PZ’s Podcast: Making Plans for Nigel and When I’m 64

Episode 72: Making Plans for Nigel This man, who lived from 1922 to 2006, was […]

Mockingbird / 11.7.11

Episode 72: Making Plans for Nigel

This man, who lived from 1922 to 2006, was a writer of English science-fiction television serials (mostly). He was another of these amazing predicters of the future, about whom I sometimes like to talk.

In Kneale’s 1958-59 BBC serial entitled “Quatermass and the Pit,” he dug right down to the archaeological core of humanity’s instinctual Original Sin. And I mean “archaeological”. In his 1968 serial “The Year of the Sex Olympics” — a title that can still grab your attention — he predicted “reality television”, and also the massive downpour of home-screen pornography. And in his 1979 “Quatermass,” with John Mills, he predicted the “New Age Traveller Movement,” the increasing alienation of the young from the old a cause de technology and music, and the corresponding need of the old to save the young from themselves. I think the 1979 “Quatermass” is much better than it was first received. (You can grab it on YouTube.)

Because Nigel Kneale knew about human nature and its instinctual anger, and because he knew about technology and media, he was able to write about things decades before they happened.

If there is “one thing needful” today — actually Grace is still the one thing needful — but if there is a second thing needful now, I think I’d identify it with Nigel Kneale’s empiricism about people as they are.

Listen here.


Episode 73: When I’m 64

In his wondrous 1979 teleplay QuatermassNigel Kneale wrote poignantly of the travails of “the young”: the Passion of his “Planet People,”  who sincerely want to get off this corrupt, malicious planet, and soar away. Kneale shows a ‘Generation X’ who are uncommonly disillusioned with the sick world they’ve been handed, and can only see a radical solution to the problems that surround them.

These hapless harried “New Age Travelers” of Nigel Kneale’s vision are proof that Kierkegaard was on to something when he wrote, “Youth does not exclude one from being able to grasp what is true” (Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing).

I don’t believe it is just a matter of years for a person to get wisdom. The secret is suffering, usually, and that can happen young, even very young. Jesus spoke to the root of Earthkind’s true oppression when he was only 30.

At the same time, Eliot wrote, “Old men should be explorers.” And Kneale’s 74-year-old hero, ‘Professor Bernard Quatermass,’ has a little wisdom to give, some answers to provide, some insight to offer.

No matter how much the “young” may see — but they have to suffer in order to see it — the answer to the great Beatles question, “Will you still feed me? Will you still need me, When I’m 64?” has got to be a yes.

The closer you get to death, even if it’s just by the counting of years, the wiser you’ve got to be. Just got to be.

Listen here.


PZ’s Podcast will be taking a few weeks off from posting new episodes, hopefully giving the faithful a chance to catch up!