The Walrus - - THE WALRUS -

false im­age

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.

Max Lay­ton

Toronto, ON

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

class knowl­edge

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

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