PAUL GOODMAN, American sociologist, poet, writer, and public intellectual born (d: 1972); He described his politics as anarchist, his loves as bisexual, and his profession as that of “man of letters.” Goodman is now mainly remembered as the author of Growing up Absurd and for having been, during the 1960s, an activist on the pacifist Left and an inspiration to the counterculture of that era. He is less remembered as a co-founder of Gestalt Therapy in the 1940s and 50s.
The freedom with which he revealed, in print and in public, his homosexual life and loves (notably in a late essay, “The Politics of Being Queer” (1969)), proved to be one of the many important cultural springboards for the emerging Gay Liberation Movement of the early 1970s. In an interview with Studs Terkel, Goodman said “I might seem to have a number of divergent interests — community planning, psychotherapy, education, politics — but they are all one concern: how to make it possible to grow up as a human being into a culture without losing nature. I simply refuse to acknowledge that a sensible and honorable community does not exist.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the late, great Paul Goodman’s cheerfully, rigorously radical ideas, it’s clear that very, very few public figures — really, of any ideological stripe — since his 1960s-1970s prominence as author/speaker/television guest have attained nearly the richness of thought or the lively way of expressing it that Goodman had.