Subject: My Letter to Isikoff
From: Scott Moyers
Date: Mon Feb 7
Readers who made it to the end of Mickey Kaus' column may have been left wondering: What was in that letter by Scott Moyers that Kaus was too embarrassed to run it? I know I was curious, and because I wrote the letter, I was able to look back and see what I said. Here it is, for anyone who's curious:
I was delighted to meet you: you have a wide reputation as being the most talented investigative journalist of your generation, and I came away from brunch understanding why. You're going to write a fantastic book. I hope we work together on a book down the road. Thanks again for your time, and best of luck with everything.
Ouch. Well OK, that is pretty darn hyperbolic. So thanks, Mickey Kaus, for thinking of me. I have to say, though, I was surprised you didn't think about me a little earlier: For a writer who is wont to bang the pulpit about journalistic standards, it was pretty lax not to make any attempt to contact the source of a letter from which you quote at length, either for context or simply to ask for the requisite permission to run it.
[Scott Moyers is a senior editor at Random House.]
Subject: Blue Blood Rises to the Top
Date: Fri Feb 4
Regarding Michael Kinsley's complaint that all the presidential contenders are Ivy League aristocrats: Consider the alma maters of the since-departed presidential contenders:
Hatch—BYU, University of Pittsburgh
Only Liddy Dole (Duke, Harvard) was an Ivy Leaguer.
Subject: What Hooey
Date: Fri Feb 3
David Greenberg writes that "Einstein believed in a god." No. He said on many occasions that he didn't. His references to God in sayings like, "The good lord is tricky but not mean" and "God doesn't play dice with the Universe" are just ways of emphasizing his concern for the knowable, physically real, underlying structure of the world.
Subject: Greenberg Gets Carlos Williams Wrong
From: Sharon Cournoyer
Date: Thu Feb 3
Mr. Greenberg may indeed be right that "St. Francis Einstein" is not the most significant or even successful poem by William Carlos Williams, but for several other reasons the article serves not to advance but rather to undermine the point Greenberg is attempting to make. First, "St. Francis" is not trying to "assimilate" relativity theory into its poetics so much as to graft a simplification of it to a larger notion of "new-fashioned" democracy.
But more important, since the unflattering contrast with Joyce and Woolf was made upon the basis that Williams is somehow attempting to poeticize the theoretics of relativity, and has also somehow failed to do so, the implication would seem to be that Joyce and Woolf have in some way succeeded in assimilating this concept, or in fashioning a literary equivalent to it and deploying it to some effect. And yet, surely, this implication contradicts the major assumption of Greenberg's article; that is, that the relativities of Einstein had little or nothing to do with the advancement of artistic modernism.
Subject: The Blurbist of Ideas
From: Trevor Butterworth
Date: Thu Feb 3
The irony is delicious: Time editor Walter Isaacson recently blurbed Simon Blackburn's guide for the philosophically challenged, Think. I guess Isaacson didn't think hard enough about Einstein's solution to the problem of perspectivalism--or, for that matter, do some reporting down at Barnes and Noble. (After all, what undergraduate could get away with citing Paul Johnson as a historian of ideas these days? And as for Picasso, in his notebooks at least, he warned not to extrapolate philosophical meanings from cubism. Cubism was literally nothing more than the combination of multiple perspectives in painting. That was it.) There is a message here for journalism: Don't ever patronize your reader with dumbed-down dross. God only knows, (following Popper's critique of induction) you just can't predict when your readers turn out to be smarter than you thought.