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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Letters to the Editor




Almost 200 years have passed since John Keats in his Ode to Beauty lamented the “darkening” world he saw and its “dearth of noble spirits.”  That dearth has been common to Homo sapiens since forever.  Mr. Stephens tells us, “populists share an authoritarian bent and prefer state capitalism to the unfettered market.” [“Demagogues reach beyond bigotry,” 7 October]

In November of 1974, I saw the first marchers in Berkeley parading down Spruce Avenue to Sather Gate at the University of California behind a banner reading “Free Speech Movement.”  A week later the new banner declared, “F–k You.” Populism took Hitler to power in 1932, and gave Germany National Socialism.  Similarly, In Italy such marchers in Turin in 1922 gave Mussolini Fascism, his Corporate State. Today, were I a marching protestor, my personal banner might read: “BTDT” (Been There Done That).

The world around us seems to be witnessing a seismic reconfiguration, societies conglomerating and condensing into the trio of despotisms Orwell described in 1984 [Published 1948].  Merely state capitalism, is it?


Jascha Kessler


Emeritus Professor of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA

Santa Monica, CA


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Jascha Kessler
Born in New York City, Jascha Kessler (Ph.D., Litt.D.) has received varied research grants, prizes, and writing fellowships since 1952 when he won a Major Hopwood Award for Poetry (University of Michigan). They include the NEA Fellowship in Writing, two Senior Fulbright Awards to Italy and one to Czechoslovakia. Since 1961, he has been a Professor of English & Modern Literature at UCLA, also teaching poetry, fiction, and playwrighting. In 1979, Mr. Kessler was a Rockefeller Fellow and worked at the Bellagio Study Center, completing his translation (with Amin Banani) of the Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad: BRIDE OF ACACIAS: THE POETRY OF FORUGH FARROKHZAD (Caravan Books, Delmar, NY: 1983). He won a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction Writing for 1993-1994. He reviewed fiction and poetry weekly, theater and events on the air for KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) for 5 years in the 1980s; several dozen of his reviews, both broadcast and published in magazines and papers since the 1960s, have been anthologized in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM (Gale Research) over the decades. His literary essays have appeared widely. He also served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica, California, from 1990-1996. In 2001, his translation of TRAVELING LIGHT from the Finnish won the Finnish Literary Translation Centre Award. Kessler has published several collections of fiction. AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE, & Other Stories (Harper & Row, NY: 1967); DEATH COMES FOR THE BEHAVIORIST: 4 Long Stories (Lexis Press, San Francisco, CA: 1983); CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 28 Stories (McPherson & Co.: Kingston, NY, 1985); and TRANSMIGRATIONS: 18 Mythologems (Jazz Press: Capitola, CA: 1985). His latest collection, SIREN SONGS & CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 50 Stories", was published by McPherson & Co., in December of 1992. Also a novel, RAPID TRANSIT 1948: An Unsentimental Education (Xlibris 2000) and a second edition of AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE (Xlibris 2000). He has also published three volumes of poetry: WHATEVER LOVE DECLARES (The Plantin Press: Los Angeles, CA: 1969; AFTER THE ARMIES HAVE PASSED (NYU Press: NY: 1970); and, IN MEMORY OF THE FUTURE (Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA: 1976). Also, revised as COLLECTED POEMS (Xlibris 2000). In 2013 his KING SOLOMON’S SEAL: 76 AND MORE FABLES, was published (xLibris.com, in hardback, paperback, ebook versions).

1 comment to Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

  • Jascha,

    I’ve read the same history you have. Your concerns are indeed legitimate. To paraphrase, those who forget the past are condemned to relive it. And it will, once again, be very ugly.


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