TV-ing it    6                                                                                                                                                                  Posted 21st August 2013

From The Glasgow Herald, April 1980

"Erich Fromm" was a tribute to the psychoanalyst and social philosopher who died last month. It was a repeat of a book programme made in 1978, when Robert Robinson went to talk to him at his home in Locarno.

Mr Fromm distinguished between knowledge as a way of having, with those who know everything and can tell us nothing, and knowledge as part of our being, "exuding aliveness." 

The suggestion was that there is sterile knowledge and creative knowledge.
It was one significant insight among countless. The programme was half-an-hour of pellucid sanity, like having your tired head refreshed in a mental sauna.

Mr Fromm seemed to me profoundly wise, which means it wasn't how much he knew but the way that he knew it, his unremitting awareness that knowledge is at best a way of trying to achieve an understanding of how much you don't know.

To stumble across him in a week of average telly was like coming upon a singer who can maintain perfect pitch in the midst of cacophony. There was a mild sense of loss in realising that he can't clarify our problems for us any more.

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