Just a few more thoughts on yesterday’s Interesting 2008.
The more I think back to it, the more it feels as if there was a bit of a weird ‘otherness’ to the day. Almost like a kind of mass hallucination or mass hypnosis.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Russell Davies is running some sort of weird CIA sponsored Moonies alternative, or that I got home to find my pants on backwards.
It’s just that from the very offset, an audience that would – I’m sure – normally be extremely cynical, allowed the speakers to go about their sometimes weird and abstract business unimpeded (and indeed applauded).
Parts of it certainly were hypnotic, like this amazing demonstration of a zoetrope using an old technics turntable and a TV camera:
One of the morning presenters came close to a weird sort of folklore story telling with a discussion of ancient civilization that had different laws of physics that had been infected with thinking from our world (like a weird ancient version of Snowcrash).
(An incarnation of that story can be found here: http://www.upsideclown.com/2003_12_04.shtml).
There was the bizarre mix of fact and fiction which reviewed America’s visions of the future and space travel from the 50s – complete with mind-bending music reminiscent of that weird bit in French connection. There was the actual mass meditation after lunch (with busking warm up). And then of course there was the recorder playing:
which, as I’ve said before, was made a little more bizarre by Guardian sponsorship of the recorders and the bloke from Last.fm conducting.
I guess what I’m saying is three fold.
1. There was a definite spiritual angle to the whole day – a looking for a broader meaning outside of what we do professionally. Is it right to call it spiritual if it’s not at all religious? Can we have some sort of abstract, secular, interestingness? (Given Conway Hall is a major humanist venue, that could be very appropriate).
2. Whilst most speakers were – rightly – very nervous to be speaking in front of such an audience (and often many million miles from their comfort zones), the audience themselves was more like being at a wedding than being at a normal conference (very forgiving, very positive and very engaged).
3. Like all spiritual events, I’m finding it very hard to explain it to people who weren’t there. Whilst the value of it is growing in my mind, my ability to vocalize why it was so good is deserting me.
Or perhaps it was just me!
Still a great day. And eminently… interesting throughout.