By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
I want to thank the Weekly and Margaret Wertheim for the article “Creation Science” [Quark Soup, November 1–7]. She presents the latest thinking of the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker in such a way that this reader feels brought to the table, instead of feeling skipped over and ignored in the rarefied air of academia.
The subtitle says it all: “The gospel according to Steven Pinker.” The way he stretches the truths about Darwin’s theories in The Blank Slate, Pinker sounds like all the other scientists who’ve wrapped themselves in the same cloak of infallibility that the old priesthood foolishly did back when they wanted to make the Earth stand still.
I like the value that Wertheim places on our powers of interpretation. Humanity is still a work in progress, and I think we should stay humble about the limits of our understanding — and open to possibilities only temporarily beyond our reach.
I learned a lot more about Margaret Wertheim’s world-view in her review of Stephen Pinker’s book than I did about the book itself. Instead of reasoned, critical review, Wertheim dismisses Pinker’s book on the basis of a glib analogy between Pinker’s naturalism and Christian fundamentalism. Wertheim supports her crucial analogy with only the flimsiest of arguments: Biologists of Pinker’s ilk worship their own “sacred text” (the human genome), examining its “every word” with “literal precision.” This, she says, is just like religious fundamentalists and their holy books; ergo, both alike are “fundamentalists.” QED.
In other words, Wertheim would have us believe that there is no relevant distinction between, on the one hand, believing that a set of mechanisms encoded in DNA “literally” creates an organism, and, on the other, believing that an invisible man living in the sky “literally” made the cosmos in six days, on the other.
I myself have trouble seeing any relevant similarity.
Three cheers for Margaret Wertheim’s Quark Soup column on “scientific fundamentalists” who hold on to answers instead of participating in the creative search for ever more interesting questions.
This Saturday morning, thanks to the Weekly, my breakfast consisted mainly of savoring, word by word, the wonderful article by Kristine McKenna titled “The Three Ages of Jacques Derrida” [November 8–14]. This type of article is an absolute delight to the higher echelons of self. It responds, with elegance, to the eternal and, at times, silent desire to discover the real treasures that exist right here in our city, and our state. Please continue bringing us those treasures!
—Luis Rafael Galvez
As much as I’m enamored of Kristine McKenna’s work, her statement that “Deconstructionism is a flexible methodology . . . the impact it’s had on literary criticism is equal to, if not greater than, the mark it’s left on philosophical discourse” is just not credible. Deconstructionism’s very problem is the flexibility she notes: It bends to whatever agenda it’s applied, and with shocking ease. It’s actually a very old mechanism, predating Derrida by centuries, and it doesn’t matter whether the wielder is McLuhan, Paglia, Foucault or Joe Shmoe — as an instrument, it’s perpetually, indeed idiosyncratically, chameleonic. The whole process, each time it’s applied, is a matter of the watcher watching the watcher watching the watcher . . . ad infinitum. The perception of the artist’s “intent” is subject to the deconstructionist’s subjectivity to his or her own perceptions and covert bugaboos. Derrida, as a wrinkle in philosophy, may or may not withstand the test of time, but at least one of his progeny, deconstructionism, has already passed into senescence and is only feebly resurrected from time to time, usually when an ersatz polemicist’s rope’s end is reached.
IRV RUBIN, R.I.P.
Re: Howard Blume’s “A Man Out of Time” [November 8–14]. I have known Irv Rubin for over 20 years and was a fellow Jewish activist, at his side at many a demonstration and press conference. Irv Rubin is a passionate, zealous leader whose commitment to the survival of the Jewish people is unsurpassed. His whole life has been dedicated to protecting Jewish lives, courageously standing up to Jew haters of all stripes, and having the bravery and temerity to challenge and confront issues that the Jewish establishment wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I’m proud of my friendship and association with Irv Rubin. May it be G-d’s will that he live and be well. And please pass out the crying towels to his detractors who already had him dead and buried.
Brooklyn, New York
Howard Blume implies that United Jewish Communities and its local member body, the Jewish ä Federation of Greater Los Angeles, are supporting people whose opinions parallel those espoused by the Jewish Defense League. The UJC and the L.A. Jewish Federation are non-political bodies. Our efforts include assisting victims of terror who live in Israel. This assistance is offered strictly in the humanitarian realm, helping those who have been physically or psychologically injured during the tragic events of the last two years.