Clive James Watch #2

Review of Cultural Amnesia

On the "" weblog, Bridget is very taken with the book: "Probably the best thing I can say about Cultural Amnesia is that it covers a thousand topics, many of formidable intellectual density, and yet, at a prose level it is never less than intensely, immediately readable. The author demonstrates on every page that the latter is the result of the former. James is extremely intelligent and formidably self educated -- he can read in six languages, for a start -- and his measured wisdom is apparent on every page. However, as a child of, and internal participant in, the television age, he is also wholly aware of that the medium is the message. Here, the medium is a great big thick book full of interesting ideas from and concerning intriguing people, written in a style which allows ingress to almost any reader, and presupposes nothing more than a common desire for enlightenment. And it's really good fun."

Interviews by Clive James

Now that Michael Parkinson has hung up the microphone we are left with very few, if any, intelligent conversationalists on television. In Australia we are lucky enough to have Andrew Denton, who appears to have found the perfect niche for himself with his program "Enough Rope". But what about the UK? In "The Independent" Mary
Kenny wonders the same thing: "But you very seldom get, on contemporary talk shows, seriously good conversation or a genuinely gifted raconteur. It may be a mistake even to look for high-flown conversation. Clive James, who hosted
chat shows during the 1980s and '90s, tried time and again to bring together a group of people who would be brilliant at conversational discourse: he had some success, and he himself was no slouch as the egotistical TV host. But he ran out of steam -- and of commissions. The TV bosses informed him, as the century neared its end, that brilliant talk was not what the public wanted."

Just when we thought James had given up the idea of interviewing comes the following note: "An early highlight of this week's Sundance Film Festival, Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired is a riveting and expertly researched documentary about the 1977 court case in which the director was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor...Bookended by a candid BBC interview between Polanski and Clive James, the film not only dispels many myths about Polanski's flight but could well be the galvanizing key to his return to US soil -- should he so wish."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 30, 2008 10:20 AM.

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