The British use the word "brilliant" the way we use the word "cool" or "awesome," but I'm going to use it the American way in this post. We have these lectures every morning, after our first class, by various university professors, and today I listened in awe for an hour to an absolutely brilliant woman discuss the agony and the ecstacy, categorized together as the sublime, as they are represented in tragedy and comedy, ancient to modern. Every sentence that came out of her mouth felt like it could have been a graduate thesis, and yet they all linked together seemlessly and . . . brilliantly. The best part was that she's this petite red-head who looked about 25 and was 4 or 5 months pregnant, very quiet and unassuming.
Being here has made me realize how much I don't know, how much there is to know, how much I'd like to be able to give a brilliant lecture, how much the academic is a world that both fascinates and repels me. I love to think about and understand things, to see connections, to be well-read on a variety of topics, and yet, pursuing that in and of itself feels tiresome to me. As much as I'd like to be able to enthrall an audience with the things I say, to be able to come up with an idea that no one's ever considered before, doing that simply for the sake of doing it feels somehow empty. And so I wonder, what does one really gain by being brilliant? In what ways is brilliance worth pursuing, and in what ways is it ultimately disastisfying? Something I'm pondering here on the other side of the pond :)