Woodward and Manning: Patriots
Re “Bob Woodward’s Tantrum, Bradley Manning’s Torment” [March 25]: I find it disturbing that The Nation is trashing Woodward. When someone in the White House sends an e-mail to a journalist, I expect he considers every word carefully. The phrase “You will live to regret…” is, to me, chilling. Rather than supporting a journalistic colleague, you accuse him of being thin-skinned, and you imply, with no evidence, that Woodward was more interested in the Sperling threat than in Manning’s situation.
Your mention of Bob Woodward’s tussle with the White House reminded me of how he became famous—by exposing the corruption of the Nixon White House. This was a courageous act by a whistleblower of the first order. I wonder if Bradley Manning could be seen as a man of similar courage? Remember the Pentagon Papers? When are acts of courage more dangerous for those who blow the whistle than for our national security interests? And who decides?
The Wrath of God
At the risk of bringing down on my head the wrath of Barry Schwabsky and the artists he discusses, I submit that the paintings he presents by Griffa and Nozkowski are boring, void of talent and just plain silly [“Endless Representation,” March 25]. I am no doubt out of touch with what one might call modern modernity, or perhaps meta-avant-garde. Frederick Karl, certainly no enemy of the modern, said, “Very possibly the health of a culture depends on its support of the avant-garde, however antagonistic the avant-garde may prove; when that support withers, perhaps we can say the whole culture is dying.” I suggest the reverse: the health of an art form depends on the health of its culture. If our culture is falling into the pits of meaninglessness or nihilism, then art may follow.
But I don’t see that necessarily being the case. For me, an old-fashioned guy, art must inform, inspire and move one. I suppose Griffa’s art kind of does that: I am inspired to feel indifferent and moved to look away. If art can be boiled down to tubes of unused paint and unstretched canvases, then indeed it has fallen into a gulch of absurdity, out of which would no doubt grow the idea that The Pietà is simply overworked stone.