Attn: JMS A Professor's Letter to JMS (forwarded)

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Tue Jun 2 06:16:07 EDT 1998

From: zafaran at (Patricia A. Swan)
Date: 2 Jun 1998 00:00:45 -0600
Lines: 64

Pat--if you could pass this along, I'd appreciate it. :-)   Consider
my words eaten. --Su

Dear Mr. Straczynski--
	For several years, I have harassed my sister unmercifully for
spending so much of her time not only on-line with a fan group, but as
a moderator for one. "Get a life," I told her. "There is more to life
than a stupid tv show, for God's sake."  "Don't you have anything
better to do with your time," I asked.  She persisted. 
	 "She's gone over the edge," I decided.  Until........through the
grace of TNT I was able to watch this show that she was so enamoured
with--this Babylon 5 stuff. I was charmed; I was impressed; I was
hooked!! Here I was, a perfectly good college professor of
communication and rhetoric, a critic of popular culture, a known
radical who deprives my child of her entitlement to television
watching---and my students have now figured out there is no point in
calling the house between 6 and 7 on weekdays because I won't
interrupt watching Babylon 5 to answer the phone.  What have you done
to me?  Even worse, I occasionally read newsgroups on B5, joined the
official fan club, subscribed to a listserv of JMS responses to
queries on newsgroups, and have taped every show. You scoundrel!
	What was it that I have found in your show?  I found an extremely
high level of artistry and literacy, enough that my faith in trying to
provide my own students with a true liberal arts education has been
revived.  Indeed, I bristle at the complaints from some people who
critize you for "stealing" scenes and lines from this play or that
poem--for heaven's sakes, do they not realize that such allusions to
great literature is considered one of the hallmarks of a master
storyteller? Don't they get it?  The breadth and depth of knowledge
that is required to pull this off demonstrates precisely the sort of
cultural literacy that is bemoaned as missing these days.  Your gifts
as a storyteller are immense--and the ultimate value is enhanced by
your own words keeping company with those of Shakespeare, Tennyson,
etc. You have offered us a marvelous presentation of life, in all of
its complexites, twists, turns, pains, and joys--you appeal variously
to the mind, the heart, the spirit, and the soul (and when you are
really cooking, to all four at once). As someone said earlier this
week, you offer a Noble Dignity at times that is unsurpassed by
anything else offered on television.  In G'Kar and in Delenn
especially, I have found wisdom to live by............I suppose I have
a lot of those words to eat that I addressed to my sister over the
past few years.
	At some point, I envision teaching a class in rhetorical
philosophy using B5 as the point of analysis.  I hope that is
something that would be acceptable to you as a use of your
universe--what a marvelous way to open up Plato, Aristotle, Cicero,
and Quintilian to new generations. Thank you for what you have created
in Babylon 5--in a time when most of what is on television is fool's
gold, you have produced a gem indeed.


Dr. Susan Z. Swan
University of South Dakota

* Patricia A. Swan, moderator, *
* newsgroup submission address: b5mod at             *
* moderator contact address:    b5mod-request at     *
* personal contact address:     zafaran at                  *
* Keeper alt.books.m-lackey FAQ *

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 2 Jun 1998 00:16:09 -0600
Lines: 23

>At some point, I envision teaching a class in rhetorical
>philosophy using B5 as the point of analysis.  I hope that is
>something that would be acceptable to you as a use of your
>universe--what a marvelous way to open up Plato, Aristotle, Cicero,
>and Quintilian to new generations. 

What, no Marcus Aurelius?  For shame.  We'll have to knock ten points off your
grade for that one.

Seriously, the degree that the show can encourage discussion, and
dialogue, and the free exchange of ideas that point to the history of
literature and philosophy, I am a happy man.  By all means, if it's useful, use
it.  (As I understand it, this spring there is a class nominally in the
Philosophy of Babylon 5 at the University of Illinois at Urbana.)

And thank you...not just for the kind words, but for the open mind that
preceded them.


(jmsatb5 at
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