In our latest issue, we published letters about thinking, Northern Ireland, racial language, teen dressing and Facebook...
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, July/August 2012
DO THINK TWICE
Re: Non cogito, ergo sum (Intelligence, May/June)
Ian Leslie is largely correct in saying that spontaneity is the key to successful performance in sport. But there is a corollary—if, for example, a tennis player or golfer is playing spontaneously but still making errors, he and his coach need to think analytically in order to discover what is going wrong. Analysis has its place too.
Julian Dare, Oxford
Years of practice or study, or the great accumulation of knowledge in a field, can produce what is called genius when combined with talent. However, intuitive decisions based on ignorance result in racism, bigotry, religious fundamentalism, purple prose, awful poetry, self-published books and walking in endless circles when lost in a foggy forest.
There is an old Chinese saying: think carefully before acting. I believe it. Good intuitions come after plenty of hard thinking.
It would appear that the solution would be to know when to think and when not to think. But wouldn’t this process involve thinking?
NOT AS WILD AS ALL THAT
Re: A Walk on the Wild Side (Places, May/June)
Robert Macfarlane’s guide must be surprised that I am around to write this letter after 30 years of going to Belfast with an English accent and a pair of walking boots, and then travelling through Northern Ireland on foot, sometimes even hitchhiking.
Macfarlane certainly did justice to the Mountains of Mourne—beautiful and haunting—but the idea that there’s a threat of violence left a sour taste in the mouth by reinforcing stereotypes and misleading readers as to the reality of Northern Ireland. There’s more danger in some parts of London than in the villages of County Down.
Seamus Treanor, Barton under Needwood, England
Please don’t walk on the Mourne Wall unless you are prepared to repair it. Robert Macfarlane is right—it is a functional structure and that function is not to act as a path.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH "COLOURED"?
Re: Why mention skin colour at all? (Intelligence, May/June)
I’m sorry that Alan Hansen got into trouble for using the term “coloured”. After all, the great organisation of the civil rights movement was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—which of course is still going strong.
For many of us, the changes in racial terminology are confusing. The writer seems to have his heart in the right place, but the current terminology works fine, surely. White, black, mixed-race—what’s the issue here?
The question is about the idea of purity. I’m black, but I have white and Native-American ancestors. Does that make me mixed-race? No. Just how mixed is mixed?
TWO MORE NON-AMERICANS
Re: At the Cinema (Culture, May/June)
Tom Shone’s column on the rise of the British superhero discounted the fact that not only is Ryan Gosling not interested in blockbuster action films, but he’s also not American. He’s from Canada. The article also mentions “Shame”, which starred Michael Fassbender, an Irishman. When you add these two to the list of British imports, it makes the lack of made-in-America top actors even sadder.
TEEN DRESSING: A CRI DE COEUR
Re: Applied Fashion (Style, May/June)
My parents are super-conservative, and it doesn’t help that I live in a third-world country. My mum has always been my stylist and she usually seems to be five years behind. I’m going to college soon and I’m still not allowed to dress for myself. To top it all off I’m really tall and my body is a weird shape (long legs and arms, short torso, massive feet). I fear my horrible fashion sense and abnormal body may never allow me to be confident.
Thank you, Rebecca Willis, for explainimoreintelligentlife.com/content/ideas/a-velvet-fistng why it’s so dark in stores like Hollister. I have an online store for tweens, and have been flummoxed why the bricks-and-mortar teen stores are so intimidating. I thought they were emulating night clubs. Now it makes perfect sense—it’s to keep the parents out.
Kristen, Los Angeles
ADD A PINCH OF SPICE
Re: Stove Notes (Intelligence, March/April)
I generally enjoy reading Simon Hopkinson’s column, but in an era when the English adore their curry, the Dutch their satay, the Americans their Korean tacos, could he choose some more exciting recipes? A magazine claiming to represent “Intelligent Life” could do a bit better than having a recipe for mashed potato.
Sumaira Chowdhury, Mozambique
COMING ROUND TO FACEBOOK
Re: Like? (Features, May/June)
Although I was originally a Facebook-hater, I have now learnt to embrace it. We may be voluntarily sharing personal information and being targeted with advertising, but the benefits of staying in touch with people far outweigh the negatives. I would rather read my Facebook newsfeed than watch television. At least the adverts on Facebook are quiet, unlike those on TV.
In “A velvet fist” (May/June), a profile of the campaigner for nonviolent change Srdja Popovic, we said that the gunman who killed the Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 had never been caught. In fact, 12 people were convicted of the killing in 2007, including the gunman. Our apologies.