Christopher Lydon 公开
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Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a nasty war of survival, or some of both? Are we human beings good or evil, by the way? Pretty much the same, the world around, or many different varieties? An anthropologist and a…
 
The grand master of bug biology E.O. Wilson has always had a way of seeing the big picture in his microscopic science. Looking at a wall-size projection of the astronauts’ moon view of Earth rising, “the blue marble,” Ed Wilson wants us to see that the film of life wrapped around our globe, the biosphere, is as thin as a razor’s edge. But here’s th…
 
George Orwell rests now with the immortal English writers. But why? For impact and influence, you could argue that Orwell in his novels and essays matched Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens—John Lennon, too. Orwell called out the Big Brother barbarism of the twentieth century, but he was more than the author of 1984. He made it his life work to tell the …
 
Glasgow on the Clyde is not the end of the story, but you can see the end from Glasgow: it’ll be more “blah, blah, blah,” says Greta Thunberg, the merciless teenage critic the world has come to love, and trust. Glasgow this week, Greta said, is about “people in power pretending to take our future seriously.” It’s Glasgow’s history that the rich wor…
 
Boston politics has taken a turn. The Last Hurrah was 65 years ago – the classic obituary novel about those noisy Irish rascals who ran City Hall for much of the twentieth century. That era isn’t just over, it’s almost forgotten. For the first time in a century this year, there wasn’t one Irish man on the Boston ballot for mayor. In the finals it’s…
 
This show was originally broadcast on March 11, 2021. The CRISPR challenge is back—first to grasp, then how to apply the biggest scientific breakthrough of our century so far. You remember CRISPR: nature’s own repair kit, guarding your genetic code, cell by cell, tuning up your DNA. Biologists had learned before CRISPR how to read the coded map of …
 
Prison time can be the strangest interval in a long life: it is experienced, year by year, as a slow-burning hell on earth, often revalued later as productive, enlightening, redemptive turn-around time. Chris Hedges has documented an old story of transformation in a true story of today. It’s titled Our Class: 30 men in New Jersey’s Rahway State Pri…
 
Jonathan Franzen might just be the last of the fine-grained, big-book portraitists of “the way Middle America lives”—specially the intimate deceptions that family relations are made of. Franzen is a realist with an edgy American sense of humor, and twenty-first-century dread as well. You feel his artistic kinship still with the Infinite Jest of Dav…
 
Who else could be said to make you smarter, just listening to the sound of his music? Only Mozart, that we know. For 300-and-some years now, he has set the standard for whatever lies beyond perfection. “Too beautiful for our ears,” said the Emperor of the Enlightenment, Joseph the Second, “and far too many notes, my dear Mozart.” Too many melodic i…
 
Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists with authority, almost as big as their countries, at the level of Mark Twain, say, Voltaire, or Emerson! In his heyday a century ago Thomas Mann was called “the life of the mind in Germany”: the darkly philosophical novelist of obsession and illness in The M…
 
It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of viruses. At summer’s end the variants are gaining and most of the world is unvaccinated. Afghanistan became a 20-year test of the notion that a public-private force of money, dron…
 
Those twin towers of the World Trade Center wrote two epic stories into the skyline of Manhattan: rise and fall. Most of us saw the hellscape of fire and smoke in the fall of the towers, live on television, 20 years ago. But the rising up 30 years earlier, in a star-crossed real-estate power play, is where the artist and writer Justin Beal finds ro…
 
This show first aired on December 17, 2020. Erroll Garner, the jazz pianist, is undergoing an upward revaluation of the sort that artists dream of: a reputational transition forty-some years after he died. In his time, mid-twentieth century, Erroll Garner was a pop star on records and concert stages worldwide. He could make the piano sound like a b…
 
The war for Afghanistan is over: the Taliban won in a walk. We’re shocked, more than surprised, but then what? Is this our American empire at sundown we’re seeing? And how would we feel about that? Is it the end of a collective delusion of world dominance? And who fed that fantasy? Was Joe Biden’s exit planning really worse than George Bush’s entry…
 
This show first aired on August 8, 2019. Spoiler alert! (Really.) The big movie to reckon with this summer may be as much about the mood of 2019 as about the Helter-Skelter 1960s. It’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth big film, with a surprise streak of fantasy and mercy in it. He’s revising the course of events of 50 summer…
 
This mood we’re in: stuck, anxious, alone, desperate for an exit ramp, even to another bad stop on the same old highway. COVID, climate, chaos—or is it capitalism that’s trapped us? We meet broken institutions with our same old behaviors, expecting a different result, the Einstein definition of insanity. And still we say: keep hope alive. Hope! The…
 
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