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… says Buck Mulligan of troubled, brilliant Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses.

Robert Trivers, who describes himself as “one of the greatest social theorists in evolutionary biology alive, period,” seems a pretty impossible person, and his restless, aggressive ways with the world seem to be getting worse as he gets older. To the point where his employer, Rutgers University, has now suspended him (with pay, but they might be on their way to suspending him without pay). His department asked him to teach a course he did not want to teach, and he complained about this – to his class – so unpleasantly that he was removed.

This fascinating 2005 profile in the Guardian recounts Trivers’ long struggle with mental illness; his self-wounding insistence on picking fights with other people in the various fields in which he works; and his Morrissey-like self-regard.

He reminds UD – based on the little she’s read about him – of Larry Kramer. Both seem permanently pissed off moral purists. And although it’s not much fun for anyone – the purist or the purist’s targets – to be around people like this, they sometimes turn out to make enormous contributions to the world by being the way they are.

Trivers is seventy, and Rutgers no doubt decided they could wait him out. Rutgers no doubt figured that by the time Trivers got really problematic, he’d be on the verge of retirement. But – again, like Kramer, who has, against immense odds, made it to 78 – Trivers continues rolling along nicely. His belligerence-flame burns brightly.

Guys like these – guys like Kramer and Trivers – are powerful rebukes to Buddhism. Apparently you can thrive on anger.

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One Response to “– O, an impossible person!”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The bar for greatness in evolutionary psychology is set pretty low.

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