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In view of the idea that good fiction cannot properly convey the writer’s opinions on matters of topical dispute, \(or that if it can, we are not permitted to consider I might have proceeded by saying to Winston I thought he should have removed the editorial slams at the Negro movement because they sullied the story’s purity as fiction. Thinking of this later, I was convinced a whilethe maxim that good fiction must be pure fiction is beguiling; but it is not so. “Brains” might not have been flawed as it was for me if Winston had been evaluating the Negro movement in the opening passages in a way that I thought fair. This leads me to wonder if the mistake in insisting that good fiction be free of the writer’s opinions, or that it be evaluated apart from them, may not lie in critics wanting Literature, being Universal, to conform to Laws. But written things communicate as variously and complexly as people are various and complex. Works that are good and powerful for some people can never get through to others for the very reasons they are good and powerful for some. Try Journey to the End of the Night on your Episcopalian M.D. Literary theory should not seek to encompass communication; communication is larger. I DIDN’T specify to Winston the references I didn’t like, and for rather complicated reasons; because I dislike propaganda, because I believe the Negro movement has become a sacred cow among many liberals, because it is not \(to say the server that I agree with everything a writer says, because I do not wish to “censor” or inhibit criticism of the Negro movement that may be justified and may make it a truer movement and strengthen it; and because these considerations were exacerbated somewhat in this case. But with those references still in there, I really didn’t like the story. I was convinced subsequently that I should like it because taken as a whole and in light of Winston’s explication of it, it was good; it was a serious attempt to understand, with empathy, what’s going on. But I still do not like the opening passages. The only adequate analogue I think of just now for a decision whether to run a disturbing story is a decision on a close and complex ethical question. As is often true of such ethical decisions, a close decision on such a story is at the last summary and subjective, and I did not, because I did not believe that I should, exclude from my response my objections to what I took to be contemptuousness. With Winston’s disavowal of any intent to convey understandings representative of the Negro movement of these days and his resourceful, persuasive, and delightful retort and imagined dialogue with the some more; taken together with the correspondence, and indeed without it \(but to publish. Winston and I both believed, as well, that this part of the country needs #11.Ist#4 #~4.** The Politics of M.D.s Political chit-chat is an ordinary thing, but for some reason I do no appreciate medical doctors bringing up politics when I go to them for professional services. Last week one of them conveyed to me his regret that Goldwater lost, and another one asked me if I had debated William Buckley lately. In the latter one’s waiting room I saw, not only a copy of Human Events for my edification, but also, on the wall, a very large map of the world, littered with crudely painted red-ink hammer-and-sickles and tacked-up clippings of the kind one can get by the satchel-ful from such headquarters of the screaming right wing as the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. The medical doctors are the best paid professionals in the United States and, as a group, the most reactionary. They are fighting medicare as they have fought every social advance since the 1930’s some genuine excitement about written things. Whoever if either of us was right at whatever point on the story, we both were right believing that publishing the thing entire would cause some excitement. R.D. medicare itself is a piddling substitute for Truman’s national health insurance of 1948 because of themand after we get medicare, they will fight any expansion of it. They will do this with their status and with the wealth we make possible for them by paying them their outlandish fees. I’m tired of it. Siting in that waiting room that reeked of propaganda, I had a pretty good idea. Let’s have a council for a less reactionary medical professioncapitalize it if you like, a Council for a Less Reactionary Medical Professionwhich would act as a private exchange for private information on the politics of doctors by locality so that any of us who want it can have an option of choosing a competent doctor whose politics are not reactionary, if there is one in town. Ordinarily I care little whether the peo February 19, 1965 15 Observations
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