David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #57 (the School of Athens)

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(Thursday)

Gratuitous Literary Fragment #57 (the School of Athens)

What is wrong? How can I tell you what is wrong? It's this place—these people—it just goes too far. They aren't “great minds”, these guys… they're a bunch of freaks, is what they are. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say it that way. Look: just consider the jokes they tell. Like reciting a couple of mantras from the Book of the Dead in ancient Egyptian—I'm not making this up—but deliberately misquoting them so as to produce a pun in Sanskrit! And that's not the worst part: the thing is, everyone gets it. And they think it's funny! Entertaining! For serious talk, they might choose to speak Anatolian, because the verb forms are better able to convey the intended nuance of meaning: the idea that somebody might not understand Hittite hasn't even crossed anyone's mind. No, listen: this guy is walking across the grounds humming something which turns out to be part of the viola score in some obscure symphony by Zdeněk Fibich. Absent-mindedly humming, of course: but it's absolutely true to pitch and the rhythm is perfect. And it's only in my lucky days that I've ever even heard the name of the composer. And then another guy walks by, picks up the tune, starts whistling the oboe part. Like that: they might run again into each other ten minutes later and they'll still be exactly in tune and synchro. They won't even notice what they've done unless I point it out. Enough: I won't mention the other things they do for distraction, because it's too scary, and I can't mention their less frivolous occupations because even if perchance they aren't speaking Mongolian or Amharic they might as well be for all I understand.

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