Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 22 February 2010

Bend the knee to Neil

No picture with this post, but that’s intentional. When the BBC said The History of the World in 100 Objects would be on radio, knee-jerk critics scoffed. “You gotta have telly,” they said. But with the magnificent Neil MacGregor in charge you don’t need pictures. Today it was the Oxus chariot, a model which shows how bigwigs got around the Persian empire, 2500 years ago, in “the Ferrari or Porsche” of its day. Woven into the fifteen-minute broadcast were details of the emperor Cyrus’s enlightened rule (Iran could use him now) and the empire’s astonishing multi-culturalism.

But then both Mrs BB and I believe MacGregor, director of the British Museum, can walk on water. For me he did the impossible. His TV series, Seeing Salvation, drew me into a form of painting (Christian art) I’d regarded as formal, sterile and alien. He’s been offered a knighthood and turned it down, has been approached by New York and turned them down. The Times Online refers to him as Saint Neil but that seriously under-rates him.

NEW SERIES
Hymns Ancient & Modern poetry primer


Who so beset him round/With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound/His strength the more is
The opportunistic rhyme.

Solid joys and lasting pleasures/None but Zion’s children know.
The inept adjective (two of them).

The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ…
The non-sequitur.

There is a green hill faraway/Without a city wall
The planning application.

With salvation's walls surrounded,
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
Is that all?

Novel progress 22/2/10. Ch. 16: 0 words. Chs. 1 - 15: 67,628 words. Comments: Hatch in Arcadia.

10 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

"Lord dismiss us with thy blessing...
...All who here shall meet no more"

THANK GOD!

Plutarch said...

Like The Virtual Revolution, another example of the excellence of which The BBC is capabable.

We may exchanged this before but ... if so foregive me: Etiquette-
"I know not, Oh I know not, what social joys are there...

On a more serious note: Sonority and much else:
"Time like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away,
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening of the day.

Barrett Bonden said...

Sir Hugh: Well, in 1959 it happened and I've never looked back.

Plutarch: As the Hymns A&M surrogate-on-earth I must take an editorial eye to your comment. My version of the first is: "what joys await us there", a far less subversive sentiment than yours. Was I the victim of bowdlerisation?

Ach, you have stolen my thunder with your second quote. The language is, as you say, sonorous but for me there's a parallel set of images. I intended to append the judgement: The surfer's/glider pilot's nightmare.

marja-leena said...

Sounds like my kind of man! And once again, I envy you your BBC. Our CBC used to be so good but has been slowly degraded especially by the Harperites that I could cry. Now and then some of the BBC-TV (not sure about radio) programs do get shown over here, usually via the PBS channels from the US but I often seem to only hear about them after the fact, sigh. On my list of revisits next time we're in the UK is the British Museum - it would take me weeks to see it all!

The Crow said...

Clever pun in the title, BB.

herhimnbryn said...

BB. I too have been listening to 'A history of the world in a 100objects'. I was totally entranced by NM's descriptions. Each programme has been a jewel.

Have recently been given my first ipod, so I am downloding all the 'object' programmes to enjoy while on a 24 hour flight to the Uk. I shall enjoy having NM in my ear, while high above the clouds!

Plutarch said...

I think it was "social joys" that stuck in my memory for its very oddity. But that goes back to my schooldays. I remember also comparing notes on the phrase with someone later in life. It obviously wasn't you. I have not heard or read the hymn since school. It would have made sense for someone to remove "social" to bring it up to date. I cannot remember the name or the number of the hymn. Could you enlighten.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: Take advantage of any BBC programmes while you can. The BBC has been under siege from the Australian-American apeman, Rupert Murdoch, (owner of Fox News among others) who sees the BBC as his main stumbling block to dominating British TV with his wretched Sky channel. His popular British newspaper The Sun, for people whose lips move when they read, has switched allegiance from the Labour party, our present government, to the Tories, who are likely to get in in May. This suggests that the Tories may return the favour by shrinking the BBC. Brits are a cynical lot but most, if pushed, will support two British institutions: the NHS (National Health Service) and the BBC. Both are under threat if the Etonian smoothchops gets elected.

The Crow: Entirely accidental, though possibly subconscious.

HHB: Good idea but oh my dear HHB I do not envy you that flight. Mrs BB and I have more or less given up on any flights outside Europe. But then perhaps your femurs are shorter than mine.

What's astonishing is how much info is packed into quarter of an hour. With telly needing to provide moody, meaningless pictures of upstairs rooms and prolonged sunsets Objects-plus-pix would take at least an hour a shot.

Plutarch: Despite the title I've given to my new poetry primer (a truly rich vein of oddities) I find I'm not using Hymns A&M but Songs of Praise. Thus the number would be irrelevant. However, hymnbook indexes are always based on the first line which in this case is "Jerusalem the golden". In fact this hymn has some good lines, including my mother's favourite:

There is the throne of David
And there, from care released,
The song of them that triumph,
The shout of them that feast.

The sort of celebration I wouldn't mind attending, given the pagan undertones.

Plutarch said...

I do have a copy of Songs of Praise, which thanks to your reminder as to the first line, Ihave now been able to look up. Twentieth Impression 1968. First published 1968. it must be earlier than yours and demonstates that someone has since done some editing, for behold it reads:
I know not, O I know not,
What social joys are there,
With radiancy of glory,
What light beyond compare.

I agree anbout "the shout of them that feast", a useful confirmation of social joys.

Rouchswalwe said...

Neil MacGregor - even here the name is known by those of us who are on the reserve lists for BBC videos and DVD's at the local library. I hope that his show will be available here in the future. I intend to lobby the buyers at the library. Maybe they will respond to being bribed with bottles of my homebrew!