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“History is a mess of facts.”
Philipp Blom (1970) is a historian and author of several novels, journalism, politics, and philosophy. He also works a radio presenter, documentary film maker and as a public lecturer.
Philipp was born in Hamburg and grew up in Detmold, in northern Germany. After studying history, philosophy and Jewish studies in Vienna and Oxford, he gained a D.Phil. on nationalism. During this period, he also worked in journalism, taught at a high school, and wrote a novel. Like many of his subsequent books it was written in English and translated into German by himself.
From 1997 to 2001 Blom and his wife, the writer Veronica Buckley, lived in London, where Philipp initially worked as an editor in a publishing house and as a foreign correspondent for German, Swiss and British newspapers and magazines (Guardian, Independent, the TLS, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Neue Züricher Zeitung) and for radio stations (BBC, ORF, Deutschlandfunk). 2001 the couple moved to Paris to concentrate on their books. Since 2007 they live in Vienna.
Next to his work in history, fiction, philosophy and art, Philipp presents the program „Punkt 1“ on the Austrian radio station Ö1. He wrote and presented a TV documentary, and curated exhibitions for, among others, the Wien Museum and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, where Philipp invited in 2010 to work for one year. Lecture tours and festivals take Philipp throughout Europe as well as to the USA, Canada, and South America.
Philipp Blom’s book combine historical research, philosophical enquiry and an essayistic, literary approach. Among his best-selling works are The Vertigo Years and Fracture, dealing with the cultural history of the early twentieth century, A Wicked Company, about the radical Enlightenment, Nature’s Mutiny an investigation into history and climate change in the seventeenth century and, more recently, What is at Stake, dealing with climate change, digitization, and democracy.
Philipp’s wide-ranging work and research interests have received numerous accolades. He won several international prizes (Premis Terenci Moix, Barcelona, Groene Waterman Prijs, Antwerpen, NDR Kultur Buchpreis, Wolfenbüttel), and his books are translated into sixteen languages. From 2009-2010 he was Fellow of the IFK, 2017 Visiting Fellow at the IWM, both in Vienna. 2018 he opened the prestigious Salzburg Festspiele with a widely-discussed speech on the future of the Enlightenment in a time of climate change.
Having wanted to become a violinist early in life, Philipp also continues to make music and presents a series of concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus.
00.00 – 00.44 Wanderful Intro theme
00.45 – 04.22 Introducing Philipp Blom
04.33 – 07.07 The Flaneurs: deliberately getting lost in the city
07.08 – 08.36 History as a mess of facts: knitting things together to make a pattern
08.37 – 11.00 Map making: showing the world as it isn’t
11.03 – 16.50 Nature’s Mutiny: What happened when Europe became 2 Degrees colder
16.51 – 18.27 Transforming society: the emergence of the enlightenment
18.28 – 23.25 Surviving the climate crisis: the need to change the way we see the world and how we see ourselves in it
23.28 – 26.25 Where the creativity for writing comes from
26.26 – 28.25 The monster of European colonialism
28.26 – 30.00 The Yeast Metaphor
30.01 – 36.20 Let’s talk about ‘systems’
36.23 – 39.18 Discovering your true self and exploring the weirdness of the world
39.20 – 41.38 David introduces the ‘Wanderful’ mapping exercise
41.55 – 44.23 Epilogue: Insights from the exercise
44.24 – 45.30 End Credits and Outro
“History is a mess of facts. Out of all those facts you have to distil the fact that you think means something. You have to knit them together into a pattern and relate them to one another. ” (Philipp)
“Maps are useful because they show the world as it isn’t. They select, they say you don’t need to know that, but you need to know that. Whatever you want to know, there is a map for it.” (Philipp)
“If we want to survive this current (climate) crisis in some decent form… we need to accept the total transformation of our economic system, our political system , the way we see the world and how we see ourselves in the world.” (Philipp)
“If you live in a completely commercialised imagination, then the amount of stories you can tell declines dramatically… imagination becomes deadened by commercial interests.” (Philipp)
“If we are learning anything about nature it is simply the fact that we need to talk about ‘systems’.” (Philipp)
“The individual is only the mirroring of something which comes back from others.” (Philipp)
“We want to survive? We will need to find our survival inside.” (Philipp)
“With fossil fuels our technological reach has become so devastating, that it’s no longer a helpful way of thinking.” (Philipp)
“If we want to thrive, we need to foster what we rely on. We need to make it deeper and better and broader and then we can live better with it. If we’re constantly exploiting and impoverishing what we rely on… we’re part of that system… it’s going to come back.” (Philipp)
David Pearl (Host)
Andrew Paine (Producer & Audio Engineer)
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