Space is the Place

My Harvard Facebook group has been discussing an article Ellen Jovin shared: Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period! 

I was blissfully unaware of this seismic shrinkage until a month or two ago, and several months before my fall from grace, I was reading student papers and observing that the use of just one space after a period looked underwhelming (all the more so when there were other infelicities in the writing).  I had no idea that it was the new normal.  Thus, having brought the two-space-embrace with me into the computer era—twenty-five years ago!—I am having a hard time adjusting to my sentence, to this notion that I should halve my space.  And it has thrown me to think that I had failed to notice the new standard.

And, my spacing shows me to be . . . over 40!  Bless me, youngster, for I have sinned.  By surviving four dozen years without dying.  (My shame was eased ever so slightly when I read that I have classmates who, like me, prefer the two-space program.)

A couple of weeks ago, I read another account of the same phenomenon.  When first I heard, I figured it must have been a Twitter repercussion, a capricious notion arising from that character-meter that tells you how many spaces you have left in your microtext.

At last having time to satisfy my curiosity, I just now took a moment to look at some academic journal articles, choosing one by Harvard’s Daniel Albright—and, well, I remained vexed, because academic articles are right/left justified!  (In addition, there is approximately one punctuation event per paragraph, so the data set is unreliably small.)  No wonder I had not noticed the disappearance of the sous-space.  So, am I now to understand that these articles circulating and proselytizing about saving space apply only to texts such as this blog, type[sic]scripts, and the like?  And æther-mail?  It seems odd for dual-spacing to be considered such an offense when people are hyphenating adverbs and using colons after verbs and stuff.  Not to mention all the nouning and verbing that I see every single day.  (It’s a fail-ure, not a fail!)  I just don’t get it.  Why is there suddenly so much attention to decreasing the space between words when the words themselves are so often shabby?

And how is it that being over forty has now become a sign of being a poor writer?  I thought we were the ones always telling the hipsters to shape up.  On the contrary!  This new generation is so judgmental:

And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste*. . . .  What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right.
—Farhad Manjoo, “Space Invaders”

*I have yet to receive word of the fate of the four-dot ellipses used at the end of a complete sentence.  Did anyone think about that before they voted to semi-space all sentences?  Does a proportional font—the reason given for the new zoning regulation—obviate the need for a distinction between the end of a sentence and an unfinished sentence?  The marker of omission—the series of three mute dots—has already been brutally smooshed together . . .  as if the mysteriously unstated is merely nonexistent.  Do I understand correctly that it is of urgent importance to save a space after every sentence, while it is acceptable to use three question marks just before???  And what about the poor em dash—which has so often suffered drafts from either side, not to mention getting replaced inexplicably with the inadequate little hyphen?

And how is that the space between sentences is getting all the funding for repair, when there are still so many extra spaces between words within so many sentences?  We seem to be losing sight of the everyday here, focusing on the dramatic, to our detriment.

I cannot help but think that this coup de point arises from broad cultural shifts.  Bad ones, of course.  Do we want to give in to them?  We complain about being busy and rushed—and people write about our complaints with sentences that I now realize are granted only a single space to breathe before the next begins.  Is that really a coincidence?  And more and more people are staying single.  Could they be behind this eschewal of the paired space?  On the other hand, our culture seems to have trouble with boundaries, and we are flirting dangerously with word disindividuation here: how long will it be before we abandon punctuation altogether and every sentence is one breathless portmanteau word with indistinguishable syllables?

Oh.

I get it.

It doesn’t matter whether what I write is intelligible, or meaningful, as long as it looks good.

Now, that makes sense.

There is no penalty for describing oneself as “reticent” to adopt a dog.  As long as the dog gets one space and one only.  Consider this pair of sentences: “Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage treasure, is walkable and safe.  Stroll the only walled city North of Mexico and its cobblestone streets.”  I gather no one will be confused about the location of those cobblestone streets as long as they don’t wait too long after the safety announcement before commencing their stroll.

And to make it worse, I look at this absurdly long disquisition and now think there is too much space after my sentences.  I have been tamed.  But, before letting go the second space, I’ll remember these words:

When I write, therefore, I enhance the meaning borne in my sentences—not only in dialogue but in narrative—by imposing on them silences tailored through heavy use of commas, semicolons, dashes, ellipses, and line breaks.  It is something that gives my copyeditors hypertension, yet I encourage students to write this way, and to read their pieces aloud as often as they can, to an audience if possible.  An audience furnishes feedback, tells you by its response how well your scansion’s working.  Thus, I tell my students, silence boosts the import of the words you write.
—George Michelson Foy, Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence

Of course, the book where I read this is also fully justified.

—Posted by IAmNotMakingUp

When Live-Saving Turns Life-Threatening

The wound and the eye are one and the same. From the psyche’s viewpoint, pathology and insight are not opposites—as if we hurt because we have no insight and when we gain insight we shall no longer hurt.
—James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, 1975.

First, a recollection:

About seven years ago, I began taking an anti-cancer medication, Tamoxifen, after months of fretting about whether or not to do so. I had learned that in a very small percentage of patients, it could kindle or worsen depression.  Although it was very rare for that to happen,—my surgeon had never seen a single case, my oncologist maybe one or two—I was indeed one of the “small percentage” to be felled.  It took me some time to identify what was happening, but it really hit me that January when I caught a bad cold and had to stop my vigorous daily exercise routine. That habit was likely what had been keeping me afloat, and the sudden need to forgo it was devastating.  After a period of perilous despair, during which I felt increasingly disinterested in the next week, day, and hour, I realized that the medication I was taking in the hope of staving off a life-threatening illness was itself life-threatening. For me. (Those last two words are crucial.) Fortunately, my doctors understood this and supported my choice to discontinue the medication. Any doubts I had ever had about the chemical aspect of mood were dispelled that January. There are so many debates and opinions in the offing about whether medication is necessary, helpful, virtuous, and so on. Having had such a severe depressive episode instigated by medication—the inverse of the usual—proved once and for all to my bodymind that chemistry can drive mood. I was not as in charge as I would have liked to think. I could not just repair my mental state with talk, toughness, or the right course of action. Sometimes there is no best course of action available. Sometimes one engages in revivifying exercise and finds it helps. And sometimes one gets a cold and realizes that the bank of endorphins has been used up for the time being. Sometimes Whole Foods runs out of fish oil.

think what you are

Next, a reflection:

It’s easy to think we know what depression is and to think we have wisdom about what is best for another who has experienced despair and anguish. But we know little. As many point out, the casual of the use of the d-word,—“Maleficent isn’t playing any more?! I am so depressed!”—hinders understanding. The mysterious and “yin” nature of the disease does too. Its darkness is powerful and seductive. It’s resistant to illumination. Even those who spend their lives experiencing mood challenges, and treating them, acknowledge the limits of their understanding. Some say that those who die of suicide are selfish, or that they failed to ask for help. Some say that pharmaceutical companies are agents of the State, that their medications are designed to break down the body’s natural chemicals, and that they will inevitably lead to a cure worse than the disease. (Tell that to someone who’s planning to take her life this week. A decline down the road might not be a bad alternative.) That one may eschew the word “suffering” and choose spiritual practice over medication, as long as one meditates in the “right way.” These are all things I have read this week, and I have been especially disheartened to hear some who identify themselves as spiritual practitioners reveal such self-satisfaction, such a lack of humility and compassion. I remember when I was diagnosed with and treated for cancer, dealing with (some) others’ responses was infinitely more difficult than accepting my own morbidity and eventual mortality. I’ve felt similarly pained by much of what I have read this week.

I cannot help but think that the persistent misunderstanding of depression and other mental health conditions relates closely to the fear of decline and death that is so evident in US culture. There are so many claims about superfoods and antioxidants and kale. (Oh, right, kale has been dethroned; is that right? Oops!) However, such apparently “positive” possibilities to engineer über-health inevitably reveal a dark side: all too often, such a desire to be well conspires with a similarly American rush to judge others and to express opinions that arise less from knowledge than from unconsidered attitudes—and, I suspect, from fears. Why else would one police another’s kale consumption? I see this in the discussion about cancer as well: the notion that one can outrun it in one way or another, that it can be cured. I have yet to hear anyone besides me ask in response, “And then what? No death? A better one? Worse?”

I find it hard to imagine that such a “police state of mind” is good for anyone’s mental or physical health. Yet there continues to be a cultural emphasis on the transaction: do this, and you’ll get this. Thing is, there is not always a thing to do, and if there is, it is sometimes comes with a heavy tax. Risk more cancer? Or risk suicide with a drug designed to fend it off? Fortunately, I had a reasonable alternative available. But not everyone does.

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light . . . it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.
—Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill (1926)

An invitation:

For those who have not had the “opportunity” to experience depression personally, or to look into its eyes in some other way, might you consider acknowledging your unknown knowns? Might you be able to tolerate the not knowing, as in Keats’s notion of negative capability? Might you emulate my doctors, who understood that their vast experience did not grant them omniscience, and who were able to accept that, even though it was statistically improbable, a life-saving medication could cause life-threatening side effects? Had they not, I might not be here to be wondering about this.

Here is the invitation, should you choose to accept it: For every opinion you express about depression, or other mental-health issue, read one article or essay about it. Or better yet, talk to someone who has lived with mental-health challenges, and instead of nursing your own opinion about how they should handle it, ask them about their experience, choices, and outcomes. It might be good for your own mental health too.

There’s No Map, But—

Below are some links that regarding mental health, depression, and well-being. They do not all agree with one another or with what I write above. I don’t always agree with myself either.

These two posts from The Belle Jar are especially informative:

When Getting Better Is No Longer An Option

Life as a Mountain Hike (Guest Post)

HuffPo Canada Living has had some good articles this week:

Arti Patel, Robin Williams’ Death Reminds Us Of The Impact Of Words Like ‘Sadness’ And ‘Depressed'”

Shannon Fisher, “Suicide Isn’t A Product Of Not Trying”

Spiritual Practitioners Discuss Depression

Lodro Rinzler, Meditation Isn’t Enough: A Buddhist Perspective on Suicide

Krista Tippett discusses her experience of depression (among many other things) on The One You Feed” (podcast)

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

― Stephen Fry

—Posted by Barbara A. White

From One Egg To Another


It’s nice to see you here in the æther, Brad, and to read your “We Are What We Think.”  It’s been a while, and we do not really know one another, yet I’ve always thought you a fellow good egg, so I shall presume to speak freely, as one egg to another.  When I read your comment, I begin to dream about what it might be like to think of gender issues as simple and as something that could be gone beyond.  The thing is, I don’t have that luxury.  Indeed, #SomeOfUs, at some times, might experience the inverse: as if every mince of meat in the pie is wrapped within a tight crust of gender socialization.  All the veggies and spices are held in check; it’s hot and uncomfortable in there.  I observe how frequently constructions like, “it’s not just gender” come up.  (Again, socialization: I myself included a formulation not entirely unlike this in my earlier text.)  If I had a dollar for every time I read, “it’s not just gender,” I’d have . . . $0.73 on the dollar.

think what you are(I’ve had this détournement on hand for some time.)

I think we also think what we are.  Moreover, depending who holds what sort of power and how much, we are effectively what others think we are, whether or not we think so.  One could run around like a chicken with her head cut off if she continued to be and think this way.

This is my vantage point: rather than nibbling on the gender aspect as the chicken in the soup, I drink it in as the stock.  It’s always there, hydrating (or drowning) the rest of the ingredients, and it has caloric, if not always measurable, effects.  I often refer to the “second shift”—a term that has been used to describe women’s domestic “homework,” completed after returning home from the workday.  But the shifts are more than two: as “the gender” (a term a colleague applied to me once), I have a second shift in managing the chromosomal matters that come up from day to day.  On the occasions when issues of equity threaten to affect my performance and/or well-being, my third shift—seeking remedy—commences.  The price for all this is high.  Often the dishes go unwashed.  For days at a time.

I am intrigued by what you write in your 2007 essay, and I am sorry it was not embraced for more traditional publication.  I especially appreciate the inward-lookingness, which is all too rare in the contexts and culture(s) you describe.  Many of your stated concerns intersect with my own.  Along these lines, I have been conceiving of a project to do with the intersection of ethics and the arts—perhaps less frighteningly described as values and the arts.  My dream is to foster more attention to the implicit habits of mind that stock our soup and thus to the more explicit, if still unquantifiable, fruits and poisons of those habits.  Perhaps there is more discussion to be had on this topic.  Ironically, although gender is one of the main factors—if not the only one—that led me to reflect on values and ethics as related to artistic activity, the requirements presented by my many shifts preclude my moving forward on this endeavor at the moment.  It’s too bad, because I think such a project would contribute much to the field and its culture, and I would like to make such a contribution.  Maybe someday.

I remember that Paul told me about your blog when I was diagnosed with cancer, and I think we were experiencing life-threatening illness at the same time.  Perhaps there is something to the notion that such an experience can clarify and distill one’s values and goals.  Although that sounds cliché, for me one aspect of such reorienting may be that clichés cease to feel so clichéd; that values feel more urgent, more communal, less rarified.  Of course, I do not know whether this was your experience, so I would be curious to know.  For my part, I fired up the still and started on the moonshine some time before my diagnosis, so I was already under the influence of thoughts about impermanence before I met my tumors.  As I get older and continue breathing, I debate whether I want to spend my remaining years stirring against the current, or whether it would be more useful to twirl over to the blender to make gazpacho instead.

You mention “the sense of protection and entitlement that leads to an unhealthy insularity.” #NotAll would choose to reflect, and openly, on this sort of privilege and its effects.  I suspect we might have some similar thoughts about the current political, cultural, and academic climate.  My eyes have been opened of late as I have learned more about the experiences of adjunct faculty across the country, as well as of tenure-track and tenured faculty who teach at institutions that permit less hermetic luxury.  And there are the recent threats to academic freedom, which seem to be arising at regular intervals.

As a fellow presumed good egg, perhaps you will be interested to hear that such a sense of safety and ease is is largely foreign to my experience.  My sense is of disenfranchisement and exposure to the elements—so much so that my saying even this much may well open me to professional risk.  Even though I am a full professor with a distinguished record, I do not believe my tenure to be secure.  I know that I do not have access to academic freedom.  My environment is not insular; on the contrary, I travel largely on my own, outside the clubhouse.  This is a shame and a shock, for such stability is one of the great perks of knocking oneself out as a junior professor (the others, of course, being able to work at home in pajamas, and having good health care if and when the overwork catches up—if that is, one thinks materialistically about such matters).  And I fear not only for my job security, livelihood, and wardrobe, but for my overall well-being and my very survival.  Stirring against the current takes a toll.  Again, it is an unquantifiable one, but it can be deadly in various ways, both literally and metaphorically.  I’m only joking about the pajamas, of course: it’s the vocation itself that draws me.  And so I am sorry to find that, even after paying my proverbial dues—plus the gender tax levied on top—I am hindered from “contributing to the field,” as we say when we advocate for our mentees in all those letters of recommendation, thwarted in my efforts to share the wisdom I have gained along the way.

IMG_0078

In the stream of your self-reflection, you write, “I could also hide behind the tired excuse: ‘I’ve already written/said/discussed this before, so why drag it out and bore everyone again?’ Been there. Done that.”  That is another difference.  I  sweat in the heat but am denied the license to get out of the kitchen.  I do not have the luxury of choosing not to be bored, or electing not to bore you.  As with life-threatening illness, one cannot take a break from gender disparity and disrespect.  Moreover, crafting a productive response to counterproductive circumstances is much harder than writing a dissertation or compiling a portfolio for promotion.  (Hmm—perhaps we could give tax credit to junior professors for gender duty?)  I’m damned if I cluck and damned if I don’t.  Instead, in order to survive, I must continue to cough up eggs even as my limbs are being chopped off.  How long before there are none left to sacrifice?  It’s like The Giving Tree, which I cannot but call “The Tree of Codependence.”  Or like the Monty Python’s disembodied knight.  (He perseveres, armless, to scoff at his opponent: “Chicken!”)

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is worse than cancer.  Much worse.  I strode to my mastectomy, but I trudge to the concert hall.

In regard to the nature of the concert hall and thinking outside the box, I believe this matter too to be deserving of attention and inquiry.  I agree, in 2014, about the restrictions you identified in 2007.  But I have to play prep cook first and ask, whose box is it?  And how do those who have yet to make our way in step outside of it?   (By the way, hasn’t the fantasy of “thinking outside the box” become rather boxy itself since 2007?  Funny how that happens.  Times have changed.  Do you agree?  Should we at least ask the chicken’s name and make sure she’s got room to stretch?)

Do I remember correctly that when you came to the Princeton conference some years ago you performed solo, something kind of folky?  I remember having a resistance to that, in a way that will not surprise you given what you write/wrote in your essay.  And that’s a good experience to have.  I would not have the same response today, I bet.  What  might it mean that “something folky” is what puts someone off in the concert hall in the ivy?  (Or perhaps that was someone else.  It’s been a while.)

Fast forward to 2014, last night’s gig: I was ticket-seller for the Thursday-night Ceilidh here in Cape Breton.  There is a sign at the entrance to the Sessions Lounge that says, “Beer Belly Boulevard.”  Local musicians, mostly amateur, and (“and,” not “but”) supremely skilled and devoted; their music is moving and inspiring.  I got a $5 tip!—from a hulking, very drunk man who called me “sweetheart.”  I tried to refuse the money, suggesting he reallocate his funds to the bartender who was working for minimum wage and tips, but he firmly pushed the bill into my hand.  (Given his disinhibited state, I didn’t think it would be productive to undertake a discussion on his unwanted largesse.)  A fleeting moment, but neither simple nor beyondable: a physically intimidating man refused to accept that I would not accept his money and assumed license to address me with a term of infringement.  I toyed with the thought of disclosing to him my salary, whether the $0 per Ceilidh I get for taking tickets or the vast sum I receive for my multiple shifts at the university.  (In an immaterial sense, I am no longer sure which is more lucrative.)  Instead I took the colorful fiver and bought my duo partner a Bud.  Then I joined in the weekly jam session and played some jigs and reels on my bass clarinet, swimming along with the circle of generous and welcoming local virtuosi.  At ease.

And now, I must take my leave.  There is a very nice man across the room who has just cooked me an omelette.  (It’s actually French toast, but sometimes you gotta break an egg to make sour-grape lemonade, eh?  If I can’t catch a break, I’ll take poetic license.  With maple syrup.)

I am curious: how have your thoughts crystallized and/or shifted since your 2007 essay?  Anything new?  And to the larger—here I use such a word advisedly—issue: how is your health?  Good, I hope, in all ways, small and big.  (And let me know if you do not self-identify as a good egg; it’s not for me to say.)

—Posted by IAmNotMakingThisUp

Which is Worse: A Dull Knife, or a Sharp One?

“Our brains have evolved to help our bodies find their way around the world on the scale at which those bodies operate.”
—Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

To Richard Dawkins, DSc, FRS, FRSL:

Following up on your recent Twitter Conference on rape rankings, I wonder whether you might be willing to answer the following questions.  Your reasoning ability is much needed.  One of your conclusions follows:

Dawkins Rape Tweet ScreenshotFollowing up on this, and taking advantage of the copious space afforded off-Tweet, a few questions follow.  I would like to get at some of the subtleties of your point of view—ones you could not have expressed in a mere 140 characters.

Ranking Rape

1.  Which is bad and which is worse: to agree to go on a rape date without being informed that it is to be that sort of date, or to be held at knifepoint and raped by a stranger without being informed ahead of time?

1a.  Which rape date is worse: one with someone you have met in a bar and never have to see again?  Or one with an acquaintance you will see in evo-bio class on Tuesday?  Or one you were introduced to by your best friend?

1b.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be threatened by a dull carving knife, or a sharp serrated knife?  Or to submit to the rape in order not to be cut?  Or to be cut and raped both?  And if so, by which knife?

1c.  Which is bad and which is worse: to dress up, go on a rape date and have a nice dinner first, including fine wine?  Or to dress casually, go on a rape date and get raped before dinner and drinks?  Or, to go on a rape date and later be interrogated about what you drank?  And wore?

1d.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be raped by a classmate and receive little or no assistance from campus authorities?  Or to be raped by a stranger and receive little or no support from the legal system?

1e.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be raped by several young men in your school, and for them to put pictures and/or videos on the Internet, and, as a result, to take your own life at the age of 15?  Or to be raped and take one’s own life right away?

1d.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be raped by your partner?  Or by your mother’s partner?  And does a pregnancy resulting from either experience change the ranking?

1e.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be sexually assaulted (without penetration) by one’s father at 6, or to be raped (with penetration) by one’s uncle at 3?  (Those are ages, not times of day.)

1f.  Which is bad and which is worse: to be sexually abused by a distant family member and to keep quiet about it for decades?  Or to be ostracized by the family when you at last choose to speak out?

1g.  Which is bad and which is worse: to witness a man without understanding or compassion opine on grades of rape in 140 characters?  Or for him to publish more than one 140-character statement?  Or more?  Or for these micro-statements to get so much news coverage that you cannot but see him everywhere?

1h.  Which is bad and which is worse: that inhumane acts such as sexualized violence continue to be tolerated, or that a prominent male intellectual, whose speciality lies elsewhere, chooses to focus on degrees of suffering rather than degrees of misdoing?  Or, just to leave the discussion to those who are equipped to undertake it?  (To “go away,” one might say.)  And, if he is taken seriously on the topic of rape, does that mean we should believe what Jenny McCarthy has to say about the link between vaccination and autism?  And should we all be making appointments with homeopaths?

1g.  Which is bad and which is worse: to opine on the significance and degree of others’ suffering without listening to what they have to say themselves?  Or to deny others’ suffering altogether?  Or to consider oneself irreproachable by virtue of one’s (ostensibly) superior intellect?

Dawkins Tweet X Y

1h.  You say that you can reverse the “X and Y”—that is the rape date and the aggravated assault—and retain the same logic.  Might one contend then, that “acupuncture is bad, and that homeopathy is worse?”  And that neither is commendable?  And then reverse the X and the Y?  Could one say that sudden death is bad but slow, agonizing death is worse, and then reverse that?  Or that death by 1000 cuts is bad, but by 1001 is worse, or maybe the opposite?  Could one say that one offensive tweet is bad and two are worse and reverse that too?  That confronting inhumanity before death is bad and that finding it the afterlife too—hypothetically speaking, of course—would be worse?  Or would the afterlife, even in the presence of others who scorn compassion and mutual understanding, have other advantages that make the big picture worth it?

Semantics, Virtuality, God, and Delusion 

Dawkins Rape tweet 2

Richard, please tell us what, in this era of virtuality, “go away” means.  If there is an “away,” must there be a “here”?  Are we to assume that “here” is where you are?  If so, most of us, statistically speaking, are likely “away” already.  And to confuse matters, I have a hard time thinking of the sofa on which I sit as anything but “here,”  though if I expend some effort, I can understand that to you it may be considered “away.”  Where, then, am I to “go”?

Richard, do I understand correctly that your experience of sexual abuse was rendered innocuous because you did not believe in evil (and, presumably, God)?  You mention that your schoolmates suffered (more) at the hands of the same offender while your “mental trauma was soon exorcised.”  Does that mean that God, not the human being who did the “fondling,”  sexually abused these children?  And if God does not exist, who sexually abused these children?  Who is responsible for their suffering?  (Extra credit: can you explain your choice of the word “exorcised”?)

Describing your resilience, you write, “Thank goodness, I have never personally experienced what it is like to believe – really and truly and deeply believe – in hell. But I think it can be plausibly argued that such a deeply held belief might cause a child more long-lasting mental trauma than the temporary embarrassment of mild physical abuse.”

So, Richard, why are you speaking out about degrees of sexualized assault?  And why are you comparing the effects of different sorts of rape if you yourself were so unaffected by your childhood experience?  If your trauma was “exorcised,” why do you think rape is “bad” and can be even “worse”?  Can’t those who have experienced rape access your form of “exorcism” too?  Isn’t the real offender, not the sexual predator, but God?  And since there is no God to hold accountable, does that mean that rape does not exist?

And how is it that your brain is helping your body find its way around the world?  Does it help you find your way around Twitter?  Maybe your brain could help me figure out where I should go to learn to think. I would like to think better.  Although, like you, I hold a doctoral degree and a professorship,—albeit without such a public profile—I am not sure that my Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition qualifies me to compare different degrees of rape.  But you appear to know better than I do about applying one’s training in unexpected areas.

Richard, please critique the following statement:  “As an eminent evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins has become known as a public intellectual.  As an eminent evolutionary biologist and public intellectual, Richard Dawkins compares varieties of sexual assault in order to rank them.  As an eminent evolutionary biologist and public intellectual who compares varieties of sexual assault in order to rank them, Richard Dawkins unwittingly exposes the limitations of logic.”

I like to think that your brain can help my brain help my body find its way around.  I will appreciate any assistance you can offer.

Oh—one more question:  Can you define “syllogism” for me?  Is it something like “solipsism”?

Sincerely,

IAmNotMakingUp