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My grandfather mistook Cork for New York

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You cannot undertake love
Jonathan Miller Theatre director
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You find yourself in love, loving people, and, again, as Wittgenstein would say, it isn’t something which you can, as it were, undertake to encourage yourself to do. It’s very interesting that we use this verb which is usually associated with accidents. I fell in love.  It’s an involuntary thing that befalls you. It’s often... it may be very agonising but it’s often very joyful and sometimes it can continue throughout one's life, as it has to that woman who's just walked out of the room, and to my children.

And those are the only people I’ve ever loved. So it’s a fairly narrow group of people that I love.  There are people I like, but the people I love and would, you know, would wish nothing but good for them are really limited to my family. I have no idea what it is, I don’t know why it is that when they are in your house and are born from you, that you do, as it were, fall in love with them. Why should that... their origin guarantee their beloved quality? You can become acquainted with all sorts of children but you don’t love them unless they’re yours.  And it’s not, as this rather foolish man said, because they are the vehicles that will carry your name into the future which you have no part of.  It’s very peculiar that you get, in a Konrad Lorenz way, you get imprinted by them, by their first appearance, and you do love them in the way that you don’t other people's children.

Initially studying medicine at Cambridge, Sir Jonathan Miller came to prominence with the production of the British comedy revue, Beyond the Fringe. Following on from this success he embarked on a career in the theatre, directing a 1970 West End production of “The Merchant of Venice” starring Laurence Olivier. He also started directing opera, famously producing a modern, Mafia-themed version of “Rigoletto”.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Konrad Lorenz

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2008

Date story went live: 16 August 2011