Todd Gitlin

Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in communications at Columbia University, has been writing frequently on media and the campaign for BillMoyers.com. His next book is a novel, The Opposition.

Recent Articles

Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just

Every age has its ways of despising art-which also are ways of taking it seriously, for you don't smash idols you don't fear. Art can be despised with thumbscrews, bonfires, or money. It can be smothered in Glad Wrap: feel-good art meant to lie about how happy the proletariat is, say, or how cute the world is. The rage against art-- from Plato to Mao Tse-tung-has been no respecter of geography or politics. And it has been no respecter of pro fessions: Artists can be good at it, too. Short of despising, there is dismissing-art can be condemned not only as deception but also as distraction from duty. In the 1960s, radicals who liked to quote poetry favored Bertolt Brecht's "To Posterity," which includes these lines (as translated by H.R. Hays): Ah, what an age it is When to speak of trees is almost a crime For it is a kind of silence about injustice. Almost a crime-a nice touch, a saving grace. The many serious writers who have commended this poem, including Nadine Gordimer and Athol...

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