It’s the first of the daytime sessions, and – again – I’m unsure what to expect. Arriving early despite the rain at the Art Gallery Auditorium (the stage for the fabulous A Large Attendance In The Ante Chamber in 2002), the crowd is sparse – it soon fills to breaking point, with everyone forced to do the shuffle-up to squeeze more peeps in. This daytime crowd is mostly older – retirees, it seems – though there’s a sprinkling of post-grads, too (though is feels quite disingenuous to be making such judgements based on appearances).
Paul Chadwick poses the question What Endures? Thoughts on discerning what to take into the future and what to discard and, from the outset, admits that he has – at best – only a tentative answer. He introduces his topic by mentioning that rapid change tends create a distortion of the effecter of that change, and the ideals associated with it; but that the matter of that which should be endured is best identified close to the changing event. This was ably demonstrated by the drafting of the Declaration of Human Rights so close to the end of World War II; over half-a-century on, the ideals expressed in that original draft are being watered down as we wander further from the attrocities that inspired it.
There’s several tangents in his presentation; the idea that privacy is an enabler (of self-discovery, of intimacy, of liberty). The impact on property law by the concept of ownership of genetic data. The progression towards a surveillance society, and the establishment of surveillance-free zones (akin to national parks). And the resonant gem for me was the idea that Understanding is always partial.
As previously mentioned, Chadwick presents only a tentative answer, stating that enduring ideals should be based on the concepts of Synthesis (a merging of doctrines) and Questing (facilitating the search for greater truths). Audience interaction posited that materialism is one facet of current society which should not endure, and posed the idea of sustainability within the framework put forth by Chadwick.
In all, it was certainly a thought-provoking session, but Chadwick’s slow, considered – almost over-enunciated – approach made the going a little tough at times.