As our intrepid podcaster winds his way to Episode 100, we would like to draw attention to the PZ”s Podcast Reception that will take place at 6:30pm on Friday evening of the NYC Conference, 4/20, hosted by PZ himself. Open to all PZ’s Podcast’s faithful listeners, not just those signed up for the event, we hope to see you there!

Episode 99 5/8: A Kind of Loving

The surface subject of today’s talk is an “English rose”, a gem of a movie from 1962, entitled A Kind of Loving. It was directed by John Schlesinger and starred Alan Bates, June Ritchie, and Thora Hird (What a great name!).

As I say, my surface subject is the “real-life” drama of an early love affair, an early marriage, and some pretty impressive strains placed on some pretty unprepared people. It was all shot near Manchester (“England, England, Across the Atlantic Sea”) and is unconventionally beautiful.

But what I am talking about here is categorization — when we put art and films and songs and books into categories, in order to control them; and the love that tries to possess the beloved. A Kind of Loving portrays the particular espece d’amour that tries to possess. It is an utterly real picture of such a love, which, by the way, always begins from an amiable design.

You can see this picture on YouTube, in 11 parts; for it’s not yet available on DVD here. But please note: A Kind of Loving is not “English ‘New Wave'” — that’s a categorization which exists only in the mind — nor is it part of the “Angry Young Man” school — which is also a categorization. (Incidentally, Jack Kerouac said that he wanted to ask John Osborne only one question: “John, why are you so angry?”.)

Rather, A Kind of Loving is a portrayal of love controlling and controlled, turning to hate, yet bearing even so, within itself, the seeds of hope. It’s a slice of life.

Episode 99 4/5: Meat for Go

“Meat for Go” is an English ad campaign that is fictionalized in another little gem of a movie called Having a Wild Weekend (aka “Catch Us If You Can”), with the Dave Clark Five. “Meat for Go” defines an absurd and sick milieu from which the heroine (Barbara Ferris) and hero (Dave Clark) escape! They escape, and take a wild hairpin journey out of London, via Syon Park, to Bath, to Exmoor, and finally to Burgh Island, off the Devon coast.

My subject today is journey. Not the Journey, which was the apex of all pop music ever. (Can we just decide to agree on that now? I think it’s time.) But a lesser journey: the journey of life. This podcast is about the journey of life.

Is the journey the thing, and not the destination? Or is it the destination that gives value to the journey? Neither, actually. Neither the journey nor the destination counts for very much, except insofar as they discover you. Or rather, insofar as they allow you to discover yourself.

At the end of the journey, whether it’s John Bunyan’s or that of our hopeful escapees from Vanity Fair in the wonderful Dave Clark Five movie, the question is, what have you become? Is your life a success? — forget legacy, forget whatever you’ve tried to achieve (there is nothing to attain), forget even whoever it is that’s going to remember you. But have you come to yourself? Have you seen yourself as you are?

The whole purpose of road novels and road movies is to hold the mirror up to yourself. This they can do.

Episode 99 9/10: Twisterella

When reality comes to call, when it comes crashing in, I “Gotta Change My Way of Thinking” (Dylan).

Crisis is rivetingly able to reveal not only the ethical or culpability problem in people. It also reveals the reality problem.

As in: How did I see matters in such a way that I made this or that decision? Which proved so wrong!

I think the dismantling of the ego, which is a universal fact of life (death!) and catches everyone for sooner or later, can be occasioned by a moral disturbance, and it can be occasioned by a reality gap.

This podcast is about the reality gap.

The text is another English gem: Billy Liar, which was first a novel, then a play, then a movie, then a musical. The movie is the thing you know, and which you can see in its entirety here. It observes a prospectively Lucky Man — because he is so young (19) when it happens — whose world collapses around him all at once, and whose way of dealing proves completely inadequate. Billy Liar is no “Man in Full”. You’ve got to follow this story, and think about, well, your own collapse — that Fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

(Did you meet your Julie Christie in time?)

Episode Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine

This is my last podcast before the One-Hundredth. It tries to distill a few things from the ninety-nine, or at least one thing.

“It’s not about you” — well, I understand what that was trying to say. We all got pretty “fed up” with our narcissism. After all, where did it get us?

On the other hand, it sort of is about you. It’s about you finding out who you are. Everyone else seems to have ideas about you: what it means to be a successful human being, on a dozen or so fronts. Everybody seems to be living with about a hundred ideas of what you oughtta be. They’re most of them, those ideas about you, alive and well inside your head.

The purpose of life is to find out who you are. That’s actually the beginning of finding out who God is. Not that you’re God! Please, don’t misunderstand. (“Lisa, Listen to Me”) But you can’t really see any one else, and that includes God, until you begin to come out from under that rock which is the sore burden of everyone else’s ideas about you — not to mention your own. Self-knowlege and God-knowledge are not the same thing. Yet they are related. This is why repentance, which is the great word for honesty, is the best place to start in living, or beginning to live.

‘Billy Liar’ comes to himself in that wonderful book/play/movie. (Tho’ he’s not able to stay there.) You and I come to ourselves — like “The Prodigal” (I mean the one with Lana Turner, which in turn is (loosely) based on the parable) — and when we come to ourselves, we begin to see about grace. (“Come See About Me”)

Anyway, here’s The Last Wave before plunging into the One-Hundredth. “Lisa, Listen to Me”.