From masculinity to global geopolitics in Hay Festival Medellin

The Hay Festival Medellín sparked up a range of conversations across the city today, from masculinity to global geopolitics, via Marquez and German philosophy. 

At the city’s modern art museum, MAMM, Lydia Cacho started the evening by discussing the construction and violence of manhood, followed by Sabrina Duque discussing journalism and exploration. In the morning, a meditation was led by monk and author Kankyo Tannier, as well as children’s workshops throughout the day, with their favourite authors and illustrators inspiring imaginations.

Launching talks at Parque Explora were Wolfram Eilenberger and Xavi Aye´n, who both spoke about intellectual collectives. Philosopher Wolfram Eilenberger spoke on the topic of his bestelling book, Time of the Magicians, about philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Cassirer, and Martin Heidegger. 

“Philosophy is a conversation – it’s the magic of the day to day”, he said. He also spoke on how the decade of these thinkers, 1919-1929, strongly reflects the world today – economic crisis and propaganda – what we now call fake news. “Times of war and insecurity are fit for new culture and philosophy”, he said, saying we can do better in the future by looking back. 

Xavi Aye´n, journalist and author, discussed the Boom years and how literary agent Carmen Balcells revolutionized the world of literature in the 1960s and 1970s, with writers Gabriel Garci´a Ma´rquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Corta´zar y Jose´ Donoso. “It was the Big Bang. It expanded the world of readers enormously: there were ten times more people buying books, and Latin American authors entered the literary canon for the first time”, he said. 

Pedro Baños spoke to a packed auditorium on power and geopolitics, speaking about global powers, how they form and how they are broken. “Geopolitics has three obsessions: natural resources, energy, and technology,” he said. 

He talked of the economic motivations behind global politics, but spoke of Latin America being at an important moment in which it needs honest and transparent government, to make the most of its resources for the good of its people. Baños left the audience with a plea for broad and critical reading: “Drink from many fountains, and think for yourselves”.

Parque Explora was packed with people milling around the impressive red museum buildings in the warm evening. A huge range of guests, of all ages, filled the auditoriums, chatting animatedly about the talks and queuing to get books signed by the authors they had just seen.