frontlines

Arguments for art’s sake

December 3 1979

Arguments for art’s sake

Frontlines

LETTERS

The article But Is It Art? (Nov. 5) by John Bentley Mays could have been written in Swahili, and would have been equally as comprehensible to this member of the great unwashed. I wonder how many readers of Maclean's really understood what he was trying to say? I, for one, had not the slightest idea!

FRANK E. HEARD, ALLISTON, ONT.

My response to your article But Is It Art? is: hardly. Among other things, art is creative. The display offered is nothing more than an assemblage and is about as artistic and creative as a shed full of garden tools.

J. C. DAVIES, BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C.

We read, with interest, John Bentley Mays’s article. On behalf of Paul Hutner, one of the Toronto artists referred to in the text, we would like to correct the spelling of his name. It is Paul Hutner, not Hunter as printed in your article.

CHRISTINE HAWKES, THE SABLE-CASTELLI GALLERY LTD., TORONTO

Risky business

In my mind, your article Quest for the Riskless Society (Nov. 5) is an affront to reason. Nuclear reactors are large, powerful machines, the defective operation of which creates quite unprecedented

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hazards. If they are to be induced to operate successfully, the people entrusted with them must be capable of some pretty straight thinking, which was certainly not exhibited by Dr. Newcombe, a former researcher at Atomic Energy of Canada, who likened the “vociferous reaction of groups in British Columbia or Nova Scotia” to people responding to something else “more like a phobia of snakes.” To compare nuclear hazards with those resulting from the operation of automobiles, aircraft or climbing mountains is tendentious, to say the least. I think that the people in the nuclear reactor business have always been aware of the risks involved, but have been less than honest in divulging them to the public. I feel the whole controversy could be ended overnight simply by making it clear to the owners and operators of nuclear facilities that they will be responsible for the claims arising from accidents. There is

not an established insurance company in the whole of North America willing to underwrite their operations. If the professionals cannot see how the gains outweigh the risks, then it is asking a little too much to expect the protesters to do otherwise.

GEOFFREY R. MITCHELL, LAKE COWICHAN, B.C.

Sweat and Coca-Cola

In regretting Havana’s lack of polish ( The Past Glows and the Future Shines, but Havana Today Could Use Some Polish, Oct. 22), William Lowther remembers that “wealthy North Americans used to come to Havana for the shopping, for the gambling and for the girls.” Possibly he forgets that the things one shopped for were produced by sweated labor, the gambling was run by the Mafia and the girls were prostitutes. In addition, one might mention that the building of modern apartments, which have priority over historical restoration work, are for the kind of people who, before the revolution, lived in shelters made of old soft-drink signs.

GEORGE ASCROFT, MONTREAL

Rationale for rationing

Thank you for Peter C. Newman’s editorial Why Gasoline Rationing—and Not Sky-High Prices—Can Save Our Precious Oil (Oct. 29). He has finally said what I hope many people are thinking; of course it is rationing that we need and are ready to accept. Reducing the number of people who can afford gasoline does not constitute conservation if

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at the same time a government follows policies that increase the income of this group of people.

JOHN KUDELKA, NEWMARKET, ONT.

Peter C. Newman’s editorial on gasoline rationing versus sky-high oil prices is the most intelligent and refreshing article to appear from the mass of media drivel we have been subjected to over the past few months on oil prices. It appears that only two influential people in our country, Mr. Newman and Premier Bill Davis, can see through this world oil price charade. While not too much can be expected from apathetic Canadians, what is astounding is the lack of response from our so-called champions of the people. Are they going to sit quietly while the grand fraud of the century is perpetrated on the people of this country? Come on Canadians, protest. If the U.S. was 80-per-cent selfsufficient in oil as we are and the politicians tried to impose cartel oil prices they would be run out of the country.

D. CAHILL, ST. CATHARINES, ONT.

Congratulations to Peter C. Newman’s editorial on gasoline rationing. It may interest you to know that in July of this year, I and seven other women wrote a letter to the prime minister expressing our views on the oil situation, which were in complete agreement with Newman’s editorial. It seems that the federal government is not as interested in protecting Canadians from the impact of devastating inflation as in protecting their own credibility, however short-term, through stocking the federal coffers. We have still not received a reply to our letter.

E. R. DAVEY, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONT.

Black labels

Maureen O’Neil is quoted as saying about Canadian women: “I want to establish that we are not some special -interest group lumped in with the lame, the halt and the blind. I want our concerns part of social and economic policy at the highest levels” (The Women's Work Is Getting Done, Oct. 29). I am personally severely disabled, a woman and fully employed as the co-ordinator of services for handicapped people at a large Canadian university. My life experience has taught me that labelling people is the first step toward removing their human rights. Which label is more appropriate for me, “crippled” or “woman?” According to Ms. O’Neil, because I am crippled, I can’t be a woman.

JUDITH A. SNOW, DOWNSVIEW, ONT.