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Play now 55 mins

05/09/2010

Duration:
55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 05 September 2010

Are we in control of how we shape our lives? Are we masters of our own narratives, or do lawyers or lab scientists hold the real power over our identities, asks guest presenter Rana Mitter, Professor of Chinese history and politics at Oxford University.

Leading American expert on choice Sheena Iyengar explains how we define ourselves through the choices we make. But would we be happier if we had less choice?

Anglo Hungarian poet George Szirtes on reclaiming the lost and frozen pieces of our past to find our true identity.

And from New Zealand, international patent lawyer Yvonne Cripps asks whether we can patent people’s body parts, or does this violate our basic human rights?

Illustration: Are we liberated by having the choice between unfreezing history or patenting our genes? Picture by Emily Kasriel.

Chapters

4 items
  • Sheena Iyengar

    Sheena Iyengar

    Leading American expert on choice Sheena Iyengar explains how we define ourselves through the choices we make.

  • George Szirtes

    George Szirtes

    Anglo Hungarian poet George Szirtes shows how an awareness of our place in history is key to who we are.

  • Yvonne Cripps

    Yvonne Cripps

    International patent lawyer Yvonne Cripps looks at whether we can, or should, patent bits of ourselves.

  • SIXTY SECOND IDEA TO IMPROVE THE WORLD

    SIXTY SECOND IDEA TO IMPROVE THE WORLD

    Our Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World comes this week from poet George Szirtes who has a radical idea to save words from over-familiarity or cliché. Each morning, every person is to be texted the word of the day. They must repeat this word until its meaning has quite drained away and it is a mere nonsense sound. A meter will be provided to check the nonsense level. Once the meter is on zero and all meaning is gone, they will be required to construct ten different sentences using the word until it is refamiliarized and the meter shows 100. He calls this Washing the Word. This will enable us to fully re-engage with language and to feel a sense of well-being, much as we do when wearing freshly-washed clothes.

  • In Next Week’s Programme

    Next week, Bridget Kendall is back in the chair and looks at why we can’t capture pain in the boundary of language, Africa’s growing population crisis and the challenges of communicating with a pre-colonial era via palm leaf manuscripts.

  • Washing the Word

    Washing the Word

    Washing the Word: George Szirtes' 60 Second Idea to Improve the World.

  • Can poet George Szirtes save us from verbal bankrupcy?

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    Forum's 60-second Idea to Change the World filmed by Terry Wilson

Broadcasts

Free downloads

  1. Image for Forum - A World of Ideas

    Forum - A World of Ideas

    The world's most remarkable minds tackle a big idea. Podcast weekly on Saturdays.

  2. Image for Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World

    Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World

    An imaginative, quirky solution to a challenge of our age. Podcast weekly on Saturdays.

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