TO THE EDITOR: I've been skimming The Stranger for a long time, but until this piece ["Vertigo," David Shields, April 17], I've never felt the need to write in.

This contentless, turgid calamity has got to be some of the most pretentious babbling I've ever read. Every sentence drips arrogance in idea, phrasing, or both. Shields seems more interested in constructing epigrams than making a valid or even identifiable point.

So the subconscious is a creeping, ever-present assassin, using our greatest assets to sabotage us ironically at the last? How dramatic! How vain! Don't worry about the complexities of every person's life and the countless and powerful external forces that govern every action and consequence. Never mind that each of his feeble examples can be reinterpreted quite easily to counter his argument of a natural inclination toward self-sabotage, or whatever the hell this garbled, schizophrenic nonsense is supposed to be suggesting. The idea that each of us is constantly walking on a moral razor is laughable—but understandable, as the author seems to be projecting his own confused and half-baked moral absolutism on the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, David, life isn't Sophocles. But if it were, your tragic flaw would be your truly colossal ego.

Devin Coldewey


STRANGERS: David Shields, writing for one of the best alternative rags in America, The Stranger, lumps Eliot Spitzer, Margaret Seltzer, and Misha Defonseca together in his incomplete psycho/culture article entitled "Vertigo." Shields posits, "Everyone's ambition is underwritten by a tragic flaw." He quotes Freud, "What lives wants to die again," and alludes to Sophocles, "Even though you knew it would cost you your eyes..." Finally and unfortunately, Shields leaves us with the psychophysical death wish as our common fate.

In my opinion, as a sextuagenaraian [sic] writer, and retired psychologist, myth and psychology offer a better explanation of individuals like Misha Defonseca and perhaps a more hopeful common fate. You all know the myth of Narcissus and the concept of narcissism: Look in the water, see your reflection, and fall in love with your reflection. As we develop personalities, a small dose of narcissism is part of the healthy personality; a larger dose helps construct the narcissistic personality. Sándor Ferenczi's work describes this personality in detail, and the moment when wishing overcomes reason and the individual begins to believe that wanting something to be real makes it real.

At this precise moment, the symbolic reflection of the self in the water transforms and generalizes to other symbols that the narcissistic individual identifies with the reflected self, e.g., power, sex, and money. This symbolic disembodied life is substituted for a real self. Shields appropriately entitles his article "Vertigo," a disorder of balance; however, the exposed narcissist risks falling into the water from where the reflection of reality originated. It is his tragic fate; there is still hope it is not our common one.

Michael Thompkins


EDITORS: Please refrain from inserting perfume/cologne card inserts into your issues, as some have chemical sensitivities.



TO THE EDITOR: I wanted to let Sherman Alexie know how much I love his Sonics Death Watch column. I'm not a Sonics fan, or much of a sports fan in general, but for some weird reason I have an undying passion for the Houston Rockets that I suspect might mirror his. While the heartbreak of the Rockets always flirting with success only to collapse in week one of the playoffs isn't much of a sob story compared to the Sonics' exodus, I empathize with Mr. Alexie's plight. I've always had respect for the Sonics from the days of Kemp and Payton, and smiled for their future when they got Durant and Green. Let's hope you get another glimpse of that next year.

John Herlin


TO EDITOR-TYPE PEOPLE: Just a note to say that I'm digging Trent Moorman's contributions a lot. I don't know the guy, but I am a musician and appreciate his in-the-trenches perspective, sense of humor, and writing style. His posts about recording and gigging in particular are among the most relevant I've seen on Line Out, your music blog. Having been guilty of the occasional anonymous blog bitch, I figure I oughta give a thumbs-up now and then as well. More Moorman!

Rick Cranford