Ideas in the Afternoon for April 2019

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, April 1
Sewers are a relatively modern phenomenon. For centuries, people in cities lived intimately with their waste. The price paid for that lack of awareness about hygiene was of course disease and plague — as well as unbearable stench. Understanding how germs and diseases are spread led to sanitation and sewers — and to the modern city. The rebuilding of Paris in the mid-19th century was a great civic achievement and a new idea of society only made possible because it was built on sewers. Philip Coulter goes underground in the City of Light to visit the City of Smells.

Monday, April 8
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.

Monday, April 15
WRESTLING WITH THE STOICS: Tips from a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu philosopher
Michael Tremblay holds a black belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and competes at world championships. He is also a PhD student in philosophy at Queen's University, who's studying Stoicism. In fact, he hopes to become a Stoic 'sage' himself, and focuses his work on the 1st-century Greek philosopher, Epictetus, whom he sees as a kind of life coach.

Monday, April 22
LONELY TOGETHER: The plight of urban isolation
Urban loneliness is a virtual pandemic. Even though there have never been as many cities across the world as there are right now with such high populations, urban loneliness carries with it huge social, medical and financial consequences. Why are cities the new capitals of isolation? Contributor Tom Jokinen believes the design of urban centres may actually be the cause of urban isolation. Yet they may also contain the ingredients for a more integrated social landscape. 

Monday, April 29
TURN IT OFF: Music to drive you crazy
One sound invented two centuries ago was said to drive all those who heard it insane, even to to the point of suicide. Contributor Chris Brookes takes us into the astonishing history of the glass harp, from the parlour to the paranormal — and even to death metal — and shows how the sounds we create shape our understanding of the world.