Re: A thought for the holidays

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Mon, 8 Jan 1996 20:54:41 -0500

That is a wonderful New Year's thought, John. Starting from a dark
beginning, you soar in your discussion of the four fields, and I agree
with you totally. I see you wrote it on l2/20, and I am responding l/8,
having been away . . . . away . . . . away. I hope that in l996 you
continue to bring us joy, intellectual, scientific, emotional. Ruby

On Wed, 20 Dec 1995, John McCreery wrote:

> Dear Friends,
> The anthropological identity crisis--Who are we? Why are we
> valuable? Why should anyone else pay for what we do?--is an issue
> much on our minds these days. Scientists battle humanists. The
> tenured cling to privilege in a tottering keep besieged by the
> untenured, the adjunct, the collateral. Beyond the outer wall the
> barbarians are on the way, ready to slaughter the hopes of all who
> struggle to possess the ivory tower. In minds obsessed with the
> battle at hand, new dark ages loom. In the spirit of the season, I offer
> here a word of hope. The unsuspecting author is Nicholas
> Negroponte, Director of the MIT Media Lab, writing in the January,
> 1996,WIRED, p. 204.
> "Alan Kay, father of the personal computer (among other things),
> likes to say that perspective is worth 50 points of IQ (it may be worth
> more, Alan). Marvin Minsky, father of artificial intelligence, says
> that you don't know something until you know it in more than
> three ways. They are both quite right."
> I ask you, now, what field to you know that offers a broader or
> deeper perspective than classic American anthropology, with a
> temporal range that stretches back into prehistory and a scope that
> dares to embrace the whole of humanity worldwide? What field
> makes it easier to see problems in more than three ways:
> ecologically, historically, linguistically, critically, [add your favorite
> adjective here]? And, as an advertising man I must add, what field
> does more to endow its practitioners with the sheer romantic charisma of those
> who have ventured beyond conventional boundaries in pursuit
> of personal visions?
> How easy it is to become obsessed with the trivia we know and the
> petty bickering that plagues our lives. In the spirit of the season my
> friends, let us lift up our eyes and our voices. We have great songs
> to sing.
> Peace on earth, good will to all.
> John McCreery