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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
374 Episodes Play All Episodes
Waiting
access_time5 days ago
However different our days are, we are all waiting," writes Rebecca Stott.
Via Samuel Beckett, a walk in Norfolk and a discussion of the three stages of twilight, Rebecca reflects on the waiting of lockdown.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
In+Praise+of+Cleaning
access_time12 days ago
Others may thrill to the serendipity of bacon-and-eggs," writes Will Self, "but it's the determinism of dustpan-and-brush that I exalt".
Dusting, wiping, vacuuming and sweeping in lockdown, Will ponders the Great British Wipe-Up.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
My+Mother
access_time19 days ago
She'd been waiting for the catastrophe to end catastrophes all her life and now it was here she seemed not to give a fig about it".
Howard Jacobson reflects on his mother's life - and death.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
On+Risk
access_time26 days ago
AL Kennedy ponders why we're bad at assessing risks.

"We prioritize them according to emotion and information," she says, "but our emotions cloud our judgement and our information may be patchy, absent or misleading."

She argues that one risk though is incontrovertible - the risk to the planet - and we need to find a way to ensure its survival.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Cultural+success+and+the+Aboriginals
access_time1 month ago
I can't have been alone among those quarantined these past few weeks," writes Will Self, "in seeking out the greatest imaginative spaces with which to counterpoint my confinement."
Courtesy of Google Earth, Will sets out to simulate a trip he was planning to make to central Australia and ponders what lessons Aboriginal culture might have for the days of pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Few+Good+Trade+Offs
access_time1 month ago
Zia Haider Rahman describes the "profound moral questions" facing society as it starts to discuss how the COVID-19 lockdown might, eventually, be ended.
We have to face up to the fact, he says, that our choices will have huge impacts for which we must take responsibility.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
On+Not+Finishing
access_time2 months ago
I’ve been thinking about projects left unfinished," writes Rebecca Stott. " I’ve got the pages of two unfinished novels on my hard-drive, and a pile of sewing projects, seams pinned, pins rusting, in my sewing basket."

With the help of Leonardo da Vinci, "a notorious non-finisher," Rebecca ponders the meaning of our imperfect and incomplete projects.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Grandad+We+Love+You
access_time2 months ago
I can see her on my phone, I can even hear her on my phone, but I can't feel her weight in my arms and her wiggling warmth," writes Tom Shakespeare about his new-born granddaughter.
With everyone in lock-down, Tom talks about his longing to meet his first grand-daughter.
And he knows it's a sadness he shares with many other grandparents.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Seven+Degrees+of+Solitude
access_time2 months ago
Having been alone in the apartment now for almost three weeks," writes Adam Gopnik in New York, "I have become aware of the countless fine shades of solitude".

Adam describes the daily roller coaster ride of anxiety and normalcy - from the solitude of morning coffee with the dog to the solitude of the Manhattan street late at night.

With each day that passes, he finds that "the hues and shades of solitude are defining themselves, with a distinction that gives at least a shape, and sometimes the hint of a meaning, to our time inside".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Fighting+infection+with+imagination
access_time2 months ago
As our physical reality is reduced down to a few rooms or a view from a window," writes Sarah Dunant, "our ability to conjure up things we're not able to experience is going to be vital to feed our imaginations."

Sarah argues that - given social distancing - imagination is going to be an exceedingly powerful inner muscle when it comes to our mental survival.
She offers us a few of her stand out images to get us started.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Cause+for+Hope
access_time3 months ago
I have come to think of the virus as that monster from the ancient Norse legend of Beowulf, Grendel," writes Michael Morpurgo. "He's out there now, threatening my home, my village, my family and friends".

Michael talks about what it feels like to be hunkered down in his little cottage in Devon - waiting for coronavirus to pass.

Recorded by Hamish Marshall from Radio Devon.

Produced by Adele Armstrong.
Empty-nesters+and+gangsters
access_time3 months ago
There is nothing some of us enjoy more," writes Adam Gopnik, "than finding analogies to our own paltry and predictable lives in scenes from famous gangster movies."

As his children move away from home and he becomes an "empty nester", Adam finds himself, too, doing just that.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
What+to+do%3F
access_time3 months ago
There are some things that one just has to put up with," writes Tom Shakespeare. "Sometimes over-thinking is the worst response."

Tom reflects on how we can best respond to difficult situations.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Recline-gate
access_time3 months ago
To recline .or not to recline your aeroplane seat?

Adam Gopnik ponders the question of “recline-gate” in the aftermath of the recent American Airlines incident that went viral.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Inhaling+History
access_time3 months ago
I am holding history in my hands," writes Sarah Dunant. "The date on the letter is February 1490 the place, the city of Mantua in Italy".

As she delves through the Mantuan State Archive, Sarah reflects on the task of understanding and writing history.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
An+Epidemic+of+History
access_time4 months ago
We have been here before, many times" writes Sarah Dunant as she charts some key moments in history when the world has been gripped by fear over the spread of disease.

From Columbus and the outbreak of syphilis in 1495, to cholera at Mecca in the 1860s .and Wuhan today.

She ponders what insights this present crisis might bring.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sodcasting
access_time4 months ago
From the “pernicious fife-footlers polluting the sooty Victorian cities” to the “fiendish electronic cacophony” of today, Will Self bemoans the ever-increasing difficulty of finding a bit of peace and quiet.

He wonders why we tolerate this growing noise pollution, even though we know that high levels of ambient noise cause stress, insomnia and even, if persistent, poor mental health.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Saving+the+planet+-+on+hands+and+knees
access_time4 months ago
Of all the men I never wanted to grow old into", writes Howard Jacobson, "this is the man I wanted to grow into least: the prepared-for-all-eventualities shopper".

Howard describes his hours of neatly folding plastic bags on his hands and knees on his living room floor in order to let him shop responsibly.

Gone is his old profligacy. "The wild", he says, "have become the watchful".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Anti-Semitism+and+the+Neo+Medievalists
access_time4 months ago
All racism is a species not only of unreason but of unreason enthusiastically embraced", writes Howard Jacobson.

Howard discusses why anti-Semitism should trouble us all, regardless of our background.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
On+Hypocrisy
access_time5 months ago
Will Self explores what he sees as a growing sense of collective hypocrisy.

He looks at why we're often so reluctant to use the word "hypocrisy" and argues that we accept hypocrisy in part because "civilisation as currently constituted would be quite impossible without a whole panoply of carefully evolved rituals designed to elide incompatible acts and beliefs".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Getting+Close+to+Nature
access_time5 months ago
After months of hearing about the climate emergency", writes Rebecca Stott, "I thought it would be a good thing to spend some time around a species that was doing really well".
She decided to become a seal warden but the job is rather different from what she was expecting.
"This wild, old, slithery, stinking world of the sand dunes really isn't cute" she says. "But there are some things in nature, dare I say it, that are a lot more interesting than cute".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Consolations+of+Taxidermy
access_time5 months ago
I've long been fascinated with taxidermy", writes Rebecca Stott, "but it disturbs me".
She explains why - after many years - she's made her peace with taxidermy.
"After all, can we really be all high-horse-ish about the way our ancestors shot, classified and stuffed everything in their path, given how much damage we've done to species and their habitats in the last fifty years alone?"

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+recurrent+dream+of+an+end-time
access_time6 months ago
“Whatever humans do, the world is not going to end”, writes John Gray. “Humankind cannot destroy the planet any more than it can save it”.

John Gray ponders why the belief that the human world can be completely and suddenly transformed, never really goes away.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Expectations+of+Democracy
access_time6 months ago
I can no longer force myself", writes Will Self, "to make choices that appear quite meaningless to me".

He outlines why he decided - for the first time in his life - not to cast a vote in the election.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Conversations+of+a+cockroach+and+an+alley+cat
access_time6 months ago
John Gray tells the story of Archy and Mehitabel, a newspaper column created in 1916 by the US journalist Don Marquis.

It chronicles the conversations between a cockroach and a cat and was a phenomenal success with a readership who "mistrusted politicians and intellectuals who talked grandly of a radiant future".

John Gray reflects on the lessons for today.

Producer: Adele Armstrong ,
Clams+are+Happy
access_time6 months ago
Following the death of the brilliantly funny Clive James - one of the first presenters of "A Point of View" - this is one of his early talks for the series.

In this programme - first broadcast in 2007 - Clive ponders what makes us happy.

In his own pursuit of happiness, he sits on a bench in Central Park, relives his first slice of watermelon and considers the wise words of Lawrence of Arabia.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Originally produced by Rosie Goldsmith
The+Sex+Recession
access_time6 months ago
In all things erotic", writes Adam Gopnik, "morals and manners run at right angles to each other".

Adam argues that the much discussed "sex recession" in the US is primarily a question of misunderstanding between generations - and is certainly not a cause for moral panic!

"We misread the sex because the signs change, and we misread the signs to mean that the sex is changing or even that the sex is vanishing".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
On+Spam
access_time7 months ago
Only when I wander, usually by accident, into my spam box", writes Adam Gopnik, "do I find anything resembling actual affection - prose that captures the spark of human sympathy, the language of exquisite deference, that the Enlightenment philosophers insisted was the necessary mucilage of human societies".

The excessive courtesy of spam letters is, of course, designed to entrap the reader but why, Adam wonders, have the decencies of human correspondence disappeared from virtually all other forms of communication these days.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Woman+at+the+Last+Supper
access_time7 months ago
Finding, promoting and revaluing women artists through the ages", writes Sarah Dunant, "has been one of the great – albeit still ongoing – cultural success stories of our time".

Sarah discusses the undervalued women of art who are being rediscovered in large numbers - and the very modern stories they tell.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Great+Divide
access_time7 months ago
For many, three or four years away from home at a residential university is "a kind of rite of passage into adulthood", says David Goodhart.

But - given most other countries seem to do fine without it - is it time to think again about this very British tradition?

Producer: Adele Armstrong
An+evening+at+the+Death+Cafe
access_time7 months ago
It is the most extraordinary thing about humans", writes Sarah Dunant, "that along with our - albeit limited - ability to prepare for an unknown future, we find it very hard to accept the unassailable fact of our own end".

Sarah describes her experience talking with a group of strangers one evening at a Death Cafe.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Down+with+political+packages
access_time8 months ago
David Goodhart discusses the rise of new "tribes" in British political life.

"The old tribes were scarcely visible because they had become so familiar", he writes. "The new ones seem noisy and jarring and all too visible".

He calls this new anti-left/right package the "hidden majority" package.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Myth+of+Inevitability
access_time8 months ago
Margaret Heffernan argues that, in the world of technology, there's nothing inevitable about the future.

"I'm not saying that automation isn't a big trend or that driverless cars aren't a possibility", she writes, "but there is nothing about them that is inevitable".

She believes all these assertions of inevitability have agendas. "If we let Silicon Valley hijack our future", she says, "we gain the comfort of certainty, but lose our freedom".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+happiest+days+of+your+life...
access_time8 months ago
Childhood really should be the happiest days of our children's lives," writes Michael Morpurgo. "But for so many of them today it is not".

Michael Morpurgo reflects on the damage being caused to increasing numbers of children by stress and anxiety.

He makes an impassioned plea to schools to do much more to alleviate stress.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Keep+right+on
access_time8 months ago
Michael Morpurgo reflects on growing old.

"You find you are now amongst the last old trees in the park", he writes, "wary of wild winds of fortune that might weaken you or uproot you".

But he finds his mentors - the young and the very old.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Who+are+you+looking+at%3F
access_time9 months ago
Let me tell you about dwarfs and being stared at".

With a hint of stand up comedy, Tom Shakespeare writes poignantly about what it feels like to be stared at.

"The English," he says, "who were once known everywhere for their politeness and decorum, no longer hold back we do what we want because we consider we have a right".

Tom appeals for a rediscovery of "the chain of mutual dependency in which we are still all linked together."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Change+of+Tack
access_time9 months ago
The economist, John Maynard Keynes once said to someone, "When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Tom Shakespeare argues that we need to reconsider our view that changing your mind is a weakness.

"Sticking to your guns", he says, is of little benefit in today's complicated, fast-changing world.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
September+Anxiety
access_time9 months ago
For the September blues, writes Sarah Dunant, "usually time is the healer you buckle down and get on with it and by the end of October, things are on track for winter".

But not, she thinks, this year.

Sarah describes why she feels this year's September malaise has a different quality to it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.
On+Ghost+Cities
access_time9 months ago
Rebecca Stott is fascinated with abandoned or ruined cities.

She knows she's in good company - along with the millions of people who've been drawn to the recent mini-series, Chernobyl or the video game, Metro Exodus.

She believes that, in these precarious times, they give us what H.G. Wells once called 'a sense of dethronement'.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Nature+Red+in+Tooth+and+Claw
access_time10 months ago
For several centuries", writes Rebecca Stott, "the dominant Western version of Nature has been Mother Nature, benevolent, ever-giving, nurturing, bountiful and compliant".

This was later replaced by a less compliant and benevolent image .but we've always perpetuated an idea of Nature as something outside us, something to be mastered.

Rebecca argues that we need to rethink our relationship with nature - and see ourselves as in nature and part of nature, not outside of it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Against+Theory
access_time10 months ago
No matter how many times you see the sun rise", writes Will Self, "it doesn't mean it will definitely rise tomorrow - or, indeed, that you'll be there to see it".

Will sets out why he has a problem with theory of all sorts and the negative effect “theory addicts” are having on our contemporary intellectual culture.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
To+the+Bathroom%21
access_time10 months ago
Christianity has a lot to answer for," writes Will Self, "when it comes to our estrangement from our bodies - making our evacuations, quite as much as our sexual acts - an anathema in polite society".

Will argues that our infantilism in this regard detracts from our engagement with the world.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Vultures+of+Culture
access_time10 months ago
That culture can be - and is - being commoditised in the private sector, is a truth universally acknowledged with every ticket and book sale," writes Will Self.

But, he argues, the conflating of cultural and financial value has now spread well beyond the private realm.

The National Lottery is head of his blame list. "I think of the National Lottery as a sort of reverse Midas-touch, turning everything gold it finances to .rubbish."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Leaving+Florence
access_time10 months ago
It's well within living memory," writes Sarah Dunant, "that tourism and travel was a wondrous thing."

But times have changed: "It feels as if every unnecessary journey we make now has the dull drumbeat of global fragility and climate change in the background."

Sarah ponders where foreign travel goes from here.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
British+Populism+and+Brexit
access_time11 months ago
Could it be that the only way out at this point is a no deal Brexit of the kind that so many dread?" asks John Gray.

He argues that it is the logical conclusion of present events.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Language+of+Leaving
access_time11 months ago
Of late, words have foregone their meaning or been given meanings they never had", writes Howard Jacobson.

Starting with "betrayal" and ending with "the will of the people", Howard sets out to take back sovereignty .over words.

"I can't complain", he admits, "of some parties to our great national debate being Little Englanders if I'm a little Languager ..but if each party to a discussion doesn't know what the other is talking about, we might as well not have language at all".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
My+People
access_time11 months ago
Taking his lead from Duke Ellington, Amit Chaudhuri ponders what we mean by “my people”.

He asks whether we need to create new, more inclusive, categories fit for modern times in order to describe the groups we belong to.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Distributing+Status
access_time11 months ago
David Goodhart argues that earlier eras have much to teach us about group solidarity.

He explores the changes that have led to our post-industrial disenchantment.

"We cannot and do not want to go back to a past when social horizons and life chances were far more limited", he writes, "but a recognition of some of the merits of earlier eras might help us to see more clearly the pathologies of today's achievement society".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Knight+in+Shining+Armour%3F
access_time12 months ago
Linda Colley argues that we all have a role to play in resolving our present political difficulties.

In tough times, she says, there's a long history of people searching for a "modern man on horseback, a populist hero, who they hope will come and rescue them and make the bad things go away".

But she says there are many problems with this - the most obvious one being that "leaders of this sort never properly deliver and usually do immense damage".

She concludes that all of us must get involved in the work of effective democratic politics.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Refugee+Tales
access_time12 months ago
Monica Ali discusses the UK's use of immigration detention centres and, in particular, indefinite detention.

She argues that, although detention or deportation are sometimes necessary, the policy of indefinite detention is "callous and dehumanising".

She believes - as the only place in Europe that allows indefinite detention - the UK should adopt the recommendations of a recent parliamentary report and introduce a 28 day limit.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
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