Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Robert Fisk on 'Desert Island Discs'

I've been listening to 'Desert Island Discs' pretty regularly for many years; it's broadcast on BBC Radio4 on Sunday mornings with a repeat the following Friday. Today it was the turn of Robert Fisk, a well-known journalist, who has concentrated on foreign journalism, mainly involving the Middle East and he has lived in Beirut for about 25 years. In some quarters his style of reporting causes immense irritation, because of its alleged anti-Western and pro-Lefitsh slant. His journalism seems to come under fire from a certain type of 'conservative' American, some of whom I would classify as 'right-wing nutjobs', although some are merely right-wing. He has even had his name turned into a verb, to fisk, and someone whose writings one person does not like is, using this terminology, subjected to a 'fisking'. Fisking involves subjecting a piece of writing to intensive textual analysis with the aim of demolishing, or rendering ridiculous, the arguments it contains or the position it takes. It is a term that is said to have come into existence only in 1999, but it is since the dawn of the internet phenomenon called blogging that it really acquired its current meaning with the writing of an article in late 2001 by Andrew Sullivan (to read the article click here and scroll down to the 9th December 2001 articles and locate the article about Robert Fisk).

When I heard that this gentleman was to be the subject of 'Desert Island Discs' this week I therefore wanted to make sure I heard it, because it is often quite revealing of the personality behind the name; the new presenter, Kirsty Young, an excellent journalist still finding her feet in my view (although with a much 'sexier' voice than her predecessor, Sue Lawley, a very skilled interviewer indeed) and this is the first of the three or so programmes she has done so far that I felt was essential listening.

Now, on to the real purpose of this post. The 8 pieces of music (in one case it was a speech) he chose were:


'Desert Island Discs' - Robert Fisk

- 1 Dies Irae (Requiem) / Benjamin Britten
- 2 Adagio for Strings / Samuel Barber
- 3 This was the Finest Hour (speech) / Winston Churchill, June 1940
- 4 Mellow Yellow / Donovan
- 5 Canon in D Major (opening) / Pachelbel
- 6 The Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm XXIII) / Irvine
- 7 Beirut Hal Zarafat / Fairuz
- 8 Hatikva – the national anthem of Israel / Naftali Herz Imber & Samuel Cohen
(various versions of 8 available for download here

Record (favourite) - number 2
Book - Thomas Mallory's Le Mort D'Arthur
Luxury - A violin (his own, restored)

- to see the accompanying article about Robert Fisk click here, whilst for full details of all his choices click here.

Personally I found all this choices (except the book, which I don't know) to be first rate, although some of the accompanying comments less so. Whatever one thinks of his politics and his journalism, though, I think this programme showed him to be a very substantial personality, although he himself seems to feel his life may have been wasted because of some of the choices he has made - that judgement by him strikes me as rather sad.

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