FREE ACCESS TO FREE THINKING
What a blissful way to spend a rainy weekend – listening to other people think. Yes, for the lazy, armchair intellectual the Free Thinking Festival is top fodder.
The festival brings together leading thinkers for a weekend of provocative debate, new ideas, music and performance. While it takes place from March 9-11 at Sage Gateshead in the north of England, it is broadcast being live on BBC Radio 3 and even better will enjoy an extended online life via the BBC iPlayer (details below).
More than 100 participants including Lionel Shriver will be addressing this year's theme, The One and the Many. Whether it’s the impact of social media, the joy of stand-up comedy, or the future of democracy, speakers will be considering the relationship between the crowd and the individual in our age of hyper-connectivity.
How can we tell the truth to those who hold power over us – a President or a monarch? Five hundred years ago a miscalculation on this front could leave you without a head. Today, the personal stakes may not be as high, but globally, we’ve never had so much to lose.
Are we hot-wired to prefer the company of others? Is it even possible to experience true seclusion in our age of hyper-connectivity? Lionel Shriver will debate city life and isolation along with, among others, the author A Book of Silence Sarah Maitland who has lived by herself for the last twenty years on an isolated moor in northern Galloway, apparently taking great pleasure in silence and solitude.
Can there be multiple versions of me? Philosopher Julian Baggini, author of A Short History of Truth: Consolations for a Post-Truth World leads a discussion about contemporary ideas about the ever-changing notions of the self. He is joined by, among others, Gavin Francis, doctor and author of Shapeshifters: On Medicine & Human Change which examines the impact of constant change on our minds and bodies.
More contemplation required around further themes including crowd mentality, mass hysteria, the population bomb, and the yearning for moments of inaction in an accelerated world.
The interplay plays on through an eclectic range of classical, jazz and world music.
Programme details and how to access the sessions available on the BBC website.