Plato took a dim view of artists. They were, he said, illusionists, imitators who fooled people into thinking that what they saw was real. A trompe l'oeil painting of a bunch of grapes could deceive a bird, who would peck at it; even if a person realized that it was a painting, at some level -- at the bird level of the human brain -- a person would still be a prisoner of that illusion. And that, in turn, was dangerous: it opened the way to all sorts of manipulation of people, because their bird-brains were accessible to artists' conjuring tricks.
Continue reading "Knowing the Difference" »
Oaxaca has suffered a terrible crisis in the last eight months. Thousands of striking school teachers and their supporters fought police and the state's autocratic governor street by street, building by building. As many as a dozen people died. One hundred demonstrators are still under arrest and human rights groups claim that some have been tortured and "disappeared."
Continue reading "Celebrity, Politics & Public Life - in Mexico" »
A premise behind a lot of what we do at the Lear Center is the idea that a well-educated, well-informed citizenry is good for democracy. This Jeffersonian concept -- it used to be called a "liberal" ideal, before partisan warfare made that word a left-right term -- is especially relevant to the health of society and the state of freedom in a time when entertainment casts such a strong shadow on domains like news, politics and education.
So it was striking to come across a post by Sam Rosenfeld at The American Prospect's blog TAPPED, saying this:
[T]he modern liberal emphasis on making the public somehow smarter and better informed about politics as the central means of bringing about progressive change has amounted to a catastrophic misallocation of energy.
Continue reading "Dumbing Down Democracy" »