In Between Two Ages, the first long series I did for Ideas in early 1981, I began to explore the unique character of our historical moment, and to advance the idea that only a radical change of mind could respond to its demands. Three years later, I got a chance to follow up that initial effort with the present series. Its organizing image or paradigm is the idea of a new age – the way in which I then spoke about my dawning recognition that received social and political forms are quite unable to grasp humanity’s new situation. The intervening thirty-four years have made me more tentative, but, if you take away a certain brash, post-1960's confidence that a reconciliation between men and women, modernity and tradition, humanity and nature was on the horizon, there is much in that way of looking at things that I would still affirm today. Certainly the sparkling cast I managed to assemble makes this series worth revisiting. Among its luminaries are Northrop Frye, Raimundo Panikkar, Robert J. Lifton, Father Thomas Berry and many others, whose names I have listed below.
One of the characteristic features of the documentary form, as I’ve observed when re-introducing other old series as well, is that many different points of view are made to align and march, more or less, in the same direction. A few years later, I would have treated the many thinkers represented here separately, and tried to understand what was distinctive in each one’s approach. I don’t mean I have papered over their differences here, or that there was anything promiscuous about the way I assembled these particular people. Each one was, in some way, a teacher to me, and each one’s work bore on the themes that I wanted to develop. I mean only that, once one has interviewed so many people, the challenge of integrating them all into a more or less coherent structure, leaves little room for the contextualization of each speaker, or for consideration of all the ways in which they differ from one another, and from the consenus, however rough, that I was imposing on them by smushing them all together in one program.
That said, I still find that these shows make interesting listening. The dramatis personae is as follows:
Part One: Dhyane Ywahoo, Northrop Frye, Joseph Brown, Raimundo Panikkar, Derrick de Kerckhove, Thomas Berry, Ewart Cousins
Part Two: Dhyani Ywahoo, Joseph Brown, Richard Lee, Ashley Montagu, Stanley Diamond, Joseph Campbell
Part Three: Walter Odajnyk, Robert J. Lifton, Ira Progroff, Jean Houston, Richard Moss
Part Four: David Spangler, Northrop Frye, Raimundo Panikkar, Ewart Cousins, Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox