Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dr. Zhivago -- Life Imitating Art

The following is the text of a letter I wrote to my sister, probably in the summer of 1992.  Incidentally, Vernon Jordan has connections to CBS News.

Dear Stell,

Do you remember last year during the Persian Gulf War that Bob Simon of CBS News was held hostage in Iraq after he was captured by the Iraqis as he and his colleagues were traveling along a highway in Iraq?
  • Suddenly a deafening shot was fired very close to him. . . .  Three armed horsemen blocked his way. . . .  "Don't move, Comrade Doctor," said the cavalryman in the fur cap, who was the oldest of the three.  "If you obey orders, we guarantee that you will not be harmed.  If you don't--no offense meant--we'll shoot you." . . .

    But to look on inactively while the mortal struggle raged all around was impossible, it was beyond human strength.  It was not a question of loyalty to the side that held him captive or of defending his own life, but of submitting to the order of events, to the laws governing what went on around him.  To remain an outsider was against the rules.  You had to do what everyone was doing.  A battle was going on.  He and his comrades were being shot at.  Dr. Zhivago.  From the chapters preceding and following that titled "The Highway."
Bob Simon loves the Wagner operas, and has had a life-long fascination with the composer's life.  As Red Buttons used to say, "Strange things are happening!"



Gary Freedman said...

The post refers to the archetypal nature of the Pasternak novel, Dr. Zhivago.


Gary Freedman said...

The reference to "Red Buttons" is a play on the word "Red," which also denotes a Bolshevik.

Gary Freedman said...

I can recall an interview on 60 Minutes that Bob Simon did of conductor Daniel Barenboim at the Bayreuth Wagner festival.

"What's a nice Jewish boy doing in a place like this?"

(Hitler visited the Bayreuth festival whenever he could and stayed with the Wagner family.)

High profile: CBS' Bob Simon and Sunday's "60 Minutes" will profile Daniel Barenboim after tracking the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's director to opening night here, his trip to Havana, his family's Berlin home and to the orchestra pit at the opera in Bayreuth, Germany. Asked by Simon about mixed reviews he received upon arrival in Chicago, Barenboim says: "I think one has to be fair to the critics. Either you depend on them or you don't depend on them. And quite frankly, I have not been bothered by bad reviews in the same way I have not been uplifted by good reviews."