"...the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom"

The Guardian is publishing a series of the greatest interviews. Lots of big names: Adolf Hitler, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe. I always get antsy when people start saying things like "the best X in the history of the galaxy...EVAH!". Because canons, I think, should be inherently personal and interpersonal, and should not be defined by institutions. The Guardian list, however, is just too interesting to throw the post-colonial book after. And I was blissfully surprised to find the most wonderful interview I have ever seen in my entire life on the list:

It's an interview Melvyn Bragg did with television playwright Dennis Potter, author of the Singing Detective, among other things. Potter knew during the interview that he had less than three months to live, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (he has named the tumor "Rupert" after Rupert Murdoch). His hands stunted by the arthritis he has suffered from for most of his life, Potter drinks liquid morphine and champagne throughout the interview while discoursing with great lucidity, erudition, depth and passion on all sorts of topics, some personal and existential, others political. The parts where the pain gets too heavy are in the interview as well, and the friendly small-talk paints a vividly human picture of Potter.

Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
I think it is quite possibly the single most moving thing I have ever seen on television. There's something wonderful about a man with such great hopes for television as a medium making this interview one of his last acts.

I've only caught it live twice, never seen it in its full length. There's a DVD available somewhere, I think. Some selected video edits at the Guardian.

(Somebody please put this on YouTube.)

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Blogger HPL said...

Don't think that there is a DVD, but I've got it on VHS. Unfortunately it's impossible to tape it onto my DVD-recorder, because it's a ntsc-tape (american).
And I totally agree with you. An impressive interview (saw it last week) ... and he has a couple of things to say about television at that time that fits nicely into what tv has become even more, ie a medium that's pandering to the ingnorant. ;)

September 30, 2007 7:51 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

I know. It's a tragedy that such a powerful medium is used so poorly. And sometimes I think it goes beyond pandering to the ignorant and into actively manufacturing ignorance.

I'm sure the Potter interview will makes its way to GlueTube someday soon. Actually, searching for Dennis Potter already yields a lot of interesting things on YouTube.

October 01, 2007 3:46 pm  
Blogger suttonhoo said...

brilliant links -- this, and the other -- thank you.

and yay to getting back online in real time. the landscape lacks when you're not around.

October 01, 2007 7:08 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

I thought you might like that, Suttonhoo. Thanks for the kind words.

October 01, 2007 7:15 pm  
Blogger HPL said...

And here's mr. Potter.

November 21, 2007 9:11 am  
Blogger mrtn said...

Oh! Thank you so much, HP!

November 21, 2007 10:27 am  

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