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A Point of View - Raaga.com - A World of Music

A Point of View

BBC

Description

A weekly reflection on a topical issue
293 Episodes Play All Episodes
access_time3 months ago
Cute mobile machines with arms, hands and big friendly eyes reminding you to take your next pill or lifting people in and out of wheelchairs" - is this the way to look after a growing elderly population?

Sarah Dunant reflects on the crisis in care for the elderly and wonders if artificial intelligence can provide a satisfactory answer.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time4 months ago
On 5th June 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.

In one of the most famous editions of Radio 4's "Letter from America" - Alistair Cooke's gave an eye witness account of the assassination.

This is an edited version of the original talk - broadcast on Sunday 9th June 1968.
access_time4 months ago
Amit Chaudhuri on why he believes modern movies have a "spiritual glumness".

"Digitisation's subterranean agenda", he says, "is to repress natural light."

Unlike old black and white films which were flooded in natural light, he sees the light of digitisation as a grey light.

"We're meant to be distracted by drama, violence and special effects; but, crucially, enchantment is withheld from us."

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time4 months ago
Sarah Dunant gives a personal view on Ireland's abortion referendum.

She remembers one of her first jobs after university - working in a Pregnancy Advisory Service in London as a counsellor - and seeing many young women from the Republic of Ireland who'd come to England seeking an abortion.

And the day, some years later, when she went back there, that time as a client.
access_time4 months ago
Calcutta was born old", writes Amit Chaudhuri.

But restoration work of old buildings in the city, he says, "is now often based on the assumption that an old building must have once looked new, or should have".

He says restoration in Calcutta - and in many other cities around the world - must stop fetishizing the new.
access_time5 months ago
My problem with words is something I have never written down or spoken out about".

The writer, Stella Tillyard, talks about her "battle" with dyslexia - from her childhood to now.

She vividly describes the "gremlin that takes me by the hand, pulls my confidence away, and makes my heart beat too fast when I have - as now - to read aloud".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time5 months ago
Tom Shakespeare ponders why disabled sexuality is still so often taboo.

"Sexuality is a human right", he points out .and says we must set aside the notion that disabled people have "special needs" when it comes to sexuality.

"We have all the normal needs of non-disabled people".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time5 months ago
The past is concretised and solidified in things", writes Stella Tillyard "and they vibrate with the experience of their use".

Stella tells the story of a small Italian Museum - the Museum of Deportation and Resistance - and reflects on how we remember the past.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time5 months ago
Tom Shakespeare on why we need to rethink our use of the mental illness metaphor.

Is President Trump really "mad"?, he asks. Is Brexit "bonkers"? Or is the latest government policy "schizophrenic"?

He says we all do it. "Within five minutes of starting to write this talk, I find I'm doing it myself!"

But he says we need to break the habit since it shows a profound lack of understanding towards people with real mental health conditions.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time6 months ago
Western liberals", writes John Gray, "are horrified by the rise of Xi Jinping".

But as China's parliament votes to allow him to be President for life, John Gray argues that the future of the liberal West ironically depends on the continuing success of the world's most powerful authoritarian state.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time6 months ago
John Gray says the idea that empire has had its day is one of the delusions of our age.

Old empires, he says, are being replaced by new ones - in China, Russia and - he argues - in Europe.

He examines the idea of a European "empire of the good" - one that is liberal and democratic throughout.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time6 months ago
There was Chick Lit, then Grit Lit .now it's "Up Lit" - uplifting stories about kindness and community that we all seem to be reading.

Kamila Shamsie says she, too, has been carried along with this wave of escapism from "dark times".

But she says the idea that "upliftment" should be marketed to the reading public as the only fictional response to difficult times strikes her as problematic. "The best fiction always makes us look at - rather than away from - the world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time6 months ago
At a time when the word "civilisation" is the subject of great debate, Kamila Shamsie explores the meaning of the word through the prism of Indian art.

"If you really want to understand how the world's civilisations interact and meld", she writes, "go and look at the art of Gandhara".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time6 months ago
Tom Shakespeare tells us why he believes the phrase "going forward" is an inelegant and negative replacement for "in future".

When you talk about the future, he says, you are using a temporal concept. It's a different time from now - the time to come - and "invites us to open out our imaginative space". It offers the possibility that things might be different.

"Going forward", on the other hand, is a spatial concept - "nothing but the present, infinitely extended".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time7 months ago
We're in one of those recurring periods in history", writes John Gray, "when the idea of revolution has become appealing again".
In this context, John says we should dust off the work of Teffi - one of the best known writers in Russia before the revolution.
"I doubt", he says, "if anyone has written with such luminous clarity of what it means to live in a time of chaos".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time7 months ago
John Gray argues that, throughout history, highly educated people have often made the worst decisions.

Taking George Orwell as his starting point "There are some ideas so absurd that only intellectuals could believe them", he asks why we're still so reluctant today to give credence to the views of ordinary people.

He examines the role of universities in teaching critical thought in the humanities and social sciences and wonders if students who have "swallowed this mishmash" really have a better understanding of the world around them.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time7 months ago
In 1967, the philosopher Philippa Foot developed a thought experiment about a runaway trolley. It involved countless dilemmas designed to illustrate human behaviour.

But whatever the scenario, the rhetoric was always the same .the overwhelming desire was for the trolley to kill fewer people and save more.

AL Kennedy argues that today that rhetoric is in danger of being turned on its head.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time7 months ago
Death's not great for selling yoghurt" writes AL Kennedy, "but making Death dance through a culture seems to do more than reinforce dominant ideologies .it can lend power to the powerless".

She says for millennia, the human race has searched for everlasting life.

Instead of resisting our mortality, she argues that it's empowering to reflect on it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time8 months ago
Winning - isn't it great?" asks AL Kennedy.

But she argues that our "winner takes all" mentality is suffocating democracy.

"On both sides of the Atlantic, in regimes around the world", she writes, "we can watch the chaotic dissolution of administrations based on winning at any price".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time8 months ago
AL Kennedy on why Hollywood has never been a nice place.

In 1919, barely three decades after the advent of moving pictures, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and others thought things were bad enough in the studio system to break away and form an independent creative producing collective, United Artists. There are many other examples of Hollywood's woes in the C20th.

But in this time of political instability, Alison writes, "don't we need entertainment to get everybody through, aiming higher?"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time8 months ago
How long", asks Howard Jacobson, "before the protocols of looking forbid our looking appreciatively at anyone?"

He explores the enormous difficulties surrounding the language of appreciation, "no matter whether the viewer in question is a mechanic ogling a pin-up in his workshop or an art critic pausing at a wall of French nudes in the Wallace Collection".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time8 months ago
Howard Jacobson ponders why misanthropy is out of fashion.

"Where have they gone?", he asks, "such great haters of mankind as Juvenal, Swift, Flaubert".

Mankind, he believes, has not grown less tribal over time. But instead of a general enemy, he says, "we each have our own individual tormentor - a private phobic for every one of us".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time8 months ago
Howard Jacobson on why we need to preserve Bohemia.

London's Soho, he says, is the nearest the UK has to a Bohemia but "you don't sniff aesthetic licence in the streets of Soho as you once did".

But one day recently, writes Howard, Soho recovered its spirit - at the funeral of the leopard-skin jacketed "Prince of Soho".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time9 months ago
It isn't just because they have become platforms for propaganda and interpersonal odiousness that we should declare war on the social media", writes Howard Jacobson. "It is because they reduce all discourse to a shout".

Howard appeals for a re-discovery of the subtlety of language and explains why he believes we should leave behind the "frozen wastes of Emojiland".

"A thumb up or thumb down culture has given up on the idea that difference of opinion comes in shades, that thought is gradual and graded, that argument is more about adjustment than it is about assertion".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time9 months ago
Howard Jacobson on the art of the feuilleton .and the joy of the ordinary.

He says the feuilletonists - those writers of short observational pieces - show "you don't have to be tendentious to be of consequence".

He asks us to step back and seek what's important around us and even question whether there's such a thing as importance at all.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time9 months ago
Great television is taking over the space occupied by many novels", writes Zia Haider Rahman "and taking with it many excellent writers".

He says that many novels have already moved in the direction of the televisual - written with an eye to a film or TV adaptation.

"If novelists are relinquishing the very things that are exclusively the province of the novel", he writes, "then they are complicit in the demise of the novel".
access_time9 months ago
It's not merely facts that are under assault in the polarised politics of the UK, the US and other nations twisting in the winds of what some call populism" writes Zia Haider Rahman. "There's also a troubling assault on reason".

He argues that authoritarian tendencies know that warping the facts is only a start. "Warping reason and logic and clarity of thought is the holy grail".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time10 months ago
On my computer", writes Zia Haider Rahman, "I have a folder of exchanges with organisations and corporations, a folder called 'Hope'".

Zia describes the letters he's written to some of Britain's foremost institutions on their lack of diversity.

He says empirical research of cognitive scientists points ever more clearly to the immense difficulty of changing minds.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time10 months ago
Will Self reflects on the epidemic of sleeplessness.

He explores the "heady cocktail" of modern life that's keeping us awake and argues that we all need the imaginative sustenance of dreams.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time10 months ago
Will Self on how wearing glasses has become something that is entirely unremarkable.

"Nowadays the acquisition of glasses", he writes, "is simply another opportunity for the conspicuous consumption we've all become so very expert at".

But he says there are drawbacks to seeing too clearly. He suggests that a National No Glasses Day might be an idea "so we can all wander about the place in blurry bliss".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time10 months ago
As the years have passed", writes Will Self, "so gnawing on a bloody piece of cow rump has come to seem, to me, more and more well, vulgar".

Via Leviticus and Arcimboldo, he charts his conversion to vegetarianism.

And he explains why it's not just personal morals that are "propelling me headlong towards the horror of Quorn"!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time11 months ago
Will Self says we need creative solutions to end institutional misogyny and abuse.

"Rather than addressing - as parliamentarians currently are - the business of shutting the stable door after the stallions have run amok", he writes, "we should be thinking about how to keep it closed in the first place".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time11 months ago
Will Self on why he loves space .

From childhood dreams of being "strapped into the command module of a Saturn 5 rocket about to blast off from Cape Kennedy" to contemplating 1000-million-star mega-clusters in the sky today, Will describes why space is - for him - "both sublime and restful".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time11 months ago
Mary Beard ponders why email is governed by so few rules and conventions.

"Fifty years ago, when I was at high school", Mary writes, "we spent many hours learning how to write a letter".

She wonders why no one today seems to be teaching the art of writing a persuasive email.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time11 months ago
Andrew Sullivan says a type of "cultural Marxism" is sweeping through American universities.

Conservative ideas, he says, are increasingly being banished from campuses and free speech is seen as a delusion.

"It's an ideology that is fast resembling a new religion".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time12 months ago
Andrew Sullivan says Donald Trump is teaching a generation that the key to advancement in society is to bully, lie, slander and cheat.

He examines the long-term effects of the Trump Presidency.

"It may be that in the future", Andrew writes, "his appalling conduct will mark a cautionary tale - and future candidates and presidents will learn not to follow in his
steps".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time12 months ago
Andrew Sullivan on how America has become "a truly tribal society".

"I've lived here since the Reagan era", he writes, "and there have been plenty of divides. But none quite as tribal or as rooted in non-negotiable identity as this one".

He warns of what the outcome might be and reminds the listener that a liberal democracy is always a precarious enterprise.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time12 months ago
Monica Ali with a personal take on why she believes the history of the British Empire must be taught in our schools.

She recalls a conversation with her father where he told her that at primary school he'd been taught about the Black Hole of Calcutta and how the British gave India railways. At secondary school - post Independence and Partition, her Dad's history curriculum changed dramatically it ceased to cast a rosy glow over British rule.

When she was at school, Monica was taught nothing about Empire.

And with her children, the subject barely got a look-in.

"Post Brexit, when the fantasy of a small nation decoupled from the world has never been greater", she writes, "it is time to put the British Empire firmly into the school curriculum".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Authenticity, writes Monica Ali, has become the yardstick by which we measure the value of much of our day-to-day lives.

"In this hyper-mobile, hyper-connected world" she says, "the cult of authenticity is flourishing".

But what does it mean to be "authentic"?

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Monica Ali describes her desire for vengeance after her son was robbed by two boys on mopeds.

She reflects on the recent surge in moped crime and what can be done to stop it.

She says the criminals involved in this new brand of crime are nearly all children and, whatever our desire for justice, "crackdowns on children can never provide the entire - the right - solution to the problem".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
European society", says Sir Roger Scruton, "is rapidly jettisoning its Christian heritage and has found nothing to put in its place save the religion of human rights".

But, he argues, this new "religion" delivers one-sided solutions since rights favour the person who can claim them - whatever the moral reasons for opposing them.

He says Europe needs to rediscover its Christian roots.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Roger Scruton asks: "What does the Tory Party really stand for?"

He says the Conservative party at present is muddling along without a philosophy.

But he argues that, far from being the 'nasty party', the most fundamental belief underpinning Conservative policies historically is the idea of responsibility towards others.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Roger Scruton looks at the impact of Harry Potter on our world view.

"People are starting to live in a kind of cyber-Hogwarts", he says, "a fantasy world in which goods are simply obtained by needing them, and then asking some future Prime Minister to wave the magic wand".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Adam Gopnik muses on the art of parenting and the challenges of getting it right.

"Too much praise or too little?", he wonders. "You have to be hands off, smiling" but at the same time "engaged, unsparing in honesty".

He concludes that raising children is an art, not a science or a craft. "They are the artists of their own lives but we can, we must, teach them the art of living".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Adam Gopnik reflects on why musical theatre makes its makers miserable. He should know - he's just finished an eight week run of a musical he wrote.

He concludes that while films, for example, have a "natural author" in the shape of the director, a musical doesn't and "a seven-person creative team of equals", he says can never be harmonious.

But there's a lot of fun to be had along the way .

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
I have lived long enough now", writes Adam Gopnik, "to see several absolutely horrific epochs come and go looking much less absolutely horrific once they're gone."

He reflects on how Donald Trump's presidency will affect our sense of what constitutes normality.

"Are we every day normalizing behaviour", he asks, "that will bring an end to normalcy itself".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
Adam Gopnik reflects on why he turned to marijuana to relieve his pain during a recent bout of shingles.

His 17 year old daughter was horrified.

But Adam concludes that wise drug policy accepts the existence of intoxicants and says "this tale of unshaven debauchery" has made him realise, for the first time, how much his own "hyper disciplined, driven life" had taken out of him.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
You can't call him crazy, because it isn't fair to crazy people", writes Adam Gopnik.

"You can't compare him to a four-year-old because four-year-old children are not in fact tyrannical or egotistical".

Six months into Donald Trump's presidency, Adam Gopnik searches - almost in vain - for a descriptive category to fit.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
I will now pause for a full two seconds to allow you to throw things at the radio", begins Adam Gopnik.

He's working hard, he claims, at a literary festival in Capri.

While there he goes in search of a white staircase - the subject of his favourite painting in the world. As he searches, he reflects on art, life and "the sketchbook of the twenty first century", the iphone.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
access_time1 year ago
It seems indisputable, to me", writes Will Self "that what makes it possible for our attractions to each other to be as deep and profound as they are, is some sort of difference - whether it be given, or something we create".

Will reflects on what a truly gender-fluid society might look like.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
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