Compiling my Hay-on-Wye 2018 How The Light Gets In report, starting with the meta stuff below, content report is here.
Mid-day Friday to Mid-day Sunday this year. My third time. Last year being a fallow year for the event. Previous year weather was excellent, combined the event with some days walking in the Brecon Beacons & Black Mountains. Year before that was very wet and grim the whole weekend. This year has been wet, but never heavy, except for one heavy storm middle of the day after which it’s been glorious. Some electric storms in the hills Saturday evening, but no more rain locally. Sunday started damp and got gradually wetter, torrential at times, until I bailed out 2pm Sunday.
Decided to attend this year a while ago and bought a weekend ticket some weeks ago, but was actually in two minds right up to final cancellation dates for bookings. Quite a few people I wanted to see, new and old, though only a few specific new topics and contributors in the fields I’m most interested in. After a relatively poor start, maybe deliberate, two old chestnut philosophical questions, “Love & Hate” and “The Meaning of Life” proved as frustrating as you’d expect for the participants as well as myself, given the one hour format, but been pretty good since. More in the content report.
Biggest difference this year is the different use of the two site format, three sites if you include the original Hay Book Festival at the other end of town. HTLGI has had two sites in previous years, but most of the intellectual events have been on the Globe Theatre site and the alternative art and entertainments alongside the Riverside accommodation site the other side of the Wye. This year there are many more of the intellectual events mixed in with the alternative events (see problem in final footnote) on a new Riverside site this side of the Wye, but further down Newport Street, across the English border. Considerable shuttling back and forth between the two sites to optimise which sessions you get to see – especially with/without umbrella!
Anyway, I’ve participated in:
Love & Hate with Rowan Williams, Renata Saleci and Robert Rowland-Smith, chaired by Michael Crick.
Meaning of Life with Julian Baggini, Helen Lederer & Steve Taylor, chaired by Joanna Kavenna.
New Theory of Gravity by Erik Verlinde
(Friday evening I missed-out so far seeing Mark Lilla whose session clashed with the above, and missed out seeing George Ellis talking on the self. Mark Lilla I’d heard on BBCR4 earlier in the week together with Hanna Dawson and both sounded worth seeing.)
(Ordering of things in the printed programme meant I missed a couple of Saturday breakfast opportunities separately with Erik Verlinde and/or Steve Taylor, that I had mentally earmarked to attend. When I got back on track with Sabine Hossenfelder on Beauty and Human problems with current state of science at 10 am, the start was at least 15 minutes late and I hadn’t spotted it was a 2h:30m double session that would clash with other plans. So I missed that too.)
The Illusory Nature of Time with Erik Verlinde, Huw Price and Alison Fernandes chaired by James Ladyman.
Big Data – Numbers vs Narrative with Anders Sandberg, Noortje Marres and James Ladyman chaired by Timandra Harkness
Truth and Lies with Matthew d’Ancona, Hanna Dawson and Hilary Lawson chaired by Robert Rowland-Smith
Dark Universe with Erik Verlinde, Catherine Heymans and Sabine Hossenfelder chaired by Jonas Rademacker
Beyond Human with Anders Sandberg, Rupert Read and Kate Devlin chaired by Mark Salter
Edge of Reality with George Ellis, Nancy Cartwright and Hilary Lawson chaired by Phillip Ball
Human Thought and Creativity Salon & Dinner with Margaret Boden
The Good with Michael Ruse, Naomi Goulder and Paul Boghossian chaired by Hilary Lawson
Democratisation of Culture with Warren Ellis, Kristen Sollee and John McWhorter chaired by Serena Kutchinsky.
[That’s twelve sessions in total. Twelve out of hundreds that is. Missed many thinkers and talkers I’d hoped to see. Paused to see only a couple of entertaining bands: Roving Crows – amped-up Irish folk and Open Arms – good mix. Missed the Turbans and missed Orb late night Saturday. Didn’t catch any stand-up.]
[Noted some bad feeling with louder bands, co-located not just on the same site this year, but even the same and adjacent tents, not appreciating they could only be “background music” to intellectual discussion and debate – particularly some of the lunchtime sessions. Mixed use of the sites is going to require some more creative choreography of times and locations? And I say that as someone who loves a viscerally engaging LOUD gig.]