Ideas in the Afternoon for March 2020

Ideas in the Afternoon airs Mondays at 2:05 pm on CBC Radio One.

Ideas in the Afternoon airs Mondays at 2:05 pm on CBC Radio One.

Monday, March 2
Those three magic words are the most powerful and misunderstood words in the English language, according to writer and contributor Marianne Apostilides. She draws from Shakespere, Freud, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and other greats to parse how "I love you" can be enriching, manipulative and even empty.

Monday, March 9
The promise of ever-greater efficiency and technology was that we would all have more and more time to pursue non-work related activities. As automation and, later, digital technologies helped make our jobs easier and faster, we could use all the time we saved and spend it on pursuing the good life. But that's not how it's worked out. Technology did create efficiencies, but the time that opened up seems to have become crammed with even more work. And with that constant busyness, we've become more anxious about the ways in which we want to spend our time, but simply can't. The pursuit of the good life has turned into a waiting game. As soon as the inbox is cleared and the dishes are put away and the report is submitted and laundry is done, only then can we think about what ends to pursue merely for their own sake. But maybe there's a way to think about the good life in this moment. How do we reshape and reconfigure our relationship to the time we have and open it up so we can pursue the things we value?

Monday, March 16
How did the saxophone make its way from being a 19th century marching-band curiosity to a vessel for the spiritual seeker?  How can an instrument associated with the buffoonery of Benny Hill and the schmaltz of disco ball romance also possess such cosmic sensibilities? The work of jazz giant John Coltrane has a lot to do with it. But what is it about the instrument itself that has driven some of those playing it to plumb the depths of human experience, and the heights of spiritual striving? IDEAS Producer Sean Foley traces the saxophone's path toward transcendence.

Monday, March 23
Oprah wants you to live your best life. GOOP calls for personal optimization. Tony Robbins strongly suggests you make your life a masterpiece. We may scoff at self-help gurus, but most of us do strive for excellence and achievement. We anxiously judge ourselves by high standards, and fret over children, colleagues, and teammates, too. And are we happy doing it? Largely not. So this episode presents an alternative: mediocrity. Doesn't that sound more relaxing? From a challenge to Darwin's "survival of the fittest," to warring cultural ideas of greatness, to classes in How to Fail, this episode questions the hegemony of the excellent life, and explores its provocative counterweight: good enough.

Monday, March 30
In the 17th century, after the monarchy he rebelled against was restored, John Milton wrote his epic poem Paradise Lost during his house arrest. It was then that he created the most sympathetic Satan in literary history — a complex character with legitimate grievances against a repressive God. Nahlah Ayed talks to Islam Issa about how Milton's Satan has resonated with people at moments of rebellion throughout history — from the Arab Spring to Communist Yugoslavia. She also speaks with Gabby Samra and Maggie Kilgour about how Paradise Lost complicated the way we imagine evil in literature and pop culture, and with Ken Hiltner about how environmental degradation in 17th century England shaped Milton's conception of hell. The thesis: Milton's poem, and his character of Satan, are most compelling in periods of political upheaval.