The Uncanny Absurdity of the Uncanny Valley

The problem with programming a machine to feel for others is, of course, that the machine might start to develop other feelings, ones unproductive to her work.  But Klara’s evolving emotions are crucial to our understanding of the novel as a technology of interiority.  The reader experiences Klara’s care for Josie through Klara’s empathetic narration, in which her desire to see Josie flourish and grow fails to completely suppress Klara’s desires.   [From a review by Jane Hu in the New York Review of Books.  2021-11-04]

I am completely baffled that a Nobel Prize winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, would be responsible for such rubbish, or that a reviewer in the New York Review of Books would countenance such an observation.

I thought, perhaps Klara is a biological creation, as the replicants in “Blade Runner” may be (it’s not completely clear that they are).   When Roy Batty demands “more life”, he is expressing a desire, a want, an aspiration, which no machine can ever have.  That might be intriguing, but, of course, that essentially makes an argument for slavery.

But no: Klara is a robot.  She is at times relegated to a closet.  In the end, when Josie goes off to college, she is sent to a dump.

It appears that Ishiguro wants it both ways, in which case, he has failed as a novelist (I haven’t read the book– so I’ll come back to that when I do).  If, inevitably, humans become aware (as they are in the book) of the fact that robots have feelings, they won’t, presumably, leave them in the closet.  I leave open one possibility: Ishiguro has imagined a new  kind of relationship that the humans experience with their robots that blurs the distinction between mechanical and emotional.  But that does not seem likely given that the characters in “Klara and the Sun” sincerely believe that Klara does have feelings and treat her accordingly.  (It is perceived as an act of kindness when one of Josie’s friends prevents another of her friends from tossing Klara into the air to see if she can land on her feet.)  On the other hand, they put her in the closet.  Which is it?

Yes, many smart people really believe that it is possible for a robot to have feelings.  The theoretical framework for this concept rests on the perverse idea that human consciousness is formed by a quasi-mechanical process that takes place in dense particles.  If you have enough dense particles, eventually a “consciousness” can develop.  This fundamental to the belief in AI.

AI, my friends, is a myth.  Come back to me in 20 or 50 years and you will see I am right.

I have argued that this process cannot possibly produce a being with an aspiration or desire or emotion or any other biological characteristic.  Where does it come from?  How can you add 1 plus 1 and get 5?  There is no component of feeling or consciousness in any of the raw elements of a machine.  No matter how many 1’s and 0’s are in a computer brain, they cannot produce a 2: only a sequence of 1’s and 0’s.   Biological cells are not mechanical: they aspire to eat, to consume, to fuck, to absorb, to kill.   A robot only ever does what it is programmed to do“.  Klara can never be sad about losing her relationship to Josie because she could never have been glad to have it in the first place, and Ishiguro’s concept is absurd and Jane Hu’s review is a hollow, empty shell of misconceived rubble.

In “Never Let Me Go” the Klara’s are biological creations who exist only to give up their organs to other humans.  It’s a strange, alien concept (to us at the moment, in the civilized part of the “civilized” part of the world) which he made believable and sad.  I have no problem believing that such a circumstance could, at least theoretically, exist.

There is no way, theoretical or otherwise, a robot with feelings will ever exist.  Whatever we get– and I’m sure we’ll get it, given our surrender to every commercialization of every device ever– will be something mimics feelings which many stupid people will believe are just as real as their own.

Fuck them.  This is a dangerous course of intellectual development which, if it happens, will have dire consequences.


The Myth of Sybil

The story of “Sybil”, the woman with 16 different “personalities”,  is a myth, pure and simple.

(NPR on one of the books that has debunked it.)

One website, defending Sybil, refers to “Michelle Remembers”–without comment–as a reference to the influence of “Sybil”.  That is astonishing.  “Michelle Remembers” is one of the most discredited books of the 1980’s.

First of all, you do need to know what in no other developed country is the concept of a “multiple-personality” widely accepted.    Only in America, and only in a certain part of America.

As is well known, Sybil herself acknowledge the hoax in a letter to Schreiber:

She got the very, very strong impression when she went in and brought this letter of recantation to Dr. Wilbur that if she didn’t go with the program she was not going to have Dr. Wilbur anymore,” Nathan says. “Dr. Wilbur was giving her 14 to 18 hours of therapy a week. Dr. Wilbur was coming to her house and eating with her, giving her clothes, paying her rent … so, how could you give up Dr. Wilbur?

Sybil Exposed

Is this really difficult to see?  Look at the culture around MPD?  Look at who revels in it, thrives in the lurid stories attached to it?

Or look at hypnotism:

HS: Yes. She was very hypnotizable, what I call a “grade five.” On a zero to five scale we can classify most levels of hypnotizability. The top group—the hypnotic virtuosos—are about 5 percent of the population and they show extra phenomena that we don’t ordinarily see even in good hypnotic subjects. For example, they have the ability to regress in time and they will report past experiences in the present tense. It is as if they “ablate,” or remove from memory, the period of time from, say, their fourth birthday to the present time, and you have an expression of what was there up until the age of four. For most people, to get them to a fixed point in time, we use something that has an affect potential. You can’t just say, “I want you to go back to January 14, 1916″—that doesn’t mean anything. You will say to the subject: “You are getting younger and younger. You are now nineteen, eighteen, seventeen years old, twelve years old, seven years old,” and then: “This is your fourth birthday.”  NY Review of Books

If this impresses you, I have some bitcoin I want to sell.

Let’s put it this way: if you want to accept what Dr. Spiegel says about hypnotism at face value, it would be possible, for example, to go back in time to when you lost your keys and discover where you lost them.  In fairness, I believe Dr. Spiegel implies that this is not possible.

It is not possible, unfortunately, and neither is it possible to go back in memory to “a fixed point of time” (see Dr. Spiegel covering his tracks?).  You are always only going back to a memory you already have, or one that you have constructed, if you are suggestible, and I would suggest that the best patients for hypnosis– or any kind of psychiatry– are very suggestible.

That said, even Dr. Spiegel didn’t buy Sybil’s multiple personalities and he made clear why Dr. Wilbur and Schreiber did (and why they stopped speaking to him):

Schreiber then got in a huff. She was sitting right in that chair there, and she said, “But if we don’t call it a multiple personality, we don’t have a book! The publishers want it to be that, otherwise it won’t sell!”

Exactly.  The publishers knew what gets you on Phil Donahue and 20/20 and maybe even 60 Minutes, and they knew that that is what sells books and makes movies.

I Am a Tiffany Camera

The story is about a young writer struggling to have his first breakthrough moving into a rooming house in a big, sophisticated, complicated city and meeting his kooky neighbor, a beautiful free spirited young woman with multiple boyfriends and shady relationships with rich men whom she openly seeks to attach herself to, if she is unable to realize her delusional dream of becoming a famous actress or singer.   The crazy landlord provides comic relief.  It’s written by a gay man who occasionally seduces some of his friend’s handsome courtiers.

Yes, we are talking about the Sally Bowles stories in “I Am a Camera” by Christopher Isherwood.  Or wait– are we talking about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, the slim novella that made Truman Capote’s reputation?

The difference is this: Christopher Isherwood could not, of course, have had a copy of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in his suitcase when he arrived in Berlin; Truman Capote did have a copy of “I am a Camera” in his when he arrived in New York.


For What it’s Worth

Though a large majority of Americans thought it was right and good and natural for the government to pay off the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, it was not. This was a completely original application of government resources that had never been done before, and it was at the behest of the airline industry which convinced the government– and the makers of this movie– that the nation would suffer immense economic harm if existing law was permitted to prevail and the airlines were sued, like they should have been in a capitalist free enterprise economy.

Have the airlines ever sued somebody?  Have any of the executives or large shareholders of the airlines ever sued somebody?  Did they think, before 9/11, that unlimited jury awards in tort cases might be a bad idea (actually, Republicans generally do)?  Why were gun manufacturers specifically exempted from tort law in 2005?   (As the link clarifies, gun makers could still be liable for “defects” in their product, if a product designed to kill and maim people can ever be said to have defects– does it not kill and maim?  Take it back to the store!)

Remember all that blather you heard about government hand-outs leading to toxic dependency? Yeah, that’s only for immigrants and black people.  In a capitalist system, as we claim to have, and as we say justifies letting poor people fend for themselves instead of helping them, the courts provide a system by which a good citizen can address compensation for deficiencies in a product or service that causes personal loss and suffering.

So the U.S. government broke all of it’s own rules and principles and decided that it would pay off the families of victims so the airlines could continue to pay off its shareholders and executives.

Next problem: how to decide who gets what?

We are the government: we have trillions. Line up and put your hands out everyone. And remember, repeat after me, “it’s not about the money”. Let’s work on the euphemisms for it: to bring closure; to ensure dignity; to make sure this never happens again; to bless the children and the kittens and the apple pie.

Meet Ken Feinberg, who, you should know, has been repeatedly hired (subsequent to 9/11) by large, powerful corporations like BP and Boeing to handle massive claims distributions after great big disasters. (Most recently, he has managed the 737 Max victim fund). Feinberg is asked by John Ashcroft to be the master of the compensation fund for victims of 9/11 and to the credit of “Worth” he is shown to be, at first, pretty clueless about managing the delicate feelings of the victim’s families.  (Except that he does refuse a salary– but then, we know how that works: somewhere down the road he will receive another appointment, maybe to a board or government post, that does pay, very, very well).  But the film does want it both ways: the families cannot be seen to be a mob of greedy materialists salivating at huge financial rewards. It’s not about the money, right? But it is always about the money and even the supposedly “pure” Donato family that sneers at the idea of taking compensation eventually joins the suit. Possibly the gravest hypocrisy in the U.S. right now is this absolute bullshit that people get away with when suing someone for a grievous loss. It is always about the money. “Worth” is far more honest than I expected about that, and presents some interesting dialogue about how the “worth” of a human life is determined. Should a janitor’s family get the same payout as a rich executive? (The initial plan, which rightly offended so many of the litigants, said: the CEO should get more since more potential earnings were lost.) And what about the children of a fireman by a woman with whom he was having a secret affair? Even more delicate: the gay partner of one man who lived in Virginia which did not allow for gay spouses. “Worth” is above average in it’s handling of these subjects, and relatively self-effacing– for a time– about Feinberg himself. Perhaps that is because it was critical to present him credibly while soft-pedalling the fact that this was all, all, really about sparing the airlines’ shareholders from shouldering the cost of their liability for 9/11, and for allowing juries to award scads and scads of millions of dollars for “pain and suffering” to family members who can cry on cue on the stand during a trial. We are also shielded from detailed discussion about the percentage of a settlement sucked up by the lawyers in cases like this.  The most depressing thing about this entire episode is how the government continues to resist any serious discussion about compensating the families of victims of slavery, or racial violence, in any form whatsoever. I’m not saying there is no argument against it– there is. I’m just noting how obvious the difference is between these two constituencies, and how quickly we can disregard and make exceptions to policy whenever we feel like it.

Astonishingly, Feinberg’s entry in Wikipedia contains no personal information about the man.  That is wondrous, for someone who was pivotal to some of the biggest and most controversial disasters in recent memory.

Martin Vrieze

When I did a search for a philosophy professor I took a course with 40 years ago at Trinity Christian College, I found nothing.  Except for one indirect reference.

This is shocking to me.  Can a man devote so large part of his life to teaching philosophy to hundreds of students and disappear with barely a trace on the Internet?  Well, of course, this was all before the Internet, but still, you would think there would be a few pages somewhere honoring his memory.  Maybe some former student fondly remembering the required perspectives courses we all had to take our first year (What is this?  A chair?  How you know it’s a chair and not an umbrella?)

Here is my note on Dr. Marin Vrieze, so there is at least one page somewhere devoted to him:

2 plus 2 does not Equal 4

Probably the best course I took at Trinity was Dr. Vrieze’s “Philosophy of History” class.

Until then, we had studied philosophy in various eras, medieval, modern, 19th Century. We studied Kant and Descartes and Hume, all relics of a different era, relevant but quaintly insular. Who really cares about Kant’s categories of being in the era of Woodstock and Watergate and Viet Nam and Bob Dylan and the Beatles?

The revolutionary aspect of Vrieze’s course was it’s reliance on current, living philosophers, and the course texts consisted of periodicals instead of text books. It was here I was introduced to Karl Popper, Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend, Schopenhauer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. And it was here, for the first time, I was convinced that 2 plus 2 might not equal 4. This mathematical equation was not some transcendent logic that would always be true no matter what you believed about God or reality or physics. It was the product of rigid doctrines promulgated by the rationalists and the 19th century systematizers.

To be clear, I didn’t necessarily believe that 2 plus 2 was a subjective idea that could be discarded at will. I was skeptical of that too. But my readings, especially of Feyerabend and Lakatos, convinced me that you could make an argument for the idea that it really was an arbitrary construct judged by presuppositions about the nature of physical reality, and that if you assumed a different nature of reality— say, for example, that time is a river, not sequence of atomic moments— you could end up with a universe in which 2 plus 2 does not equal 4.

Karl Popper presented the idea of paradigms: that we can understand the world in the framework of a model or set of assumptions which endure as long as they are “useful” and productive in some way. This idea has been useful to me over and over again: look at the people who support Donald Trump. They operate according to a different paradigm. And it is almost impossible to shift someone’s paradigm until it begins to break down or disintegrate under them.
Wittgenstein believed that all of reality is essentially the product of language. It was in the language expression itself that constructs our experience of the world. I found this idea very intriguing.

Mark Vandervennen who was in the course with me kept asking, “what is the Christian response to these philosophies? How do we answer them with our own truth?” Until then, every course on philosophy concluded with a survey of the “correct” Christian response to these pagan ideas. Most of the time, this consisted of nominally Christian thinkers like Herman Dooyeweerd who rather obviously adapted parts of the pagan ideas into his own scheme, in Dooyeweerd’s case, particularly, categories of being.

Vrieze steadfastly refused to provide an out. He would sometimes repeat the question to the class: “How do we respond to Wittgenstein? Tell me.”
I began to believe that this course was Vrieze’s revenge on the entire edifice of Christian College philosophy and theology. He seemed to be demonstrating to me that none of the pat answers we received in all of our earlier perspective and philosophy courses were adequate to address the real issues raised by the most powerful living philosophers.  Perhaps he was addressing his own professional disappointments.  He never seemed to rise to a position of prestige or professional recognition that I think he felt he deserved.

Google Dr. Martin Vrieze. It is shocking to me that there is almost references to him on the Internet. I need to do a page and make the link: someone should have a tribute to this gregarious, entertaining, provocative teacher.

Watch Me Risk My Life

I am ambivalent about films and stories about men and women who unnecessarily risk their lives, on mountains, in cars, under water– for…  well, that’s the question.  For what?

Almost no documentary or book about these individuals would dare suggest that these people are selfish, self-centred individuals interested primarily in self-promotion and ego gratification.   (I make an exception for “Into Thin Air”, the amazing book by Jon Krakauer which considers the issue at some length.)  Think about why that’s so.  Why doesn’t “The Last Mountain”, for example, seriously consider the issue?

Could that be because the viewer, who adores these stories, would feel implicated?  I get pleasure by watching other people put themselves in grave peril at the expense, sometimes, of their lives?  Could it be because the writers (often the daredevils themselves) or film-makers (ditto) really want you to believe they are doing something important and admirable?  Think of how often they claim there is some higher purpose to their activities: to learn more about sharks, to extend human endurance and achievement, to fulfill personal goals?

Trooper of the Year

No all police are corrupt, self-serving, fascist pigs.

Of course not.  I am occasionally reminded by friends that you should not judge all police by the bad behavior of a few.  They are right, of course.  But when you read a story like this, you begin to wonder if the people who advocate defunding the police aren’t right.  Here you have a police officer arriving at a scene in which a emotionally disturbed young man is threatening to take his own life.  The sensitive, kindly, thoughtful State Trooper demands that the man drop his weapon.  When he doesn’t– he had it taped to his neck– the distinguished officer shoots him dead.

Now, it is one thing to argue that this outcome was unfortunate.  It is one thing to argue that this outcome was unnecessary (the man in question was in his own room in his own house and not threatening to kill anybody but himself).  It is one thing to argue that the situation was unclear.  But it is something else entirely to give the officer an award for “Trooper of the Year”.

The officer, Jay Splain, went on to kill three more people.  Is there a bigger award than “Trooper of the Year” we can give him?

So the institution of the state police are all in on it.  So many of them felt so strongly that there was nothing wrong with this outcome that they called public attention to it and gave him a prize and a commendation.

Even some conservatives will tell you that this kind of incident could be avoided with a little common sense: there was no need for the police to even escalate the situation at all.

But he had a gun.  But isn’t that his god-given all-American Jesus-Loving wholesome family values right?

Mr. Martin saw nothing wrong with allowing the police to investigate themselves.

Mr. Martin thinks people like me think people like him are stupid.  He’s right.

But I would love to ask Mr. Martin, since the principle of allowing police to investigate themselves is alright with him, would he mind if allegations of welfare fraud were investigated by, say, local black church leaders?  Drug dealers?  Let’s get representatives of the pharmaceutical companies to judge.  Traffic violations?  I think NASCAR should send us some reps.


My Dissenting Voice on Betty White

The journalist Dan Rather wrote that Ms. White had been beloved because she “embraced a life well lived.”

“Her smile,” he wrote. “Her sense of humor. Her basic decency. Our world would be better if more followed her example. It is diminished with her passing.”

What is this shit?

First of all, Dan Rather hasn’t been a real “journalist”– someone who actually investigates, researches and reports on a news story– for several decades.  Secondly, “basic decency”?  “Life well-lived”?   Well, that’s what you say, I guess, when you can’t really list any achievements that don’t sound trite.

Betty White died yesterday, at 99.  The New York Times says:

“A cultural icon”: Television stars, comedians, a president and seemingly the whole internet paid tribute to Betty White.

Really?  Will no one speak up for those who have real achievements but will join Betty in the dumpster of useless Hollywood has-beens because even the New York Times thought Betty White was something?  “James Baldwin died– he lived a life well-lived.”  “Richard Nixon died– another life well-lived.”  “Leonard Cohen died.  Yet another life well-lived”.  I could go on.  And on.  And on.

I would say that I racked my brain trying to think of a single distinguished achievement by Betty White but I didn’t even bother.  Even her fans have to admit that she has not a single notable achievement in her resume.  Not a single great movie role.  Not a single great achievement behind the camera.  And a long list of mediocre television appearance.  I’m sure you are baffled: then how did she get to be so famous?

We have all been bombarded with this “Betty White is so great, so funny, so cute” bullshit that it would have been impossible to avoid.  The truth is that Betty White was never anything more than a boring “celebrity” in the most bankrupt definition of the term: someone without any real achievements who is famous for being famous.  That’s why she was added to the cast of  “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (she was also a personal friend of the star of the show) and that’s why she got a role in “Golden Girls”.

Betty White broke barriers, defied expectations, served her country, and pushed us all to laugh.  (Michelle Obama on Twitter).

Broke barriers?  Which barrier was that?  The one that prevents  privileged ambitious attractive young women with connections from getting onto TV in trivial inconsequential roles and than leveraging their exposure into trite game show gigs and then leveraging that into a sitcom gig– because your friend, the star of the sitcom, gave it to you?

Or that tremendous barrier against old people being hilariously interested in sex?

She was famous.  For being famous.  A reassuring porridge of unthreatening pabulum for the American public–mostly women– to consume without fear of the slightest disturbing vibration.  Nobody regarded her as a serious enough talent to give her a substantial role.  TV-land, lady.

What was she famous for?  Take a close look.  Not a single damn thing.  Quick– name the movie that catapulted her to stardom?  Of course you can’t: she didn’t star in a single notable movie.

You have to accept that she got her “big” television roles because she was a celebrity, which counts as nothing.  She didn’t blow people away with an audition.  She didn’t sell people on the part.  She was a comforting, familiar face to tv viewers.  TV Viewers are idiots: they decide what to watch based on which overly familiar celebrity is in the cast.  That’s why Bill Cosby was a success.  That’s why there was never an inter-racial dating on the Bill Cosby show.  That’s why there was Bill Cosby: you get the celebrity you deserve.

So how did she get that “celebrity” status?  By leveraging small, insignificant roles in radio and tv into guest appearances on that stream of sewage we call television game shows.  From her over-exposure on the game shows, celebritydom.  From celebritydom, casting decisions, as well as her personal friendship with Mary Tyler Moore.

Game shows were her specialty: She appeared on “To Tell the Truth,” “I’ve Got a Secret,” “The Match Game,” “What’s My Line?” and, most notably, “Password,” whose host, Allen Ludden, she married in 1963.

That’s it.  That’s the talent reservoir of the “beloved” Betty White, an actress I personally found so annoying I would change the channel the instant I saw her face in whatever it was was on.  Her face there was an iron-clad guarantee that whatever you were watching would be derivative, repetitive, dull, and ugly.  The kind of humor popularized by Carol Burnett and Red Skeleton,

Everyone I know loves her.  They seem to believe she had a long list of real achievements to her career.  Creating a monotonously one-note character of repetitive gesture and catch-phrase in a TV sitcom is not an achievement.  It’s vulgar and boring.  Starring as the most cliche-ridden character in the entire history of popular culture: the feisty old lady– in “The Proposal”– itself an incredibly boring predictable stew of insipidness– counts against you.

And nothing was more boring on television than an aging female star making tiresome jokes about sex.

“Oh my God!  Betty White!  She’s so funny.  I just love her.”

Stunningly, The Screen Actors Guild gave her a lifetime achievement award in 2010.  What the fuck!?  Do you not even have to have a single real achievement to win this award?  Not one?

If you have a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award you might as well toss it in the dumpster: it obviously is not earned by any actual remarkable achievement.

The comedian Bob Saget called Ms. White “a remarkable talent” who was witty, kind, funny and “full of love,” especially for her husband.

Bob Saget is a comedian?

Well, he is the most appropriate person to pay tribute to Ms. White: no other male tv personality matches his degree of vacuous charmlessness.

The shame of it is we already have a veritable river of shallow celebrity worshippers streaming their effuse adulation of this incredibly trite person– why could the New York Times not reserve it’s accolades for people with real achievements?  Leave us one media source that doesn’t by into this shit.



A Very High Spiritual State

Everyone… razzamataz and look at me: I was doing something that was intended to take you into a very high spiritual state.  La Monte Young

And that “something” was smashing a piano with an axe.  Among other things.

La Monte Young is an American avant-garde composer, a minimalist, whose work has “called into question” the very nature of music.  Which also what any accidental sounds do.  Always.

You know immediately that you are not cool if you do not recognize that smashing a piano with an axe, as an act of musical performance, is the most incredibly brilliant thing you have ever seen.   You are now in a very high spiritual state.

What is so brilliant about it is that you invite rational people to ridicule what you are doing, which makes it cool for hipsters to announce that they understand it.  They get it.  They are cool, hip, youthful, still fuckable.  Not like those un-cool nerds.

But you– you are a dinosaur.  A fossil.  You probably still listen to AM radio.

Narcissist Jami Attenberg

What’s particularly calculating about Attenberg describing her assault is that it brilliantly inoculates her from criticism. “Oh, you don’t like my book? Well, clearly, you stand on the side of toxic masculinity!” Hardly. But I have to wonder — in light of Alice Sebold identifying the wrong man who assaulted her — how much of this story was invented or embellished or even fact-checked by the people at Ecco. It’s easy enough to suss out who “Brendan” is. (It took me three minutes to find him on Google.) And since the dude is now dead, we have no way to corroborate the story. We also get a casual detail about a suicide attempt, but no effort by Attenberg to examine what led her to this state. Victimhood has become the currency of “memoirs” of this type. Victimhood is also the very quality that a narcissist flails about to anyone who will listen.  From Here.

And the above is quoted.

And validation.  Yes, the New York Times treats her account of the assault as validation.

“I Came All This Way to Meet You” is at its most affecting when Attenberg follows the darker thread of her own experience, sharing the story of an assault she endured from a classmate in her writing program. It’s not the revelation that makes this story so powerful; it’s Attenberg’s vituperation over how the university handled the assault, and how she is — and is not — valued as a writer, and how these two things are bound up together.

From Here.

What the New York Times forgot to say– or maybe the repetition police stepped in– is just how fucking courageous that makes her.  So courageous.  So amazingly courageous.  Oh my god, that’s so courageous.  How brave!  Oh my.

It must be noted that the person Attenberg accuses of assaulting her is conveniently deceased and unable to counter her allegations.

We get more:

All of this rings painfully true; above all, Attenberg’s rage — the rage of the writer, especially the female writer, who’s suffered not just assaults but endless indignities and unfairnesses.

The problem always is, how do you know if the “assaults”, “indignities”, and “unfairnesses” were caused by sexism?  How do you know if this treatment might have been deserved?  Did you know that everybody occasionally suffers “indignities” and “unfairness”, even if they don’t all make themselves into martyrs.  Maybe Attenberg was a self-aggrandizing narcissistic bitch?  She was obviously– from her own testimony– a ruthlessly ambitious writer who might have been tempted to use people along the way.