New Voices: CEO of Brisbane Writers Festival critiques the Philosophy Blogger

Fri, 13 November 2020

We are officially issuing a storm warning for your brain - lash yourself to the mast and prepare for the ponderous thoughts that are heading your way. Try to ignore the crash of mental waves against the sides of your comfort zone. This episode takes a young philosophy blogger - hell bent on making a living out of translating and reinterpreting the great thinkers of the world - and places his interview under the gaze of that highly esteemed publishing world luminary, Sarah Runcie, who recently was appointed as CEO of the Brisbane Writers Festival.

And Sashin, of, starts us off with a whole treatise on Lying by Sam Harris (hmmmm, not so innocent an act he says, not even white lies......), then wades into deeper waters by looking at Alan Watts’ the meaning of work, (with us clinging to Sashin’s hand for dear life), dumps us into the deep end by looking at the dark and light sides of Stephen Pinker’s the Negativity Bias - before finally letting us splash around in the shallows with The Fun Criterion by David Deutsche. Or is it shallow?

Sarah Runcie doesn’t even blink - and as it turns out is a bit of a philosophy nerd herself, referencing Plato and Heraclitus, and surmising that blogging is really an extension of the philosophical tradition of refining thought through dialogue. The problem of running a festival during COVID? No problem says Sarah. It expands the audience participation, and opens new possibilities. Sashin would quote Marie Kondo’s philosophy - concluding that Sarah is doing what sparks her joy. Or Karl Popper on problem solving. ‘Birds fly, fish swim, humans solve problems,’ says Sashin.

Listen in to this surprisingly fun episode which sees Sashin share his fascination with the human mind and its propensity for compassion; and the wonderful Sarah Runcie whose Fun Criterion is well in place when she gives access to storytelling - including the great oral traditions of our indigenous people.

By Maria Issaris, producer and presenter, New Voices


Sashin, Writer


[Image: Sashin]

Day job: Writer

Bio: Sashin is a writer in science and philosophy, in how the world works and how we can make it better. He writes as a means of debugging the world, at the heart of his thinking he believes that all of the world's problems are solvable and we can enjoy our lives doing solving them. He writes think pieces on his website - and sends out weekly letters - to his followers.

Sarah Runcie - Critiquer


[Image: Sarah Runcie]

Day job: CEO, Brisbane Writers Festival

Bio: Sarah Runcie joined Brisbane Writers Festival in 2020 as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Sarah's extensive experience spans the creative industries, government and not-for-profit sectors. Her professional experience includes policy and advocacy, communications and arts administration positions. A highlight from Sarah's career is the establishment of Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers and the Parliamentary Book Club, whilst working for the Australian Publishers Association.

Sarah established the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative in 2016, which is recognised as a world leading initiative in print accessibility in the book industry. The Brisbane Writer’s Festival will be on in May 2021 ( - with many events in the lead up including during NAIDOC week, which is available online in the following weeks as follows:

  • BWF in partnership with Blaklash Creative presents "Room for Dreaming: First Nations Storytellers".
  • Room for Dreaming is a week long online festival showcasing creativity, connection and dreaming.
  • Coinciding with NAIDOC Week 2020 (Nov 9-15), it reflects this year’s theme “Always was, Always will be” by celebrating the oldest continuing and evolving cultures on the planet and recognises that our sovereignty was never ceded.

This episode of New Voices will broadcast at 5.30pm on Monday 16 November. It will be repeated on Sunday 22 November at 1.30pm. If you miss it, or previous episodes, head to the Podcasts page to catch up on previous episodes.