Friday, February 22, 2008

“The character of man is known from his conversations.”

“The character of man is known from his conversations.”

Menander (342 BC – 292 BC)

On Tuesday last, my Law, Literature & Film class met for dim sum for lunch, as a follow up to reading the book, Donald Duk. The lunch itself was not novel, as Marlo and I do dim sum on Christmas as a tradition. The best part about the lunch was the conversation. There were nearly 30 of us seated around two gigantic round tables (the kind only found in Chinese restaurants with a large lazy Susan in the middle for passing dishes). In my opinion, this structural set-up is the most conducive for good conversation – much better than the classic American rectangular table.

In a recent blog post, I included a link to an interesting essay, “The Dumbing of America,” which if you did not click on the link to read the essay before, you should now. One of the facts cited therein is that,

Reading has declined not only among the poorly educated, according to a report last year by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1982, 82 percent of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book -- fiction or nonfiction -- over the course of a year. The proportion of 17-year-olds who read nothing (unless required to do so for school) more than doubled between 1984 and 2004.

My experience with my classmates was exactly the opposite of what one would expect after reading those statistics. We had what I would consider some of the best conversation about books and film that I have experienced in a long while. As I have confessed in prior blog posts, my taste in movies and books tends to be a bit obscure. However, even though most of my classmates are younger than I am, I knew enough of the books and movies that were being discussed to participate. They are an intelligent and well-versed crowd and I had the rare experience of feeling as if I belong here. These are my people.

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