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A Point of View

Updated 2 months ago

Society & Culture
Personal Journals
News
Read more

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Read more

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
Average Ratings
39
7
2
2
1

Provocative

By dettifoss - May 13 2018
Read more
Each week a commentator - author, historian, economist, thinker - tackles a subject of their choosing and explains what thier opinion is and why. The subject is usually an aspect of modern life, and the opinions range in tone from moralistic to historical, satirical, mournful or even humorous. The podcast is superbly produced, as are all podcasts from the BBC.

Moving forward

By Sooch49 - Mar 28 2018
Read more
Thanks, Tom Shakespeare, for swatting this fly of a phrase, which irks me almost as much as “move on,” as in “accept you’ve been f’d over and move on.”

iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
Average Ratings
39
7
2
2
1

Provocative

By dettifoss - May 13 2018
Read more
Each week a commentator - author, historian, economist, thinker - tackles a subject of their choosing and explains what thier opinion is and why. The subject is usually an aspect of modern life, and the opinions range in tone from moralistic to historical, satirical, mournful or even humorous. The podcast is superbly produced, as are all podcasts from the BBC.

Moving forward

By Sooch49 - Mar 28 2018
Read more
Thanks, Tom Shakespeare, for swatting this fly of a phrase, which irks me almost as much as “move on,” as in “accept you’ve been f’d over and move on.”
Cover image of A Point of View

A Point of View

Latest release on Aug 07, 2020

Read more

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Rank #1: Dostoevsky and Dangerous Ideas

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John Gray points to lessons from the novels of Dostoevsky about the danger of ideas such as misguided idealism sweeping away tyrannies without regard for the risks of anarchy. "Dostoevsky suggests that the end result of abandoning morality for the sake of an idea of freedom will be a type of tyranny more extreme than any in the past."
Producer: Sheila Cook.

Nov 21 2014

9mins

Play

Rank #2: Facts Not Opinions

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AL Kennedy ponders the importance of facts... in a world dominated by opinion.

"The Chilcot report highlights how a war can conjure the demons it promised to suppress", she writes "because facts were dodged or massaged and fantasy outcomes were taken as certainties".

While facts may be grim, "avoiding them puts us all at increased risk".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Jul 15 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #3: Act Your Age

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Will Self explains why he finds it hard to always act his age.

"To alternate between being an errant child and a corrective adult must, I think, be intrinsic to the human condition."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Aug 05 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #4: The Shape Of Our Time

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Adam Gopnik revisits a much explored subject - the differences between patriotism and nationalism.

In the light of the events of the past year, he questions why the politics of nationalism appear irresistible today.

He wonders "if we cannot now see that patriotism and nationalism have a more fluid, a more organic, a more connected relationship that we might want to imagine".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Dec 30 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #5: Teaching to the test

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Will Self says it's time for schools to stop "teaching to the test".

He argues that in the contemporary wired world, "it seems obvious that young people need more than ever to know how to think outside the boxes, rather than simply tick them".

There's no reason, he says, to shackle children "to the go-round of memorization and regugitation".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Jan 27 2017

9mins

Play

Rank #6: The Fourth Plinth

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Will Self explores the significance of the art work that adorns the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

He asks what such public art projects represent in this "festival of ephemerality our society seems to have become".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Jan 20 2017

9mins

Play

Rank #7: The Spectre of Populism

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John Gray look at the history of populism.
He argues that modern-day populism has largely been created by centre parties who have identified themselves with an unsustainable status quo.
He looks at how populism is likely to play out in the upcoming elections in France and Holland.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Feb 24 2017

10mins

Play

Rank #8: The Trump Card

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Roger Scruton assesses some of the reasons behind Donald Trump's victory.

And he asks why many who intended to vote for Donald Trump would not have confessed to their intention.

"They wanted change," writes Scruton. "A change in the whole agenda of government".

Nov 18 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #9: Flying Saucers and an Uncertain World

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"Human beings shape their perceptions according to their beliefs", writes John Gray, not the other way round.
He says people "will persuade themselves to believe almost anything, no matter how far-fetched, if it enables them to preserve their view of the world".
He asks how we can best come to terms with the realisation that the world is frighteningly unpredictable.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mar 03 2017

10mins

Play

Rank #10: My Idea of Heaven

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John Gray muses on what his idea of heaven is....and why it shouldn't be a perfect world.

History teaches us that trying to create a perfect society leads to hell on earth, he writes.

"But dreams of a perfect world don't fail because human beings are incurably flawed. They fail because human beings are more complicated and interesting that their dreams of perfection".

Sep 09 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #11: Bob Dylan and the Bobolaters

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Adam Gopnik - a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan - muses on Dylan's "utterly predictable lack of gratitude" towards his Nobel Prize.

"The terrible and intriguing truth", he writes, is that "people are tragically impressed by indifference...and pitifully contemptuous of the charming".

The Dylans of this world, Gopnik says "impress us as the true egotists we secretly are".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Dec 02 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #12: The Real Meaning of Trump

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John Gray assesses what lies behind the Trump phenomenon and the remarkable political upheaval that could - possibly - see Donald Trump propelled into the White House.

From the start, he says, Trump's campaign has been an audacious experiment in mass persuasion. "His uncouth language, megalomaniac self-admiration and strangely coloured hair....all deliberately cultivated" to help him profit from the popular resentment against the elites of the main parties.

"Whatever happens", writes Gray, "there will be no return to pre-Trump normalcy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Sep 23 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #13: The Power of Reading

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AL Kennedy extols the virtues of reading and its power to encourage respect for the value and sovereignty of other people's existence.

"It allows you to look and feel your way through the lives of others who may apparently be very other - and yet here they are - inside your head."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Apr 14 2017

9mins

Play

Rank #14: Capitalism and the Myth of Social Evolution

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John Gray reflects on why the advance of capitalism is not - as is widely believed - inevitable. He argues that social evolution is often unpredictable and that the "seemingly unstoppable advance of market forces" could well be halted by political decisions and the "random flux of human events".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Nov 07 2014

9mins

Play

Rank #15: The Abolition of Man

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John Gray warns about the dangers of science that attempts to enhance human abilities. He says such knowledge can jeopardize the very things that make us human.

More than 70 years after C.S. Lewis wrote "The Abolition of Man", John Gray argues that Lewis' questions are even more relevant today than they were then. "The scientists of Lewis's generation were dissatisfied with existing humankind" he writes. "Using new techniques, they were convinced they could design a much improved version of the species".

But Gray says that while the scientific knowledge needed to remould humanity hardly existed then, it is rapidly developing at the present time.

He believes that the sciences of bioengineering and artificial intelligence carry serious risks. "If at some unknown point in the future it becomes feasible to remould ourselves according to our dreams" he writes, "the result can only be an impoverishment of the human world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Sep 04 2015

9mins

Play

Rank #16: Cures for Anxiety

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Adam Gopnik identifies four different types of anxiety that afflict modern people and suggests ways to cure them. "The job of modern humanists is to do consciously what Conan Doyle did instinctively: to make the thrill of the ameliorative, the joy of small reliefs, of the case solved and mystery dissipated and the worry ended, for now - to make those things as sufficient to live by as they are good to experience."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Oct 31 2014

9mins

Play

Rank #17: Will Self: Looks Matter

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Will Self says we can't pretend that looks don't matter or that everyone is beautiful, including the obese.

"That different cultures, during different eras, have found different aspects of the human form beautiful is another straw the sub-gorgeous clutch for."

Producer:Sheila Cook.

Oct 09 2015

10mins

Play

Rank #18: The Ring of the Nibelung

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Following the death of the philosopher, author and self-professed Wagner fan, Sir Roger Scruton, this is one of our favourite talks he did for the series.

As Wagner’s Ring – that huge and controversial cycle of operas - went on tour around the UK, Roger talked about why The Ring is absolutely a story for our time.

"I have loved The Ring and learned from it for over 50 years and for me, it is quite simply the truth about our world - but the truth expressed by means of music of unquestionable authority and supreme melodic and harmonic power".

The talk was first broadcast in 2016.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jan 17 2020

10mins

Play

Rank #19: Kitsch

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Philosopher Roger Scruton looks at kitsch in the second of his three talks on art.

Kitsch, he says, creates the fantasy of an emotion without the real cost of feeling it. He argues that in the twentieth century artists became preoccupied by what they perceived as the need to avoid kitsch and sentimentality.

But it's not so easy. Some try being outrageously avant-garde, which can lead to a different kind of fake: cliche. So a new genre emerged: pre-emptive kitsch. Artists embraced kitsch and produce it deliberately to present it as a sophisticated parody. But is it art?

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Dec 12 2014

9mins

Play

Gender in the Blender

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"If we accept that gender is something imposed on us," writes Bernardine Evaristo, "as opposed to intrinsic to who we are as humans, then what does it matter if people want to switch genders?"

Bernardine discusses the "gender revolution" and our attitudes to the disruption of traditional gender roles.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Aug 07 2020

9mins

Play

The Big Benefits of Smallness

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"There's nothing wrong with ambition," writes Linda Colley, "but coming to terms with our inescapable geographical smallness would be helpful."
She says historically there's been a tendency to kick against this awkward fact and an obsession with the idea of a global Britain.
Linda argues that we should recognise the advantages of smallness - nourishing a nation's innovation and agility.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jul 31 2020

9mins

Play

A Hazy Shade of Winter

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"Once in a blue moon," writes Rebecca Stott, "new technologies become available that make it possible to open up ancient, long-shelved historical mysteries."
Rebecca tells how modern science has explained the events of 536 AD when the sun 'disappeared' and a devastating pandemic followed.
And she ponders what scientists - hundreds of years from now - will be able to tell about our current pandemic and our environmental crisis.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jul 24 2020

9mins

Play

Legacy Bottle Opener

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Will Self on why a novelty bottle opener - with little plastic seahorses floating in an acrylic handle - is his idea of a perfect inheritance.
"The security that financial inheritance may convey is merely relative - and divisive," he writes.
So, instead, Will suggests leaving behind something ordinary....and useful.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jul 17 2020

9mins

Play

Coronavirus and Convention

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"In the absence of sports, sports radio thrives," writes Adam Gopnik, "and churns and heaves and roils on a diet of pure abstraction, stays awake all night on the caffeine of accelerated nothingness."

Adam examines the American fascination with call-in shows about sport - and the paradox that although they have absolutely no sport to talk about right now, the shows have never been more argumentative or more alive.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jul 10 2020

9mins

Play

Why Black Lives Matter

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"We need to challenge how we historicise the past and give it a thorough spring clean," writes Bernardine Evaristo.
Bernardine discusses the UK's response to Black Lives Matter, "a necessary moment in our political history."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jul 03 2020

9mins

Play

A Word of Advice

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"There is a piece of advice that my white British friends seem never to receive but which I have had the good fortune to be given on many occasions - 'If you don't like it here, you can always leave'".
Zia Haider Rahman reflects on what lies behind the comment.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jun 26 2020

9mins

Play

The end of university as we know it?

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Mary Beard asks if the iconic university lecture might have had its day, in the aftermath of the pandemic.

"I reckon that over my career I've done getting on for 2000 of them....I doubt I'll be doing another before I retire."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jun 19 2020

9mins

Play

Inside Out

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"It seemed to occur to nobody in the Cummings hunt that the greater good would almost certainly have been served by down-playing the story".
David Goodhart examines the accountability and transparency requirements of modern institutions and the impact they've had on the government's handling of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jun 12 2020

9mins

Play

I Like It Here

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"I put myself under lock and key a week before everyone else after a clammy jogger in a pink velveteen suit panted in my face in Hyde Park".
Howard Jacobson takes a wry view of life under lockdown.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Jun 05 2020

10mins

Play

Waiting

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"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

May 29 2020

9mins

Play

In Praise of Cleaning

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"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

May 22 2020

9mins

Play

My Mother

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"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

May 15 2020

9mins

Play

On Risk

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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

May 08 2020

9mins

Play

Cultural success and the Aboriginals

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"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

May 01 2020

10mins

Play

A Few Good Trade Offs

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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

Apr 24 2020

10mins

Play

On Not Finishing

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"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

Apr 17 2020

9mins

Play

Grandad We Love You

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"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

Apr 10 2020

9mins

Play

Seven Degrees of Solitude

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"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

Apr 03 2020

9mins

Play

Fighting infection with imagination

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"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

Mar 27 2020

9mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
Average Ratings
39
7
2
2
1

Provocative

By dettifoss - May 13 2018
Read more
Each week a commentator - author, historian, economist, thinker - tackles a subject of their choosing and explains what thier opinion is and why. The subject is usually an aspect of modern life, and the opinions range in tone from moralistic to historical, satirical, mournful or even humorous. The podcast is superbly produced, as are all podcasts from the BBC.

Moving forward

By Sooch49 - Mar 28 2018
Read more
Thanks, Tom Shakespeare, for swatting this fly of a phrase, which irks me almost as much as “move on,” as in “accept you’ve been f’d over and move on.”