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April 22, 2008


Scott P. Richert

Since Mr. Seitz's post, and my response to it, has disappeared from Takimag.com, and only Mr. Seitz's post has reappeared here, I'll simply paste the text of my original response below:

One wonders what part of “Sokaled” Mr. Seitz doesn’t understand.

Yes, Miz Schvarts is now claiming that this whole thing was a hoax, but that’s where the similarity between her case and Alan Sokal’s ends. Sokal was attempting to show the intellectual shallowness of those who claimed to be the intellectual avant-garde. And he did a pretty damn good job of it.

The parallel here would be if Schvarts believed that art should be beauty in the service of truth and goodness--if, in other words, she held to a traditional understanding of art. Then, she might have announced that she was engaging in this barbaric performance art in the expectation that the artistic avant-garde would praise it as, well, avant-garde. After which she would announce that, of course, the whole thing had been a hoax and point out that this whole sorry episode shows that the “art” that is praised today is really nothing of the sort.

Of course, she has done no such thing. Instead, she’s simply claimed that she--a supporter of abortion--wasn’t really going to do what she said she would do. The hoax had no point to it, as Sokal’s did.

Tom Piatak is exactly right, and the fact that Mr. Seitz can’t see that probably explains why he is incapable of reading the magazine formerly known as “Chronicles of Culture,” a magazine of which Mr. Seitz’s benefactor, Taki Theodoracopulos, wrote on this very website less than three weeks ago:

I am now an associate editor of Chronicles magazine, America’s by far leading cultural journal, a monthly based on the outskirts of Chicago, and one which looks at the fundamental questions first, with elections and legislation being secondary. The way it should be. Changes in culture and religion are more important, and Chronicles is as liberal in allowing its columnists to attack the baddies as any publication in the land.

Ah, but perhaps this is all just another elaborate ruse. Mr. Seitz has undoubtedly “Sokaled” us. Surely, he wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds him?

Posted by Scott P. Richert on Apr 22, 2008.

Scott P. Richert

In fairness, Mr. Seitz's final big, bold, blue remark (obviously added in a fit of pique, since it wasn't part of the post when it resided at Takimag) is absolutely correct: Chronicles has not had art gallery ads in its pages for a while.

How Mr. Seitz would know, however, is beyond me. The fact that he refers to the magazine by a title ("Chronicles of Culture") that it has not used for almost a quarter of a century is, a think, a fair metric of Mr. Seitz's familiarity with the contents of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Russell Seitz

Mr. Richert is too modest--the circulation and influence of "America's by far leading cultural journal " today easily exceed that of The American Mercury, Ramparts ,and the Historical Journal of The University Of Chandargath combined.

Nobody reads them anymore either,and lack of reader demand consigned the survivors or successors to the Harvard stackslate in the last century.( Buck up, guys- the Radcliffe shelf copy disappeared because they closed Hilles Library-

What I have since seen of it on line has not inspired an expedition to retrieve a hard copy so far in this century,but that is true of some tens of thousands of the other small magazines down there.

With Taki on board , I trust you'll escape their fate if you can make the content more memorable than the title in future. It would scarce qualify as a Palaeo-anything publication if some readers did not insist that it isn't what It used to be.

You might begin your editorial renaissance by lambasting the decline of The Alternative -- you know the magazine I mean, the one with the very small turkey on the cover that you can actually find on newsstands. The blue ink is merely Typepad software squawking , but I'll leave it that way to spare us both.

Tom Piatak

The notion that Roe v Wade in any senses "hinges" on the definition of "scientific terms" is nonsense. Roe v Wade remains what Byron White called it in his dissent, "an excerise of raw judicial power." Why Mr. Seitz would wish to defend Aliza Shvarts, or Roe v Wade, is beyond me.
-- Tom Piatak, 4-23-08


What ever is Mr.Piatak talking about?

The piece does not defend Roe v. Wade, but the case's opinions and amici briefs discourse learnedly, and at length, on complex questions of biology.

I find the quotation from Oliver Wendell Holmes that prefaces the majority opinion more germane than Byron Whites'--
"[The Constitution] is made for people of fundamentally differing views, and the accident of our finding certain opinions natural and familiar or novel and even shocking ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States."

How does Mr. Piatak judge my accusing Miss Schvarts of " raising the artistic yuck factor beyond the realm of pickled sharks and plasticized cadavers" as evincing a wish to defend her work ?

Tom Piatak

I point out that the only portion written by me in the above post is the first three lines above "RESPONSE," and what follows is by Mr. Seitz.


I have amended the format of Mr. Piatak's response accordingly. It would not do to have an editor of the world's foremost critical journal confused with a reprobate like Oliver Wendall Holmes .

Tom Piatak

Unfortunately, I do not have the honor of being an editor of Chronicles, though I am glad to be a contributor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes was not always heroic. Read Buck v. Bell. It's therefore very appropriate that the moral cretin who authored Roe v Wade would quote Holmes, but it's ironic that Blackmun cited Holmes' dissent in Lochner rather than his majority opinion in Buck.

The opinion Holmes dissented from in Lochner is based on the same theory of substantive due process that animated Roe v Wade. If Blackmun had actually followed the logic of Holmes' dissent in Lochner, the Supreme Court would not have usurped the authority of state legislatures to protect unborn human life.

By contrast, Buck v Bell was animated by a warped and perverted science perfectly consistent with the result of Roe.

Scott P. Richert

"It would not do to have an editor of the world's foremost critical journal confused with a reprobate like Oliver Wendall Holmes."

Mr. Seitz continues to insult his patron, Taki Theodoracopulos, by making light of Taki's praise of Chronicles. Why he would engage in such behavior is beyond me.

Even if Mr. Seitz is uninterested in Taki's recommendation, he should be able to understand that good manners requires that one not bite the hand that feeds him.

Russell Seitz

All that manners demand is a caution to the reader: Mr.Richert confuses the previous passages' subject-- Mr.Piatak with another.

Once the tendentious begin such threads, they seldom leave off.

Those indisposed to tolerate the ironically challenged may , for the moment, be happier reading elsewhere.

Scott P. Richert

"Mr.Richert confuses the previous passages' subject-- Mr.Piatak with another."

No, in fact, I did not, Mr. Seitz. I was referring to your continual snide dismissal of Taki's comments regarding Chronicles. He, after all (not me), was the one who wrote "I am now an associate editor of Chronicles magazine, America’s by far leading cultural journal . . . "

You may disagree with him (though, as you cheerfully admit, you haven't bothered looking at it), but the point still stands: good manners requires that one not bite the hand that feeds him

Russell Seitz

I look forward to the appearance of anything worth reading, and am saddened that so little answering to that description has appeared in Chronicles in the last decade. I hope its next is more memorable.

Meanwhile, Kyoto University researchers have genetically transformed adult human skin cells to emulate embryonic stem cell functionality by inserting four genes—Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Myc present in embryonic stem cells, causing the dermal cells to revert to the embryonic state. These induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are a development the President has hailed as the happy ending of the stem cell wars.

In a related advance injecting mouse iPS cells into mouse blastocysts has been found to create chimeric mice, with iPS cells incorporated into the developing mouse embryo forming part of the organ tissue the resulting mice. The Whitehead Institute here in Cambridge has even created a mouse comprised entirely of iPS cells--the cells form an embryo when embedded into tetraploid embryonic cells that grow into a placenta. There is no apparent reason why this generic in vitro technique wouldn't work on any other mammal, species, including the one to which Yale's egregious Miss Schvarts belongs.

If, switching majors, she becomes a born again Biology & the Arts grad student, switching off these four theologically correct genes would allow her to create artificial placental tissue to expand what she conceives to be the dernier cri in yucky conceptual art using federally approved techniques. Credit is due the Herculean labors of her patrons on the President's Panel On Bioethics, for it is their artful shifting of the broad and shallow flow of research funding in molecular genetics that have put such new means at the muses disposal.

.If Al Gore deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for declaring victory in the Climate Wars, only liberal philistines will cavil at the nomination of Miss Schvarts fellow Yale alumnus in the White House for advancing the arts while winding down the stem cell wars.

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