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Ezra Pound, Air Conditioning’s Effects on Global Warming and Other Letters to the Editor – The New York Times

To the Editor:

R. O. Blechman’s Sketchbook (Aug. 8) makes an absurd omission of the poetry for which Ezra Pound has been rightly recognized and celebrated for decades.

Nor does he sketch in any attention to Pound from his fellow writers, many of whom visited him in the mental hospital. Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Visits to St. Elizabeths” is a powerful description of that experience.

Blechman’s serve-him-right, simplistic zeal betrays the complexities of the poet who wrote, of a Paris metro:

The apparition of these faces in a crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Susan Donnelly
Arlington, Mass.

To the Editor:

Ezra Pound was not betrayed by his words. He was a blatant antisemite, not just someone who used antisemitic language; Pound believed Jews were detestable and bent on global dominion. After he had collaborated with the Italian Fascist government during World War II by delivering hundreds of propaganda broadcasts and writing innumerable articles in support of the Axis powers, he was accused of treason. He was not committed to the St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital because of that accusation; rather, he was remanded there because he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.

His words did not betray him; his actions did.

Steven Selub
Southwest Ranches, Fla.

To the Editor:

Hope Jahren’s review of Eric Dean Wilson’s “After Cooling” (Aug. 8) missed the most important problem with air conditioning: its direct contribution to global warming. The energy costs of maintaining frigid indoor conditions are enormous.

I remember working at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and being so cold that I had to wear my winter jacket, wool cap and gloves. This was in July, when the temperature outside was 94 degrees. Hand-wringing about global warming does not make a lot of sense when you must pull your glove off to do it.

Frederick Thurber
South Dartmouth, Mass.

To the Editor:

After reading Catherine Lacey’s review of Katie Kitamura’s new novel (Aug. 8) featuring a court interpreter at The Hague, I am not so sure I can trust the narrator to know anything about the job of an interpreter.

When the narrator reflects “you can be so caught up in the minutiae of the act … that you do not necessarily apprehend the sense of the sentences themselves: You literally do not know what you are saying,” she actually describes a poor and unqualified “interpreter.”

As a seasoned conference interpreter and a former staff interpreter for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (I.C.T.R.), I can attest that words do not flow into our ears in one language and then automatically come out of our mouths in another language. They have to be processed by our brains. It is impossible to provide an acceptable interpretation without understanding the meaning of the original discourse.

However, I will grant that the intense pressure under which we work and our professional duty to deliver an accurate message can provide a buffer to the traumatic content in which we are sometimes immersed. At least that was one of our coping mechanisms at the I.C.T.R.

Christiane Abel
Jackson, Calif.

To the Editor:

Jonathan Kozol’s essay on Eric Carle (Aug. 1) reminded me of a studio art course in children’s picture book illustration that I took some years ago.

One day, one of my classmates revealed to everybody that her 3-year-old son loved having a picture book read to him every night at bedtime, but he had an insistent preference for the simplest and most basic books out of the dozens he owned.

Upon hearing this all of the class members who were mothers, which was almost all of them, nodded vigorously. All of their children liked (or as toddlers had liked) the same kind of books — with vibrant colors, simple design and plots that were bare-bones rudimentary.

Carle, whose books have sold over 170 million copies to date, certainly understood the literary needs of small children. From the beginning, he had a firm grasp of how much to put into a book to engage their interest and sustain their attention without boring, overwhelming or confusing them.

Of the thousands of currently active authors who are middle-aged or younger, I wonder how many got their first whiff of the intoxicating power of books via Carle’s simple but unforgettable tale of a gluttonous caterpillar.

David English
Acton, Mass.

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