The Breakfast Table

Human Tissue in a Dish

Dear Stephen–Good morning. I was very pleased to wake up to note that researchers have figured out how to grow human tissue in a dish. (Of course I tested this at fourth-grade science level when I was a senior in high school, so take this with much more than a grain of anything.) Among the ethical questions is whether the eggs that these cells come from could be used for ovum donation. I do worry when cells suddenly develop personalities. There’ll be pickets in front of the University of Wisconsin. On the other hand, though I certainly understand the quest for longevity and health, I wonder if in the next century the largest change will be life expectancy. Cloning and organ growing become a general practice; immortality becomes a different issue. Of course I think the first to be cloned will be Osama bin Ladin and a number of studio executives.

Stephen, you can explain something to me. I was reading Sandra Bernhard’s review which Peter Marks calls something like deliriously edgy and was wondering why “edginess” is suddenly in vogue. Movies, plays, and books seem to be called courageous because they have the courage to insult or take it to the “max.” By this point, if edginess means daring, wouldn’t it be far more risky to write something sentimental or sweet?

Finally, I am delighted that Gingrich is under siege for the speaker’s job. I do of course remember that only a short time ago his “Contract With America” was being hailed as the new leadership. There is something very satisfying about this election. I do feel that the electorate is leading the press, which is doing a pretty good job in following and finding out why. (There I go not being edgy enough.)

We never discussed those students in Paris striking to study, or the other murder which didn’t have the shopping possibilities of the Guccis. How odd it is to me that an arts community is growing in Williamsburg, since in my childhood that was the home of ultra-Orthodox Jews. I wish the Times had mentioned this morning how those communities co-exist. And finally I have one more thought for a sequel. King Lear –the television Series My Three Daughters–the family reunites. Lear gets his eyesight back when they are grown in a dish. Don’t you love symmetry?