Theory or Life?

RothscientistsCharles Larson reviews Macro Roth's new book The Scientists, in Counterpunch:

When Marco Roth was sixteen years old, his parents suggested that he begin seeing a psychiatrist. A couple of years earlier, the boy’s father (a noted hematologist) revealed that he was dying of AIDS and told his son that the diagnosis should be kept within the family. Years earlier, an accidental prick with a needle had infected him. Marco was an only child. Not only was his father a famous academic scientist, but the boy’s mother was a talented pianist. A sentence from the information on the book about the writer states that “Marco Roth was raised among the vanished liberal culture of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.” Jewish, cultured, highly educated. As a boy he was accustomed to house concerts, intellectual discussions with family and guests.

The sessions with the psychiatrist were intended to help Marco adjust to his father’s approaching death. During those final years of his life, Marco’s father aided his son with his high school science projects, provided him with scientific articles to read—especially about possible cures for AIDS—and kept up a running dialogue about literature. There were novels that Marco read because of his father’s recommendations. The tension keeping his father’s approaching death from his peers led the young man to make endless speculations about his parents and refer to the virus as his “microscopic sibling,” the second child his parents never had. His father had contracted the virus when Marco was in the second or third grade.