Last year Hay sponsors the Guardian had a House of Hay…literally a house, made of hay, at Hay. Genious. Actually it was very good, it doubled as a base for journalists and as a host venue to intimate chats with said same. Last year I sheltered from the rain and had a very fine organised natter with Emily Bell.
This year there is a Yurt instead and it troubles me for a variety of reasons:
- It’s not really a Yurt it’s a bell tent with scatter cushions.*
- There are no events – seemingly no possibility of engagement with the august organ.
- It is ambiguous, the inviting carpets and cushions suggest relaxation but can anyone go in or is it just for Guardianistas?
- Even Sarfraz Manzoor appears to prefer Ascaris.
- C’est un peu pretentious, non?
* Wikipedia – A yurt is a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.
Several Hay veterans had recommended Prof Tallis as a Hay must. What struck me first was an uncanny resemblance to the late Clement Freud. Analysing my reaction I wonder whether that marks me as a philistine and therefore unworthy of the Prof’s profundity.
This was an intellectual tour de force where Tallis contextualised ‘hunger’ as having four forms; the commonly understood nutritional need which differs from animal hunger in the rituals that it has spawned which in turn lead to a form of hedonistic hunger, he then describes the hunger for others, sexually or otherwise and finally the hunger for meaning and significance.
Throughout there were liberal references to great philosophers Sartre, Hegel, Spinoza, Camus and several times to Primo Levi. They gave weight to the polemic but ultimately I didn’t really buy it. The four hungers felt like the bastard child of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the seven deadly sins.