John Maier

Friendships and rivalries in the golden age of Oxford philosophy

Though it is startling to think of it now, analytic philosophy was once considered a promising subject for satire on mainstream television. When Beyond the Fringe was broadcast in 1964, the viewing public could apparently be relied upon to recognise the archetype of the post-Wittgensteinian linguistic philosopher being impersonated by Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett.

Lionel Shriver, Theo Hobson and John Maier

25 min listen

This week: Lionel Shriver asks whether we are kidding ourselves over Ukraine (00:56), Theo Hobson discusses Martin Luther King and the demise of liberal Protestantism (09:28), and John Maier reads his review of Quentin Tarantino’s new book Cinema Speculation (18:11). Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.

The films of Quentin Tarantino’s childhood

Explaining how she managed to kick her cocaine habit, the singer Fiona Apple recalled ‘one excruciating night’ she spent trapped in Quentin Tarantino’s home cinema with Paul Thomas Anderson listening to the two Hollywood directors brag competitively, and apparently indefatigably, about their professional achievements. ‘Every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre

After Aberfan, clairvoyants had a field day

In the wake of catastrophe, however random or unpredictable, one of the first things people can be relied upon to do is look around for somebody to blame. There isn’t always an obvious candidate, of course, but disaster makes us resourceful, and often the casting process is simply a matter of laying hands on someone

What did the Russians make of Francis Bacon?

The KGB might not have known much about modern art, but they knew what they liked. For instance, at what came to be called the ‘Bulldozer show’ of 15 September 1974, the Soviet secret service instructed a small militia of off-duty policemen to besiege an unofficial exhibition being staged by a group of underground artists

Our need to get drunk in company may be innate

It was once a favourite theory of optimistic drunkards that a suitably ‘moderate’ level of alcohol consumption provided covert health benefits. The mechanism was always a little obscure. But it was a fairly sure thing that reds — or was it all booze? — by virtue of some enzyme or vitamin or whatever, and judiciously

Yuri Gagarin – poster boy of manned space flight

To an observant outsider, the Soviets might have appeared to have developed an oddly intolerant attitude towards stray dogs. Every so often throughout the late 1950s, a fresh pack of homeless mongrel bitches was picked off the streets of Moscow and transported to a remote region of Kazakhstan, where they were promptly strapped into the

Enjoyably tasteless: Power – The Maxwells reviewed

This year marks three decades since Robert Maxwell fell naked to his death from the deck of his yacht, The Lady Ghislaine. Power: The Maxwells is the latest contribution to the never-ending autopsy of Maxwell’s character and the circumstances of his death. It follows a now well-established formula, juxtaposing the lives of Ghislaine and her

A passion for pastiche: China’s Potemkin villages

Closely inspect No. 23 Leinster Terrace, Bayswater and you might notice the house has no letter box. Push at the door and you might find it stuck; force your way in and you might find you plummet 40 feet through open space down an obsolete ventilation shaft on to the tracks of the District Line.

Is this the last round in the great celebrity Punch and Judy show?

It’s been tough recently being Woody Allen, something that didn’t look too easy to begin with. Last year Amazon breached his four-film contract, preferring to settle out of court. Actors have lodged their public regret at working with him. He is one of Hollywood’s notable sinking stars. In March, following a demonstration by staff, Hachette