Posted by Tod Lindberg on 1st November 1997
The American Spectator
Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, by David Gelernter, The Free Press / 160 pages / $21
Had circumstances been kinder, David Gelernter might have lived his life merely as the remarkable man of letters he is. A computer scientist and professor of technology at Yale University and well respected in his field, he nonetheless stands apart from it as one of our most thoughtful critics of the progress of technology. In a field given over to boosterism and instant millionaires, Gelernter has managed to achieve sufficient distance to describe both the good and the bad of the computer revolution. He is in the microworld but not of it. His true loves are elsewhere — painting, musical composition, poetry, writing. He has produced thoughtful essays on a wide range of subjects in Commentary magazine, and he is the art critic for the Weekly Standard. And then there are the pleasures of playing baseball with two young sons.
An extraordinary man in rather ordinary circumstances — until one morning in June 1993, when Gelernter opened a package in his Yale office that had been mailed by the Unabomber. Drawing Life is the story of the aftermath of the blast that maimed him and nearly killed him, as well as a meditation on the condition of American society and culture from someone who refuses to go along with that culture in identifying him now and forever as, first and foremost, a victim.