What do we want? Instant gratification! When do we want it? NOW!

May I draw attention to an excellent, impassioned article by Sarah Spilsbury of the group “Friends of Radio 3”?

There is little I can add to what Ms Spilsbury says, both in the article itself, and in her splendid combative responses to various comments below the line. And after all, given that the decline in cultural standards in recent decades has been a sort of running theme in this blog, it should, I think, be fairly clear where my own sympathies lie.

However, I would like to touch on one point raised by Ms Spilbury’s article that I don’t think has been adequately dealt with: the management at the BBC appear somewhat concerned because the output of Radio 3 is regarded as “intimidating”. But surely, art should be intimidating! It should challenge, it should stretch, it should scare the shit out of you. Unless, of course, art is regarded – as I think it increasingly is these days – primarily as a branch of the entertainment industry, a means merely of whiling away a few idle hours in an inoffensive manner.

Personally, I’d love to see Radio 3 become more intimidating, not less. Although, given the current climate in which popularity appears to be the sole measure of all human activity, I can’t say I’m holding my breath.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Art, for me, brings out my analytical qualities – “What was Warhol thinking of – painting a bloody can of soup” – to my mind I would not have it in the Kitchen – I am a cook of quality – without the hystrionics of a chef de cuisine. Art, therefore, can be a challenge – this is what brings out the best (and the worst) of a person’s appreciation.

    Turner now, love the man, his “The Fighting Temeraire” I find highly evocative – there she was making her last journey to Rotherhithe, for to be broken up – poor old girl, after years of service – could no drydock have taken her, sadly no?

    Seeing Warhol I am apt to mutter “So?” – and this puts me in mind of a very dear friend – who being a Jew, looked at a painting of Francis Bacon’s and said “Nu – oh Nu!” and the challenge was not to try to understand Bacon’s interpretation of Velazquez’ painting of the Pope Innocent the 10th / 11th of that name, but rather to understand the challenge of interpreting the expression on his face as he could see the original Velazquez in his mind’s eye. As indeed so could I – Pope Innocent sitting there – was he speaking ex Cathedra about the missive he is holding – is it significant that he holds it in his left hand – he looks so cold and stern – well now there is a painting would scare the crap out of many – I am not a Catholic and I found him scary.

    I visited the Uffizi in Florence some years ago and quite fell hopelessly in love – I was much younger then – with the Guide, he was a very verbal and most intelligent man with the same love that I had for Titian, who was of course much in evidence in the Uffizi.

    So now I attempt an analysis of a painting by Warhol – he strikes me as a puzzle so often, Turner and Titian – two of my favourites – I LOVE them. Bacon, I can neither like nor appreciate – am I to blame for that – I do not think so but then I am unsure – what the heck was he getting at anyway. His art intimidates my emotional qualities

    Certainly Art – whether it is Music, Painting or any other damn thing, it should challenge the viewer, listener, reader – yes reader – because writing is an art, something that evokes a feeling in the human heart and mind – challenging, intimidating, scaring, even revolting – 0 sure!! bring it on – let it make us think – what is the message in the music – what is the painter / writer – saying to us.

    Any time you want a virtual sandwich and a cup of weak tea, you have Television with it’s distractingly nice pictures. But, to challenge your observation, to wake up your thought processes, go to a Library, an Art Exhibition, a live play instead of a film yes! and enjoy the challenge of being made to think – if you think more and let your brain do a bit of work – there is the added benefit of helping to stave of Alzheimers syndrome if you use the brain the Gods gave you.

    I am glad to be back here today – WordPress and Google were at odds – and I ended up as Piggy-in-the-Middle


    • Hello Patricia, I must admit I was being a bit flippant in my previous post. When I said that art should be intimidating, I was taking up an extreme position for rhetorical purposes. Being a bit more level-headed about it, I think it is fairer to say that there is no reason why art shouldn’t be intimidating. Art comes in all shapes and sizes, and some art can indeed be pleasant and comforting; but we must also allow art not to be so. We must, indeed, allow art to be difficult, and even, at times, to intimidate with its difficulty. To describe art as “intimidating” is not, to my mind, to criticise it.

      By art, I don’t, of course, just mean the visual arts – I mean also literature, music, etc. I generally shy away from writing here about the visual arts (with one exception to date) since I do not think my understanding or appreciation is sufficiently substantial to justify my pontificating on it. However, yes, I did love my visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and Titian is certainly among my favourite artists.

      Good to se eyou have sorted out those technical problems, by the way.


  2. I am glad I am not alone in feeling Radio 3 is being “dumbed down”. We need a bit of highbrow in our celebrity/X-Factor-obsessed times and until the recent “updating” of the station, R3 seemed to offer the right amount of highbrow.

    I had previously really enjoyed the Breakfast programme, but lately it has become overly populist and is danger of straying into the realms of ClassicFM and it’s “laahvely melodies”. The Your Call feature particularly irks me. I am not interested in whether Ian from Grimsby enjoyed the last piece, or the ramblings of some little old lady in Whitstable. Indeed, if I had my way, the programme would be 3 hours of Bach – or something similarly mind-stretching, with almost no speech…..



    • The strange thing is, I really don’t think this Classic-FM-isation is bringing in a new audience. Why should it? Classic FM does its job well, and there’s no reason why its listeners should start listening to Radio 3 instead. So thi sis not attracting new listeners, but losing some existing ones.

      Of course, one doesn’t want to hear Mahler’s 9th symphony first thing in the morning. But playing complete works instead of bits and pieces, and cutting out the inane chat, would certainly be a great step forward.


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