Letters to the Editor

Readers write about climate-change regulation, US-Libya relations, Western art, and wrapping paper.

Don't wait for climate-change regulation. Conserve now.

In response to the Dec. 21 article, "After EPA rejects California, emissions court battle looms": Regulations are fine, but more immediate "bird-in-hand" action should be taken.

For example, alternate energy sources such as the Cape Wind Project should be promoted more aggressively.

Conservation efforts can take place immediately while regulations and schemes, which may or may not be practical, will take years to be effective.

Bob Brown

Reading, Mass.

On Libya, make the enemy a friend

In response to David Schenker's Dec. 17 Opinion piece, "Libya doesn't deserve the red carpet," Mr. Schenker asks, "Why restore relations?" One answer is: One way to get rid of an enemy is to make a friend.

Dan Ziskind

Longboat Key, Fla.

How to judge art

Regarding Carol Strickland's Dec. 20 Opinion piece, "Does beauty still belong in art?," I have a PhD in musicology, and I have published on Beethoven's Eroica Symphony with Cambridge University Press. I am thus familiar with the comment by art critic Clement Greenberg that Ms. Strickland cites: "All profoundly original art looks ugly at first." One contemporary critic actually labeled Beethoven's Third Symphony "an abortion."

But that does not justify equating art with journalism, as Strickland seems to do. The simplistic definition of "good art" that Strickland provides is actually a definition of "good journalism": "[It] grabs our attention, then deepens our engagement with multiple layers that expand our knowledge of the world and ourselves, and make us see and feel and think in different ways."

Journalism is meant to be transitory. Perhaps it involves a flowery article enticing a reader to a certain travel destination or unusual cuisine. Perhaps it is a hard-hitting report describing the recent humanitarian crimes in Somalia or Sudan.

We do not, nevertheless, treasure it beyond the immediate effect it is meant to create (or its retrospective historical value). We do not equate a finely crafted article in the Monitor with a sonnet by Shakespeare. There is a substantive, qualitative difference that needs to be addressed, and an art critic for the Monitor certainly ought to be aware of that difference.

Art is supposed to deliver a more profound message – one that will do exactly all that, to be sure, but also for generations to come.

Thus, however ugly it may seem to some of us, it will sooner or later be acknowledged as "beautiful," in the historically and anthropologically sensitive use of the term.

Thomas Sipe

Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

In response to Carol Strickland's series on "art in America" regarding Western art: As an art teacher, I appreciate her comment that arts education should not be optional.

It is important that we realize that art teachers are not only encouraging artists of the future but also educating art consumers.

Outside of the edgy New York/Los Angeles/Miami art scene, at the grass-roots level, beauty is not dead. Go to any art fair in Wellington, Fla.; Davenport, Iowa; or Eugene, Ore., and the paintings of flowers, landscapes, wide-eyed children on velvet, dogs, horses, cats, and portraits would drown the viewer.

Many artists make a nice living creating watercolors or oils or acrylics that people actually want to hang in their homes. Perhaps these "big" galleries should listen to what ordinary people are saying with their pocketbooks.

Catherine Martinez

Belle Glade, Fla.

Keep the tradition of wrapping paper

In response to the Dec. 20 article, "Gift wrap gets bad rap?": I'm sorry that the article did not at least mention the possibility of recycling used wrapping paper. Our local recycler of business paper and junk mail is happy to get wrapping paper – maybe that's a slightly green answer to the question.

Bill McGraw

Zionsville, Ind.

Regarding the Dec. 20 article about wrapping paper: I have a different experience that I'd like to share. When my daughter was very young, after her father and I had separated, I was barely able to pay rent and keep food on the table. So Christmas was rather sparse. I mostly got my daughter clothes that she really needed.

However, I loved to wrap packages and made my own bows, tying bells or other little decorations in the center. And I wrapped the paper very neatly. My daughter's beautifully wrapped presents under the tree were the envy of all of her friends. They could tell the difference in wrapping between presents for adults and for children.

Although a package may have had socks inside, my daughter delighted in opening each one of her presents. I still enjoy having attractive presents as part of my Christmas decorations.

Laurel Marquart

Crescent City, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles.

Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com

Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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