Friday, 3 June 2011
Hay Festival - Intermission
I've been to the Hay Festival, but as can be seen from the fine weather that has now arrived, I am, right now, back home again. Sadly the day-job doesn't allow a full week in Hay this year, but as soon as I escape from the clutches of accountancy, on Friday, I'll be heading back for another helping, so if you're down at Hay I wouldn't put your wellies away just yet.
So what were the highlights from the first weekend?
Top of the list has to be Niall Ferguson, the historian, who so eloquently spelled out the grim picture of 500 years of Western ascendancy coming to an end, now, this week, more or less. There's going to be a TV series to follow on from the book (Civilisation, which I loaded onto my Kindle as soon as I came back into 3G range) and this promises to be a must-see.
It seems funny, me buying a history book. I am not a history person. I've never got it. I've always been one to say that we should be looking to the future, not the past. But Niall Ferguson's talk amounted to a virtual epiphany. It was an OMG moment when he unleashed (on stage and in the book) a view of what history is all about; that 7% of all the people that have ever lived are alive today, so 93% are not; and that looking to the future there are an infinite number of possibilities, but look to the past and there is only one - and wouldn't it be cool to know what that one was; and that all the great minds of the past struggled and usually failed to live beyond middle-age, and this begs the question, what if they'd lived longer, what might they have accomplished then? All this is useful, no, essential, to a writer of Speculative Fiction. So isn't it time I got off my backside and studied some of it. Woohoo!
There were other high spots, too: Allison Pearson and her David Cassidy novel, appealing to a room-full of 40/50 ish ladies, but I enjoyed the talk and I might even read the book, (albeit on Kindle minus the girly cover-art).
Anyway, it's Friday and soon I'll be heading back for more. I've got a couple of sessions at HowtheLightGetsIn, including a discussion of the activities at Cern, and top of the list, Saturday afternoon, I have tickets for Julian Assange. That should be a good one.