PREVIEW: HowTheLightGetsIn 2011: 26 May – 5 June


In Greek mythology, among the many sons of Zeus were two gods known as Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo was the god of the Sun, dreams, logic and reason, while Dionysus was the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. To the ancient Greeks, they were not considered as opposites or rivals; they were merely brothers, sons of the same God. As Western modern philosophy has developed, though, the themes of Apollo and Dionysus have become a philosophical and literary dichotomy, two modes of seeing and experiencing the world that rarely overlap.

So, putting paid to the idea that only dullards can have any fun is HowTheLightGetsIn festival. In its third year, HowTheLightGetsIn has been going from strength to strength and this year hosts a myriad of events sprawled over 10 days, alongside the Hay Literary Festival from 26th May to 5th June. The festival is notable for its mix of philosophy and music, bringing together over 200 philosophers, writers, musicians, politicians and artists, to spark the cerebral and the visceral in its festival punters. With numbers tripling each year it can now call itself the worlds largest philosophy and music festival.

The music side of things doesn’t rest on its laurels, with notable performances from Mount Kimbie, Ghostpoet, Camille O’Sullivan, Man Like Me and Dizraeli among many others. But it’s the orators present at the festival that are the real draw.

The list of speakers is exceptional, in both quality and diversity. Highlights are set to include Business Secretary Vince Cable on the coalition’s vision in a post-crunch era, Hollywood screenwriter and Jerusalem playwright Jez Butterworth on England’s mythic past, Muslim convert Lauren Booth on Islam’s success, sociologist Steve Fuller and neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield on the limits of science (there aren’t any – should be a short lecture), Demos founder Martin Jacques on what the rise of the East means for the West, columnist Polly Toynbee and Richard Sennett on whether politics and big ideas have become irreconcilably separated, author Philip Pullman on fantasy, Shadowlands screenwriter William Nicholson on the meaning of self-worth and psychologist Susan Blackmore, columnist Peter Hitchens and philosopher Edward Skidelsky on drug culture.

There’s even comedy from Robin Ince, Isy Suttie (Peep Show), Helen Arney and Trevor Lock.

Set in the Welsh town of Hay-On-Wye, HowTheLightGetsIn is already a staple in the festival calender and with another strong year in the offing, you should all seriously consider a trip down there. And with various day tickets, weekend tickets (for either weekend), single event tickets and full 10-day tickets available, it’s been made very easy to get in on the party.

Now go, do the brothers Zeus proud.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.