/ 5 August 2011

My Cultural Life: Eusebius Mckaiser

My work means I’m rarely off duty. It’s reflected in the world around me and I draw knowledge from my surroundings. I keep trying to shut reality out to escape, but I always find myself drifting back and engaging.

It’s a pity, but not enough people in our society live reflectively. We need to do something radical, like introduce philosophy as a compulsory matric subject. Otherwise, people just go about their business unreflectively. For me, philosophy has changed everything. I try sneaking it into my public work, but the penny hardly ever drops.

My work on 702 shows this. My show, Politics and Morality, tries to get public debate going about these issues which affect all of us in our private lives.

I relax at comedy gigs. I used to attend the weekly comedy nights at the Blues Room in Sandton religiously. Brilliant comedians like Joey Rasdien and Nik Rabinowitz aren’t just funny men, they are artists and social commentators. So even here I am aesthetically engaging as a member of the audience.

I love non-fiction. At the moment, I’m reading Randall Kennedy’s history of the word “nigger”. When I stray to fiction, it’s in favour of social realism like John Coetzee. But I do miss the freedom of my younger self. He had the licence to read fantasy like Terry Pratchett books.

Music changes my mood in milliseconds. It humanises me. It’s my cure for writer’s block. One good song — from the likes of Bon Jovi, Nina Simone or James Blunt — instantly forces me to reorganise my mood. Lyrical melodies and well-crafted lyrics do it for me big time. I love my music. I studied classical piano for eight years.

I watch films erratically, but both drama and comedy do it for me. I’m a huge Jim Carrey fan. He is a great actor wrongly reduced to his sillier works. Films like Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are personal ­favourites. I also like works that explore history or politics. So old classics like Schindler’s List and Full Metal Jacket will always pull me in.

For a nibble, I love seafood and good pasta. I hate cooking for one, so I eat out a lot. When I have a husband I might start cooking more regularly. To relax and eat some sumptuous food in my neighbourhood of Melville, I go to the Melville Café. Especially on Sundays, when it has live music.

Eusebius studied law and politics at Rhodes and at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He has been ranked one of the top 20 debaters in the world as a representative of the Oxford Debate Union. He currently hosts a show on Talk Radio 702 and writes for Business Day.