EDITORnThomas FlemingnMANAGING EDITORnKatherine DaltonnSENIOR EDITOR, BOOKSnChilton Williamson, ]r.nASSISTANT EDITORnTheodore PappasnART DIRECTORnAnna Mycek-WodeckinCONTRIBUTING EDITORSn]ohn W. Aldridge, Harold O.J.nBrown, Samuel Francis, GeorgenGarrett, Russell Kirk, E. ChristiannKopff, Clyde WilsonnCORRESPONDING EDITORSnBryce Christensen, Odie Faulk, JanenGreer, John Shelton Reed, JosephnSchwartz, Gary VasilashnEDITORIAL SECRETARYnLeann DobbsnPUBLISHERnAllan C. CarlsonnASSOCIATE PUBLISHERnMichael WardernPUBLICATION DIRECTORnGuy C. RejffettnCOMPOSITION MANAGERnAnita FedoranCIRCULATION MANAGERnRochelle FranknA Publication ofnThe Rockford Institute:nEditorial and Advertising Offices: 934 NorthnMain Street, Rockford, IL 61103.nEditorial Phone: (815) 964-5054.nAdvertising Phone; (815) 964-5811.nSubscription Department: P.O. Box 800, MountnMorris, IL 61054. Call 1-800-435-0715, innIllinois 1-800-892-0753.nU.S.A. Newsstand Distribution by EasternnNews Distributors, Inc., 1130 Cleveland Road,nSandusky, OH 44870.nCopyright © 1989 by The Rockford Institute.nAll rights reserved.nCHRONICLES (ISSN 0887-5731) is publishednmonthly for $21 per year by The RockfordnInstitute, 934 North Main Street, Rockford, ILn61103-7061.nSecond-class postage paid at Rockford, IL andnadditional mailing offices.nPOSTMASTER: Send address changes tonCHRONICLES, P.O. Box 800, Mount Morris,nIL 61054.nThe views expressed in Chronicles are thenauthors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect thenviews of The Rockford Institute or of itsndirectors. Unsolicited manuscripts cannot benreturned unless accompanied by a self-addressednstamped envelope.nChroniclesnAGAZINI Of AMERICt C U L I U I En4/CHRONICLESnVol. 15, No. 12 December 1989nOn ‘GnawingnAway at Vidal’nPOLEMICS & EXCHANGESnI have been watching the controversynstirred by Bill Kauf&nan’s article onnGore Vidal (March 1989) with muchninterest and amusement. It took realncourage on your part even to print thenarticle, knowing it would stir reaction.nHowever, it took much more intellectualncourage to realize that as outrageousnas Vidal can be, he is within the conservativentradition. This is, of course, not tonsay that Vidal is within the presentnconservative movement, and to yourneveriasting and totally misunderstoodncredit, you do not attempt to prove thatnpoint. Like him or not, Gore Vidal isnthe most important novelist of thesentimes and certainly one of the bestnessayists in the history of Americannliterature. His is a voice that demandsnour attention. I, too, see Vidal as firmlynwithin a tradition that includes HenrynAdams and H.L. Mencken. Vidal hasndescribed himself as a conservative crossnthat his liberal friends have to bear. Henis a true iconoclast with respect toneverything save American intellectualntradition. He is closer to the FoundingnFathers than to modem liberalism. Thenfact that the “orthodox” conservativenreaction to Vidal has been one ofnemotion rather than reason says morenabout the present state of conservatismnthan it does about Gore Vidal.n—Edward GareanIrvington, NJnOn The Fallacynof Descriptivism’nAlthough concurring with StevennGoldberg’s presentation of the generalncontradiction of descriptivism (Julyn1989) as well as his critique of elitistnprescriptivism, I believe his example ofnthe descriptivist’s dilemma over thenpopular definition of “dictionary” isninvalid, or at least incomplete.nWhen the descriptivist accepts thenpopular understanding of “dictionary”nas a book that gives correct definitions,nhe does not grant “that there is a correctnusage,” which would contradict his ownnpremises. The descriptivist merely admitsnthat the popular definition of “dic­nnntionary” is valid, but he denies thenvalidity of what dictionaries claim to do.nHis position is somewhat analogous tonthe Christian who applauds a properndefinition of “sin,” but disapproves ofnsinful activity.nIn order to complete his critique ofndescriptivism, Mr. Goldberg needs tonshow the impossibility of the rathernironic leap from semantic descriptivismnto ethical prescriptivism. Descriptivism’snultimate contradiction is that while itndenies prescription or the notion ofn”ought,” it puts that notion into its verynpremise by saying that one ought tonfollow the general state of affairs. Tonfound “ought” merely on “is” is andubious project in semantics and evennmore so in ethics.n— Bill IsleynLoures, PortugalnOn ‘Waking UpnMiddle-Aged’nI take issue with Jane Greer’s assertionnin her Letter From the Heartland (Augustn1989) that Helena Blavatsky andnAlice Bailey are somehow to blame fornthe current so-called New Age Movement.nShirley Maclaine maybe, but notnBlavatsky and Bailey. Nowhere doesnBlavatsky or Bailey imply that man isnGod; rather they agree with our ownnDeclaration of Independence that allnhumans were created by God and arentherefore part of God. I really don’t seenanything too blasphemous about any ofnthis. My humble advice to Jane Greernis to throw away her New Age self-helpntapes and go read some Alice Baileyninstead. Ms. Greer will still be “old”nand this will still be “life,” but perhapsnshe won’t feel compelled to wastenmoney on New Age hucksters or energynwriting about them.nAnd lighten up, Jane … 36 is angreat age, this life ain’t so bad, and thennext one will probably be better.nSee you on the Path.n— Carl F. Engelhardtn^ APO, NYnThe captions beneath the paintings ofnColleen Browning were inadvertentlynswitched in the October issue. Theneditors regret the error.n