Monday, June 05, 2006

A healthy dose of good sense

R. Joseph Hoffman on Da Vincititis:

But the humanists I know have been passionately interested in the unfaithing potential of the controversy, with the result that they vie with the Catholics for the Numbness of Nuance award. Always happy to see rocks thrown at nonsense (than which there is none greater than the ossified dogmas of Catholicism) the shortsighted atheist few had not counted on Da Vinci creating a new form of superstition, a Religio Da Vinci that blends historical implausibility with a modern passion for intrigue and a postmodern indifference to truth. Magic, codes, rings, and cryptographs, naifish spirituality, the occult, and the unbelievable are the pillars that prop up the symbolic roofs of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Hogwarts Academy. In tapping into a rich vein of early Christian eccentricity famous for its contempt for the historical Jesus, Brown has been able to mine the riches of a darker period, our own, known for its historical illiteracy.

Frederick Crews on Freud:

One set of questions can be answered summarily: of course Freud's influence in our culture has been pervasive. Nobody doubts it, so that surely can't be the news item.

A more interesting question would be whether any evidence--recognized as such by uncommitted and scientifically well-informed parties--has recently, or ever, come to light in support of Freud's specific propositions about the mind. That issue was thoroughly addressed a few years ago by the philosopher of science Edward Erwin in a book called A Final Accounting. Its conclusion was that no corroborative evidence whatsoever has been found. The same conclusion emerges from Malcolm Macmillan's great study Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc (1991; revised 1997, with a foreword by me

No comments: