In her essay about Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers, Myra Bloom accuses Cohen of objectifying women and using the same “‘aesthetic alibi’ men have been using since the nineteenth century to justify bad behaviour” (“The Darker Side of Leonard Cohen,” thewalrus. ca). In other words, Cohen used his mythical male genius to legitimize what was, according to Bloom, “abusive treatment of women.” But what evidence does Bloom adduce? Nothing except select passages of Beautiful Losers — and the book is fiction! A previous generation of academics hurled the same slurs at my father, Cohen’s good friend and fellow poet Irving Layton. But, in fact, no one scrutinized Cohen more than Cohen himself—and it was probably his unremitting self-scrutiny that allowed him to become the grandfatherly prophet whose image towers benevolently over Montreal.
across enemy lines
I’m relieved to find Joseph Rosen, in his article on meeting with people from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum (“Left v. Right,” May), urging a slowing down of the lately much-escalated rhetoric on both sides of almost every issue. Clearly, we won’t all—ever—agree on everything, but Rosen offered deep wisdom in suggesting that we pause and look at one another as merely human, wanting to be heard. I have seen the effect of firmly held opinions among friends and family, and that is not a fruitful, happy, or even safe road to go down. Kate Braid Victoria, BC Rosen states that after all his efforts to better understand the perspectives and motivations of others, he found that “instead of seeing enemies motivated purely by hatred and bigotry, I see scared people trying to convince themselves that they are good.” This fear Rosen describes may be a result of a dissonance between the knowledge that there are no rational and justifiable reasons for holding certain prejudices and the need to hang on to the belief that people are inherently “good.” If we cannot deal with that dissonance or discomfort to our satisfaction, we avoid thinking about it. But that effort is becoming increasingly hard in a world where differences in values and priorities are becoming more divisive, and fear has become a normal state for many people, regardless of our place in society. Ray Arnold Richmond, BC
no right to bear arms
Gloria Dickie presents both sides of the grizzly hunting issue in her reported feature (“Bear Market,” May). The current NDP government in British Columbia has come down against hunting, but for many, the debate is not yet settled, and I detect a bias in favour of hunting in Dickie’s article. While evolution has produced creatures—including humans —that dine off one another, to take any life for thrill or “sport” is an abomination. Mary Andrews Victoria, BC
family value judgment
Lauren Mckeon offers an interesting summary of attitudes about women who choose not to be mothers (“Here’s Looking at No Kids,” May). The inventory is strikingly similar to attitudes with respect to women who do have children. So much of our identity and worth as women is predicated on having or not having kids. Yet no matter what, women are judged and found wanting. Having lived on both sides of the equations, I’d like to see a world where mothers and childless women are not pitted against each other. Amy Lavender Harris Toronto, ON
As a member of British Columbia’s lower middle class, I was moved to tears by Emily Mccarty’s story about poverty and homelessness in the province (“Trying to Make Ends Meet in Vancouver,” thewalrus.ca), which provides a snapshot of modern life for so many people. As Mccarty notes, the focus of conversation around affordability is often on millennials, but other groups of people are also struggling to simply get by and raise a family. Bryan Candy Port Moody, BC