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Unfortunately, life now imitates parody.

Lest we forget

The Chinese have long observed: “Learn the past and you will know the future.” Tragically, thus far, at least, we must agree with Hegel that “we learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

An important effort, however, to deal with this reality is to memorialize two contemporary historic traumas, namely, the Holocaust and the September 11 attacks. It is with great interest therefore that I read Amy Braverman Puma’s insightful piece on the contribution of Alice Greenwald, AM’75, to the Holocaust Museum and the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum (“Caretaker of Memory,” October/06).

As a member of the dwindling family of the Holocaust generation, I am particularly appreciative of Greenwald’s role. Moreover, as an academic working in the field of terrorism studies for over four decades, I fully recognize the University’s unique intellectual input in this important field of national and global security concerns. Indeed, Chicago’s scientists began in the early 1960s to study assassination and terrorism as a special category of political violence.

On a personal note, I am grateful to political-science professor Hans J. Morgenthau for his inspiration and guidance. In fact, Professor Morgenthau served as chair of the International Advisory Board of Terrorism: An International Journal, which I founded in 1976. Additionally, with Chicago’s Lawrence Zelig Freedman, I codirected the Institute of Social and Behavioral Pathology (based at Chicago and cofounded by Yale professor Harold Dwight Lasswell in the 1940s). The work of the institute included workshops, seminars, conferences, and interdisciplinary research on the central issue of human conflict and its resolution. Among our publications was Political Communication and Persuasion: An International Journal (launched in 1980), focusing on propaganda and psychological warfare, peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace building.

In sum, it is rather naïve to assume that memorials, museums, and academic efforts can realistically reverse the trend of the globalization and brutalization of political violence. And yet it would be prudent for future generations to heed the advice of Edmund Burke: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Yonah Alexander, AM’55
Washington, DC

Recycled pipes

I was pleased to read in the Magazine (“Organ Transplant,” October/06) that the project to restore the Rockefeller Chapel organ is finally under way. It seems to me quite a few years ago that funds for the restoration of the organ, to which I contributed, were being solicited.

As to the search to recover pipes from the original organ that were sold off in the 1970s: I have no idea if these were among the pipes recovered in that enterprise, but I can attest that a few of the pipes made their way to an unlikely spot. In the 1970s I was working for the University Press’s Journals division, on the dedicated staff of the Astrophysical Journal. One day the Journal staff were treated to a tour of Yerkes Observatory, and while there, I entered a cottage being used by an astronomy grad student. There, strung horizontally along the ceiling of the cellar, just under the floor joists, were the pipes to this young man’s organ. He said some of them had been Rockefeller Chapel organ pipes; the rest were from another church.

Richard S. Stein, AM’64
Oak Lawn, Illinois

Organ reminder

Seeing the picture of the University Chapel in the October issue and reading that the Rockefeller organ was taken apart to be updated reminded me of the day in ’38 I dared to play it.

Sometimes I would cut through the front of the chapel to get from Ida Noyes to classes on the quadrangles. One day Ruth Neuendorffer, AB’40, and I were hurrying through when I noticed that the organ was open. Nobody seemed to be around and I was so intrigued, I pressed a couple notes to see if it was on. It was. I knew I was taking a chance but couldn’t resist. I sat down and played Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” It was thrilling to hear it being translated into the big sound of the organ. Ruth had sat down in a pew to listen and was surprised at me attempting to do such a thing.

I still sometimes get a note from her saying she has just heard “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” on the radio and remembers me playing it in the chapel.

Edith Davis Sylander, AB’41
Stamford, Connecticut

And now a word from the right

I am in a state of shock that someone with Connie Hogarth’s [PhB’47, SB’48] age and education is still living in the silly ’60s of the 20th century and that the Magazine is publicizing it (“C. Vitae,” October/06). It is as if 9/11 never happened, and the timing (5th anniversary) of this horrific event, most inappropriate. Also, the series of attacks on our embassies and other installations in the Mideast and Africa over the past 20 years seem to have made no impression on her whatever.

We are in a war that was thrust upon us because our freedom is anathema to these [terrorists] who feel they cannot live in a free world as they are totally subservient to their God Allah. To surrender to Islam, as seems the liberal’s desire for peace at any price, is to lose the liberal’s right of dissent, a clear case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Another case of twisted logic is the desire to end nuclear-generated power. Our very existence depends on a dependable source of electricity. Looking down the road a geological moment, we do not have sustainable supplies of carbon-based fuels to supply our tremendous appetite for energy. If you believe we can supply enough electricity from sustainable sources—wind, water, geothermal, solar and agriculture—you seriously need to consult the experts.

Over the next 200 years there will be a need to construct more and more nuclear power plants. Our uranium reserves will sustain us for hundreds of years as carbon fuels dwindle. Ultimately, to retain our numbers and our lifestyle, we must harness the hydrogen fusion reaction capable of supplying the power to keep us going indefinitely.

Last, I have a problem with her protesting the USA’s reluctance to accept the Kyoto Protocols. There is no proof of the degree of man’s involvement in global warming. I agree that it is good to keep our air as breathable as possible, but carbon dioxide is a normal and very minor constituent and the only anthropogenic molecule involved. Historical geology has evidence that all sorts of weather has occurred on this planet prior to man’s relatively late arrival on the scene.

Robert R. Reynolds, SB’39
Tucson, Arizona

*Updated 1/4/07

Fitting footnote

“All The News That Fits, We Print” (“Editor’s Notes,” October/06) first appeared in a MAD Magazine parody of the New York Times sometime, I think, in the middle or late 1960s. Unfortunately, life now imitates parody.

Warren Paul, AB’75

Detailed Review

For those who want a fuller account of the fascinating Chicago Review–Naked Lunch–Big Table events of the late 1950s than is offered in “60-Year Review” (“Chicago Journal,” October/06), it can be found it in the latest issue (No. 16) of News from The Republic of Letters in the article “Ideology, or How I Think I Got to Think the Way I Think,” by the undersigned. The fascination is in the complex relationships between Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Chicago, the post–Cardinal Stritch’s Catholic Church of Chicago, the University of Chicago president (Lawrence Kimpton), and the faculty and students associated with the Chicago Review.

Richard Stern
Regenstein professor emeritus of English and American language and literature

Epstein’s bias

I object to your characterization of Richard Epstein’s new book as a balanced look at pharmaceutical regulation (“Citations,” October/06). Epstein has staked out political ground much too far to the right to be capable of a balanced look at any form of government regulation, especially something as important to big business as the FDA. He is on the record (on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the home of the balanced look!) as being outraged at the prospect that Merck may be responsible for the consequences of its behavior surrounding the approval and marketing of Vioxx. I have known the professor since I was a medical student at the University. Make no mistake: he is an unapologetic pro-business spokesman who, given the chance, would reduce the role of the FDA to a rubber stamp, in much the same way as some would eliminate the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy. I have no doubt that his proposals for FDA reform would increase the number of Vioxx-like cases.

In the current regulatory paradigm, failures at the FDA occasionally mean unsafe medicine is approved, as in the case of Vioxx, but it is hard to think of a case where a medicine proven safe and effective in Phase I–III clinical trials has not received FDA approval. The cost of doing trials is what prevents development of many promising compounds, not the FDA. Nonetheless, a record number of new-drug applications and generic-drug applications pour into the FDA each year. These trends mean now is the time to increase the abilities of the FDA, not reduce them. Clearly, unsafe drugs that receive FDA approval eventually turn out to be an economic nightmare for the company involved. The irony of Prof. Epstein’s opinions on government regulation of the pharmaceutical industry is that a strong FDA is more pro-business than a weak one, because it helps ensure drugs are safe for companies to market: a task drug companies would have a hard time doing on their own.

Elliot J. Favus, MD’01
New York

Order in the Court

I would like to second the letter of John T. Dulaney (“Sixty-Minute Reprise”) in the October/06 issue. As someone who worked at Court Theatre in Summer 1959 (Francesca Da Remini by Boker, Love for Love by Congreve, and Othello by Shakespeare) as paid house manager, stage manager (Love for Love), and technical director I can attest to the fact that Court Theatre, like much of theater at the University in that period—namely UT and Blackfriars—was undergoing profound changes that would later lead to a “professional” Court Theatre developed by Nicholas Rudall. I agree with Mr. Dulaney that the story of U of C theater in the 1950s and 1960s deserves a presentation as a necessary context for appreciating Mr. Rudall’s fine work.

Jim Best AB’60
Kent, Ohio

The editor’s reply to John Dulaney in the October issue confounds confusion about Court Theatre. Nicholas Rudall, a wonderful teacher, actor, and director, arrived at Chicago in 1966 to teach in the Classics department (where I had wonderful courses with him). He also acted on campus.

Meanwhile Court Theatre was becoming a remarkable enterprise, a cross between community and professional theater, under the leadership of James O’Reilly, a great figure in the Chicago theater scene for many years. Mr. Rudall built on these foundations, in later years, and there’s no need to elide this history—as the editor does—to do justice to a wonderful career which has benefited the University in many, many ways.

Anthony Grafton, AB’71, AM’72, PhD’75
Princeton, New Jersey

I was puzzled by the historical inaccuracy of the “Exit Rudall” piece on the Court Theatre in the August issue.

With all due respect to Professor Rudall, he did not found the Court Theatre. Marvin Phillips did in the early 1950s.

I know because I was among the first to direct plays in Hutchinson Court (hence its name), that wonderful outdoor performance area—using the boarded-over fountain as the stage and the towering overhanging trees in which truck headlights were mounted to illuminate the stage. And what plays were staged there!  Moliere and Shakespeare and Marlowe and Pirandello, not to mention Shelley’s The Cenci—a play every student of English literature knows but few have ever seen.

Nothing pleases me more than the University’s investment in a state-of-the-art professional indoor theatre, but the original Court Theatre was in many ways truer to the pioneering improvisational imagination of the University.

We are grateful to Mr. Rudall, but due credit should be given Marvin Phillips, the founder of Court Theatre.

Norbert Hruby, X’58
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Outsider thespians

As the director of that production of Knight of the Burning Pestle that Joseph Dulaney fondly remembers (Marty Roth) and a cast member/assistant director for two of the plays in that first season of Moliere at Court Theatre, The Affected Young Ladies and Monsieur de Porceaugnac (Martha Roth), we were delighted to be remembered by the University of Chicago, however obliquely.

I’m sure that many of those original “artists and neighbors” would agree with us that an argument could be made that when Court Theatre was taken over by the University and hid indoors, it died as a vital Hyde Park institution. Many who participated went on to have distinguished careers in theatre (JoAnne Akalaitis, AB’60; Dick D’Anjou; Gloria Foster; Timmie Goldsmith and Gary Fisher; Bill Alton, AB’51; Rolf Forsberg; Omar Shapli; Bob Benedetti; etc.). So many others did not but still upheld a level of theater that, while unpaid, achieved the highest professional standards. Early Court alumni went on to work at such remarkable Hyde Park “little” theaters as The Last Stage and Company of the Four.

Among the others was our distinguished colleague Aldrich (Rick) Ames, X’63, a stage manager on Ulysses in Nighttown.

Marty Roth, AM’57, PhD’65, and
Martha Roth, AB’58
Vancouver, British Columbia

Picture from this institution

How strange that the obituary of Philip Rieff (“Deaths,” October/06) mentioned five universities at which he taught but did not include the University of Chicago! I remember his excellent class for a prescribed course called Sociology II in the academic year 1950–51. A very handsome student, poorly dressed in what looked like Army surplus, sat in the back row. She never participated in discussions; she was an auditor, and somehow got to speak privately with Prof. Rieff after class ended.  Susan Sontag also became his first wife.

Donald Hoffman X’53
Kansas City, Missouri

Rieff was indeed an instructor in the Social Sciences in the College from September 1949 through June 1951.—Ed.

Geography got there first

In the August/06 “College Report” story on Annie Sheng’s fascinating undergraduate thesis project on ramen, author Laura Demanski wrote that Sheng’s methodology “just could mark a new scholarly subfield at the intersection of international studies and cultural anthropology.” Such a “scholarly subfield” already exists: the discipline of geography. The synthesis of different approaches and topics, such as the economic and cultural aspects of ramen production and consumption described in the article, along with fieldwork as part of the research methodology, are hallmarks of geography. As a matter of fact, the University of Chicago had the first geography department in the United States (unfortunately downgraded to a committee some years ago). In our globalizing, integrating world, it is ever more important to be aware of our complex connections to other places through the goods we consume, as Cheng’s (geographical) work illustrates.

Julie Cidell, AB’97
Pasadena, California

Beyond the cover

Mirko Ilic’s June/06 cover illustration (“Grave New World”) will not let go of me, and I feel driven to return to you the challenge it presents. The forests are burning a long day’s drive from me, and the smoke blankets Calgary’s usually crystalline air to give the sun an orange cast even at midday. I think about Katrina’s presence behind your coverage about disaster. The common thread between these two facts is human-caused global warming, and I wonder if Ilic consciously drew a parallel between the Flood and our modern equivalent.

The illustration is so contradictory. There is prophesy in putting the Gulf Coast on the keel where it will be the first to feel the rising waters. There is dissonance in picturing the USA as an ark. No, this time the fountains of the deep are powered by our burnt sacrifices of hydrocarbons to the false gods of Conveyance and Comfort. And sadly, the nation pictured as the ark is the one leading the world in greenhouse-gas emissions, with the rest of the G8 standing at the same altar. Yet the cover is quite correct in suggesting the whole planet is threatened.

Katrina was a dramatic product of the warmer seas that we daily encourage. Perhaps massive forest fires are slower, more remote. You might even imagine that the thawing permafrost is a good thing, but for the methane it is beginning to release. The glacier that gives me water for my tap in August should disappear in a decade or three, but is that a problem for you?

The central problem is that anthropogenic global warming is upon us. This is the source of many disasters. Katrina was merely a derivative event, with more to come in many variations. We have built the infamous “hockey stick,” and we will be living with the consequences for quite a while. Only the sitting president and his allies don’t seem to understand.

Hence, my challenge to the Magazine: It is good to have plans for future catastrophes. Can you report what the University is doing that may help us deal with the catastrophe besetting us today? You could mine every division for work on this subject. The University may be managing its physical plant with an eye to the environment; perhaps there are projects involving the wider community, too. Please tell us about them, and give us cause to hope.

Steve Soule, SM’67, PhD’73
Calgary, Alberta

Alum’s grammar pooh-poohed

A pull-out quote from the October/06 “Alumni News” (“What prompted the move is the age-old story: I fell in love with a beautiful woman who happened to be smarter than me.”) brings to mind these words from Winnie the Pooh: “‘None of the people that I see, is quite,’ he said, ‘as fat as me.’ Then with a still more moving sigh, ‘I mean,’ he said, ‘as fat as I.” If the writer had spent more time with A. A. Milne, and less with Thucydides, he might at least appear smarter.

Duncan S. Erley, PhB’50
Ludington, Michigan


Kudos to Dan Dry for his absolutely stunning photography. Every single one of his images is a pleasure to look at. He is a particularly gifted portrait photographer. I love the pictures of the Phoenix mascot (“Lite of the Mind,” October/06), as well as of the lexicographer (“Arts & Letters,” October/06). Great work.

Carrie Yury, AM’96
Long Beach, California

Location, location, location

I am a native Southerner. When friends learn that I attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, they ask me, “Why would a Southerner attend the University of Chicago?” I tell them two things. First, the University of Chicago is the best university in the United States and arguably in the world. And second, it is located in south Chicago.

James A. Rogerson, AM’69, PhD’80
Charlotte, North Carolina

Department of corrections

The article “Students’ Summer Service Rolls On” (“Chicago Journal,” October/06)  should have made clear that the brick oven at Hyde Park’s Experimental Station belongs to the nonprofit organization and was paid for through donations from community members, including several Chicago alumni. We regret the error.

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