As we continue our perusal of the latest issue of the most important literary magazine of our time, we skipped over that long part in the middle so we could get to the fun part: the letters section! And we must admit, we weren't disappointed. There, nestled between a somewhat rambling note from Jacob Shell (ooh, he's utterly cute!) and one from "S.C. Gummer" (a pseudonym? Perhaps) on Berlin was this squirmy missive from one Jonathan Lethem.
Lethem is concerned about a story that (apparently! How would we know?) takes to task his stance on Ratnerville. (Weirdly enough, the story was (again, apparently!) written by Gawker Weekend contributor Jon Liu. Huh. Small world.)
A glance in the mirror Jonathan Liu offers me in "A Sporting Chance" shows a creature of straw, wearing my name. Liu indulges the same caricature of an anti-Ratner position as Charles "There's this small culture of inertia" Schumer and Frank "They should have been picketing Henry Ford" Gehry—i.e., that to stand against this particular development is to stand, somehow, against progress—and the contemporary city—itself. Hooey. Balderdash. Flapdoodle.
Let's make it simple. A thousand different futures could be projected for that zone (and if you chose from a thousand at random you could hardly do worse than Ratner's top-heavy, over-dense, privatized, underplanned, compromised-yet-railroaded vision). Who ever claimed the only choice was between this and 'stasis'? (If you're not for wiretapping, you must be in favor of terrorists.) I like sports too, but when did basketball come to mean towers? Why not ask for better, instead of consoling ourselves in advance for acquiescence to yet another triumph of capital's brain-dead imperatives? "Growth for growth's sake is the logic of the cancer cell." Edward Abbey said that. I don't find anything more persuasive than cancer logic in Liu's elaborate rationalizations.
That is too cute that Jonathan Lethem uses words like "hooey" and "balderdash"! He's still totally less doable than Jacob Shell though.