(Note: This was the first of two programs on Point of View that took place at USC. )

As physicists know better than anyone, the way we look at things determines what we see. A point of view is inescapable. Yet science and journalism both are frequently expected to be “objective”—a goal that is not only unattainable, but ultimately counterproductive. Instead, the lesson of both relativity and quantum mechanics is that “truth” emerges only when “point of view” is put squarely into the equation. As the philosopher Max Otto wrote: “Let us remember that even Plato wore spectacles, and that if he or any absolutist ignores or repudiates this fact, it only makes him careless of the kind he wears.”

USC anthropologist Amy Parish will discuss how point of view has been central to her research into relationships among female  bonobos, close cousins to chimpanzees who may be our closest living relatives; many aspects of their female-dominated society challenge popular assumptions about human evolution. From a journalistic perspective, Amy Wilentz, former Jerusalem correspondent for the New Yorker, will talk about point of view in covering the Middle East Crisis—and also in writing fiction. She is the author of “I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen: Coming to California in the Age of Schwarzenegger,” and the novel “Martyrs’ Crossing.” Finally, Jon Boorstin, Oscar-nominated filmmaker and author of Making Movies Work will talk about how making movies, and enjoying them, relies upon the mysteries of point of view.


Amy Wilentz

Point of View, Too

Amy Parish

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Jon Boorstin