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David Gelernter

Author of 1939: The Lost World of the Fair

Includes the names: David Gelernter, David Hillel Gelernter

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David Gelernter has 1 media appearance.

David Gelernter
Booknotes, Sunday, November 16, 1997
David Gelernter discusses Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.

For many of us, an appreciation for life—a commitment to drawing it in our own image—does not begin until we are confronted with loss or, as David Gelernter was, our own death. Gelernter is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Yale, well-known for his skepticism about computers and his anti-technology musings. A writer, an artist, and a family man, he also has been the recipient of two mailings from the Unabomber. The mailbomb that almost killed Gelernter m June of 1993 changed his life forever. Beyond its permanent physical markings, the experience infused Gelernter with a sense of both moral outrage and obligation. Thus, DRAWING LIFE is more than a memoir. Gelernter offers what is at once a meditation on contemporary cultural values that priviledge "victims" and "tolerance" and an argument that posits that we have lost our ability to make moral judgments and, worse, have abandoned the concept of evil. Gelernter was especially enraged by the way in which the media sought to get his story, to make him the newest tragedy in the headlines. "Those of us who hate today's victim culture," Gelernter writes, "don't hate it because we are Teddy Roosevelts aiming to build character and toughen people up (not that there is anything wrong with that program); we hate it because it inflicts harm. When you encourage a man to see himself as a victim of anything—crime, poverty, bigotry, bad luck—you are piling bricks on his chest." Further, when the Unabomber was discovered, a major news magazine's cover story about the Unabomber labeled him a "Mad Genius." To this Gelernter responds, "In the end, this is an argument for eliminating the very idea of guilt, and I can only guess that the attraction in calling a criminal 'mad' is that it gets you off the hook and you don't have to be judgmental. But a society too squeamish to call evil by its right name has destroyed its first, best defense against cutthroats." Our moral compass is gone. he argues. and it is time we decide to reestablish our bearings. In DRAWING LIFE, David Gelernter shares his moving journey to recovery with us as a metaphor for hope: As he heals his wounds and makes new the pieces of his past, he urges that our nation do the same. —from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)
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