Picnic Comma Lightning

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01Augmented Reality20180716

"A meditation on modern life, inspired by the death of author Laurence Scott's parents.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

An innovative examination of the nature of reality in the 21st century by award-winning author Laurence Scott - part personal memoir, part philosophical exploration. Read by Stephen Mangan.

When he was in his early thirties, Laurence Scott's parents died soon after one another, and he found his whole world altered beyond recognition. He says, "Death runs like radioactive iodine through your sense of reality, allowing this reality to be looked at in high contrast, its structures glowing. It has a way of making things very true, but also, somehow, less real."

As he begins to navigate this new reality, he realises that in politics and public life, the nature of reality - what is true and what is fake - has become an urgent issue. Questions of how we experience the real world, how we access its truths, have become mainstream concerns. Today, in an age of online personas, alternative truths, constant surveillance and an increasingly hysterical news cycle, our realities are becoming more flimsy and more vulnerable than ever before.

In the first episode, Laurence Scott gives a vivid poetic description of the grief he experienced when his parents died, and explores recent discoveries in neuroscience, and the concept of augmented reality.

Laurence Scott is a writer, broadcaster, academic and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Arcadia in London. He is author of The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times Thought Book of the Year. In 2011 he was named one of ten New Generation Thinkers by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC.

Read by Stephen Mangan
Adapted by Elizabeth Burke
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

"

02The End Of Things2018071820180717 (R4)

"Bereavement forces you to consider how much things matter. Read by Stephen Mangan.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

An innovative examination of the nature of reality in the 21st century by award-winning author Laurence Scott - part personal memoir, part philosophical exploration. Read by Stephen Mangan.

Bereavement forces you to consider how much things matter. In this second episode, Laurence considers our relationship with the things around us. As he says, "When someone close to you is dying, you can begin to feel wary of their everyday belongings. You've heard horror stories about sorting through 'their things' in the weeks afterwards. You look with mounting unease at your mother's dressing gown, her slippers, her purse hanging, uncharacteristically unemployed, on the bathroom hook..."

When he was in his early thirties, Laurence Scott's parents died soon after one another, and he found his whole world altered beyond recognition. As he begins to navigate this new reality, he realises that in politics and public life, the nature of reality - what is true and what is fake - has become an urgent issue. Questions of how we experience the real world, how we access its truths, have become mainstream concerns. Today, in an age of online personas, alternative truths, constant surveillance and an increasingly hysterical news cycle, our realities are becoming more flimsy and more vulnerable than ever before.

Laurence Scott is a writer, broadcaster, academic and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Arcadia in London. He is author of The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times Thought Book of the Year. In 2011 he was named one of ten New Generation Thinkers by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC.

Read by Stephen Mangan
Adapted by Elizabeth Burke
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

"

03Optical Disillusions20180718

"Stephen Mangan reads the third episode of Laurence Scott's moving philosophical memoir.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

An innovative examination of the nature of reality in the 21st century by award-winning author Laurence Scott - part personal memoir, part philosophical exploration. Read by Stephen Mangan.

In today's third episode, in an age when - thanks to smartphones - we are all photographers, how does our view of the past change? As Laurence Scott says, "To say that we live in an age of surveillance is an observation that manages to be both banal and urgent. We understand, with paralysed resignation, that we're being watched in all sorts of ways. We startle each other with new examples of eavesdropping, of hijacked webcams, of idling smart- phones butting in on face-to-face conversations, supplying ads related to our pillow-talk. And yet most of us are only startled to a point. References to 1984 are now so common that Big Brother is both a clichéd metaphor and a useful shorthand for the status quo.

"Although our eyes and expectations are adjusting to the glare of the various cameras trained on our daily movements, our role behind the camera's lens is less remarked upon..."

Laurence Scott is a writer, broadcaster, academic and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Arcadia in London. He is author of The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times Thought Book of the Year. In 2011 he was named one of ten New Generation Thinkers by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC.

Read by Stephen Mangan
Adapted by Elizabeth Burke
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

"

04Fellow-feeling20180719

"Stephen Mangan reads the fourth episode of Laurence Scott's moving philosophical memoir.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

An innovative examination of the nature of reality in the 21st century by award-winning author Laurence Scott - part personal memoir, part philosophical exploration. Read by Stephen Mangan.

In today's fourth episode - how are you feeling? It takes in developments in robotics, Charles Darwin, and why animals don't blush.

Laurence Scott says "We are all now quizzed on or invited to share our emotions, as a matter of daily life. The first thing to greet me on my Facebook page is a question: 'What's on your mind?' But all social-media posts occupy a paradoxical space: are they diary entries or press releases? Every idea, every proposition, is potentially subjected to international peer-review. Having a feeling in public is a dangerous pastime, since our feelings are often not up to such scrutiny..."

Laurence Scott is a writer, broadcaster, academic and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Arcadia in London. He is author of The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times Thought Book of the Year. In 2011 he was named one of ten New Generation Thinkers by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC.

Read by Stephen Mangan
Adapted by Elizabeth Burke
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

"

05Final Fantasies20180720

"Stephen Mangan reads the final episode of Laurence Scott's philosophical memoir.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

An innovative examination of the nature of reality in the 21st century by award-winning author Laurence Scott - part personal memoir, part philosophical exploration. Read by Stephen Mangan.

In today's final episode, he explores the vogue for obsessive personal accounting - taking in fit-bits, Scrooge, posts about death on the internet, and the author's sense of his own parents' presence after their death, a benign haunting.

Laurence Scott says, "Any fluctuating, quantifiable thing - daily footsteps, calories burnt, number of re-tweets, YouTube views, Airbnb reviews, crypto-currency values - invites an obsessive and solipsistic sort of accountancy. We 're regularly provided with new ways to think about our lives numerically, giving us a model for our realities that favours concretion over abstraction, quantity over quality. We can now track so many aspects of life that they stream like stock prices along the bottom of our minds. As a consequence, we 're spending more and more time locked in the existential counting house, poring over ledgers that could only possibly be of interest to ourselves..."

Laurence Scott is a writer, broadcaster, academic and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Arcadia in London. He is author of The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and was named the Sunday Times Thought Book of the Year. In 2011 he was named one of ten New Generation Thinkers by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC.

Read by Stephen Mangan
Adapted by Elizabeth Burke
Produced by Alexandra Quinn
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

"