Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Tierney Fallacy

Here it is, in the words of John Tierney:


If nothing else, the results seem to be a robust confirmation of the hypothesis in the old joke: How can a woman get a man to take off his clothes? Ask him.


He says it's an old joke, and I believe him, but I still think that this "hypothesis" should be called "The Tierney Fallacy" in his honor.

John Tierney is a huge fan of evolutionary psychology, and has been, as I blogged just the other day, for at least nine years. And I believe it's because he thinks that it WILL confirm all the old jokes.

The odd thing is that the "study" he cited - and I find it impossible to take anything authored by David Buss seriously - actually goes against the standard traditional stereotypes that David Buss normally trades in. As Tierney reports:
The results contradicted another stereotype about women: their supposed tendency to use sex to gain status or resources.

“Our findings suggest that men do these things more than women,” Dr. Buss said, alluding to the respondents who said they’d had sex to get things, like a promotion, a raise or a favor. Men were much more likely than women to say they’d had sex to “boost my social status” or because the partner was famous or “usually ‘out of my league.’ ”

Dr. Buss said, “Although I knew that having sex has consequences for reputation, it surprised me that people, notably men, would be motivated to have sex solely for social status and reputation enhancement.”


Damn right it surprised him, one of the tenets of evolutionary psychology is that men have sex, with the youngest most attractive women they can find, purely for pleasure, while women want to have sex with older men to get at that sweet status and money. And not because for millenia men have set up a system where women couldn't hold jobs and had to marry well to survive, they believe it's an innate preference.

Really I am surprised that Buss is able to admit just how much his latest study contradicts all his beliefs about human sexuality, since he believes that any social situation proves natural inclinations. I never tire of quoting from David J. Buller's demonstration of Buss's amazing ability to discount nurture in sexual behavior (From his book Adapting Minds):
...in a well-documented study, the anthropologist William Irons found that, among the Turkmen of Persia, males in the wealthier half of the population left 75 percent more offspring than males in the poorer half of the population. Buss cites several studies like this as indicating that "high status in men leads directly to increased sexual access to a larger number of women," and he implies that this is due to the greater desirability of high-status men (David Buss 1999 "Evolutionary Psychology the New Science of the Mind").

But, among the Turkmen, women were sold by their families into marriage. The reason that higher-status males enjoyed greater reproductive success among the Turkmen is that they were able to buy wives earlier and more often than lower-status males. Other studies that clearly demonstrate a reproductive advantage for high-status males are also studies of societies or circumstances in which males "traded" in women. This isn't evidence that high-status males enjoy greater reproductive success because women find them more desirable. Indeed, it isn't evidence of female preference at all, just as the fact that many harem-holding despots produced remarkable numbers of offspring is no evidence of their desirability to women. It is only evidence that when men have power they will use it to promote their reproductive success, among other things (and that women, under such circumstances, will prefer entering a harem to suffering the dire consequences of refusal).


But something so blatantly wrong as this will not stop the EPs, and certainly not the mental midget John Tierney, from considering Buss one of the world's foremost authorities on our "nature."

EPs are normally amazingly evidence-proof though, and so what WOULD John Tierney say if I told him that I've been unable to get men to undress on demand? That I am not truly a woman? Or a "natural" woman? I've been impregnated and given birth in the standard female fashion - isn't that enough? Ain't I a woman?

Is it that I'm too unattractive? But he and the joke don't say "attractive" woman, they just say "woman." Does the joke, and Tierney (but I repeat myself) expect us to automatically assume the adjective "attractive?" I certainly don't believe that anybody considers me a babe, but I HAVE been able to convince men to have sex with me, even offer to marry me in two cases. Do the joke and Tierney expect us to infer they mean "desperate" men? I admit that few of my lovers have been mistaken for hunks, but they weren't THAT bad. Other women had sex with them too. One man with whom I did not have sex was married to someone else when he propositioned me. He was a newly-wed, actually. But then, he was German, maybe that's not so weird over there.

But oh if only what Tierney believes were true. How painfully I desired my co-worker, "C", and how much would it have alleviated my pain to make sweet sweet love to him. I haven't seen him in over ten years and I still have erotic dreams about him.

My dear departed Earl knew how much I longed for him - knew how much many other women desired him, and never took his clothing off (is it necrophilia to get happy at the thought of his getting naked, right now?) for any of us. If he had done so, on demand, he'd have caught his death from pneumonia, not motorcycle crash.

And the sweet kind gentle sensitive coolest-straight-guy-in-the-world actor for whom I've carried a torch for months now - I'm just this side of burning offerings to his graven image - and who recently broke up with his girlfriend - if only I had such power over HIM! But I KNOW he'll say he doesn't think of me that way, or something less crushing, like, we're working together on a project and it would be too weird, or some other tactful thing - he's so charming and tactful. So I can't ask him.

IF ONLY women had such power over men, I would not be unpacking my heart onto a blog post, I would at this very moment be ripping every shred of fabric from his body.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

WILMA!



Discussions of evolutionary psychology crop up now and then at the Pandagon and Echidne blogs, and I always like to participate because basically, I know alot more about evolutionary psychology (EP) than most people, even those who subscribe to its theories, and it makes for an easy debate victory.

Well why wouldn't I know more than most people, it was introduced to me, back in the 1980s under the name "sociobiology" (EP promoters sometimes claim there are differences between EP and sociobio, but I've yet to find anything solid) through the work of the mighty cultural materialist Marvin Harris, whose biography I hope to finish writing before I die.

I've also been arguing about EP with media types and EP bigwigs (like Steven Pinker,) since I picked a fight with John Tierney before he had his own op-ed column, way back in 1998, when he was promoting one of its various theories of female inferiority. He actually responded a couple of times, I think mainly because email was still a bit of a novelty and our media overlords found a piquant charm in communicating directly with the rabble - that wore off soon enough. I must look for that exchange in the archives one of these days.

In a recent thread at Pandagon, while arguing with an EP defender, I said that the EP view of human society seems to have been largely informed by The Flintstones. A bit hyperbolic, right?

Guess again.

During another discussion of EP, someone referenced "The Female Brain" by Loanne Brizendine, without irony as an authoritative source for understanding the Mysterious Female. I knew it was standard EP wackiness, but imagine my amazement when I discovered that at long last, evolutionary psychology has now become impossible to paradoy.

From a publishers statement, posted at Amazon:
Brizedine is not above reviewing the basics: "We may think we're a lot more sophisticated than Fred or Wilma Flintstone, but our basic mental outlook and equipment are the same."

Friday, July 27, 2007

I am sorely disappointed by Gail Collins

And my expectations were not that high in the first place when I heard the second XX entity permitted to have a regular opinion column at the NYTimes Op-Ed Smurf colony would be Collins.

Gail Collins was found to be non-threatening enough, and conventional enough by The Powers that Be to get the post of Op-Ed editor at the NYTimes, and I knew she said this, in defense of the male newspaper establishment's problem with female opinions:
There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff, and they're less comfortable hearing something on the news and batting something out."


But I thought, well, she can't be as bitchy and as shallow as Maureen Dowd, can she? Could ANYbody?

Well. She's not quite as bitchy as Dowd. But let's just say toddlers would be perfectly safe to wade in her journalistic outpourings.

Her first column, about McCain and Hillary Clinton, was respectable if not exactly exciting. Her next was about how Hillary isn't folksy enough - which goes over some of the same ground as the previous column.

Then she goes after the Edwardses:
“I’d have to think about it,” he said during a press conference later that day. This was actually his second answer, the first being a short, utterly unrelated disquisition on food safety inspections. The Edwards campaign has devoted immense effort to beating back the image of their candidate as The Man With the Expensive Haircut. They don’t want to make August the month for The Man Who Would Take Away America’s Citrus Fruit.

How's that for meta-editorials. She seeks to turn August into Citrus Fruit month for Edwards through this very column. I hadn't read anybody else going on about tangerines - but then I don't read People. So by column three she's shading into Dowd territory.

But in her latest, she reveals she isn't just boring and unoriginal, she's also lazy. It never ceases to amaze me how NYTimes writers make a great living out of doing half the work that poorly-paid or non-paid bloggers do.

In her latest, Collins goes on about the 'fat is contagious' meme, the meme that is perhaps the ultimate source of Dick Cavett's pearl clutching and smelling-salts huffing over the sight of fat people on TV.
Collins starts out like this:
8 p.m. — “Friends.” In a much-anticipated reunion special, the gang has all bought condos in the same strangely affordable Manhattan apartment building. Tension mounts as Phoebe and Rachel notice that Monica is putting on weight. Well aware of the new study showing that obesity travels through friendship networks, they evict her. “The body mass of the many is more important than the survival of the one,” says a saddened Ross. “ Even if she is my sister.” Later, the rest of the group reminisces about good times past with their now-shunned buddy. Nicole Richie guest stars as Chandler’s new love interest


But unlike lazy-ass homework-shirker Collins, Amanda at Pandagon points out that the study actually found that the contagiousness of fat friends DOES NOT APPLY TO WOMEN.

Hoyden About Town asks: Yet another case of “male” being the default for “human”?

I think that's about right. I would maintain that it's because Gail Collins subscribes to this traditional view, that male = human, female = other, that she wouldn't notice the study points out that it's primarily a male-friend phenomenon. And that's why she's had such a successful career playing ball with the Big Boys.

And so Paul Krugman remains the only excellent op-ed columnist at the NYTimes. And Collins is a semi-Smurfette.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Your suspicions were correct all along...

Dick Cavett IS a tool:

"It was only a few years ago that I first noticed an obese person in a commercial. Then there were more. Now, like obesity itself, it has gotten out of hand.

This disturbs me in ways I haven’t fully figured out, and in a few that I have. The obese man on the orange bench, the fat pharmacist in the drug store commercial and all of the other heavily larded folks being used to sell products distresses me. Mostly because the message in all this is that its O.K. to be fat.

As we know, it isn’t.

It isn’t, mainly, because of the attendant health issues. The risk of several cancers, crippling damage to joints, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and sleep apnea —a much under-publicized life-threatener — defies sense.

So why is it so prevalent in our culture and in the media? Could it be that the ad agencies — always with our best interests at heart, of course — are making use of the appalling fact that obesity in the United States has doubled and rapidly redoubled to the point where one-third of the population is imperiled by gross poundage? Fat people, the commercial-makers may feel, are entitled to representation. What’s wrong with that?

Everything."


More swillage

Like right-wing scolds everywhere, and Cavett uses that favorite phrase of the Right "politically correct" in order to plead dispensation for his toolishness, Cavett finds it pleasing, comfortable and self-esteem-enhancing to tell people whose appearance he dislikes to shape up or get the hell out of his world.

Fat Michael Moore has done a thousand times more to try to improve the health of Americans than Dick Cavett has ever dreamed of - as if Dick Cavett would ever dream of something so noble and non-pretentious as that.

Dick Cavett likes to pretend it's about his humantarian concern for the health of the obese, but what it's really about is Dick's delicate sensibilities and how those fatties have trampled upon them. Boo hoo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My new favorite movie



Well I raved about Idiocracy, but SiCKO is my new favorite movie. It is a great movie in every way. If you haven't seen it, go see it, and then you can read the rest of this post, which contains a spoiler.

SPOILER ALERT



So in the movie, Moore mentions the web site set up by bitter hate-filled rightwing creeps called Moorewatch, in order to constantly attack Moore.

They almost had to shut it down because one of the guys who runs it JimB, was being hit with MEDICAL BILLS for his wife.

So Michael Moore sent him a check to cover the amount, anonymously, but then mentioned it in the movie.

So I'm wondering - how are these bitter, hate-filled rightwingers going to react? I did not expect it would be to rethink their bitter hate-filled ways. I thought maybe they would respond by pointing out that Moore has lots of money and did it as a publicity stunt. But instead their main tactic was to attack Moore's supporters.

JimK, it seems, is an independent libertarian - I don't think he used the term libertarian, but by his stated beliefs manifesto, that's what he is. But here's the really really weird thing - he looks like Michael Moore.

Maybe the bitterness comes from the realization that Michael Moore made a great success out of his life through promoting his (righteous, in my book) political causes, while a guy who looks like Michael Moore is a loser who has to accept charity from Michael Moore. But at least that charity didn't come from no guv'mint.

I didn't mention the best part of the movie - if you don't get a little misty-eyed, you are made of stone. You will know what I mean when you see it.

All the critics of Michael Moore seem to have one theme - he's not a saint, so why should anybody care what he says?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Crazy Dictator Syndrome

If I put a little more effort into it, I could probably have other people produce my plays more often. Currently a group out in Pueblo Colorado wants to do my adaptation of Huckleberry Finn, but that’s it.

I’m currently working on an adaptation of Jane Eyre that I plan to produce myself. Producing theatre is a big money pit, but it’s worthwhile to me because I get to have control over everything associated with my play, and more importantly, I get to avoid people with an advanced case of crazy dictator syndrome.

I work for Corporate America which has its share of people with authoritarian personalities. But those dictators have nothing on the crazy dictators. While dictators may have arbitrary, stupid, pointless rules that must be followed, or else, what truly distinguishes crazy dictators is that they have secret rules that must be followed or else.

I have two competing theories for why the world of the arts has such a high percentage of crazy dictators. One is that the world of the arts is to an extent a dumping ground for the insane and the incompetent. Which is probably not an entirely bad thing for society. A badly written play doesn’t kill the way a badly performed operation does. Although I’ve seen plenty of plays that made me want to rip my own head off, but it hasn’t come to that. Yet.

My other theory is that the crazy dictators are aspiring or practicing artists who find themselves in a bureaucratic position of an arts organization and they resent the hell out of it. Of course they have to keep the job, because arts administration pays much better than actually doing anything artistic. Also, chances are they got the job because they know some bigwig associated with the arts organization who had to pull a few strings and it would seem ungrateful to quit too quickly.

So they’re gonna keep the job so they don’t have to work for Corporate America to pay the bills, but they sure as hell are not going to become some dull gray efficient little bureaucratic. They are still an Artiste, and as we all know, Artistes don’t concern themselves with details, and hierarchies and time schedules.

So they approach the issues of details and hierarchies and time schedules with what must surely be deliberate incompetence.

I recently worked with a crazy dictator, and from the very first meeting with him I sensed that things would not go well, by the way he refused to discuss details about the theatre in which my group would perform. I kept asking questions, and I kept getting these vague responses and shrugs and “we’ll sees.” He did make some vague mention about a platform on wheels that we could use, but since he wouldn’t give me anything definite about the platform, like, say its dimensions so that I could determine whether or not I could use it in my set, I ignored the platform suggestion.

Now the Artiste crazy dictator abhors a rigid hierarchy, as long as everybody knows that the crazy dictator is at the top of the heap. But it isn’t enough to be at the top of the heap. The crazy dictator wants to believe that those below truly want the crazy dictator to be on top, out of admiration and affection. And so it is doubly difficult to challenge the crazy dictator because to even hint that you aren’t thrilled to submit to him is to admit that you don’t adore the crazy dictator. He will mark you as one of the Ungrateful.

The crazy dictator I mentioned, we’ll call him Mal, must have got it into his head somehow that I did not admire and adore him, and he responded by being continually bad-tempered and nit-picking. I worked hard to make sure my group – we were part of a festival so there were lots of groups – observed all rules and were as courteous and considerate as possible. But there were those secret rules, which Mal would only reveal to us after we broke them. Through the use of secret rules he was able to remain in a constant state of indignation towards us.

Of course, as is common with dictators, we were held to much, much higher standards than the dictator himself. Like the time that he scheduled us to rehearse in the theatre, and then left us out in below-freezing weather while another group – friends of his – used the theatre to rehearse during our scheduled time. Whether this was sheer incompetence and carelessness on his part, or yet another screw-you is hard to determine. Crazy dictators are a lot like George W. Bush in that respect. I think that Mal technically apologized, but in such a way that it managed to sound like an accusation.

And when a flat that was part of the set almost fell forward and crushed the audience (members of the crew held it up until intermission, but it ruined our scene changes), you can't prove that the carelessly-placed C-clamp was deliberate sabotage. But at the very least, it sure was carelessly placed. I heard that one of the actors bumped into the flat, but it was hard not to, since Mal insisted that we had to have the platform – the one that he mentioned at the beginning of the production, but then wouldn’t give me details about – in the extremely narrow area that constituted “backstage” of our set. It seems that Mal believed that he acquired the platform for our benefit. Even though I never said I wanted it. But in his mind, no doubt, I was capricious and ungrateful, and he was going to make me pay for that.

I’ve heard from lots of other people about nightmare arts administrators who want to make sure that all the artists they know suffer for their art. And I personally had contact with two other crazy dictator arts administrators in the past year. That makes a total of three, counting Mal. The total number of arts administrators I’ve dealt with in the past year – also three.

Sure, they’re irritable in part because they don’t like having a desk job, but at least they aren’t working for Corporate America, which has an even lower opinion of artists than arts administrators. I work with a group of people who are typical, I expect, of Corporate America. Occasionally I go to lunch with them in an attempt to seem semi-social, and I suffer through their deadly dull conversations about the latest consumer items they purchased, and what a great deal they got on them, because occasionally I’ll hear some useful gossip about the big bosses. I did make the mistake of discussing my theatre work once, resulting in the following conversation:

Them: So why do you do theatre?

Me: I really love it.

Them: How much money do you make?

Me: None. I lose money.

Them (ignoring me from now on): lose money? Why would you do something that loses money?

Them: must be some kind of hobby.

Them: yeah, I guess so. So I got one of those automatic pool-cleaning gadgets. Forty bucks.

Them: Forty bucks? You can get it at Costco for thirty-five.

But like I said, it’s probably just as well for society that these unfair, irrational people, these crazy dictators, end up in arts administration. Look what happens when they get real power, like in North Korea. Or the present US administration.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

GO MICHAEL MOORE!

Michael Moore is MAD AS HELL and he isn't going to take it any more!

on CNN - he rips Wolf Blitzer and the MSM a new one!

Via Alicublog

The Abbess of Barking

I'm off to Great Britian soon, so I bought a map of London. I was doing a little research on Regent's Park, and read that:


The area was originally part of the vast forest of Middlesex and was called Marylebone Park after the village and manor nearby. There were thick woods, particularly going up the slope towards Primrose Hill. But on the lower ground the woods were more open and were perfect for deer.

This caught the eye of King Henry Vlll. In 1538, he seized the park from the owner, the Abbess of Barking, and turned 554 acres into a hunting chase.

The "Abbess of Barking"! This struck me as an hysterically funny phrase. I immediately checked with Google, and to my amazement, couldn't find any evidence that anybody had ever named their dog The Abbess of Barking. What is wrong with you people?


Barking "is a suburban town in east London, England and the main district of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barking

English places gots funny names, har har.

This is what I imagine the Abbess of Barking looks like:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Goddess Echidne smites Psychology Today

Her debunking series "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters begins here.

And kudos to Ann Bartow for pointing out that although Psychology Today believes that Kingsley R. Browne is a psychologist, he is, in fact as Ann commented

...not a psychologist, he is a misogynistic law professor ( http://www.law.wayne.edu/faculty/profiles/browne_kingsley.html ) who writes articles arguing women are biologically inferior, see e.g.:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=877664


I exchanged emails with Browne a few years ago... I'll have to dig up that correspondence one of these days. My favorite fact about Browne comes from his web site: "Area of Expertise
Affirmative action, Sexual Discrimination White Male Victims, Employment Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, gender discrimination"


A fun series of debates at Pandagon, with a respectable complement of trolls along for the ride.

One of the most respected ev-psychs, Richard Dawkins, posted the Psychology Today article on his official web site, without comment. But then, I don't think I've ever seen an ev-psych criticize another ev-psych in public, no matter how insane the ev-psych sounds.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Taliban in action - killing little girls

From the NYTimes

With their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.

The staccato of machine-gun fire pelted through the stillness. A 13-year-old named Shukria was hit in the arm and the back, and then teetered into the soft brown of an adjacent wheat field. Zarmina, her 12-year-old sister, ran to her side, listening to the wounded girl’s precious breath and trying to help her stand.

But Shukria was too heavy to lift, and the two gunmen, sitting astride a single motorbike, sped closer.

As Zarmina scurried away, the men took a more studied aim at those they already had shot, killing Shukria with bullets to her stomach and heart.


I thought the US should have gone into Afghanistan BEFORE the 9-11 attacks to take out the Taliban. I remember sending a bitter email to the cartoonist Ted Rall, protesting a cartoon he had just published - maybe a week before 9-11 - suggesting that we leave Afghanistan alone to treat "their" women however they saw fit. For some reason I can't find any record of that cartoon anywhere now.

In any case, this is another example of the utter horror wrought by the Supreme Court - which is now EVEN WORSE - when they aided and abetted the Bush coup d'├ętat in the 2000 election. Thanks to Bush, Afghanistan is reverting back to Taliban savagery while we are bogged down in Iraq.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Krugman is sexiest when he is sarcastic

Sacrifice is for Suckers

The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”

Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.


I love that extra-spicy scorn.

And BTW - if you don't get it by now that Bush & Co. are utterly evil - WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOUR BRAIN????

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jane Austen smack-down

There was a recent discussion of the current popularity of the work of Jane Austen at Pandagon, with Amanda claiming that Austen was a better writer than the Brontes.

I posted a response quoting Mark Twain's observation about Austen:
To me (Poe’s) prose is unreadable–like Jane Austin’s. No there is a difference. I could read his prose on salary, but not Jane’s. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.


But today I got my copy of "The Brontes: A Life in Letters" by Juliet Barker, which reveals that Charlotte Bronte herself wrote the perfect smack-down of Austen.

============================
From Charlotte's letters to G.H. Lewes, (George Eliot's paramour), January 1848

"If I ever do write another book, I think I will have nothing of what you call 'melodrame'; I think so, but I am not sure. I think too I will endeavor to follow the counsel which shines out of Miss Austen's 'mild eyes'; 'to finish more, and be more subdued'; but neither am I sure of that. When authors write best, or at least, when they write most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them which becomes their master, which will have its own way, putting out of view all behests but its own, dictating certain words, and insisting on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature; new moulding characters, giving unthought-of turns to incidents, rejecting carefully elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones. Is it not so? And should we try to counteract this influence? Can we indeed counteract it?... Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzed on that point.

What induced you to say that you would rather have written 'Pride & Prejudice' or 'Tom Jones' than any of the Waverly novels?

I had not seen 'Pride & Prejudice' till I read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book and studied it. And what did I find? An accurate dageurrotyped portrait of a common-place face; a carefully-fenced, highly cultivated garden with neat borders and delicate flowers - but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy - no open country - no fresh air - no blue hill - no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses."

***

"... You say I must familiarize my mind with the fact that 'Miss Austen is not a poetess, has no sentiment (you scornfully enclose the word in inverted commas) no eloquence, none of the ravishing enthusiasm of poetry' - and then you add, I must 'learn to acknowledge her as one of the greatest artists, of the greatest painters of human character, and one of the writers with the nicest sense of means to an end that ever lived.'

The last point only will I ever acknowledge.

Can there be a great Artist without poetry?

What I call - what I will bend to as a great Artist, there cannot be destitute of the divine gift. But by poetry I am sure you understand something different to what I do - as you do by 'sentiment'. It is poetry, as I comprehend the word which elevates that masculine George Sand, and makes out of something coarse, something godlike. It is 'sentiment', in my sense of the term, sentiment jealously hidden, but genuine, which extracts the venom from that formidable Thackeray, and converts what might be only corrosive poison into purifying elixir. If Thackeray did not cherish in his large heart deep feeling fo rhis kind, he would delight to exterminate; as it is, I believe he wishes only to reform.

Miss Austen, being as you say without 'sentiment', without poetry, may be - is sensible, real (more real than true) but she cannot be great."


Since I'm working on an adaptation of Jane Eyre for the stage right now (blog coming soon) I am especially touchy about anybody jumping on the Brontes these days.