The Ecphorizer

Letters

Issue #09 (May 1982)



Dear Editor:

Some of us have long suspected that if one is judged by the company one keeps, Mensa may be in trouble. No less a renowned writer than George Gilder, prophet to the Reaganites, places us in the following group:

"Of course artists, cultural connoisseurs, pretenders to hereditary distinction, amateur athletes, public officials, members of Mensa, and sexual exhibitionists all make strong claims for other standards of status. (than money) But the variety of the other claims, however valid they may be, merely mitigate the primacy of finance. Few intellectuals, indeed, can deny the rough trenchancy of the jibe: 'If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?'" Wealth and Poverty New York: Bantam Books, 1981, page 109 (italics added).

Cultural connoisseurs and sexual exhibitionists may be Mensa socially acceptable company, but public officials? That hurts.

Barry Leff
Boulder Creek, CA

Dear Editor:

Have just received ECPHORIZER #7 and am immediately moved to respond to Joyce Hurwitz (i.e. her letter in said issue). As a member in good standing of SIGH! (Special Interest Group, Huggers), I must report that I am unaware of any proctological screening requirement. Perhaps E. Jimmee has become much more lively since the occasion of our last close encounter. On the other hand, since my glasses were slightly fogged, perhaps I misinterpreted altogether what Joyce was saying.

Her ideas with regard to SEXYG, on the other hand, are interesting and not without merit. As I am also a member in good standing (occasionally) of that body of Mensans, I would consent with alacrity to thrust myself forward as a volunteer in the proposed "selective service" system. Her suggested month-long entrance exam should probably be broken down into at least three or four separate sub-tests with brief rest intervals for the purpose of satisfying nutritional and other biological needs. Also, shouldn't such an exam plumb other aspects as well? After all, not everyone can make it into the Guiness Book of World Records. That may remain for the pioneers of the more exclusionary group which she very correctly adduces would emerge from the selectees. However, they would emerge only after a long, long time. I resemble her veiled reference to the 999 Society -- let the SuperSEXYG find their own more original nomenclature.

All in all, an interesting effort, with the only flaw being the obvious typo in the final sentence, substituting "n" where "v" belongs ("Egads, but it's lonely on the top!").

P.S. If Joyce is the local SEXYG coordinator, who is the express coordinator?

Dave Rolfe
San Antonio, TX
Dear Editor:

I enjoyed Gareth Penn's "The Free Misquoteers" in the March, 1982 THE ECPHORIZER, and assumed his statements were correct until I came to the last one, which indicated that Dickens did not write Sidney Carton's famous last words in A Tale of Two Cities but rather that they were first used by Ronald Coleman in the movie version. I felt quite sure that I remembered these lines from the novel itself, which we read and discussed way back in my high school days in the early thirties.

So I hied myself to a bookstore, picked up a copy of A Tale of Two Cities and turned to the last page. There was the final sentence, just as I had remembered it. But could this have been added by the publisher of this current edition?...

Still not completely satisfied I went to the main San Francisco library to see if I could locate an old copy of the novel. The shelf had quite a few books by Charles Dickens and some by Monica Dickens, whom I had never heard of, but no A Tale of Two Cities. I explained my problem to the librarian. She went immediately to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, and quickly found the quotation on page 672, 14th edition, with reference to Book III, Chapter 15 .... And Bartlett is enough authority for me. Q.E.D.

So Gareth, I did read my Dickens, as you suggested, and if we had had a bet on this there would be Dickens to pay. Incidentally, in case anyone is interested, the full quotation is: "It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to, than I have ever known."

Brad Mead
San Francisco

Gareth Penn replies:

It is true that the passage referred to appears in Dicken's Tale of Two Cities. But it is not Sidney Carton who says it. It is Dickens.  I quote - In context:

"One of the most remarkable sufferers by the same axe -- a woman - had asked at the foot of the same scaffold, not long before, to be allowed to write down the thoughts that were inspiring her. If he had given any utterance to his, and they were prophetic, they would have been..." (passage follows, italics mine).

"If he had given any utterance to his": the plain English of it is that he didn't. "They would have been": subjunctive because of unreal condition. He didn't say it. Tut, tut.

And Brad responds to Gareth:

Touché! I hasten to take Penn in hand, and acknowledge defeat. (I'm actually using a typewriter, but I can never resist the opportunity to pun.) I did interpret Gareth's article to mean that the famous words did not appear in the book, as I suspect did most readers of the article, as it immediately follows the statement that "Elementary, my dear Watson" appears nowhere in the Sherlock Holmes books... 

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