Winter 2003

The Defense of Man

William F. Lynch

“While it is surely not its business to discuss the ‘immediately moral’ in terms of case-book decisions, the whole business of art, where it is truly such, is in a sense more truly moral than morality itself when conceived in this traditional sense.”

The intention of this book1 has been to affirm that the state of the mass media, especially of the cinema and TV industries, is of essential importance to the life of this nation, and that it involves not only its personal  but its final political  good; I have been pleading  for a collaborative act of positive intervention on the part of critics, artists, and speculative theologians, each of whom would ideally have some competent inward knowledge of the trade of the other; I have been especially concerned to push the proposition that if we restrict our discussions and our work to the immediately moral and to the question of censorship, we shall continue to make little progress with the infinitely more important issue of the total state of the human sensibility in our civilization; thus confronting  each other in a negative situation, the forces of theology and art will never be able to muster a common act of the intelligence  and of competency,  and will be continually surrendering the field to the autonomous economies of the great commercial interests who too often and too piously declare that they have a right to please people.


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1. “The Defense of Man” was originally published as the concluding chapter of William F. Lynch, The Image Industries (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1959). Reprinted by kind permission of Sheed & Ward, a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.