ball, a Texas in which the air and the streams are unpolluted and the political processes uncorrupted. Doubtless there are other aspects of his dream, which I have not sensed or have neglected to mention. I despair that we, or our children, or our children’s children, shall ever see the Texas of which Ronnie dreams. Our grasp is not as long as his reach. But I think we are making progress, and that Ronnie and the Observer deserve much of the credit for it. The notion that Padre Island should be a national park was first voiced in the pages of the Observer. The loan shark legislation, and the law requiring registration of lobbyists, are far from adequatebut they are halting first steps in the right direction, and the Observer helped stimulate both. Progress in race relations in Texas has been truly as tonishing. Only seven years ago much of the time of the legislature was spent in adoptingover the lonely protest of Henry Gonzalez, then a freshman senator, and a handful of other courageous mena package of patently unconstitutional laws intended to preserve segregation. Now Henry Gonzalez holds a safe seat in the United States Congress, we have reelected a United States senator who voted for the most sweeping civil rights legislation in history, and segregation is dead as a political issue. Many forces combinedto produce this remarkable change, but surely the efforts of the Observer were an important factor. Some of my frierids think it incongruous that one who is a Republican, an Episcopalian, and a member of the country club should write for the Observer. I am all the things they namebut I am also a Texan. The Texas in which I live will be a better place as it comes closer to the Texas of which Ronnie Dugger dreams. I .am proud to play a small part in this great cause. Sure to Hold Up Kenedy As to your ten-year testimonial for the Texas Observer, let me say that man and boy for the past ten years, I have been using the paper diligently and find it superior to the Sears, Roebuck Catalogue, the Montgomery and Ward Catalogue, or any paper of its kind, and I am sure that it will hold up in the future at least as well as it has in the past. DAN STRAWN The Texas Observer As a Free Thing Austin The Texas Observer is free. The only limitations on its freedom are the legal ones and those within me, its editor. As near as I can take myself to being a free man, this is a free journal. This is why I stay with it; this is why it is worth the doing; this is why, as we pass our tenth anniversary, while I do not want to celebrate it, I do not want to take it as an occasion to stop, either. I do not know how many free publications there are left in this country, that go to the roots. I think at once of Liberation, the New York Review of Books, the Village Voice, Dissent, Progressive, the Nation, and somewhere between probably and perhaps, the New Re A Communication From Marshall Marshall This letter is being dictated Nov. 28 and I will leave Nov. 30 and not return until Dec. 4. Much as I appreciate the challenge of contemplating the last ten years and projecting them against the next, ten, I must decline. God knows if the next ten years are going to be like these last ten, I don’t know whether I am so interested in seeing that I live out my life expectancY or not. Let me close by saying in paraphrase of an expression by Alexander King, I am presently rump deep in moderation. I ,enjoy the lazy current close to dead center, and what with the religious opponents of our upcoming local option election styling themselves the “progressives,” I even feel inclined toward total immersion in the Blood of the Lamb. Yours for progressive moderation or moderate progressivism, or if in the Congo moderate cannibalism, FRANKLIN JONES public; I do not think at once of others. I do know that if democracy is to be real there must be free places in the democracy; places where the accumulated constraints and restraints of a corporatized and religion-strapped society do not obtain, and man is as free as he can be, in the .strong meaning of that phrase. Now and again I weigh my relative value here, as against somewhere else. I know reasonably well that I could have quantitatively more influence that would be on balance good elsewhere than here, and there are persuasive arguments that a man who knows this and does not go elsewhere is irresponsible. I am going to stay, even so, because if I did not I wouldn’t be here where I belong, and the influence I might have would not likely be my own. It would not be the person who I am having the influence in the directions and on the subjects he himself wishes to have a relevance to; it would be, rather, for instance, influence in ‘directions acceptable to an institution, which I might be assigned to implement because I, as a person, happened to be moving in the same directions, approximately. “He is not,” you perhaps will think, “a team player.” Quite so. That’s all right, isn’t it? Should everybody be a team player? God forbid; we should not, then, be distinguishable from that species of African moths who are literally born in a collectivity in meticulously gradated hues so that they can glom on to a dead branch and scurry over each other to their assigned places, thus to compose a protective coloration resembling a flower that nowhere exists in nature. As a daily matter, the only thing between me and the printer who prints the Observer is the distance from me to him. I write what I wish and accept from others what I wish and send these things to the printer for hith to set and I make up the paper and proof read it and go to sleep. No one is watching me. No one is censoring me. No one is preventing me. Of course my perspectives shape my decisions on what is worth giving space. ‘I am criticized, as I should be. I have to make more decisions than one man can without making more mistakes than he would if he did not have so many decisions to make. I get tired of it, and it takes too much of my time. I get discouraged, for the work goes slow. I get bruised inside, because I am a human being who would like to be important and there are other ways, with price-tags, that I remember. But deep, deep in my heart, I know that I am right; that the elaborated structures that incorporate power are beckoning people into becoming functions of something other than themselves; that the value of life is in freedom, in the expression of one’s self, in plain work, and of course in love. I have hope that my work here is important, and has its good effects, and I have -hope that I shall be able to withdraw from it, time enough to have my say in other writing forms, and that this will be important for what it is. 1. The idea of freedom is an absolute idea in its most appealing form, and there is no reality like it for a human being. We are creatures of our cultures, and all that. I do not know how to avoid that in any endeavor, including this one, and so this is one limitation on the idea of the Observer as free: that someone must make decisions and he is not wholly free inside himself. I am trying to grow freer, and I take comfort, as this painful process goes along, in a line from Gibran a dear friend sent me the other Sunday: “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” There is another catch in the idea of the Observer as free. What about the freedom of the other writers? Are they watched, censored, prevented, by me? From the first I have tried to work out well the December 11, 1964 9
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