Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some things classical

As I projected earlier this week, I have been looking at the classics in a number of podcasts. Notably, this was BBC's In Our Time about Aristotle's views on politics. In stead of waiting to wrap my mind around a full review, I'd rather mention it here right now, before this cast falls out of the feed (which is expected to happen in the next 24 hours or so). Go and get that podcast. It gives so much insight in how our political thinking started off.

Once you are into going to the roots, there are two more sources to point to. First of all, from Aristotle, inevitably one points back to Plato and from him to Socrates. A long time ago Socrates was on In Our Time, which can be heard on the stream, but still available is Philosophy Bites. The philosopher McCabe is explaining the Socratic Method, which still has so much standing in our thinking today.

Why not dig into the Greeks altogether. This can be done with a free course from Yale, which can be downloaded, but strangely, is not available on podcast. I have done the earliest lectures, so little is to be said yet. We have covered the Minoans and Myceneans as well as the dark age and Homer afterwards.

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Jacques Brel - מה שהיה היה

The latest episode of מה שהיה היה (What was, has been), the first of the new season, has hardly any of the features I experienced in the latest edition of the previous season. It consequently lacked the pace, drama and excellent humor, however, it profoundly positioned itself as a cultural and history radio program. Fortunately the radio station of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem הר הצופים (Mount Scopus) releases the program as podcast.

Anybody paying attention to Jacques Brel is going to draw my listening ear, but the podcast did more than that. The sole host (usually they come in a pair) ventured a bit into the background of Brel giving some clout to the pretense of the program being a history podcast. And the versions of the songs that were delivered, were all Hebrew translations, so that one can see in this also a culture podcast. Having experienced Brel in many other languages than the French (and the occasional Flemish) original, I can vouch for the quality of the Hebrew versions that both in the words as well as the performance maintained the typical Brel touch. However, I would have wanted to hear at least one of the originals.

And so, this was a mature and entertaining as well as informative program. It left me with two peeves. One, was its description of Brel as a 'French speaking Flamand', which may be correct as Brel was Francophone, yet of Flemish descent, but for anybody remotely familiar with the controversy between the Flamands and Walloons seems a contradiction in terms. As the the Flemish are by definition Dutch speakers and the Walloons French. The second, less importantly, but worse as a mistake, was the comment on the Hebrew version of Marieke. The host announced that the Dutch (Flemish) phrases of the song had been replaced by German in the Hebrew version, yet as it played, I found they had remained untouched. Zonder liefde, warme liefde...

More מה שהיה היה:
What was has been

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