New York Times, November 30, 2003.
“BUT what are the worst accomplishments?” the interviewer asked. We had been discussing great accomplishments in the arts and sciences, a subject on which I’ve written. The question stopped me cold. Art and science that are simply bad have no “worst” — all of it is equally unimportant. But the unintended consequences of great art and science are another question. Einstein did not have nuclear weapons in mind when he discovered that E=mc2, and Lenoir did not envision smog when he invented the internal combustion engine.
So, too, in the arts. A book can be misread, a painting can arouse prurient thoughts and a Wagner’s music can inspire a Hitler. Since it can happen so easily, the question arises: What belongs in the hall of fame of unintended outcomes in the arts and sciences, when a truly wonderful accomplishment inadvertently contributed to some truly awful consequences?
New York Times