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Discussion of how California has 'changed,' then, tends locally to define the more ideal California as that which existed at whatever past point the speaker first saw it: Gilroy as it was in the 1960s and Gilroy as it was fifteen years ago and Gilroy as it was when my father and I ate short ribs at the Milias Hotel are three pictures with virtually no overlap, a hologram that dematerializes as I drive through it.
Discussing it later, many of us felt we suffered a mental dislocation at that moment, which only grew worse through the course of the remaining deaths. The prevailing symptom of this state was an inability to recall any sound. Truck doors slammed silently; Lux's mouth screamed silently; and the street, the creaking tree limbs, the streetlight clicking different colors, the electric buzz of the pedestrian crossing box - all these usually clamorous voices hushes, or had begun shrieking at a pitch too high for us to hear, though they sent chills up our spines. Sound returned only once Lux had gone. Televisions erupted with canned laughter. Fathers splashed, soaking aching backs.
[Doubt] is not a new idea; this is the idea of the age of reason. This is the philosophy that guided the men who made the democracy that we live under. The idea that no one really knew how to run a government led to the idea that we should arrange a system by which new ideas could be developed, tried out, and tossed out if necessary, with more new ideas bought in - a trial-and-error system. This method was a result of the fact that science was already showing itself to be a successful venture at the end of the eighteenth century. Even then it was clear to socially minded people that the openness of possibilities was an opportunity, and that doubt and discussion were essential to progress into the unknown. If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave the door to the unknown ajar...doubt is not to be feared, but welcomed and discussed.
Up till now I always thought bickering was just something children did and they outgrew it. Of course, there's sometimes a reason to have a 'real' quarrel, but the verbal exchanges that take place here are just plain bickering. I should be used to the fact that these squabbles are daily occurrences, but I'm not and never will be as long as I'm the subject of nearly every discussion. (They refer to these as 'discussions instead of 'quarrels', but Germans don't know the difference!)
If an important decision is to be made, they [the Persians] discuss the question when they are drunk, and the following day the master of the house where the discussion was held submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve it, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober, is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.
Again and again as we discussed Lolita in that class, our discussions were colored by my students' hidden personal sorrows and joys. Like tearstains on a letter, these forays into the hidden and the personal shaded all our discussions of Nabokov. And more and more I thought of that butterfly; what linked us so closely was this perverse intimacy of victim and jailer.
The good must be clearly good but not wholly clear. If it is wholly clear it is too easy to reject. What is wanted is an oversimplification, a reduction of a multitude of possibilities to only two. But if the recommended path were utterly devoid of mystery, it would cease to fascinate men….There would be nothing left to discuss and interpret, to lecture and write about, to admire and merely think about. The world exacts a price for calling teachers wise: it keeps discussing the paths they recommend, but few men follow them. The wise give men endless opportunities to discuss what is good.
We are fond of talking about 'liberty'; but the way we end up actually talking of it is an attempt to avoid discussing what is 'good.' We are fond of talking about 'progress'; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about 'education'; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says, 'Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace unadulterated liberty.' This is, logically rendered, 'Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it.' He says, 'Away with your old moral standard; I am for progress.' This, logically stated, means, 'Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.' He says, 'Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.' This, clearly expressed, means, 'We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.
To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. Anger is only one letter short of danger. If someone betrays you once, it is his fault; if he betrays you twice, it is your fault. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. He who loses money, loses much; he who loses a friend, loses much more; he who loses faith, loses all.
Stephen had just come from a class discussion in which several students believed that the right cup of herbal tea would save them from pain and sorrow. Well acquainted with pain and sorrow, Stephen did not contribute to the discussion. He merely crossed these idiots off his list of possible friends.
A: Absorbed in our discussion of immortality, we had let night fall without lighting the lamp, and we couldn't see each other's faces. With an offhandedness or gentleness more convincing than passion would have been, Macedonio Fernandez' voice said once more that the soul is immortal. He assured me that the death of the body is altogether insignificant, and that dying has to be the most unimportant thing that can happen to a man. I was playing with Macedonio's pocketknife, opening and closing it. A nearby accordion was infinitely dispatching La Comparsita, that dismaying trifle that so many people like because it's been misrepresented to them as being old... I suggested to Macedonio that we kill ourselves, so we might have our discussion without all that racket. Z: (mockingly) But I suspect that at the last moment you reconsidered. A: (now deep in mysticism) Quite frankly, I don't remember whether we committed suicide that night or not.