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From the Editor

The rush of public events is so great it can numb the mind. This past week I began to feel like a political zombie, and in seeking relief -- or maybe a return to humanity -- I took up a book by Roger Poole titled The Unknown Virginia Woolf. I found the subject, if not necessarily the book, greatly soothing. Poole discusses the relationship of Virginia Woolf's life to her writing. It's not an altogether pleasant topic. Her life was not an existence most of us would envy. But it was subtle, and in reading about it, one is reminded of that there are subtleties in the world and that the bluntness and vulgarity of political argument doesn't always have to dominate our thoughts. I suspect that for our readers that's a salutary concept.

I'll include here just one of my notes on The Unknown Virginia Woolf in the hope that it might spark a thought or two that would give some of you a retreat from the idiocies of governmental policies. Also, as you'll see, it has a slight tie to the topic of this week's From Liberty Street.

According to Poole, Virginia Woolf thought that men never looked at the created world
of shape and color. They looked through it with their hard abstractions. And Poole seems
to agree. But I think we have to ask if Virginia Woolf's and Poole's perception of men is not
itself a hard abstraction. Is there conceived to be something essential in men that holds
them away from noticing the beauty of a magnolia? It seems likely that the distinction being
made is really between sensitive and insensitive persons. Virginia Woolf, being a woman
and having had interactions with insensitive men, may well have projected insensitivity onto
the whole gender. Of course, almost everyone will admit that when we talk about things like
this we're talking only about tendencies. But I wonder if even the supposed tendencies are
accurate.



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