Responding to the dimensions of beauty, music, and art

There should be a rousing worldwide response to the commentary on skin-deep beauty [Skin-deep beauty -- is the cost too high? Feb. 25]. It is sad that the cosmetic approach still persists, and ``You've come a long way, baby,'' with gilded lashes and frosty lips, conveys the wrong image. O. Henry's famed ``Trimmed Lamp'' portrays the basic truth that you can't tell a book by its cover, and having the ``right stuff'' in thought and deed is often better than the trimmed exterior. Even Shakespeare in the lines ``My salad days,/ When I was green in judgment,'' leading into ``Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/ Her infinite variety,'' puts attractiveness and charm on something besides the ``you're a living doll'' syndrome. Alice Jean Small Monterey, Calif.

It was heartening to see the feature article on Bach's tercentenary on Feb. 21 [``Bach: after 300 years, the legend lives on'']. It is unfortunate, however, that such a negative portrait of J. S. Bach's personal life was presented in the opening paragraphs. Men of genius have often had difficulties with their superiors as well as their inferiors, but aside from a few youthful indiscretions, Bach dealt reasonably and predictably with those he worked with. In standing up to the autocratic Duke of Weimar, who had proven himself less than honorable in his own treatment of Bach, Bach showed more courage than offensiveness. The same was true in Bach's relationship with the insensitive authorities in Leipzig. The Leipzig position, by the way, might be called a ``low-paying church job,'' considering its great responsibilities, but it was a prestigious position and one which offered Bach the opportunity to realize more potential than in any of his previous positions. His other church jobs (Arnstadt and M"uhlhausen) were good-paying jobs considering the level of Bach's experience when he secured them. His subsequent court appointments (Weimar and K"othen) were excellent-paying positions with excellent working conditions, and he came into them normally and honestly. The progress of his career could hardly be said to be the result of ``ruthless'' calculation. He had an ambition to see his great talent appreciated as much as posssible, but Bach was more modest than most men with gifts of such dimension. He regularly inscribed his manuscripts with Jesu Juva (Jesus help) and/or Deo Soli Gloria (To God alone be the glory).

It should be said to his credit that family problems were minor. There is no record of his being ill to the point of taking off work, canceling a concert, or hiring a substitute. His domestic affairs were content. Although he fathered 20 children (not 23 as the article said), this was not remarkable in a culture where couples expected to have as many children as possible. In any case his family was the result of two marriages (his first wife died). Donald Spies, associate professor Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.

There is more to the ``Fourth Dimension'' (March 5) than meets the eye. Not discussed in Scott Armstrong's article was the artistic perspective. Numerous artists have concerned themselves with the fourth dimension. Author Linda Henderson describes this in her book, ``The Fourth Dimension and Modern Art.'' In conjunction with the Brown conference [mentioned in the story], the Woods-Gerry Gallery of the Rhode Island School of Design had an exhibition of contemporary fourth-dimensional art. The catalog of the show, entitled ``Hypergraphics,'' pictures 16 of the 35 pieces. In the way that we can ``know'' such unrealities as circles, we can also ``know'' such unreal four-dimensional objects as the hypercube. But space does not permit me such an explanation. There is no flat land here! John H. Bell Providence, R.I.

An article about Antarctica by Louis Wiznitzer [``Small nations protest bigger-power claims to Antarctica's riches''] Nov. 19 stated that: ``Peru will soon be the first nonconsultative treaty member to give up its position in order to register its dissatisfaction with the lack of access the nonconsultative treaty parties have to the decisionmaking process.''

This statement is unfounded, owing to the fact that Peru has been taking decisive steps to become a full member of the treaty. On July 11, 1983, the Peruvian government created the National Commission for Antarctic Affairs with the purpose of preparing and developing the studies which will enable Peru to become a full member of the treaty.

As part of this effort during the past few years, Peru has been sending experts and scientists with expeditions from other countries to provide them with the necessary experience so as to enable Peru to send its own expedition to Antarctica in a not too distant future. You will understand, therefore, why the quoted paragraph does not agree with Peru's policy in this matter. Luis Marchand, ambassador Embassy of Peru, Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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