Didn't manage to make Steven Johnson's event on the last day of the Bristol festival of ideas, but I did grapple with his book, and used the results of that to write a review for the Independent. I post the full text below, and would invite anyone who attended the event to fill in the details on the comments section below.
I shared a panel with John Carey on Wednesday night, tied to his excellent new book What Good Are the Arts? His presentation was well-organised, and helped the rest of us to grapple with one of the most slippery topics in public
Carey outlined five standard questions we ask about the 'good' that the arts provide. My own private objections and affirmations of each point are in italics afterwards.
I came along to the Evolution and Religion event as a pop-science and theology enthusiast, not as an expert in either field - so forgive the following account for its inaccuracies and imprecisions. But I already have some takes on this debate, which will hopefully be a useful filter on what follows.
Certainly, this is the kind of event I'd want to come to a 'festival of ideas' for. Four major public intellectuals (an even gender split, gratifyingly), with ground-breaking books behind them, tasked to consider where our vision of the 'good society' is in 2005. I found the discussion so useful in itself that I'll reproduce it in the extended post below. My comments on the discussion are at the end.
Note: these won't be full transcripts of each event. I've taken copious notes, but my aim in this blog is to chart the flow of significant ideas as they emerge event by event, filtered through my own players' agenda.
Paul Ormerod is a most unusual kind of business guru: he preaches that company failure is the norm, and that from the right perspective, can even be seen to be healthy. That perspective is very macro (Ormerod confesses that in a previous life, he used to be a 'government planner'). I left the event wondering exactly what impact his message had made on a room that seemed - going by the questions and the after-event chatter - full of micro-level operators, whether in commerce or government.
Hello to everyone who's come to this blog from the Bristol Evening Post article (excerpted in 'extended post' below) and the programme for Bristol's Festival of Ideas. I'm Pat Kane,the festival's thinker-in-residence, and I'll be blogging to this space everyday, with a digest of what I've encountered throughout my residency this week. There's a comments page below which I invite you to use.
I hope to capture some of the flow of the ideas within and between events, relating them to my own project The Play Ethic, and hopefully catching new syntheses and fusions as they emerge. Look for a post on Monday's events by mid-day on Tuesday. If you want to mail me directly, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.