The Mind-Body Problem - by Rebecca Goldstein

I had always thought of intelligence as power, the supreme power. Understanding is not the means of mastery, but the end itself (see Spinoza). This belief, pushed through the dark channels of the libido, emerged as the determinant of my sexual preferences. I am only attracted to men who I believe to be more intelligent than I am. A detected mistake in logic considerably cools my desire. They can be shorter, they can be weaker, they can be poorer, they can be meaner, but they must be smarter. For the smart are the masters in my mattering region. And if you gain power over them, then through the transitivity of power you too are powerful. And how is it given to a woman to dominate but through sex? Through sex a woman gains control over a man’s body that he himself lacks; she can move him in ways he cannot move himself. And she invades and takes over his consciousness, reducing it to a sense of its own embodiment (see Sartre). Sex is essentially the same game for men and for women, but for women, most of whom are otherwise powerless, it assumes a life-filling significance. La femme fatale, la belle dame sans merci, is an otherwise impotent person who has perfected her one strength to an unusual degree.

Theory of Academic Types
Observers of the academic scene may be aware that there are distinct personality types associated with distinct disciplines. The types can be ordered along the line of a single parameter: the degree of concern demonstrated over the presentation of self, or “outward focus.” One of the more interesting facts about academic types is that very few fall within the middle range of outward focus (with engineers, geologists, and other very applied scientists perhaps being the exceptions). The majority of academic types are clustered at the two extremes. At the low end, with outward focus asymptotically approaching zero, we find the pure mathematicians, closely followed by the theoretical physicists (the more theoretical the physicist, the more closely he follows). At the other end, with the degree of outward focus asymptotically approaching infinity, we find sociologists and professors of literature.

The degree of outward focus is in inverse proportion to the degree of certainty attainable within the given methodology. The greater the certainty of one’s results, the less the concern with others’ opinions of oneself. Thus at the end of the spectrum occupied by sociologists and professors of literature, where there is uncertainty as to how to discover the facts, the nature of the facts to be discovered, and whether indeed there are any facts at all, all attention is focused on one’s peers, whose regard is the sole criterion for professional success. Great pains are taken in the development of the impressive persona, with excessive attention given to distinguished appearance and faultless sentence structure. At the other end, where, as the mathematicians themselves are fond of pointing out, “a proof is a proof,” no concern need be given to making oneself acceptable to others; and as a rule none whatsoever is given.

His eyes had never left my own. I hate to speak to people who keep peering about all the time, as if always keeping an eye out for something more interesting than the conversation at hand. For this reason, I often find partying quite painful. People flit from one conversation to another, always convinced that the really interesting talk is going on elsewhere. I’ve found myself saying anything (I’d really like to forget some of the things) in such a situation in a desperate attempt to keep the Other’s attention on me. But Daniel Korper was looking and listening to me as if he’d be content to look and listen all night. I got the very strong impression that this is a man who likes and understands women, and there is nothing more attractive to women in general and me in particular. Haven’t you ever noticed how some of the homeliest men (not that Korper was one) can have any woman they choose? It’s such a basic difference between the sexes, that in one of them you can have a coupling of corporeal insignificance and sexual irresistibility, while in the other this combination is unthinkable.

I did what I often do when I feel my inferiority threatened by invasion. I lied.