Over the years, I've had a love/hate relationship with the writings of Clive James, the brilliant critic from Australia. I remember watching his BBC documentary series, "Fame in the 20th Century" back in the early nineties and feeling like I was having an arugument with my television. There aren't too many people who can be alternately bitchy and brilliant in the same scene. You can get a sense of what I'm referring to in his famous quip on the subject of television: "Anyone afraid of what he thinks television does to the world is probably just afraid of the world".
Mr. James was a television critic for the British paper, The Observer, from 1972 to 1982. He then jumped into television production himself with his successful ITV show "Clive James on Television". He has continued to use television as a medium for his witty commentary on art, literature and contemporary life.
I tell you all of this by way of introducing Clive James's official website - Clivejames.com. And what a wonderful website it is. Mr. James has filled the site with a healthy collection of his articles, a very nice collection of video programs, and, my favorite, a series of recordings from his conversations with his learned friend, Peter Porter, called "On Not Having a Classical Education" and "The Literature of the 20th Century". Their conversations are a headlong rush of brilliance and wit that must be heard to be believed.
Mr. James has called his website a "cross between a space station, college campus and online pyramid". He hopes to preserve most of his prose, poetry and conversations on his site. Eventually, he wants to add his television programs as well. A truly multi-media website, the video section has around 18 interviews which he calls "Talking in the Library". You'll be able to watch his conversations with people like Terry Gilliam, P.J. O'Rourke, Martin Amis, Cate Blanchett, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Jung Chung, Jonathan Miller and others. Brendan Bernhard, of the NY Sun, has written a good profile of the website along with with excerpts from a telephone conversation with Mr. James that is amusing.
At this point the site is free, but the cost of streaming all of the material on his site is expensive and Mr. James has indicated in other interviews that he may start charging a small fee for the use of his site. So, get over to clivejames.com and learn something while it's free. Clive James is a very funny, infuriating, and articulate guide through books, literature and contemporary culture.