Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Stephen Hawkings on Desert Island

Sue Lawley interviewed Stephen Hawkings on Christmas Day 1992 for the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs.

Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 programme. It was first broadcast on January 29, 1942 and is said by the Guinness Book of Records to be the longest-running music programme in the history of radio. Guests are invited to imagine themselves as castaways on a desert island, and asked to choose the eight pieces of music they would take with them; discussion of their choices permits a review of their life. Aside from the music they select, they are also permitted to take one book, excluding the Bible or other religious work and the complete works of Shakespeare, which are deemed to be already present on the island (probably to force castaways to make more interesting choices). They also choose one luxury item which must be inanimate and of no survival value, though "endless supplies of champagne" seem to be allowed.

Stephen Hawking choose the following :

First record-

Gloria by Poulenc

Second record-

Brahms Violin concerto

Third record-

Beethoven’s string Quartet, Opus 132

The reason he choose this one is-

When I was an undergraduate at Oxford, I read Aldous Huxley’s Novel Point Counterpoint. This was intened as a portrait of the 1930s and had an enormous cast of characters. Most of these were pretty cardboard, but there was one who was rather more human and was obviously modeled on Huxley himself. This man killed the leader of the British Fascists, a character based on Sir Oswald Mosley. He then let the party know he had done it and put on the gramophone records of Beethoven’s String Quartet, Opus 132. In the middle of the third movement he answered the door and was shot by the fascists.
It really is a very bad novel, but Huxley was right about his choice of music. If I knew that a tidal wave was on the way to overwhelm my desert island, I would play the third movement of this quartet.

Fourth record-

The Valkyrie, Act One

Fifth track-

The Beatles, ‘Please Please Me’.

Sixth record-

Requiem by Mozart.

Seventh record-

Turandot by Puccini

Last Record-

Edith Piaf singing ‘Je ne regrette rien’.

In case he could take only one of these records, he said he would take Mozart Requiem with him and listen to it until the batteries in the disc Walkman run out.

The book he would take with him is Middlemarch by George Eliot.

And the luxury item would be, crème brulee.


Found the interview in the book , Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays

Buddha meets a Determinist

When, soon after his enlightenment, he set off for Benares, which lay several arduous days on foot away, the Buddha was only thirty-five years old. He had been a householder, a sramana and an ascentic. He had known sexual love, political power, the homelessness of a sramana, the trances of a yogi and the self-mortification of an ascetic. And now after this range of human experience he had known what he thought was true wisdom.

A naked sramana, one of the Ajivikas who were extreme determinists, met him on his way to Benares, and was clearly struck by his confident mood. He asked the Buddha who was his teacher. The Buddha declared that he was the enlightened one, had no teacher and was a teacher himself. Instead of falling at his feet, the sramana merely said, ‘it may be so, brother,’ and walked away.

Pankaj Mishra, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World – p. 188 quoting Majjhima Nikaya, trans. as The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, by Bhikkhu Nanamoli, pp263-4.
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