In response to:

Letter from 'Manhattan' from the August 16, 1979 issue

To the Editors:

Joan Didion on Woody Allen (NYR, August 16) spared neither erudition nor energy to annotate Mr. Allen’s alleged references. Does this show Ms. Didion is still part or blissfully beyond the people whose lives she finds annoying? Surely Ms. Didion must know the appearance of a “smart set”—over-educated, non-productive, narcissistic and in perpetual cafard—is a phenomenon that cannot be isolated from its social context. The objective decadence cum subjective meaninglessness is partly a consequence of the political powerlessness of those concerned to shape and change their society. Unfortunately, the concern for the simple things that Ms. Didion implicitly advocates is just another retreat for confronting this issue of powerlessness.

Ms. Didion therefore would do better to be alarmed by than morally superior to the attitudes, concerns and mores Mr. Allen’s characters reflect.

Roger Hurwitz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

This Issue

October 11, 1979