Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stephen Fry Podcasts

Stephen Fry's podcasts were first brought to my attention by my sister Anna last summer, and slow to get to things important, I'm now catching up.

Making dinner? Cleaning up? Listen to this.

It's a bit thick in the first 11 minutes, but the ideas expressed thereafter are really worth the buildup. It runs just over 33 minutes.

"Is it weird that silkworms exist, or is it weird that only the silkworm will do when it comes to silk and only the cotton plant when it comes to cotton. To put it again in an accidental line of decasyllabic verse, "None would be missed if they didn't exist". And if language didn't illicit pleasure, if it didn't have its music, its juiciness, its jouissance, would we notice, or would we always be destined to find pleasure in it because that's a thing we humans can do?"

He then goes on to speak of Chomsky's innate language vs. evolution.

And more:

"There's no right or wrong in language anymore than there's no right or wrong in nature. Evolution is all about restless and continuous change. Mutation. Variation... Convention exists, of course it does. But convention is no more a register of rightness or wrongness than etiquette is. It's just another way of saying "usage", really. Convention is a privately agreed usage than a publicly evolving one. "

Up next?

A six minute short one: Stephen Fry discusses why Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales continue to exert the same pull over the imagination and emotions as they did when he first read them to his children in the 1880s.

I really don't know enough about Oscar Wilde, at the moment.