Photo of Professor Lenny Moss

Professor Lenny Moss

Biography

My interests in philosophy and science both go back to my early teens but they were conceived in very different contexts, and nurtured in very different moods. The twists and turns, engagements and disengagements that have led to their coming together have surely constituted a principal leitmotif of my intellectual life. Where my scientific intrigues may have been seduced by the well-crafted, pseudo-utopian rhetoric, arfully deployed in the New York World’s Fair ‘pavilions’ of Dupont Chemical, General Electric and the like, and further developmentally embedded by early ‘successes’ in the seventh grade chemistry classroom of Mrs. Chasen—philosophy has always had a very different status for me. As philosophy was hardly on the career menu in the projects and terraces of Queens and Brooklyn in which I grew up, it has always been about something special, ill-behaved, revelatory, critical and tinged with a giddy promise of liberation. (Nor have I even yet come to be able to countenance the standpoint of those for whom a career in philosophy is taken, not as a provocation of the marvelous, but rather as a somber birthright). As a sexually starved sixteen year-old, with liberal politics and a psychological bent, it is hardly surprisingly that my first intellectual passion was with the writings of Wilhelm Reich. Whether the pathways from Reich to the likes of Sartre, Situationism, Marcuse, Habermas and the Frankfurt School has since become well worn, or perhaps just worn-out, the scent was more than discernable at the time.
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Not every experience that cultivates and conditions one's purchase on or in the world finds a place on one's academic vita. Before settling into a life as a research scientist I ran corned beef and pastrami for a Kosher-style deli on Wall Street, hawked souvenirs for the 6-feet-wide-by 60-feet-deep Aquarium gift shop on Coney Island's boardwalk, devoted two summers as a camp counselor with brain-damaged and severely autistic children, washed pots and pans in the hot summer kitchen of Old Ebbit's Grill, endured the all-night, clean-up shift at the Sheraton Park Hotel, managed a non-profit 'radical' bookstore, founded a child-rearing commune, stuffed envelopes for the Washington Monthly, handled (albeit poorly) an off-set printing press for Tyler Buiness Services, set-up sherry-hour and searched the marijuana infused, back-stacks of the Library of Congress for the scholars (and political insiders) of the Woodrow Wilson International Center when it was still housed in the Smithsonian's castle, mixed bacterial media and autoclaved its finished fruit, and clocked-in for two and a half years with a former military intelligence officer named Carlton C. Crook (who had once chased after Jewish communists) collecting evidence of corporate collusion amongst major oil companies for the California State Attorney's office (until a Republican was elected governor). Without the benefit of remuneration, I was also arrested twice for anti-war activities but only handcuffed and smashed in the face with a police sargent's walky-talky once.
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