Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The following piece by Robert Louis Stevenson just tickles me to read. His insight into human nature is uncanny. Here he describes some of the gymnastics we go through when the timings just right, and we hit on a subject we can run with. I had to read it a few times before I got it all, but worth it.

A good talk is not to be had for the asking. Humors must first be accorded in a kind of overture or prologue; hour, company and circumstance must be suited; the quarry of two heated minds, spring up like a deer out of the wood. Not that the talker has any of the hunter’s pride, though he has all and more than all his ardor. The genuine artist follows the stream of conversation as an angler follows the windings of a brook, not dallying where he fails to “kill”…..

Indeed, there are few subjects; and so far as they are truly talkable, more than the half of them may be reduced to three -- that I am I, that you are you, and that there are other people dimly understood to be not quite the same as either.

Wherever talk may range, it still runs half the time on these eternal lines.

The theme being set, each plays on himself as on an instrument; asserts and justifies himself; ransacks his brain for instances and opinions, and brings them forth new-minted, to his own surprise and the admiration of his adversary.
All natural talk is a festival of ostentation; and by the laws of the game each accepts and fans the vanity of the other. It is from that reason that we venture to lay ourselves so open, that we dare to be so warmly eloquent, and that we swell in each other’s eyes to such a vast proportion. For talkers once launched, begin to overflow the limits of their ordinary selves, tower up to the height of their secret pretensions, and give themselves out for the heroes, brave, pious, musical and wise, that in their most shining moments the aspire to be. So they weave for themselves with words and for a while inhabit a palace of delights, temple at once and theater, where they fill the round of the world’s dignitaries, and feast with the gods, exulting in Kudos. And when the talk is over, each goes his way, still flushed with vanity and admiration, still trailing clouds of glory; each declines from the height of his ideal orgie, not in a moment, but by slow declension.”
Photo by Richard Mousel


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

Very interesting post!

Good conversation without giving offence to the other person is an art. It should make both persons happy and comfortable.

Very often we tend to praise ouselves, show off our achievements and inadvertently we make the other person feel uncomfortable and unhappy.

Many thanks for sharing.

Best wishes :)

Donna said...

So good.
I love good conversation with a little fire in it.

More so I love good conversation with people that are tempered and not hot headed so that the fire stays controlled and not burn the speaker or the receiver.

Very good article. Tell me about the picture.

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
"good conversation is an art", so true and in general it is a far more difficult affair than meets the eye. Praising ourselves in the many subtle and inferred comments can be almost invisible to ourselves, but can be a poke in the eye to another.
God bless,

Hi Donna,
Yes we are passionate about so many things. I liked the line most in this quote - "heated minds, spring up like a deer out of the wood." I relate to that when we want some subject of substance to pursue and we beat the bushes and finally an issue comes to light and both find words flowing to follow the thought. That gratifying sense that we have a hold of some valuable game.
God bless,