Issue 425 | The Sun Magazine

May 2011

Readers Write


Dancing the tango, going barefoot, playing tag in the mud

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
A Thousand-Mile Walk To The Gulf

Now, it never seems to occur to these farseeing teachers that Nature’s object in making animals and plants might possibly be first of all the happiness of each one of them, not the creation of all for the happiness of one. Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?

By John Muir
Sy Safransky's Notebook

May 2011

Nature, too, is an editor. Isn’t evolution a force that shapes all living things? It’s no surprise, then, that the sentences we struggle to create must climb out of the muck, dragging their tails behind them; stand up; stand tall.

By Sy Safransky


I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.

Joseph Baretti

The Sun Interview

The Greater Good

Peter Singer On How To Live An Ethical Life

There are gradations of certainty about animal suffering. It’s very clear that chimps feel pain, and equally clear that plants don’t. We can say with reasonable confidence that all vertebrates suffer, because they respond to stimuli in the same way that humans do when we are in pain. With invertebrates, it’s harder to know, although certainly they can be intelligent. Octopuses, for example, have shown remarkable abilities to solve novel problems. So I assume they are conscious and therefore can suffer.

By Gillian Kendall
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


A few propositions: Dissonance inspires patience; discord, correction. Discord is neither arranged nor disarranged; it’s haphazard, without any sense of audience or any context larger than itself — an earmuffed dolphin in a closet with a drumstick attached to its flipper. Dissonance, however, is a seal wobbled by currents on its way to a fish-rich cove. It has a direction in mind. Dissonance expects to be heard. It’s composed.

By Barbara Hurd
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

My Sister Teaches Me The ABC’s

There are three types of involuntary hold in California: three-day holds, fourteen-day holds, and more permanent conservatorships, which are renewed annually via court proceedings. And, of course, there are other forces that hold us involuntarily, invisible and inviolable at once.

By Anne Templeton

Dog Days

Long past midnight Sam parted his mosquito net. He’d been in Namibia for a month, and each night he lay awake, listening to the corrugated-metal roof ping and the cinder-block walls pop as they cooled. He couldn’t adjust to his new surroundings: the language, the climate, the rural isolation.

By Alan Barstow

A Blessing

Grace used to meditate. She hasn’t done it for years and years, not since she met her husband and started a family. She won’t meditate today either. She won’t even think of meditation.

By Bruce Holland Rogers

They Are Other Nations

"They are not brethren, they are not underlings; . . ."


Weighing The Dog

It’s been months / since mud’s been stuck / to his paws, longer / since I’ve had to comb / any burs or ticks / from his thinning coat.

By John Bargowski

Newborn, Brovetto Farm

Just under the dairy / farm’s hayloft, / a four-day-old calf, / big, soft, earth- / colored eyes, / looked exhausted, / slightly affronted

By John Brehm