Category Archives: Brilliant

The Good Book

AC Grayling, one of my very favourite writers and thinkers, talked at the Sydney Writer’s Festival yesterday about his latest work, the culmination of three decades of living as a philosopher. In ‘The Good Book’, Grayling aims to open up the “casket of jewels”— the great ideas about living that have been set down through the ages and that belong to us all.

Listen to his talk here.

The full listing of speakers at the festival is here.

50 people, one question

A beautiful video. If you haven’t watched it, then please do before you read on.

The thing that struck me was the pacing of the video. We don’t hear the question until almost three minutes in. When we do, we then don’t hear the people’s answers immediately. There is nothing immediate about this video, although there are moments of quick revelation that catch the breath and brim the eye. I was so moved as I watched the faces of those interviewed as they ingested the question; the surge of emotion as they think about it is heartbreaking.

It occurs to me that the power of this video is in the connection we viewers feel with the subjects. Seeing the question break across the minds of one person, then another, then another, we are given time to really let it sink into our own minds. Each one of these individual vox pops would have been over in a couple of minutes. It is the skilled direction that makes this art. Art is about framing something, throwing something into relief, casting light on something and saying “hey, look at this”. For me, the crux of the video is that portion where they think. The answers are interesting, but it is the nameless regrets that the film touches in its subjects—among whom we, of course, are numbered—that makes this a brilliant study.

Cuban Landscape with Rain

A beautiful performance of Leo Brouwer’s ‘Cuban Landscape with Rain’ by Dublin Guitar Quartet. I came across Leo Brouwer’s work while helping catalogue guitar music at The Victorian Music Library in Melbourne in November. One afternoon I popped out for lunch to a lovely charcoal chicken place and, as I ate, the heavens opened and spewed forth rain such as I’ve never seen before. Then, as swiftly as it had begun, it was over. Listen out for the portrayal of rain in this beautiful piece.


I’m starting a new set of categories for things that are ‘brilliant’. I thought about doing this after Susan Daly tweeted about Roddy Doyle’s short story of the same name (commissioned for this year’s St Patrick’s Day Festival). It’s a great wee story—have a read of it.

She reckoned it’d be a good way of sorting through life—things are either ‘brilliant’ or ‘not brilliant’. A rather pleasing dichotomy, I hope you’ll agree.

I thought more about the idea and decided that brilliance could be sub-divided into the following categories:

  • the Technically Brilliant
  • the Intellectually Brilliant
  • the Ethically Brilliant

I will blog again about what I mean by those but for now I just wanted to get them up on the site so I could demonstrate what I mean by them. (And the blog post I’d started got swallowed in an iPod app upgrade.)

I had a category called ‘beautiful minds’ that I used for things of this ilk before; this’ll bookend with that.