Life imitates art

One of the most disturbing books I read in college was Les Liasons dangereuses, by Choderlos de Laclos.  It was written as a series of letters between two sexual predators (a man and a women) who kept each other posted on their exploits.  These include a near-rape of an adolescent female, the seduction of a woman with children causing her to leave her family for the man.  The woman of the pair made the man write the seductee a letter saying that he enjoyed her for the sex only.  For most of the book they get away with it, but in the end (as I remember it) the male was horribly burned in a fire and rendered totally repulsive as a sexual object.

Which brings us to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Today one of the New York tabloids produced fairly convincing evidence that the maid is HIV positive.  Who will go near Dominque now?  His wife?  Assuming the accusations of what he forced the maid to do are correct, his punishment may be nonjudicial and far more severe than incarceration.

Because of the innumerable active cultural issues involved, l’affaire Strauss-Kahn will likely be the Patty Hearst case of the decade.  The arrogance of the elites. The rather spineless response of the feminists in France to previous abuses by the powerful.  The socialist who stays in $3000/night hotel rooms.  The condescension of Europeans toward American primitives. The fact that Strauss-Kahn is Jewish and the maid Muslim.  The echoes of the Polanski case.  The list goes on and on.

Even more interesting to me is the nearly unanimous response here in the USA, which regards his treatment so far as appropriate. The Times spent a paragraph describing the type of food he’ll receive in jail.  It is amusing to see the letters to the staunchly secular New York Times standing up for our system of justice which (tries to) treat the great and the small the same way.   John Maynard Keynes said “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.”  But our justice system is clearly based on “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  We all know who said that.

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Comments

  • Curious Wavefunction  On May 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Given the features of the case which you pointed it, it’s probably going to be discussed ad nauseum by the media during the next few weeks or even months. We better get back to the intricacies of proteins and physical organic chemistry. As one example of what synthetic biologists are doing, you should read Wendell Lim’s review on using scaffolding proteins to direct and sequester signaling pathways from last week’s Science. It’s appearing much more like engineering than science now.

  • luysii  On May 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    True enough, and I wasn’t going to say anything, but the parallels with a French novel written over 200 years ago, and today’s events were just too good to pass up. Also, I doubt that anyone else has made the connection. Also we’re going to be away at a graduation for a while and I wanted to get another post in before we left.

    WRT scaffolding proteins, neuroscience has been studying PSD95, a scaffolding protein of the Post-Synaptic Density, and studying it hard for 20 years as it is crucial for the proper construction of synapses in the brain. The post-synaptic density itself is made of 300 PSD95 proteins, 90 SAP97s (another protein) and 80 calcium/calmodulin kinase II’s (CAMKIIs). So the post-synaptic density is large enough to show up on electron micrographs — which is how it was discovered.

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