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A Point of View

Updated 3 days ago

Society & Culture
Personal Journals
News
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A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

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A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

iTunes Ratings

49 Ratings
Average Ratings
37
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

49 Ratings
Average Ratings
37
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 Jan 24, 2020

Read more

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Rank #1: Get Mad, Then Get Over It!

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"While I would love to find a poetic way into this", writes Sarah Dunant, "I think it best just to spit it out. I'm angry. And I have been angry for quite a while now".

Sarah says she doesn't see herself as an angry person - but wonders why aggression and outrage seem to have become so much part of our emotional diet.

She proposes some solutions - including an National Anger Day - a great moment of catharsis to help us all be a little less....angry!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Apr 26 2019

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: John Gray: Recalling Eric Ambler

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John Gray recalls the life and work of the thriller writer Eric Ambler and finds uncomfortable echoes of today's society in the pages of his novels.
"What they reveal is a world ruled by financial and geopolitical forces that care nothing for the human individual. Most unsettlingly, this world is unmistakably European."
Producer: Sheila Cook.

Aug 21 2015

9mins

Play

Rank #5: 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 #6: 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 #7: 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 #8: 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

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Rank #9: 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

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Rank #10: 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 #11: 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 #12: 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 #13: 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 #14: 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 #15: Dangerous places, libraries

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Val McDermid argues that - at a time when public discourse is so polarised - it's vital to keep our public libraries open.

"A library card is a powerful weapon to change lives", Val writes. "With it, we learn how to value what we have, to mourn what we have lost and to dream of what we might become".

She says that whatever we may hear about the death of libraries, we must ensure their future because they are "one of the few remaining places where a genuine diversity of voices can still be encountered".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

May 31 2019

9mins

Play

Rank #16: The Meaning of Conservative

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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.

Aug 30 2017

9mins

Play

Rank #17: Against Safe Spaces

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John Gray reflects on the controversial "safe spaces" policy being pursued by some universities.

It may have been devised to ensure that people of all identities are entitled to a tolerant environment ...but John Gray argues that the policy not only threatens a fundamental liberal value but represents a demand to be sheltered from human reality.

He says the point of education used to be to learn how to live well in full awareness of the disorder of life. "A lack of realism ...was considered not just an intellectual failing but also a moral flaw".

He says we ignore this lesson of history at our peril.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Sep 30 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #18: America Votes

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Adam Gopnik reflects on why he believes a victory for Donald Trump would be a disaster for America.

The American Presidential election "posits a simple eternal human confrontation between sensible and crazy", he writes.

He says we must not pretend that the rise of Trump is essentially a "people's revolt" or a movement of the dispossessed.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Nov 04 2016

9mins

Play

Rank #19: Pottering towards the new socialist state

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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.

Aug 25 2017

9mins

Play

Rank #20: The Power and Peril of Stories

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Tom Shakespeare reflects on how all the political populists who now occupy our imaginations are master story tellers.

People need stories and these stories appeal to us, he says. But he argues that as well as persuasive stories, more than ever we need facts.

"The plural of anecdote is not data, as a professor used to tell me", he writes.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mar 24 2017

9mins

Play

Anti-Semitism and the Neo Medievalists

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"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

Jan 24 2020

10mins

Play

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

On Hypocrisy

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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

Jan 10 2020

10mins

Play

Getting Close to Nature

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"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

Jan 05 2020

9mins

Play

The Consolations of Taxidermy

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"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

Dec 27 2019

9mins

Play

The recurrent dream of an end-time

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“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

Dec 20 2019

9mins

Play

Expectations of Democracy

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"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

Dec 13 2019

9mins

Play

Conversations of a cockroach and an alley cat

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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 ,

Dec 06 2019

9mins

Play

Clive James: Clams are Happy

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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

Nov 29 2019

9mins

Play

The Sex Recession

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"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

Nov 22 2019

10mins

Play

On Spam

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"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

Nov 15 2019

10mins

Play

A Woman at the Last Supper

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"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

Nov 08 2019

10mins

Play

The Great Divide

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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

Nov 01 2019

9mins

Play

An evening at the Death Cafe

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"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

Oct 25 2019

10mins

Play

Down with political packages

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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

Oct 18 2019

9mins

Play

The Myth of Inevitability

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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

Oct 11 2019

9mins

Play

The happiest days of your life...

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"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

Oct 04 2019

10mins

Play

Keep right on

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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

Sep 27 2019

9mins

Play

Who are you looking at?

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"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

Sep 20 2019

9mins

Play

A Change of Tack

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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

Sep 13 2019

9mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

49 Ratings
Average Ratings
37
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.”