Streams

[Albert Einstein's influence]

Saturday, April 23, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

No obvious connection between the scientific work of Einstein and the popular arts. His work is so remote from what even the most educated person knows anything about. Universally known person. Herald Tribune printed one of his great theories took up two pages of formula - astounding feat in journalism. One thing that was referred to several times - a saying "God doesn't play tricks." There has to be an orderly world. Give us the formula for the order that prevents us from thinking that nature works by whim. Seldes is surprised that no one brought up the opposite view found in an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "the dice of the gods are always loaded." Very cynical statement - opposite of Einstein's saying. Interpreted: any game that we attempt to play, the gods will get theirs first. Important to people who believe in education to be watchful of what our mass media does to people. Reads part of an article by Frederick C. Othman.

Seldes talks about juvenile delinquency. Murder movies gives children an outlet for their emotions, while Snow White does not. This is credited to Eleanor E. Maccoby of Harvard University. Testified before committee investigating the alleged bad effect of television on the young. Children average two hours a day watching tv. A child learned her first word, "cake" from a television. Seldes sees no relevance to television's effect. Dr. Maccoby discusses a case about two boys who tied up their little brother like they saw on television. Clergyman reading a detective story. Any difference between him and the boy watching a violence on television? Dr. Maccoby claims "no." Both were obtaining emotional outlets which were good for them. Talks about educational and cultural programs. Report titled, "Unwary kids get shots of culture." Must have been about the time the Salk vaccine was being talked about. Talks about a kid who learned about della Robbia on the Pinky Lee Show. Talks about Howdy Doody teaches natural science in rhymes. These songs are to be sold on records. This is what education is. You have to get it when you are not paying attention.

Seldes talks about progressive schools - they are on the right track, if not absolutely right. Many who equate progressive education with radicalism. The great decisions on radio and television should be discussed on radio and television.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 70365
Municipal archives id: LT6404

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes

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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.

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