Finn Cohen’s interview with Güven Güzeldere about consciousness [“Under the Surface,” December 2022] reinforces the interconnectedness of all life and makes it clear that artificial intelligence is not sentient. So many mysteries remain, but I believe the question of whether humans will be totally replaced by artificial intelligence can be put to rest.
Your December 2022 Readers Write on “Changing Your Mind” reminded me of a comment my daughter made when she was six years old. Her father had chastised her for changing her mind about what kind of sandwich she wanted. She looked at him calmly and said, “That’s what a mind is for — to change.”
My friend Stephanie Hart died in December. She was a longtime admirer of The Sun, and she frequently wrote about her life for the Readers Write section of the magazine. (Those pieces went on to form the foundation of her memoir, Mirror Mirror.) On the morning of her death, before I’d heard about it, I read her piece in the December 2022 issue [Readers Write on “Changing Your Mind”]. It ends with Stephanie, as a young woman, sitting in the hospital room with her dying stepmother — a person she once had a very fraught relationship with. “I was there when her breath stopped. Love was in the room, although we never called it that,” Stephanie wrote. I was reading those words at almost the exact moment her partner, Dave, was sitting by her bed, holding her hand, as her own breath stopped.
I want to tell you about the moment I received the December 2022 issue of The Sun. I ran my hands over the cool, unscathed covers — front and back — before I opened to the first page. Then on second thought I closed the magazine for another look at the photo on the cover by Gloria Baker Feinstein. What was it? A person trapped under ice? A shadow thrown onto a frozen patch of water? I opened the magazine again and read the On the Cover note and all of the bios of the contributors, laughing at some of the zany self-descriptions. It was a wonderful way to spend a few minutes on a Friday afternoon.
In 1973 I opened the first clinic in Virginia to provide abortions. I disagree with Khiara M. Bridges [“Invasion of Privacy,” interview by Feliz Moreno, November 2022] when she says that former president Donald Trump is responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That is an oversimplification that ignores the history of this decision for the past forty-nine years.
After Roe, the religious Right, specifically the Roman Catholic Church, funded anti-choice movements while Democrats put their heads in the sand when abortion clinics were bombed and physicians were murdered. Even pro-choice organizations like NARAL discouraged providers from testifying or lobbying, as it was deemed too controversial. Laws were passed in many states that effectively denied abortion access by placing stringent regulations on clinics. Virginia, for example, required clinics to meet hospital standards. Democrats did nothing to push back on these restrictions or to codify Roe v. Wade when they had power.
Those of us in the pro-choice movement were not surprised by the Dobbs decision; we were surprised only by the sudden outrage of the public and the political Left.
When I saw the photo of Khiara M. Bridges in your November 2022 interview, my first thought was: Gorgeous! Then, nearly as quickly: Why does it matter if she’s gorgeous? She looks badass. I’m sure she’s even smarter.
Growing up I was rarely complimented on my smarts, but I was frequently told that I was pretty. I thought my appearance was my strongest weapon, and I relied on it. If people weren’t noticing me, I worried my looks were fading. Now, in my fifties, I still struggle. I want to hear that I’m attractive, but I want to know that I’m intelligent, too.
Thanks for publishing Bridges’ interview. And her picture. They are evidence that a woman can be beautiful, stylish, and smart as hell.
Kelly DeLong’s essay “Perfectly Built Spaces” [November 2022], about his fond memories of his grandparents’ home, made me think of the house I grew up in. My parents bought it new in the 1960s, and we didn’t sell it until 2018, after my mom passed away.
In my heart I feel like I still live there. Every now and then I’ll take a ride past the house, but it hurts to know I can’t pull in the driveway. I dream of walking through the front door: the sound of the chime fixed to the back would strike a welcoming tune, and my mom, sitting at the kitchen table, would turn to me and smile, just like she used to.
“Perfectly Built Spaces,” by Kelly DeLong, made me think not of my grandparents but of my grandchildren. After my husband retired from the military, we bought a house and lived in it for forty years. The house was a gathering place and a constant in our grandchildren’s lives. When we told our granddaughter who lives in England that we were selling the house and moving to a retirement community, she said, “I’ll book a flight. I have to say goodbye to the house.”
My first job after college was teaching seventh- and eighth-grade shop class. Now I am a retired handyman and honey-do guy for three widows. As I read through the Readers Write on “Tools” [November 2022], I was moved by the stories about relationships and loss. But Janice Comfort’s entry — where an eager father is asked to get a Phillips screwdriver and apologetically says that he could only find a Craftsman and a Stanley — made me laugh out loud. “Tools” really hit the nail on the head!
Elana Kupor’s essay “The Thistle Steps” [October 2022] touches on the common experiences that deaf and hard-of-hearing children have when parents try to make them fit into the hearing world. My entire family was deaf, but I had enough hearing as a toddler to know the wooden blinds behind me were noisy. I would turn to see what was happening when someone raised or lowered them. I was sent to public school, but I felt out of place. Rather than forcing deaf and hard-of-hearing children to use speech, shouldn’t they be taught to use sign language so they can have greater access to learning?
My Sun magazines pile up in the frenetic summertime. By November I’m happy to receive reminders through the Correspondence section of what I missed in the summer months. So many readers commented on your September 2022 interview with Shanna Swan [“The Great Decline,” interview by Tracy Frisch] that I had to find it in my stacks. I ended up reading the issue cover to cover. My favorite piece was the short story “Blue Ladder,” by Bruce McKay. As a veteran Sun reader I didn’t expect there would be redemption in that story, but I’m so glad there was. It read like a sweet, shiny alternate reality where yes is said instead of no. Thank you for these startling glimpses of joy.
The Sun is truly for everyone. I have seven-year-old boy-girl twins, and I’ve read them parts of The Sun throughout the years. My daughter requests it now, and she’ll sit quietly as I read her a passage. She particularly enjoyed the Readers Write section on “Teeth” [August 2022] and requested that I read some of them to her again the next day. It may have piqued her interest because she and her brother have had numerous dental injuries, but I like to think it’s a sign that she’s becoming a broad, humanist thinker. Only time will tell. If she is, I’ll be sure to give The Sun some of the credit.