Persons of the Dialogue
"How can you really know what happened more than two thousand years ago, Professor?"
Professor smiled. "You're being unduly fastidious, Director. I may as well ask you how you can really know what happened two hours ago. The same problems of knowing, of really knowing, adhere."
"Yes, but does it matter if we're talking about what happened to me or about what happened to some unknown person far off in another state?"
"You're absolutely right to raise that question. You know what happened to you best, just as we know what happened to us best."
"'We'? What do you mean?"
"You want to know how I know what really happened two thousand years ago? I focus on us, on our kindred. I listen deeply and carefully - lovingly, even - to what they say, and my eyes are opened. Thus I learn. Thus I know."
"So you don't know about potters, blacksmiths, or brick layers?"
"Oh, I know many things about them. But not like I know our own kind."
"What is that kind? Intellectuals, for lack of a better word?"
"So you know them through their writings."
"Yes, but also through other records left behind that provide some necessary context."
"And the primary value of those records is the light they throw on the situation of the intellectual kin."
"This holds even for records of wars or great movements of peoples, yes?"
"That's right. As you can imagine, many of my colleagues think it wrong of me to focus so. But I know you don't."
"You, Professor, have a right to pay attention to what interests you."
"But it interests you, too, my friend."
"Yes, to a degree."
"To a degree? What else interests you?"
Nick Pappas, pappasnick.typepad.com