Jun. 19, 1998
Tis the Voice of the Lobster
Today's Reading: "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster" by Lewis Carroll.
It's the birthday in Rangoon, 1945, of AUNG SAN SUU KYI, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for opposing the military regime in her homeland, Burma, now named Myanmar. She was raised there and in India, went to school at Oxford, England, and lived a fairly quiet life until 1988 when she returned to her country and began a nonviolent struggle for democracy against strongman Ne Win. The government banned gatherings larger than four people, but thousands gathered in defiance of that ban to hear her speak. Just before she was placed under house arrest in July 1989, she said: "Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day, fear that masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as reckless, insignificant, or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve self-respect and inherent human dignity." She spent six years under house arrest, the government offering her freedom if she'd leave the country, but she refused to leave until Myanmar was returned to civilian rule. She was released in July, 1995, and said: "I did not know what to feel. I said to myself, 'Well, I'm free,' but then I have always felt free. I did not really hanker for the great big world outside. I always felt that the important thing was to be able to live inside myself and feel free."
It's the birthday in Birmingham, Alabama, 1945, of TOBIAS WOLFF, author of two popular memoirs, This Boy's Life (1989), about growing up in the 1950s in Washington State; and In Pharaoh's Army (1994), about Wolff's stint as an army officer in the Vietnam War. He's also written three collections of short stories, the latest of which is The Night in Question.
It's the birthday in Sonoma County, California, 1919, of movie critic PAULINE KAEL, who started off making films in the 1940s, then began reviewing them in the 1950s for a little San Francisco magazine called City Lights. In the 1960s she wrote for a number of magazines including McCall's — which fired her when she panned The Sound of Music. She joined The New Yorker in 1968, reviewing movies until she retired in 1991.
It's the birthday in New York, 1903, of "The Iron Horse," LOU GEHRIG, the New York Yankee first baseman always overshadowed by Babe Ruth, whom he followed in the lineup, but his batting spoke for itself: he left baseball with a career average of .340, 493 home runs, and 1,990 runs batted in.
It's the birthday of the French writer, philosopher, and mathematician BLAISE PASCAL, born this day in Auvergne, 1623. After making advances in math and physics, inventing the syringe and the first digital calculator, Pascal turned to writing. He left two great books, Provincial Letters, and Thoughts, each written in the mid-1650s when he was in his early 30s; books that are still read in France today. He wrote, "If God does not exist, one will lose nothing by believing in him, while if he does exist, one will lose everything by not believing."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®