From left to right: Brian J Ford, Bridget Kendall, Paul Fournel and Alain de Botton
This week's guests on The Forum
ALAIN DE BOTTON
Essayist and thinker Alain de Botton has travelled the world to explore the meanings we attach to the work we do, examining how for some, work means providing their children with food and shelter, while for others it’s a matter of status and self-respect.
The poet and enthusiastic cyclist Paul Fournel is President of the Oulipo literary movement, which encourages its writer members to liberate their imagination through the application of structural constraints.
BRIAN J FORD
And research biologist Brian J Ford explains how single cells are not only intricate and self regulating, but demonstrate ingenious responses and behaviour that may even manifest signs of intelligence.
Intelligent cells create work while cycling by Emily Kasriel
60 Second Idea to Improve the World
PAUL FOURNEL urges teachers to go out into the world for five years, once they’ve finished their training. If they are to advise and nurture children, it is vital they face the same challenges their pupils will face when the time comes for them to leave the classroom.Listen to this idea...
IN NEXT WEEK'S PROGRAMME
The mathematical underpinnings of bureaucratic inefficiency with Austrian mathematician, Peter Klimek; the effect of self-esteem on international relations with American politics professor Richard Ned LeBow; and the British writer and historian Lisa Appignanesi on the chaotic world of madness.
Your comments...on work
Your first speaker who has written about "Work" said that nowadays our first question to a stranger is "What do you do?" as opposed to a possible "Where do you come from or live?" from olden times. I felt that he reckoned this change was because of the importance of work to us nowadays but, in fact, it is surely because in the past it was often very obvious what an individual did for a living. They dressed the part. Or they were named after their work, Miller, Fletcher, Smith etc. Nowadays, when we even have nuns, doctors, lawyers, knights and dustmen wearing civilian clothing, we need to ask.
Our spin doctors have managed to convince us that doing away with uniforms is a great liberation where we can express ourselves. Rather, we have all gone into a great anonymity which requires lengthy questioning before any conversation can begin.
I am interested in de Botton's comment that advanced economies require only highly specialised workers. I agree that specialised jobs are very important, but contend that the most successful modern economies also contain a 'critical mass' of generalists. Any organisation that is comprised entirely of specialists have limited ability to adapt to the unknown. I refer de Botton to Huxley's 'Brave New World'.
Glen, Melbourne, Australia