At the apex of the food chain, the dominant life form on Earth, it is not the specific ability of the human form which has granted this position, for there are animals who can run faster, swim deeper, fly higher, hear better, survive in more extreme conditions of hot and cold; no, it is their adaptability across different environments which have allowed humans to thrive.
In Chaos of DelightRobin Ince not only celebrates humans and their achievements but the wonders of science and the arts in which they have made their mark, but he also serves an example of this, a writer, broadcaster, comedian, charity gig organiser and stand-up comedian who alternates between basements and arenas, albeit the latter as co-host with a certain Professor Brian Cox on the occasions they are allowed out of their Infinite Monkey Cage.
Today he is in the erudite surround of the spacious – and sold out – auditorium of the prestigious National Museum of Scotland with a suitably chaotic performance fuelled by insomnia, enthusiasm, coffee and Jaffa Cakes, duly shared with the delighted audience, as he introduces a plethora of thinkers, creators, influencers and pioneers via his projected slides, too many to fit into a single show (“I stop talking after an hour,” he breathlessly promises), potentially leading to a wholly different experience every day.
Ince recognises the difficulty of living, the challenges of depression, of doubt, of the indifference of the world to the efforts of the individual; “It’s very easy to be miserable,” he tells his core audience of Goths, physics teachers, librarians and knitters, “It’s much harder to be joyous.”
And for that reason, taking his title from Charles Darwin’s writing on his travels through the South American jungles, he has constructed this hour of enlightening and uplifting astonishment and laughter, celebrating the joy of knowledge, the power of learning and the splendour of imagination, an afternoon pick-me-up affirming that despite the sometimes apparently overwhelming odds, there is goodness, kindness and wisdom in our awkward and too-often self-destructive species.
Observing that we have a tendency to look forward to things or remember the past fondly, that the only time we are unhappy is the present, Chaos of Delight is Robin Ince‘s reminder that it does not matter if there is no underlying meaning, that the point is to enjoy the trip, to love things as they happen.