November 01, 85

Vol. 01 , No. 05   


A transport arrives at Birkenau. Bewildered Jews from Sighet and other Transylvanian towns emerge from train-car prisons into midnight air fouled by burning flesh. Elie Wiesel, his father, mother, and sister are among them. Separated by the SS, the boy loses sight of his mother and sister, not fully aware that the parting is forever. Father and son stick together. In the commotion, they hear a voice snarl, "What have you come here for, you sons of bitches? What are you doing here? You'd have done better to have hanged yourselves where you were than to have come here. Didn't you know what was in store for you at Auschwitz? Haven't you heard about it?"

Wiesel's father perished, but the son survived. Ten years passed. Then, lean and spare, his memoir Night (1961) appeared. Studied by a huge international readership, this classic has been followed by more than 20 other books, including Wiesel's most recent novel, The Fifth Son (1985), which focuses on children of Holocaust survivors, those not at Auschwitz but who nevertheless need to hear about it.

In 1976 the Roman Catholic scholar Harry James Cargas in a series of interviews with Elie Wiesel asked, "What does it mean to you to be a writer?" "To give testimony, to bear witness," Wiesel replied, and then he added, "to be a writer also means to correct injustices."

Wiesel is a storyteller who demands a moral dimension from literature. How he rises to that demand is the subject of his November 20-21 visit to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

In addition to a public lecture, "The Responsibilities of the Modern Writer," to be delivered at Garrison Theater on Wednesday evening, November 20, at 7:30 p.m., Wiesel will give two seminars on writing. Using an interview format, with Harry James Cargas leading the discussion, the sessions will take place at the Athenaeum, beginning at 11:00 a.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday, November 20-21. Following lunch at noon, an open question-and-answer period will last until about 1:00 p.m. on both days.

When Elie Wiesel was a guest at CMC in February 1984, he remarked that ours was a community of questions-his tribute to the sensitive curiosity and concerned inquiry he found here. Good questions about writing and Elie Wiesel's mastery of it should abound during his November return when he discusses the writer's responsibilities and shares his reflections on how and what he writes.


In addition to Elie Wiesel's forthcoming visit, other topics of importance fill the Athenaeum's November calendar. Please plan your schedules so that you can take advantage of as many of the following discussions as possible.

Theodore T. Puck, director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Cancer Research, will be the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar on November 4 and 5. Dr. Puck is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research on somatic cell genetics, genetic biochemistry, and cancer has won him numerous awards. On Monday, November 4, Professor Puck will be at the Athenaeum for a public lecture on world health problems. This talk, preceded by a reception and dinner at 5:30 p.m., begins at 7:00 p.m.

The eight-part PBS series, "War," continues on Tuesday, November 5, and on Thursday, November 7. On Tuesday, Professor P. Edward Haley leads the discussion after Part IV, "The Deadly Game of Nations," is shown at 4:15 p.m. Part V, "Keeping the Old Game Alive," with Dean Gaines Post, Jr., airs on Thursday. On Monday, November 11, the subject is "Notes on Nuclear War," with Professor Harold Rood. Part VII, "Goodbye War," will be aired Monday, November 18, with the discussion leader still to be announced.

Wednesday, November 6, the philosopher-theologians Paul M. van Buren and Clark M. Williamson will discuss Jewish-Christian relations. On Thursday, November 7, the CMC Department of Philosophy and Religion and the CMC Philosophy Club present "Physical Science and Philosophy: An Informal Symposium." Selected members from the chemistry and physics faculty will address topics in their fields of "philosophic interest." An open discussion will follow, as members of the Department of Philosophy and Religion respond from the perspectives of their disciplines. Dinner at 6:00 p.m. will precede the discussion, which begins at 7:00 p.m.

On Monday evening, November 11, the Athenaeum joins with Sigma Xi to sponsor an event of interest to students in the humanities and the sciences. After dinner at 6:00 p.m., "The Wheel of Fortune," a segment from the BBC-PBS series "Connections," will be shown and then followed by discussion. The film portrays the development of technology from antiquity to modern times. Its producer is the filmmaker, James Burke, who will visit the Athenaeum early next semester to show and discuss his recent series, "The Day the Universe Changed."

The Athenaeum, with the Keck Center for International Strategic Studies, welcomes John D. Finney, Jr., deputy director of the Office of Regional Security Affairs and Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, Department of State. Finney, who has served in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, including a stint in the Vietnam Working Group, Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs in 1973-1975, will be on campus November 11-13.

Finally, the current situation in South Africa commands attention at the Athenaeum on November 18-19, when the first of two symposia on apartheid in that regime will be held. Among the featured speakers expected to attend are Professor Peter Duignan, a specialist on Africa from the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace; Professor Edward Alpers, UCLA; Dean McHenry, professor of political science, Claremont Graduate School; CMC economics professor Anton D. Lowenberg; and William Moses '84, a Watson Fellow who has just returned from a year in South Africa.


Fortunately the Athenaeum has no need to post notice saying "Bare Feet and Cutoffs Not Allowed." With few exceptions, students arrive appropriately dressed. Lunch and tea times can, of course, be casual. Dinners and evening events call for something fancier. The Athenaeum has much to offer. Thank you for giving it your best in return.

There has been some confusion regarding Athenaeum functions when it appears that hors d'oeuvres are served in place of dinner. If sign-ups are employed for such events, they will not invalidate your Valedine card for that evening. You can enjoy the Athenaeum and Collins Hall in the same evening!


With Chef Tony's culinary expertise, feasts at the Athenaeum continue to impress our guests. This column calls your attention to gustatory events at the Athenaeum, those celebrating special occasions and whose purpose is simply to please the palate. This month the Athenaeum offers two such feasts not to be missed.

In honor of Claremont McKenna's Homecoming, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum and the student STAGS organization presents the first annual "Stags' Leap Feast" on Friday evening, November 8. Complete with wine from the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars of northern California, this event pays tribute to our athletes with food, drink, and entertainment. Professor Ward Elliot emcees the occasion.

Later in the month the festivity continues when Harald presents a Thanksgiving feast. Come prepared on November 21 with an empty stomach and a hearty appetite for roast turkey, stuffing, and other delectables.

November 4+5, 1985 Theodore T. Puck, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar (Please see sign-up for times)

November 6, 1985 "The Wednesday Lunch" 12:00 noon
"Judeo-Christian Relations," with Professors Paul M. van Buren and Clark M. Williamson, 12:00 noon and 5:30 p.m.
Admiral Stansfield Turner, who for four years was the nation's top intelligence officer, will discuss the CIA and secrecy in an address in Bauer Lecture Hall at 4:00 p.m. No sign-up necessary. Students, faculty, and public welcome.

November 7, 1985 "War" (Part V with Dean Gaines Post, Jr.), 4:15 p.m. through dinner
"Physical Science and Philosophy: An Informal Discussion," dinner 6:00 p.m., with discussion at 7:00 p.m.

November 8, 1985 "Stags' Leap Feast," dinner 6:00 p.m., with program following.

November 11, 1985 "Explorations in the Sciences and Humanities: James Burke's 'Connections'," dinner 6:00 p.m., with discussion at 7:00 p.m.
"War" (Part VI with Professor Harold Rood), 4:15 p.m. through dinner

November 11-13, 1985 John D. Finney, Jr., deputy director, Office of Regional Security Affairs, State Department

November 13, 1985 "'The Wednesday Lunch," 12:00 noon

November 18, 1985 "War" (Part VII) 4:15 p.m. through dinner

November 18-19, 1985 Symposium on South Africa

November 20, 1985 "The Wednesday Lunch," 12:00 noon
Elie Wiesel: "How I Write" 11:00 a.m. through lunch; public lecture, Garrison Theater, 7:30 p.m.

November 21, 1985 Elie Wiesel: "What I Write," 11:00 a.m. through lunch
Thanksgiving Celebration, dinner 6:00 p.m.


The Wain Foundation has awarded a grant to CMC to help sponsor a speakers' series at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on important topics related to Jewish-Christian relations and thought.

The first program in the series will take place November 6, 1985, and will feature Paul M. van Buren and Clark M. Williamson, two leading American theologians who specialize in Jewish-Christian relations.

The second program, to be held next year, will be a symposium focusing on Jewish and Christian interpretations of Jesus. The speakers will be prominent Jewish and Christian scholars.

Mr. and Mrs. Philip Wain, officers of the Wain Foundation, are the parents of Leonard Wain, CMC Class of 1958.