Live from TEDGlobal

Stephen Fry at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 1


From TEDGlobal (a group Twitter feed for TED staffers): Stephen Fry is wearing a tie because he heard it was a tradition at #TED not to. That rebel!” Fry seems glad to be in Oxford, home of the 0.9 beta version of the modern university. The perfect 1.0 version is, of course, Cambridge. He talks a bit about the rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, as expressed in the interpersonal dynamic among the members of Monty Python. The expansive, joyful Terry Jones: “Let’s get, oh, 30 ballerinas up onstage.” John Cleese: “Why?”

Fry moves on to examine a more universal dichotomy — between heart and mind, passion and intellect, C.P. Snow’s two cultures of Humanities versus Science. Why are they forcefully separated? He suggests that a hero of TED, a person who combined the two, is his friend Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “He was passionate in his intellect and intellectual in his passions.” (As Richard Dawkins also pointed out in 2002, Adams would have enjoyed TED.) Fry grows tender in his reminiscence of Adams — “I miss him every day, because I want to know what to think about things.” Adams’ mind sounds like the kind of mind that one would dearly miss.