The Importance of Being Grammatical

I appreciated the article "'Star Trek' Aim 'To Boldly Go' Approved by New Dictionary" (Aug. 25), but was also saddened by it. I very much agree with Simon Jenkins and others quoted in the article, who implied that using a split infinitive raises a red flag that something could have been communicated more clearly.

Our era demands clear thinking, but suffers from poor communication. The quality of our use of language, the clarity of our thinking, and ultimately the course of human events, are closely interrelated, as George Orwell argued compellingly in his famous essay "Politics and the English Language." It therefore becomes important for all of us to take seriously the details of communicating clearly. Splitting infinitives is a step in the wrong direction.

Kirk Matteson

Des Moines, Wash.

Experiencing Bonnard's art

I left the article on Pierre Bonnard, "Bonnard Works Are Colorful, but Not Quite Beautiful" (Aug. 21), feeling that the critic was more confused than anything by Bonnard's work, and I suggest that he take his own advice - "There is a mystery to Bonnard's work that does not yield itself up easily" - and return to look at the exhibition.

Bonnard is a sublime artist. His work functions so distinctly as part of the great lineage of French still-life painters that goes from Baugin and Chardin, through Renoir and Cezanne, to Braque. At their greatest, these painters did not represent objects. Rather the objects themselves dissolve and what remains is the relationships between the objects themselves, and the viewers and the objects. The more one approaches such paintings with openness and humility, the greater the richness they yield up.

A "transcendent aesthetic experience" can certainly happen, but only in measure with what the viewer has invested in the relationship with the painting.

The secret to Bonnard's "aesthetic experience" lies in the marvelous, shifting balance between his interior and exterior worlds, and the discipline with which he transforms this balance into his dense, luminous, and voluptuous web of color. To me, at least, this is true beauty. Eccentric, rich, with few points of reference other than itself - the more you look, the more there is to discover.

Paul A. Rossi

Westport, N.Y.

Children and violence

With regard to the editorial "Valuing Childhood" (Aug. 28), consider the consequences of your premise that children who kill must not be dealt with as adults.

First, consider the innocent victim: Who speaks for him? Is his life of less value? Second, consider the victim's parents and siblings. How do you rationalize their loss? How do you assuage their grief? Now finally, the children who kill: If it is true, as you suggest, that some of them "ostensibly act on their own volition" and "may have had a motive," might they also have understood that their punishment would, in all probability, be minimal?

David L. Dipietro

Nashville, Tenn.

Marriage and personal space

Thank you for the column "Marriage Without Velcro" (Aug. 26). I'm getting married in nine months, and being the independent person that I am, one of my major concerns about marriage is my personal space. Although I think that it is very important to do things together as a couple, it is also imperative to have time - and space - to oneself. It's nice to see that I'm not the only woman out there who sees personal space - physical, mental, and spiritual space - as a mandatory part of a mutually satisfactory relationship.

Lauren Henderson

Via e-mail

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