I want to thank the Weekly and Margaret Wertheim for the article Creation Science [Quark Soup, November 17]. 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.
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The subtitle says it all: The gospel according to Steven Pinker. The way he stretches the truths about Darwins theories in The Blank Slate, Pinker sounds like all the other scientists whove 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 Wertheims world-view in her review of Stephen Pinkers book than I did about the book itself. Instead of reasoned, critical review, Wertheim dismisses Pinkers book on the basis of a glib analogy between Pinkers naturalism and Christian fundamentalism. Wertheim supports her crucial analogy with only the flimsiest of arguments: Biologists of Pinkers 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 Wertheims 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 814]. 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 Im enamored of Kristine McKennas work, her statement that Deconstructionism is a flexible methodology . . . the impact its had on literary criticism is equal to, if not greater than, the mark its left on philosophical discourse is just not credible. Deconstructionisms very problem is the flexibility she notes: It bends to whatever agenda its applied, and with shocking ease. Its actually a very old mechanism, predating Derrida by centuries, and it doesnt matter whether the wielder is McLuhan, Paglia, Foucault or Joe Shmoe as an instrument, its perpetually, indeed idiosyncratically, chameleonic. The whole process, each time its applied, is a matter of the watcher watching the watcher watching the watcher . . . ad infinitum. The perception of the artists intent is subject to the deconstructionists 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 polemicists ropes end is reached.
Marc S. Tucker
IRV RUBIN, R.I.P.
Re: Howard Blumes A Man Out of Time [November 814]. 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 wouldnt touch with a 10-foot pole. Im proud of my friendship and association with Irv Rubin. May it be G-ds 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.
We help individuals whose lives have been ruined wherever they reside. The Israeli citizens who live outside of the pre-1967 borders of Israel represent a cross section of Israeli society. They include new immigrants as well as longtime residents, people with varied political ideologies from left to right. Most just want to live peaceful, productive lives. It is not fair to imply that the JDL position is the predominant view of the majority of those living beyond the Green Line.
John R. Fishel
President, the Jewish Federation
Im writing in response to Alec Hanley Bemis review of Spoon at the Troubadour [November 17]. I found it a little odd that Bemis felt the need to start his review by mentioning he was in the skyboxlike VIP room. What kind of music critic watches a band perform from the VIP room? A real music fan would have been on the floor enjoying the show the way God intended. Its just not natural to be looking down on a stage while a band plays, or to be watching from behind a sheet of glass. Bemis may as well have sent a friend to the show with a video camera; then he could have stayed home and watched it. No wonder he felt the show was lacking he didnt fully experience it. I was down on the floor, elbow-to-elbow with the other Spoon fans, and from down there I watched a group of guys who were having a blast just being onstage playing their instruments. The only posing I witnessed was when I looked over my shoulder toward the VIP room.
Do you not have a music editor? Ive seen sloppy music coverage, but Ive never seen anything like Andrew Lentzs Black Dice blurb [Scoring the Clubs, November 17], which manages to make three mistakes in three words: The Providence threesomes debut: 1) The boys are from Brooklyn; 2) there are four guys in Black Dice; and 3) this is not their first release.
EDITORS NOTE: You forgot to mention we got the venue wrong, too.
RE For The Misfits, last weeks cover story by Paul Cullum: ICM agent David Unger was misidentified as Steve Unger; Steve Golin was a producer on The Portrait of a Lady, not associate producer; Bill Mechanic was only involved with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in his capacity as head of Fox Studios; Meltdown Comics is on Sunset Boulevard, not Melrose Avenue; and it was producer Marty Brest, not Barry Levinson, who accompanied Stuart Cornfeld and Herve Villechaize on their ill-fated late-night deep-sea expedition. Re Max Gerbers cover story Microbats, Broken Skulls, Rocket Girls & Prehistoric Beach Bears (November 17): Development of the Microbat was credited to Caltech, when it actually grew out of a three-way collaboration by Caltech, UCLA and AeroVironment.