Mark Tully considers the worth of aspiring to greater things, taking as a starting point Robert Browning's words 'a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?'.
Mark Tully considers the worth of aspiring to greater things, taking as a starting point Robert Browning's words: "....a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
The programme was inspired by an overheard conversation about whether advertising encourages aspiration or incites greed, and Mark explores how the messages used to sell us things can often disguise greed, and other deadly sins, as virtues worth aspiring to. Conversely, he puts in a good word for the way advertising can lead to a more aspirational world in general.
He also considers the progress we have made which would never have come about were it not for aspiration - from the Suffragette movement to the space race. But the case is also made for not overreaching our grasp, for appreciating what we already have, and for being freed from the anxiety of ambition.
With music ranging from Tom Waits' Step Right Up to JS Bach's, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, and readings from the work of Jack Kerouac and Soren Kierkegaard, Mark celebrates many people's tendency to challenge the status into which they were born and to aspire to a better life.
Producer: Adam Fowler
A 7Digital production for BBC Radio 4.
Title: Lovemarks: the future beyond brands Author: Kevin RobertsPublished by Powerhouse Books
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Title: Drum Dream Girl Author: Margarita Engle Published by Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt
Title: AspirationAuthor: Adah Isaacs Menken As found on poemhunter.com
Title: Papers and Journals Author: Soren KierkegaardPublished by Penguin Trans. Alastair Hannay
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Title: Rice Stadium Moon Speech, 12 September 1962 Author: John F. KennedyPublic domain, as found: https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm