Civilization Has Always Been Collapsing for Somebody

While the Apocalypse Is Relative, Humanity’s Pursuit of Technology Perpetually Creates and Defuses Existential Threats

The question of whether civilization is on the verge of collapse may be as old as civilization itself.

This enduring query brought together a group of panelists that moderator Edan Lepucki called “the most interesting dinner party I’ve ever been invited to” for a Zócalo/Getty event before an overflow crowd at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Lepucki, author of the post-apocalyptic novel California, stressed that addressing the event’s title question—”Is Civilization on the Verge of Collapse?”—starts with defining what type of civilization we are talking about. One panelist, …

Almost Any Politician in a Democracy Is a Bit of a Demagogue

A Classicist, a Historian, and a Rhetorician Talk Trump, Clinton, and Cleon

There’s plenty of nastiness in our democracy. But is there anything new?

For all the fear and consternation about the lies, insults, conspiracy theories, and rhetorical excesses of the 2016 presidential …

A Color That Is Anything but Neutral

From Puritan Industrialists to Pro-Slavery Propaganda, Black Has Accumulated Contradictory and Controversial Associations

Black may be a color, but it’s not just a color.

Panelists at a lively Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” event at the Getty Museum explored the hue’s often contradictory and controversial …

Those Jingoistic, Nationalistic, Patriotic Cartoons

From World War I to the War on Terror, Cartoons Have Served as Propaganda, Entertainment, and Political Tools

Cartoonists are propagandists and satirists, artists and writers. They make us laugh—in recognition and shame—and enrage and offend. At an “Open Art” event co-presented by the Getty in conjunction with …

How to Make an Artist Biopic That’s Not Pretentious or Boring

The Writer-Producers of Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ Say You’ve Got to Start with the Right Subject: Someone Who’s Not Universally Considered to Be Great

What makes a piece of art great? Which artists’ stories are worth telling? And why are biopics about the great artists generally pretentious and boring? After a screening of their …

Who Needs Religion When You Have a Camera?

I Was Looking for Spiritual Transformation. Instead I Found the Work of Minor White.

Minor White believed that photography has the potential to spiritually transform the viewer as well as the practitioner. I can attest to that because it happened to me a long, …