to the Editor
and Heyerdahl - On Target
Thanks for the great new issue of Azerbaijan International! The
quotes from Bill Moyers and Thor Heyerdahl are so timely and
true. The write-ups on Heyerdahl and his adventures and philosophy
are very impressive. As always, the photos throughout are clear,
bright, and appropriate. Thanks again for another wonderful issue.
You continue to demonstrate what high standards you've set for
Dr. Robert Georges
Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
English and Folklore Departments
April 11, 2007
Moyers and Heyerdahl
- Missed the Mark
I continue to enjoy the magazine, find it very interesting and
informative, and believe it is a very good way to learn more
about what makes the Azeri people who and what they are (editorials
However, your Editorial in the Winter 2006 (AI 14.4) issue seemed
to include an item that was quite out of place. I believe that
the perspective that we have an administration that is "hell-bent
on dropping a nuclear bomb on Azerbaijan's neighbor to the south"
is very, very mistaken. The administration you refer to is really
not the threat. If there's anyone around that's as "hell-bent"
as that, it perhaps may be someone "to the south",
and, yes, their actions would indeed "have catastrophic
consequences for the entire region".
Besides being off the mark, the comment seemed way out of place
in the middle of a discussion of Thor Heyerdahl or Bill Moyers,
although there's an attempt to justify the sidestep. Please don't
take such an original, unique, and informative publication as
this and taint it with the unnecessary.
Bill Abernathy, Tennessee
April 26, 2007
Editorial in Question:
Winter 2006 (AI 14.4)
Excerpts from: "Discovering: Marvels & Mysteries at
Sea" by Betty Blair
One of America's most distinguished journalists - Bill Moyers
(born 1934) - recently mused about his type of journalism in
front of a distinguished audience of 150 guests who had come
to honor him for "extraordinary contributions to public
cultural, civic and intellectual life.1
"We are often asked whether our kind of journalism really
matters," he began. "People are curious about why we
give so much time to novelists, playwrights, artists, historians,
philosophers, composers, scholars, teachers - all of whom we
view as public thinkers. The answer is simple: They are worth
"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" Moyers
continued. "Reading Shakespeare does not erase the budget
deficit. Plunging into the history of the 15th century does not
ease traffic jams. Listening to Mozart or reading the ancient
Greeks does not repair the ozone layer.crime is still rampant,
the divorce rate continues to soar, corruption flourishes, legislatures
remain stubbornly profligate."
And, we, at Azerbaijan International magazine might add that
thinking about Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) who dared to sail 4,000
miles across the Pacific Ocean on a raft made of balsa logs in
1947, or the recent Tangaroa raft expedition led by Torgeir Higraff,
which was based on Heyerdahl's experiment, doesn't alleviate
tensions in the Middle East. Nor will it lessen the brutal nightmare
in Iraq of occupying forces and suicide bombers. Nor is it likely
to deter what seems to be an administration hell-bent on dropping
nuclear bombs on Azerbaijan's neighbor to the south, which, if
carried out, will have unprecedented catastrophic consequences
for the entire region.
In his speech, Moyers went on to quote award-winning novelist
Maxine Hong Kingston: "All human beings have this burden
in life to constantly figure out what's true, what's authentic,
what's meaningful, what's dross, what's a hallucination, what's
a figment, what's madness. We all need to figure out what is
valuable, constantly. As a writer," Kingston continues,
"all I am doing is posing the question in a way that people
can see very clearly."
It's an understatement to say that we live in dangerous times.
But Thor Heyerdahl, too, carried out his experiment, on the heels
of World War II, which at the time had been the most devastating
man-made disaster known to modern man. He knew what war was all
about. He himself had been drafted as well.
In Constantine Pleshakov's obituary,2 summarizing the legacy
of Heyerdahl, he observed that the Soviet Union was one of the
nations that loved him most and the crazy imaginativeness of
his seemingly flimsy expeditions at sea always inspired and gave
hope. He was the David daring to stand up against Goliath.
"Somehow, no matter what happened in the Kremlin or in the
White House, the ocean, with its waves and riddles, was still
there. The coral reefs were just as beautiful as ever. And life
And maybe that's the most important lesson for today - "Life
does go on!" Perhaps, that's the most essential message
"worth listening to". And if it is true, then we all
must take responsibility for our tomorrows.
1. Excerpts from Bill Moyer's acceptance
speech for the Frank E. Taplin Jr. Public Intellectual Award
given to him and his wife Judith for "extraordinary contributions
to public cultural, civic and intellectual life" by the
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. New York City
on February 7, 2007.
Heyerdahl: "Adventurer's Death Touches Russia's Soul,"
by Constantine Pleshakov. Japan Times on May 5, 2002. [See Azerbaijan
International 10.2 (Summer 2002)]"
Index AI 15.1
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