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Joseph Conrad, Prophet of a Global World

Seen from today, the novelist Joseph Conrad's early 20th century views on the world, particularly on race, can be offensive. But at the same time, his observations were deeply prescient of modern times. V.S. Naipaul, who was also a harsh critic, once about how Conrad managed, a hundred years ago, to "meditate on my world, a world I recognize today"? A feature interview with Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff, who tackles that question in her acclaimed biography of Conrad.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

The Little Prince: The Child Philosopher

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that we see correctly; what is most important is invisible to the eye." The Little Prince was first published in 1943. And since then, it's sold 200 million copies, in 300 languages. And we're still trying to figure out what it is: a children's fable, a philosophical tale, or even an autobiography of its author, Antoine de Saint Exupéry? Danny Braun of Radio-Canada presents his documentary about the enduring magic of this deceptively simple classic.

Behind the eyes and in the land: What Tom Thomson saw, and what he may have missed

Ideas contributor Sean Foley explores the landscapes of Algonquin Park which inspired Tom Thomson's work — while also examining Indigenous artists' perspectives of the same landscapes that Thomson and the Group of Seven may have missed.

The People vs Democracy

Authoritarian populists have won elections across a large swath of western liberal democracies. Populist leaders have formed government through free and (mostly) fair elections by riding a wave of popular disaffection with the status quo. But once in power, these governments have gone on to dismantle the very institutions and conventions that help keep liberal democratic principles in place. So how are we to confront this paradox wherein liberal democracy serves a growing and undemocratic illiberalism?

Award-Winning Authors on Borders, Real and Imagined

Winners of the 2018 Governor General's Literary Awards address our challenge to create an original piece of writing on the theme of borders. In forms ranging from poetry to fiction and personal essay, they reflect on the idea of divisions, and on the other side, reconciliations. They'll talk about their work, read from it, and give their views on the way borders, boundaries and limits — real and imagined, psychological and political — are at work in our world and lives now. Presented by IDEAS and CBC Books, with the Canada Council for the Arts.

In Search of Global Freedom

What does it mean to be free? All societies place restrictions on what citizens can do, but some restrictions (speed limits) may be more important than others (limiting the right to vote.) But one-size freedom doesn't really fit all: "democracy" has many faces, and ideas of freedom are shaped by culture. A discussion from the Stratford Festival with the Munk School of Global Affairs: Randall Hansen, Joseph Wong and Lama Mourad discuss the global meaning of freedom.
IDEAS Afternoon

Yuval Harari: Hacking Humanity

Yuval Harari is a global intellectual. And the internationally bestselling author is worried: our brains are getting hacked. Artificial intelligence, biotechnology and ever-sophisticated algorithms are tapping into our values, habits, tastes, desires and the very thought patterns that define us — all to control how we shop, what we read, and whom we vote for. The notion of free will is defunct. And the grand project of liberalism, with its focus on the individual, is worn out. But in this exclusive interview with Paul Kennedy, he explains why he remains cautiously optimistic about humanity's future.

Taking Control: The Art of Leadership

What makes a good leader — someone with the ability to get others to follow, sometimes into the unknown? Shakespeare had something to say about all that. Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, two fantastically successful military leaders, both stumble and fall catastrophically when it comes to political leadership. So, being a leader seems to depend somewhat on context. Or is leadership, then, perhaps more of an art?

Talking with Doctor David Naylor: Winner of the 2018 Friesen Prize

Although he's not yet officially eligible to collect his pension, Dr. David Naylor is already President Emeritus of the University of Toronto — having occupied the office itself for eight turbulent years from 2005 - 2013. Before that, Naylor was Dean of Medicine at U of T, and Chair of the National Advisory Committee on SARS. Right now, he's interim head of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. And he was recently awarded the 2018 Henry G. Friesen Prize for Health Science Research. David Naylor talks with Paul Kennedy about his life and work, and about his recent Friesen Prize Lecture at the University of Ottawa.

The Jezebel Problem: What 'bossy' women should know about language

PhD graduate Laura Hare taught herself Biblical Hebrew so she could analyze male and female speech patterns in the original text of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). She found the women characters consistently using language that shows deference to men. Some of these signs of deference exist in women’s speech today in North American English. The only female biblical character who fully speaks ‘like a man’ also became an archetype of evil — Queen Jezebel. 'Ideas from the Trenches' producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic find out what Laura Hare's discoveries mean for the present day.

Creating Conscience, Part 3: A history of treating the psychopath

We're all familiar with the idea of the "bad seed". Incorrigible children and unruly adolescents who later commit terrible crimes. Over the last decade, they've increasingly been referred to as psychopaths. But unlike the way their adult counterparts are viewed, there's renewed hope that younger people with psychopathic traits can be redeemed.

The Enright Files on the good, the bad, and the ugliest of Christmas music

Christmas is the best of times and the worst of times for music — from sublime choral hymns to sugary confections sung by pop stars whose artistic mission is to induce you to buy something. The music of Christmas is ubiquitous and inescapable, and it has been with us in one form or another for about 1,300 years. On this month's edition of "The Enright Files", the horrors and the wonders of Christmas music with music guru, Robert Harris.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Rethinking the Beaver: Why beavers and humans have to learn to get along

Four centuries of fur-trade trapping nearly wiped beavers off the North American map. Now they're back, big time, and we're discovering that sharing the landscape with such tenacious ecosystem engineers isn't always easy. We're also learning that there are compelling reasons to try to coexist with this iconic species. Contributor Frances Backhouse explores how two control freaks — humans and beavers — can get along.

Imagining the singularity: What happens when computers transcend us?

As computers and artificial intelligence grow in power and capability, it seems ever more likely that we're approaching "the singularity": the point where machine intelligence exceeds human intelligence. Could this be the dawn of a technological paradise? Or it could trigger humanity’s doom? What kind of an intelligence will this be — benign or terrifying — a guru, a god or a monster? And is the idea of uploading the human mind the promise of immortality or just another dream of religious transcendence?

Flirting with Fascism: America's New Path?

We've heard it so much that it's almost become a cliché: America is on the road to fascism. The debate over that claim continues, but renowned scholar Henry Giroux argues that "Donald Trump is not just some impulsive rich guy who marketed his way into politics through empty Kardashian-style consumer culture". Trump needed followers. And he got them. Now what?

Creating Conscience, Part 2: A history of treating the psychopath

For decades psychiatry has been asking: what makes a psychopath? The list of possible explanations stretches back over centuries: demonic possession, trace metals in the body, bad mothering, violence on television, birth trauma. In Episode 2 of this series, IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell returns to an interview she did with a serial killer 20 years ago, to understand what motivated him and explores what insight experts can give us about the modern-day psychopath.

Wade Davis: Light at the edge of the world

In our age, many societies look like they're hurtling towards disorder and disunity. For all of our technological sophistication, the centre isn't holding, great civilizations seem less united than ever. Wade Davis, one of Canada's foremost anthropologists thinks we need to pay more attention to the values, the voices, and the concerns of Indigenous peoples. We have a lot to learn by listening more carefully.

Tom Thomson: 100 years from now

Tom Thomson's paintings are among the most famous and beloved artworks in Canada. Thomson himself is one of the most mythologized Canadians of his time — and ours. Now, 101 years after his mysterious death on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, when he was at the peak of his powers, IDEAS contributor Sean Foley asks one central question: does the mortal and material fascination with Tom Thomson leave us with something enduring — something to carry us through the next century, and beyond?

Why Environmentalism is Failing

Environmental problems are well-known and have been for decades, but we still appear to be edging towards a global catastrophe. Why? Environmentalist Graham Saul believes that part of the problem is environmentalism itself. He believes it has a message problem — mainly because it doesn’t have a single, coherent, unified message that people can grasp. Graham Saul has been on the forefront of environmental thought and activism for over 25 years. In this lecture, he parses the problem and points towards a step with potential planet-saving implications.

The Accommodating Space: A Hotel Check-In

A guest checks into a Las Vegas hotel suite, and makes it a fortress, staging a mass shooting on the city below. It's a horrific act that seems to subvert the very ethos of hotels — places of hospitality and calm. Yet hotels contain multitudes. They are sites of fantasy and functionality, pleasure and trouble. Their spaces are public and private, workplace and bedroom. They exist to house us temporarily, in luxury or in squalor.

What to expect when you're expecting ... Climate Change

Young couples face a complicated decision at a time when the dire consequences of climate change are becoming clearer, is it ethical to bring a child into the world? Science journalist Britt Wray talks with parents, prospective parents, ethicists, scientists, and children on this thorny question.

Creating Conscience, Part 1: A history of treating the psychopath

The mystery of the psychopath. A human riddle that has haunted and stumped us for centuries. Is the psychopath mad or just plain bad? Evil and beyond redemption, or potentially treatable?

Christopher Hedges: Farewell America

Christopher Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of America: The Farewell Tour. He believes that America may well be in its last act. Addiction, income disparity and hollowed-out towns and cities are becoming the norm, he argues, while the political and financial sectors increasingly merge with each other to the exclusion of anyone else's interests or needs. His vision is dark and sobering. America's only salvation, he concludes in this illustrated conversation with guest host Rachel Giese, is mass resistance.
Ideas Afternoon

How Cold War anxiety and citizen science fuelled Canada's massive UFO report files

Researcher Matthew Hayes is looking into nearly 15,000 pages of documents detailing UFO sightings. He hopes to learn more about what these sightings, and the obsessive documentation of them, say about the nature of science and observation.
CBC Massey Lectures

The 2018 CBC Massey Lectures: All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

Prize-winning journalist Tanya Talaga (author of Seven Fallen Feathers) explores the legacy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples — in Canada and elsewhere — in her 2018 CBC Massey Lectures, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.

Tom Thomson: 100 years from now

Tom Thomson's paintings are among the most famous and beloved artworks in Canada. Thomson himself is one of the most mythologized Canadians of his time — and ours. Now, 101 years after his mysterious death on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, when he was at the peak of his powers, IDEAS contributor Sean Foley asks one central question: does the mortal and material fascination with Tom Thomson leave us with something enduring — something to carry us through the next century, and beyond?
IDEAS Afternoon

Yuval Harari: Hacking Humanity

Yuval Harari is a global intellectual. And the internationally bestselling author is worried: our brains are getting hacked. Artificial intelligence, biotechnology and ever-sophisticated algorithms are tapping into our values, habits, tastes, desires and the very thought patterns that define us — all to control how we shop, what we read, and whom we vote for. The notion of free will is defunct. And the grand project of liberalism, with its focus on the individual, is worn out. But in this exclusive interview with Paul Kennedy, he explains why he remains cautiously optimistic about humanity's future.