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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Sunday, June 4, 2017

 

Letters to the Editor

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

New York

Dear Letters Editor:

The current furor and hullabaloo over the President’s (compulsive?) tweeting seems to suggest it is a novelty in our lives. Perhaps only because the Internet affords spontaneity and instant broadcast.  On reflection, it seems to me to have been part of our visual and aural world for a century or more.  Before there were high-speed freeway roads, I traversed coast to coast several times after 1948. Unforgettable (or inexpugnable?) were the phrases every quarter-mile, like:

DON’T DESPAIR/USE YOUR HEAD/SAVE YOUR HAIR/TRY FITCH SHAMPOO.

On the air in the 1930s were: PEPSI COLA HITS THE SPOT/TWELVE FULL OUNCES/THAT’S LOT/TWICE AS MUCH FOR A NICKEL TOO/PEPSI COLA IS THE DRINK FOR YOU.

Bold-lettered newspaper captions as well as ads are the text James Joyce offered an early sample of in ULYSSES, a satire on journalism per se in the chapter entitled, “Cave of the Winds,” captions complete with “news,” dated in the novel as June 16, 1904!

It is universally-engraved in our consciousness, and noticed today only because our president’s barrage sends them out to the world.  In short, not a novel irritation, but simply Trump’s streaming trumperies.

 

Sincerely,

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,

    Indeed, I agree, it’s the “spontaneity and instant broadcast” that captures our present fascination. It’ll wear out as something new comes “slouching towards Bethlehem.”

    Mark

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