‘Face to Face’ with Allen Ginsberg
11.13.2013
12:38 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
Allen Ginsberg
Face to Face


 
This is a fine interview with Allen Ginsberg taken from the BBC series Face to Face, in which Ginsberg opens up about his family, loves, identity, drugs and even sings.

The series, Face to Face originally started in 1959, and was hosted by John Freeman, whose skill and forthright questioning cut through the usual mindless chatter of such interview shows. Freeman, a former editor of the New Statesman was often considered brusque and rude, but his style of questioning fitted the form of the program, which was more akin to an interview between psychiatrist and patient. The original series included, now legendary, interviews with Martin Luther King, Tony Hancock, Professor Carl Jung, Evelyn Waugh and Gilbert Harding.

In 1989, the BBC revived the series, this time with the excellent Jeremy Isaacs as questioner, who interviewed Allen Ginsberg for this program, first broadcast on 9th January 1995.

Watching this now, makes me wonder what has happened to poetry? Where are our revolutionary poets? Where are our poets who speak out, demonstrate, make the front page, and tell it like it is? And why are our bookstores cluttered with the greeting card verse of 100 Great Love Poems, 101 Even Greater Love Poems, and Honest to God, These Are the Greatest Fucking Love Poems, You’ll Ever Fucking Read. O, for a Ginsberg now.

 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Evelyn Waugh on ‘Face to Face’, 1960: ‘If someone praises me, I think what an arse!’


 
The interviewer, John Freeman, thought Evelyn Waugh was being unnecessarily tetchy when he questioned him on Face to Face. Yet, by today’s standards, Waugh seems positively chummy—which only confirms how brash the art of interviewing has become. Waugh’s biographer, Selina Hastings, thought Waugh adopted a “pose of world-weary boredom,” which (at times) is apparent. However, I thought Freeman seemed far too preoccupied with asking the questions he had prepped beforehand, often moving onto the next subject without actually listening to what Waugh said.

Interestingly, Waugh knew he was in for a grilling from former politician Freeman, and he wrote to a mutual friend,  Labour MP, Tom Driberg to get some inside skinny on his interlocutor—it wasn’t needed, as Waugh (with the look of “an exhausted rogue jollied up by drink’) easily batted the majority of Freeman’s questions.

Waugh was one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century (Brideshead Revisited, Scoop, Vile Bodies, and A Handful of Dust) and his brilliant career covered his move from being an atheist, radical, and one of the bright, young people, to a (strangely) devout Catholic, olde school Tory and country squire. Though Freeman never fully gets Waugh to explain how and why this happened, there are many memorable moments in this interview (the discussion on his nervous breakdown and the writing of The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold), several of which (unintentionally) reveal more about Freeman than perhaps he intended. One gem, is Waugh’s disarming response to Freeman’s prodding over criticism.

John Freeman: “Have you ever brooded on unfair or unjust criticism?”

Evelyn Waugh: “No, I’m afraid if someone praises me, I think what an arse, and if they abuse me I think they’re an arse.”

John Freeman: “And if they say nothing about you at all, and take no notice of you…?”

Evelyn Waugh: “That’s the best I can hope for.”

Waugh described the experience of appearing on Face to Face in a letter to Nancy Mitford:

Last week I was driven by poverty to the humiliating experience of appearing on television. The man who asked the questions simply couldn’t believe I had had a happy childhood. ‘Surely you suffered from the lack of a sister?’

It may have been “humiliating” for Waugh, but his interview gives a fascinating insight into one of 20th century literature’s greatest authors.
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Face to Face’ with Carl Jung on the BBC, 1959
12.21.2012
10:53 am

Topics:
Thinkers

Tags:
Carl Jung
Face to Face
John Freeman

image
 
This is fascinating, an extended interview with Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung conducted by the BBC’s John Freeman in October of 1959, when Jung was 84-years-old. The format of this program, Face to Face, is fascinating, almost like an interrogation. The camera zooms in on the subject and they rarely cut away.

Face to Face was the first program on British television to unmask public figures and show what lies beneath the surface. Harsh lighting and close-up camera angles were employed to capture each flicker of emotion, a method critics referred to as “torture by television.” Among those who submitted to Freeman’s remorseless scrutiny were Evelyn Waugh, Henry Moore, Bertrand Russell, and Carl Gustav Jung.

When Carl Jung consented to be interviewed, the medical community was surprised that this very private figure was suddenly willing to allow an interviewer into his personal space. When the program was first aired in 1959, Jung himself was taken aback at the unexpectedly positive response from the general public. This strong interest in his work inspired Jung to write his final work, Man and His Symbols, his theory of the symbolism of dreams, explained in lay terms so as to be accessible to all who would come seeking answers.

 

 
Thank you Jesse Merlin!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Face to Face with Allen Ginsberg

image
 
This is a fine interview with Allen Ginsberg taken from the BBC series Face to Face, in which Ginsberg opens up about his family, loves, identity, drugs and even sings.

The series, Face to Face originally started in 1959, and was hosted by John Freeman, whose skill and forthright questioning cut through the usual mindless chatter of such interview shows. Freeman, a former editor of the New Statesman was often considered brusque and rude, but his style of questioning fitted the form of the program, which was more akin to an interview between psychiatrist and patient. The original series included, now legendary, interviews with Martin Luther King, Tony Hancock, Professor Carl Jung, Evelyn Waugh and Gilbert Harding.

In 1989, the BBC revived the series, this time with the excellent Jeremy Isaacs as questioner, who interviewed Allen Ginsberg for this program, first broadcast on 9th January 1995.

Watching this now, makes me wonder what has happened to poetry? Where are our revolutionary poets? Where are our poets who speak out, demonstrate, make the front page, and tell it like it is? And why are our bookstores cluttered with the greeting card verse of 100 Great Love Poems, 101 Even Greater Love Poems, and Honest to God, These Are the Greatest Fucking Love Poems, You’ll Ever Fucking Read. O, for a Ginsebrg now.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion