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Could psychedelic drugs change our worldview? Join Michael Pollan on a journey to the frontiers of the human mind. Diving deep into an extraordinary world – from shamans and magic mushroom hunts to the pioneering labs mapping our brains – and putting himself forward as a guinea pig, Michael Pollan has written a remarkable history of psychedelics and a compelling portrait of the new generation of scientists fascinated by the implications of these drugs. How To Change Your Mind is a report from what could very well be the future of consciousness.
How I Got Here sessions are in-conversation events where Hay Festival Youth Council members interview Hay Festival speakers. This session is with Indian stand-up comedian Sindhu Vee. These sessions are programmed and delivered by young people for young people. Free for 16–25-year-olds who register at hayfestival.org/compass.
Katherine Rundell discusses her two most recent titles: The Good Thieves, the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong, and Into the Jungle, a collection of beautifully imagined stories about the origins of the animals in Rudyard Kipling’s classic Just So Stories.
Come and join Rooted Forest School (rootedforestschool.co.uk) for an outdoor family session inspired by the Forest School approach. We will be making charcoal on the fire, using natural pigments to create our own paint, making brushes from found materials and creating communal land art. These sessions are aimed at families and will run whatever the weather, so make sure you’re wrapped up for the conditions.
The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? How do we stay human in a technological world? How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.
The mathematician examines the nature of creativity and provides an essential guide into how algorithms work, and the mathematical rules underpinning them. He asks how much of our emotional response to art is a product of our brains reacting to pattern and structure, and exactly what it is to be creative in mathematics, art, language and music. Du Sautoy finds out how long it might be before machines come up with something creative, and whether they might jolt us into being more imaginative in turn. The result is a fascinating and very different exploration into both AI and the essence of what it means to be human.
Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she won for the shocking thriller and global best-seller, Lullaby. She discusses her work and her new novel Adèle with the Anglo-French author of East West Street, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, Slimani is Presidents Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture.
The historian shows how liberal democracy, and Western history with it, was profoundly reimagined when the post-war Golden Age ended. As the institutions of liberal rule were reinvented, a new generation of politicians emerged: Thatcher, Reagan, Mitterrand, Kohl. The late 20th-century heyday they oversaw carried the Western democracies triumphantly to victory in the Cold War and into the economic boom of the 1990s. But equally it led them into the fiasco of Iraq, to the high drama of the financial crisis in 2007/8, and ultimately to the anti-liberal surge of our own times. The present crisis of liberalism enjoins us to revisit these times with close attention. The era we have all been living through is closing out; democracy is turning on its axis once again. Chaired by Peter Florence.
The explosion of settler emigration during the 19th century to colonies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand was supported and underpinned by a vast outpouring of text including printed emigrants’ letters, manuscript shipboard newspapers and settler fiction. These textual cultures pervaded the cultural imagination of 19th century authors such as Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Catherine Helen Spence and Ford Madox Brown, and provided new means of interrogating representations of space and place, home-making and colonial encounters. Fariha Shaikh is Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Birmingham.
The Newsnight presenter takes us behind the camera and onto the newsroom floor: “The things that are said on camera are only part of the story. Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. Making news is an essential but imperfect art. It rarely goes according to plan.
I never expected to find myself wandering around the Maharani of Jaipur’s bedroom with Bill Clinton or invited to the Miss USA beauty pageant by its owner, Donald Trump. I never expected to be thrown into a provincial Cuban jail, or to be drinking red wine at Steve Bannon’s kitchen table or spend three hours in a lift with Alan Partridge. I certainly didn’t expect the Dalai Lama to tell me the story of his most memorable poo.
The beauty of television is its ability to simplify. That’s also its weakness: it can distil everything down to one snapshot, one sound bite. Then the news cycle moves on.”
From the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the 18th century, many Western European writers viewed the Ottoman Empire with almost obsessive interest. Typically, they reacted to it with fear and distrust; and such feelings were reinforced by the deep hostility of Western Christendom towards Islam. Yet there was also much curiosity about the social and political system on which the huge power of the sultans was based. In the 16th century, especially, when Ottoman territorial expansion was rapid and Ottoman institutions seemed particularly robust, there was even open admiration. Chaired by Tom Clark of Prospect magazine.
Soldiers of Salamis cemented Cercas’ reputation as one of the world’s greatest novelists. His new book is a courageous journey into his own family history and that of a country collapsing from a fratricidal war. The author revisits Ibahernando, his parents’ village in southern Spain, to research the life of Manuel Mena. This ancestor, dearly loved by Cercas’ mother, died in combat at the age of nineteen during the battle of the Ebro, the bloodiest episode in Spain’s history. Who was Manuel Mena? A fascist hero whose memory is an embarrassment to the author, or a young idealist who happened to fight on the wrong side? And how should we judge him, as grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that generation, interpreting history from our supposed omniscience and the misleading perspective of a present full of automatic answers, which fails to consider the particularities of each personal and family drama?
In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of ‘Beaver Believers’ – including scientists, ranchers and passionate citizens – recognises that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish Highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. Ben Goldfarb is an environmental journalist and Eager has won the 2019 Pen/EO Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing.
The peerless theatre and film director discusses his life and his work with many of the greatest writers of this and every age. He talks about Shakespeare and language, about performance and interpretation, and he introduces and reads his debut collection of poetry.
What skills and approaches are transferable when building a start-up into a FTSE 100 company, and turning around an elite sports team? Buttress is the co-founder of Just Eat. He started the business in his basement London flat, turned over £36 in the first month and stood down as chief executive in 2017 when the company had a market capitalisation of £5bn, in order to take on a struggling Welsh rugby union team. He tells the story of Just Eat and the evolving story of the Dragons.
The second volume of Moby’s extraordinary life story is a journey into the dark heart of fame and the demons that lurk just beneath the bling and bluster of the celebrity lifestyle. In summer 1999 Moby released the album that defined the millennium, PLAY. Like generation-defining albums before it, PLAY was ubiquitous, and catapulted Moby to superstardom. Suddenly he was hanging out with David Bowie and Lou Reed, Christina Ricci and Madonna, taking ecstasy for breakfast (most days), drinking litres of vodka (every day), and sleeping with supermodels (infrequently). It was a diet that couldn’t last. And then it fell apart.
A conversation with the creator of the smash-hit Netflix drama, which is filmed in Symonds Yat. Insecure Otis has all the answers when it comes to sex advice, thanks to his therapist mom. So rebel Maeve proposes a school sex-therapy clinic…
Are those not dark shadows lurking inside the house I once called home? “From attempting mass murder against my father’s family in the village of Small Soppo, Buea, in Cameroon, to becoming a victim of human trafficking; from living and barely surviving the streets of Moscow, to strip dancing, and buying and selling fake dollars…” A riveting and deeply moving play based on true events shaped from the life of the writer Eric Ngalle Charles, recipient of a Creative Wales Award. Directed by Bafta winner Greg Lewis.
Jimmy’s brand new show contains jokes about all kinds of terrible things.
Terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love.
But they’re just jokes – they are not the terrible things.
Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo.
Now you’ve been warned, buy a ticket.