Sunday, October 10, 2010

Umnak Island, 6 November 1944

My darling…
I wrote you just a few hours ago, but although it was a long letter I forgot several things I was going to say.

I have been reading Thames Williamson’s “Far North Country,” and it is good. In a bit about the culture of the Eskimos, he mentions that “The Eskimo believed in no central divine being, and he did not believe or practice prayer as we know it; he had decided that all natural phenomena are controlled by spirits, and to save his own sanity he reasoned further than all spirits could in turn be controlled by charm and formula. Working from this premise, the Eskimo managed to keep his nose above the flood of terror which the supernatural engenders.”

It seems to me that this is a very valid point, and it brings into question the accepted belief of Christian monotheists that monotheism is superior to a religious system based on belief in multiple gods. And does it not anticipate the pluralistic interpretation of the universe which American philosophers claim as their greatest contribution to world thought? 

Somewhat on the same line is this quote taken from Orville Prescott’s review of “The Dream of Phillip II” in the times. “Phillip, according to Mr. Maass, represented the medieval concept of unity, one religion and one church, in conflict with the individualism and materialism of the Renaissance and Reformation. He stood for faith and for the dignity of man as an immortal spirit soon to face eternal judgment. According to his own lights and according to the prevailing ethic s of the time, he resembled a saint like Ignatius Loyola more than he did the bloodthirsty tyrant he seems to many of us today…” It would seem that many sins can be excused under the name of unity—including the Inquisition.

Of the clippings I’m sending along today, there is little to say. The Dutch picture is another version of one I sent you earlier. The story that accompanied the excellent shot of Clare Luce was PM poor. The ballet reviews add to my homesickness. It occurs to me that the Ballet Theatre usually swings thought the northwest in late spring, so I may be back for their 1945 visit. I would sort of like to take you to Pretruchka, my comely chipmunk.  

M

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