|· · · · · · · · ·
|Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
550 N. College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711
Online Editor: Mark Kendall
For editorial matters:
Editor: Mark Wood
Phone: (909) 621-8158
Fax: (909) 621-8203
PCM Editorial Guidelines
Contact Alumni Records for changes of address, class notes, or notice
of births or deaths.
Phone: (909) 621-8635
Fax: (909) 621-8535
|· · · · · · · · ·
Letter from the Editor
Of Problems and Mysteries
Linguist Noam Chomsky once suggested that human ignorance should be
divided into two categories—problems and mysteries. Faced with a
problem, a knowledgeable person has at least an inkling of where to
begin the search for answers. Faced with a mystery, all anyone can do is
Given that distinction, a vast number of questions involving the mind
have, in recent years, graduated from mysteries to problems. How do we
remember? Why do we forget? What makes us who we are? How are the mind
and brain interrelated? How did the mind evolve? How do culture and
other outside influences affect the mind? Is there a “language” of
thought? How is the mind like a computer? How do brain injuries
translate into mental deficits?
Not only are scholars now unafraid to tackle such questions—they’re
making amazing progress in testing and refining possible answers. And as
they do, the circle of understanding widens, and more mysteries become
At the same time, curiosity about these subjects has reached an all-time
high. Books about the mind are frequently found on The New York Times
bestseller lists (currently weighing in at number seven is Malcolm
Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, about
the backstage mental process known as “intuition”), and whole new
magazines have been successfully launched devoted exclusively to the
topic of the mind.
In recent years, Pomona’s response to that sea-change in the science of
thinking about thought has been to create new majors in neuroscience
and—in a combination that may be unique among liberal arts
colleges—linguistics and cognitive science. These fields represent new
webs of knowledge that intertwine the more established disciplines of
psychology, biology, chemistry, philosophy, linguistics and computer
science. This summer, Pomona broke ground for two new buildings—to be
known as the Lincoln and Edmunds Buildings—which will provide a new home
for these two fields, as well as psychology and a range of other fields,
most of them interdisciplinary. Together, these two interconnected
facilities will constitute the largest academic building on the campus.
As majors, these two new fields are already quite popular on
campus—there are currently 20 majors in linguistics and cognitive
science and 52 in neuroscience—and the College expects them to continue
to grow in the future. As fields of study, they have brought together
scholars who are doing remarkable work, some of which we examine in the
loosely interrelated articles of this issue of PCM.
Of course, the mind still has its mysteries. Some say the holy grail of
cognitive science—the subjective nature of consciousness itself—will
remain forever outside our grasp. Others refuse to concede even that.
Whoever’s right, however, the spectator sport of cognitive science will
continue to be a fascinating one, and I, for one, will always be willing
to pay the price of admission.
Letters to the Editor
Home in Holmes
The Spring 2005 PCM transported me to the venerable Holmes Hall
classrooms of the English Department, and to the creaky, antiquated
theatre they surrounded. As Bob Potter ’56 reminds us in his letter, it
was in this home, nurtured by the larger supportive environment of the
College, that so many of us were challenged to discover our individual
Some of us, like Bob Towne ’56, moved in the best of both Holmes Hall
worlds; we were majors in creative writing with minors in theatre. (Some
may not be aware that PC was the first liberal arts college to offer a
major in creative writing.) I’m sure that Bob will not forget his summer
aboard a commercial tuna boat, a grueling job he took so that he would
“have something to write about.” His first piece in the fall for Edward
Weismiller’s Narrative and descriptive Writing was drawn from that
experience, and a tough, stunning piece it was. It could be found in the
archives of our Pomona literary magazine.
Bob will not forget his roles in Holmes Hall mainstage productions
either: The Little Foxes; The Winslow Boy. Dick
Chamberlain ’56 will remember his first role on that stage, as dancer
and speaker in a poetically beautiful thesis production of Tagore’s
Chitra directed by Anne Eldridge ’56. We will all remember him as “the
chocolate soldier” in Arms and the Man.
Most important, we will recall with deep fondness and appreciation one
person whose name was not mentioned in PCM: Virginia Princehouse Allen
’26, whose real name was “Teacher” for us all. She was the Theatre
Department, beloved, inspirational, always demanding, always encouraging
the individual gift and the group teamwork of which theatre is made.
Here in one issue of PCM, there is honor to Weismiller, whose poems were
set to music and sung by one of his former students; in Bookmarks, I
find new publications by Paul Fussell ’45, Ved Mehta ’56 and Bob Potter
’56; in Potter’s letter, Ray Frazer ’47 and Weismiller are thanked, as
they should be, with warmth and affection. Let me add “Teacher” to these
names, and to thank Pomona for the home of Holmes Hall, where gifted
teachers, warm and responsive human beings all, offered to us the
discovery of our own selves.
—Alan Greiner ’55
The article on Pomona’s relationship with Hollywood (Spring 2005 PCM)
didn’t mention George Golitzin ’38. George was known to us as “Jorge.”
He was a descendant of the Golitzin royal family that escaped overland
to Harbin, China, as the Russian revolution ended the Romanoff Reign.
The family settled in Hollywood and became central figures in the large
Russian Hollywood colony.
Jorge was an outstanding intellect and finally graduated from Pomona
years after the Class of 1938. He went to Hollywood where he produced
pictures for Disney and Universal Studios including The Parent Trap. He
was a royal prince but you would never know it in the kitchen at Harwood
scrubbing pots and pans or in stage productions for Virginia Princehouse
Allen ’26 in Holmes Hall. Jorge’s career was cut short when he
contracted cancer when under contract at Universal.
—Walter C. deRenne ’38
Solana Beach, CA
A Born Star
It was with great interest I read the (Spring 2005) issue of “our”
magazine. The article on “Hollywood Tales” particularly intrigued me.
However, I searched in vain for two movies made during my college days.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names of either one, but I’m sure
your records would have them.
The first was filmed during “Prof” (Ralph) Lyman’s sabbatical in 1937–38
when Robert Shaw ’38 was directing the Men’s Glee Club. Fred Waring was
so impressed with Bob’s ability that he hired him on the spot to
rehearse his Pennsylvanians. It was here that Bob’s illustrious
career in music was launched. He was to form his own famous Robert Shaw
Chorale, which toured the country for years. Then later he became the
conductor of the Atlanta Symphony. I have a tape of the night he was
honored at the Kennedy Center for his outstanding career. The Atlanta
Symphony and Chorus gave a surprise performance for him that was very
The second movie was filmed while I was taking my finals, probably June
1939 or 1940. It starred Freddie Bartholomew, the perfect little
gentleman, and Jackie Cooper, who had a reputation on the set of being a
spoiled brat. It may have been a military academy.
The second was not so important but I think the first was quite
—Betty St. Clair Russell ’42
Editor’s Note: Varsity Show released in 1937 was filmed at the
College, starring Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. Freddie
Bartholomew and Jackie Cooper starred in the 1939 release of The
Spirit of Culver.
Missing Special Effects
I enjoyed the Hollywood-themed issue of PCM, but unless I overlooked it,
you did not mention at least one illustrious Sagehen in Hollywood—Bill
Taylor ’66. Bill is a major figure in the film effects industry, and
with his partner, Sid Dutton, operates Illusion Arts, whose credit has
appeared in a great many major movies over the years. (PCM mentioned
Star Trek connections ... Illusion Arts did the sensational continuous
opening shot of the movie Star Trek: First Contact, which began with a
close-up of Patrick Stewart’s eye in a Borg constraint, pulling
continuously back, eventually showing the entire Borg cube in the
Bill also has credits in the music industry, having produced a hit
record—Soul Twist by King Curtis—while still in high school. He also is
a world-class magician and was doing magic shows at Disneyland while
still a Pomona student. His first major film effects credit was of the
amateur S-F spoof, today a cult movie, Dark Star—which he was hired to
blur all close-ups of pin-ups in the dorm area of the rogue spaceship in
order to get the movie a “G” rating, as well as do any other necessary
special effects work to make the movie salable to movie theaters. He
also composed the theme song of the movie, Benson, Arizona.
I doubt if any Pomona grad ever had a bigger impact on film effects than
—Eric Norberg ’64
I thoroughly enjoyed your issue on Hollywood and Pomona. However, in
your timeline there were a couple of omissions that should be noted: In
1981, the exceptional film Cutter’s Way, starring Jeff Bridges, was
released. The screenplay for this fine film was written by Jeffrey
More important, though, was the 1970 release Angel Unchained, also
written by Fiskin (his first film). Angel Unchained stands tall in the
history of “Le Cinema Obscure des Motocycliste Proscrit,” as the only
biker film made which contains a lengthy scene discussing the philosophy
of the I Ching. It also was the film-acting debut for both Fiskin and
myself. We played “hippies”.
I thought you’d want to correct this gross oversight.
—Walker T Ryan (the artist formerly known as Tim) ’68
I read “Shattered Image” (Spring 2005 PCM) by Rachel Johnson ’96 and
wondered how she had counted herself “odd” among Pomona grads. Johnson
describes the delight she has taken in spending time with her young
children and mentions that she’s also done some freelance writing
(including this piece) and taught a college course here and there. I
would be interested in knowing what percentage of Sagehen women and men
have worked part-time while their children have been young. I’m guessing
that many of us have been privileged enough to enjoy simultaneous
pleasures of work and parenting in an unimaginably creative set of
permutations. In fact, it would not surprise me if this were the norm
for Sagehens today, who may be trading off part-time work and home
duties with a partner, or who may be supported by a steady wage-earner
who keeps the wolf from the door—not to mention generations of Sagehen
women who raised children and then went on to pursue fascinating work in
any number of arenas.
Gazing at a photograph of a bathing-suit clad Johnson holding her two
children, one of whom sports a cap with Barbados written on it, I
suspect the category of “class” has as much to do with Johnson’s choices
as does “gender.” I don’t believe, as the article’s small-font headline
reads, that Johnson has chosen “full-time motherhood over a career.”
She’s chosen, as do many of us, to use her financial and academic
capital to buy herself some time, that most precious of all commodities.
What she will choose to do as her children grow older, no one—including
Johnson—can know. That a Pomona education has helped Johnson give
herself a choice, it seems to me, is the real issue.
—Catherine A. Corman ’84
I would like to applaud you for including the article on full-time
mothering by Rachel Johnson ’96 in Alumni Voices (Spring 2005 PCM). I
often peruse my Pomona College Magazine with a faint voice of
disappointment in my head over the state of my career. I marvel at the
amazing accomplishment of my Pomona peers and predecessors and the
voices grow louder, chastising me for squandering my family’s
hard-earned money on a wasted education. You could have been somebody,
it says—you could have been one of these people! Not only that, but I
continue to whittle away my bank account on a graduate degree that is
taking me six years to complete. All this for a 4-year-old daughter who
is currently lizard-hunting out our back window. An astounding child who
is happy, safe, nurtured, secure in herself and her solid, stable world,
and who knows no other life than having me at the center of it. Like
Rachel, all of the clichés come rushing to mind, and like Rachel, they
are all true. But it’s refreshing to hear another Sagehen express
it—someone who comes from the same place as I and someone who is not
afraid to put it all on hold while we pursue the most important life
path I can ever imagine—motherhood.
Thank you for giving us and our children a voice.
—Jillian D. Cosgrove
(formerly Davis-Leavens) ’97
Powder Springs, GA
I am compelled to comment on my 1954 classmate Dick Strong’s concerns
about the political leanings of Pomona and its seemingly permissive
attitudes toward student self-responsibility. I do not mean this as a
rebuttal, but merely as my perceptions developed in academia over the
past 50 years, including teaching at Pomona during the 1960s, then at UC
Irvine until retirement, followed most recently by reliving
undergraduate experiences through our son, Ian ’05, who has just
graduated from Pomona.
At my class’ 50th graduation reunion in 2004, my wife and I were amazed/
bemused at the consternation of many classmates over the current campus
attitudes dealing with coed dorms, drinking, etc., in which students are
expected to act as adults, and in an atmosphere in which our son has
thrived. In my day, we were treated as adolescent children, with males
in north campus dorms and females on south campus, in a dry campus and
town. While admitting to nothing, I was aware as a student of numerous
instances of regulation abuse in an atmosphere of crypticity and
“system-beating.” What has changed is that now students operate in an
atmosphere of trust and respect.
With regard to political attitudes, I agree that Pomona likely is in
line with many of the most respected academic institutions in the U.S.,
as would be hoped for as we enter an extremely competitive age of
globalization. I do not believe that this is by design, but rather is a
function of continuous intellectual growth and creativity. Having come
from a rather conservative family background, and surviving an era of
Asian wars, assassinations of our own leaders, the onset of terrorism,
WMDs and the Patriot Act, and through it all interacting in academic
atmospheres that fostered, and indeed required, continual intellectual
creativity and growth, I found that my outlook was/is progressive.
At UC Irvine, I was asked to help expand a small department twofold into
a major teaching/research unit. We had the resources to attract and hire
the very best young minds available and were extremely successful. Our
criteria were based exclusively on proven and potential intellectual
creativity. While there was absolutely no attempt to assess the
political leanings of the 11 new faculty we hired, I can retrospectively
affirm that the vast majority were very progressive in all of their
attitudes. Thus I can only conclude that there is a high correlation
between intellectual creativity and progressive political attitudes.
Since my student days Pomona has continued to progress to the present
state of an elite liberal arts college, and it deserves only the most
creative faculty and students; I have no reason to doubt that its hiring
and admissions criteria place intellectual attainment and creativity
first. If progressive political attitudes accompany these qualities, so
be it. I see no reason to dilute our standards.
—Dick MacMillen ’54
I just opened a diet Snapple Iced Tea with lemon and read the “Real
Fact” under the cap (#129). It says, “Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.”
—Brian M. Stecher ’68
Santa Monica, CA
We welcome letters from alumni and friends. Letters may be edited for
length, style and clarity.