In response to:
In The Big House of Theory from the May 29, 1986 issue
To the Editors:
I read with interest Frederick Crews essay titled “In the Big House of Theory” [NYR, May 29, 1986]. He states in the last paragraph “Lemuel Gulliver comes across ‘a most ingenious architect who had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning at the roof and working downwards to the foundation.”‘
For your readers’ information let me point out that we Japanese have been building houses by first completing the roof and then working downwards to the floor. This is not new. This way of building houses has been going on in Japan for the last three hundred or more years.
Frederick Crews replies:
Japan is known for technological marvels, but I doubt that its builders have mastered the Swiftian art of suspending a roof on mere air. As Swift appreciated, it takes a special kind of antifoundationalist to bring off such a feat. Here is one area of competition in which we Americans, thanks to the efforts discussed in my essay, enjoy a comfortable and everwidening lead.