In response to:
Number One from the June 4, 1970 issue
To the Editors:
I am not at all sure that I should care to be treated, not even psychiatrically, by an M.D. who has so far forgotten his highschool (let alone his medical school) chemistry as to think that carbonic acid (H2CO3), present whenever CO2 is dissolved in water—as in all soft drinks, and in most American, i.e., synthetic, beer—is identical with carbolic acid (C6H5OH), better known nowadays as Phenol, a strong antiseptic which can, and does, burn the hell out of human tissues, especially if ingested by mouth.
Incidentally, Mr. Vidal, perhaps simply following Dr. Reuben or perhaps just yielding to Victorian theological misnaming, has attributed to Onan the invention of a certain “solitary pleasure” (or, as the Victorians and my own high-school teachers preferred to call it, “solitary vice”). The merest glance at Genesis 38:9 makes it quite clear that Onan’s pleasure, if any, was not quite solitary.