I went to the inaugural lecture by Professor Clare Brant, which simutaneously celebrated the publication of her book on Balloon Madness:  Flights of Imagination in Britain, 1783-1786.   It looked like being, as she herself confessed, a very narrow subject – a short-lived craze in late eighteenth-century cross-channel culture.   But she herself brought out its remarkable poetic and imaginative ramifications as it became possible for the first time to see the world from above.   She ended the lecture with the symbolism of the balloon in the history of the BBC, beginning with the original icon of transmission in the 1930s which was a pure circle through the multiple opening shots in the 1960s which showed the world seen from above to coincide with the first views of the earth from the moon through to more recent images of a red balloon travelling over the English countryside.


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