20
Aug 03

It was a documentary called “In Search of Atlantis”

Do You SeePost a comment • 204 views

It was a documentary called “In Search of Atlantis” and it was on Channel 5, and if I say, Yes but look, it featured Alexander Nehamas as a talking head!!, you might still probably insist I was being ironic and a faux populist re my C5 doc-love (yes I also enjoyed the last one in the same slot, on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and that underneath that I’m merely an old-fashioned intellectual snob swayed by nobby names and (famously pro-television) Princeton Professors. OK so here’s the thing: the programme took a cogent idea – the myth of a great and cultured civilisation which fell – and showed who had been attracted to it (inc.Plato, Columbus, Mme Blavatsky and Hitler) (C5 doc = it has to mention Hitler!!), and then taked about the bad as well as the good side of the attraction. It was pretty cheaply made – yes the reconstructions of greek dinner parties when Plato was a child were awkward and silly – but it used stock footage of fabulous Minoan frescoes and Aztec ziggurats and undersea temple ruins (and of Nazi archeological expeditions in search of the lost Ark of the Covenent), and, for the second week in a row, I learnt stuff I totally never knew. Which is the point, right? C5 docs regularly use the “rubbishy” stuff as a bodyguard for the good stuff, turn the ease of the potency of age-old art into an unpicking of the potential failings of the wised-up, wide-open present: “Nonsense (when all is said and done) is still nonsense. But the study of nonsense, that is science.”

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