A somewhat lengthy diatribe on a difficult and controversial subject. At times I felt like this guy really had an axe to grind, but overall I think his argument makes sense. In a few years this book will probably seem more like common sense than controversy, but at times the arguments Pinker makes were more like the kind of dehumanized “factual” statements a geek is likely to make that are disconnected from the meaty, love filled, human reality of the everyday world.
Pinker made great pains to overcome this diconnect and in fact a lot of his argument comes from and speaks for this human-ness, but it’s hard to overcome the coldness that a purely scientific argument has to make.
I think I agreed with what was presented overall, but I’m sure it would be no suprise to Pinker that I had the most beef with him about the arguments he makes surrounding art. Generally I agree with him, art can at times be about a search for status or sometimes just serve as an example of conspicous consumption but I think he is wrong on one point. Minimalism is much more than just a formal exercise. To some people, myself included, there is real beaty in it. The kind of beauty that Pinker is calling for a return to in art, not just the hypothetical beauty of concept, but actual physical beauty.