BBC Radio 4 „Seriously…“: „The Symbols of Bliss“

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„Michael Sym­mons Roberts tells the sto­ry of Charles Bliss, whose expe­ri­ences in Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps led him to invent a new visu­al lan­guage he hoped would end glob­al con­flict.
Charles Bliss was a remark­able utopi­an vision­ary, whose expe­ri­ences as a young wit­ness to the pogroms and then Dachau and Buchen­wald made him deter­mined to put all his effort into find­ing a means of bring­ing about peace between nations. His big inspi­ra­tion was his belief that con­flict arose when peo­ple mis­un­der­stood each oth­er, or mis­in­ter­pret­ed the other’s lan­guage.
A new visu­al lan­guage based on ideograms would, he felt, pre­vent such mis­un­der­stand­ing – and he spent years both per­fect­ing and then try­ing to sell his new sys­tem, which he named Seman­tog­ra­phy and which has become com­mon­ly known as Blis­sym­bol­ics.
As Michael Sym­mons Roberts will explain, Bliss and his wife Claire sent thou­sands of let­ters to aca­d­e­mics and librar­i­ans across the world with­out suc­cess, but then decades lat­er his lan­guage was tak­en up in an entire­ly unex­pect­ed way — as a means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with chil­dren with cere­bral pal­sy. Sad­ly this appar­ent turn of good for­tune did not lead to a hap­py end­ing, and Bliss died an appar­ent­ly frus­trat­ed and lone­ly man.
Nonethe­less, as Michael will explain, he was a great utopi­an vision­ary whose deter­mined effort to change the world sin­gle-hand­ed­ly might not have final­ly paid off, but he left a great lega­cy behind in his lin­guis­tic achieve­ment and in the thou­sands whom he helped to com­mu­ni­cate with the world. Michael meets one of those peo­ple, Peter Zein, as well as Shirley McNaughton, the nurse who was one of the key fig­ures in apply­ing Blis­sym­bol­ics to spe­cial needs edu­ca­tion, and Bri­an Stride, a per­son­al friend and admir­er of Bliss.“

Sie kön­nen die Sendung, die in der Rei­he „Seri­ous­ly…“ lief, über die Seite der BBC nach­hören oder als Audio­datei herun­ter­laden.

Mehr Infor­ma­tio­nen zum faszinieren­den Bliss-Sys­tem find­en Sie zum Beispiel beim Let­ter­form Archive, in der Radi­o­lab-Folge „Bliss“ oder in der aus­tralis­chen Doku­men­ta­tion „Mr. Sym­bol Man“.

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