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editors' musings



alice andrews   |   editor/publisher



*A self-interview re my novel, Trine Erotic



Q.  What are some of the major questions you try to deal with in Trine Erotic?

A.  Well, there are quite a few: Is there free will? What is ‘the will’? What is and is there a single ‘I’? — a self? Are we determined by our genes? Can we (and how and what affect does it have to) go against our ‘nature’? What is the unconscious? Is it what evolutionary psychologists refer to as our universal human nature? Or is it something else? And how does it work? And is there a universal human nature? How does culture influence us? What is art? What is love? And is there something beyond our evolutionary, deep reflexes — some kind of ‘global brain,’ as Howard Bloom suggests, that is motivating us?


Q. You dedicate the book to every woman’s desire and the art within her and to alpha males everywhere. Does that mean it’s not for other males — say, beta?


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                          photo: rick lange










Not that long ago, for about a year, I dated a cute, left-wing economist off-and-on (though mostly off). We found each other attractive and exotic and perhaps even fascinating, but we didn’t get along or get each other one bit. It was a frustrating and futile experiment in the chemistry and mathematics of pairing with someone so different in every way—even our horoscopes said we were disastrous for each other. (That a pretty smart girl like me would even mention the word horoscope in a piece for public consumption would probably make him cringe and clear his throat a few times.) But in the process of going toward something so foreign and at once attractive and repellant, I solidified my worldview that there really are two different kinds of minds.

Recently, the New York Times ran an article titled “The Political Brain.” The piece suggested that the liberal mind and the conservative mind are quite different and that this difference is related to the differences in the way their limbic systems (in particular, the amygdala) respond to particular stimuli—particularly suffering and violence. The author made clear to point out that it was difficult to parse if liberals were born with more sensitive/reactive amygdalae or if their experiences, etc., shaped the patterns of response; and that indeed it was probably a little of both, as these things often are.

Of course, in the game ‘the nature/nurture debate,’ where anyone over the age of 13 knows the answer is: “it’s both,” you are really being asked: To which side do you lean or, perhaps, which side do you defend? And in this game my answer is nature; though I consider myself an interactionist; and am informed by an epigenetic, adaptationist

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After reading H. Allen Orr's review of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate in The New York Review of Books, a friend political philosopher, Jeff Miller wrote: 

EP <Evolutionary Psychologist>: The desire to rape is evolutionarily hard-wired. It's an inescapable part of ourselves.

RP <Reasonable Person>: Okay, that sounds plausible, seeing how widespread the phenomenon is. It's a good thing that we have an ethical system, grounded in certain conceptions of the person that stem from Enlightenment philosophers, which allow us to morally condemn rape and attempt to prevent it from happening.

EP: That's a result of evolutionary development, too!

                            RP: Oh . . . Well, would the desire for human autonomy — which in its current articulation I would trace back again to the Enlightenment also be hard-wired? Would the desire, for example, of African-Americans for freedom prior to the Civil War and equal treatment during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s also be something linked to hard-wired traits?

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                               photo: alice andrews       


Being Brave:

In Defense of Naturalism and Essentialism



Often enough, and recently quite often, I hear (or hear behind my back) that someone has dismissed EP — and me — as ‘conservative’ or reactionary. The truth is, EP and its adherents probably cover the political spectrum quite well. But my guess is — contrary to the opinion of many—the majority of evolutionary psychologists will be found hovering somewhere in the center and on the left of the political spectrum. Peter Singer, who wrote, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation is not alone! And frankly, I can't think of one evolutionary psychologist who is on the right (though I'm sure there are a few).

And here's Daniel Dennett in his latest book Freedom Evolves:

 "Where I think they go wrong [detractors of naturalism] is in lumping the responsible, cautious, naturalists (like Crick and Watson, E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and myself) in with the few reckless overstaters, and foisting views on us that we have been careful to disavow and to criticize." [p.20] 1


 This idea of the unjustified attack on naturalists from the left is a major theme in Pinker's The Blank Slate. And he explains that the essentialist/social constructionist battle during the 70s, where many sociobiologists were the targets of picketing, name-calling and water-dousing, was particularly rough.

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The Semiotics of Shoe Shapes

photo: alice andrews, 1992

I showed some of Warren Beatty’s Reds to my sociology class a few weeks ago, to give them a flavor of left and right wing ideology and to give them a little historical perspective. In the film, the revolutionary journalist Jack Reed, who wrote Ten Days That Shook the World, who wrote: “All I know is that my happiness is built on the misery of others....and that fact poisons me, disturbs my serenity, makes me write propaganda when I would rather play” comes down on his beloved Louise Bryant for writing a piece about the Armory Show which had occurred three years prior, while the country is in the midst of war and the possibility of changing the world is imminent. Reed has this deep sense of social responsibility to inform and radicalize readers and he’s irritated with Bryant for her lack of interest in, passion for, and commitment to the ideals of the workers’ movement—for being interested in stale ideas about nothing and which would do nothing.

Well, I must confess, I feel a little like Louise Bryant here. Alas, I have no Warren Beatty (Jack Reed) to rail upon me—but I have internalized him—and he’s angry! My writing about sex and shoes right now feels a little like Bryant writing about the Armory Show of 1913 when it’s 1916, about dead art in the wake of fertile revolution.

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Beyond Paradox



 A Review of Colin Talbot's

The Paradoxical Primate



Meta Study: Reactions to a Study on Female Sexuality


I read this on the Yahoo Evolutionary Psychology forum, and posted several messages. I found myself in a fairly heated debate with some pretty big and small fish in the field (pool), via private e-mails, as well as on the forum.

*Study suggests difference between female and male sexuality

EVANSTON, Ill.  —— Three decades of research on men's sexual arousal show
patterns that clearly track sexual orientation — gay men overwhelmingly become
sexually aroused by images of men and heterosexual men by images of women. In
other words, men's sexual arousal patterns seem obvious.

But a new Northwestern University study boosts the relatively limited research
on women's sexuality with a surprisingly different finding regarding women's
sexual arousal. In contrast to men, both heterosexual and lesbian women tend to become sexually
aroused by both male and female erotica, and, thus, have a bisexual arousal

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 *The researchers, J. Michael Bailey, Meredith L. Chivers, Gerulf Rieger, and Elizabeth Latty have made their paper "A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal"  which is in press (Psychological Science), available.






My letter responding to Jason Stern's 'Esteemed Reader' column in


Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine:

I start by acknowledging and thanking Dennis Kucinich for the above quote and for making a sound that is extraordinary amid the clatter of the political noise machine. This is a man I would be proud to call my president.

And I proceed by addressing a related subject that has been much in my thoughts. Since it has been in my thoughts I assume that the subject has been making the rounds to the thoughts of others as well.

The subject is: relationship.

What is it to be related — to be in relationship?

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Love is "one's ability, through demonstrative acts, to confer survival benefits on others in a creatively enlarging manner."  
 - Ashley Montegue

 Love is "a wonderful example of long-term focused attention."
 - Lucy Brown

 “The aim is not to choose the right but to become the sort of person who cannot choose the wrong and who no longer has any choice in the matter.” 
 G.M.A. Grube 

Dear Jason,

 I liked your letter about relationships. It made me think. I think attention and attending to the other is what it’s all about. But here’s the problem.

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Unstandardized Minds

 My letter to the New Paltz Times supporting the Board of Education's decision
to get rid of standardized testing for 2nd graders.




Love Leaves


It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception. - Robert Motherwell (


In the fall I found two leaves. They were yellow/brown, not my usual favorite color. In fact, this particular muted yellow/brown was a color I had never cared for at all. It was as if suddenly, over night, my nervous system had matured. Whereas before such color on a leaf would have depressed me, now it actually lifted me--not to elation, but to a strange contentment and peace. I was actually appreciating its wabi-sabiness, finding its understated, decaying hue quite beautiful.
Had I 'learned' to love this yellow/brown? I don't think so. I think it's deeper than that. I think it's more as if a developmental bioprogram kicked in, an indication of my neurohormonal profile at this stage in my life-history (four decades now).
But something about their roundness and their largeness and their papyrusy shape also made me want to pick them up. I took them home and pressed them in
The Blank Slate. It's 528 pages, so it's a good one for

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poetry editors






Entelechy is very pleased to welcome

poetry editors:

Tim Horvath and Jason Ronstadt

bios and more coming soon...




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