Characters: Matthew, Abram and Sarah
Abram: What are you reading, Matthew?
Matthew: The Odyssey by Homer.
Abram: I would never have the patient for that.
Matthew: I cannot help but wonder, while reading this, about the nature of art.
Abram: You have to be more specific than that.
Matthew: Let me backtrack. Why does an art form die out?
Abram: People do not change. That leaves society. A lot of it is technological advancement, I think. For one thing, we have the technology to create movies now. Back in Homer’s time, there were no movies.
Matthew: You could not be more correct. But should an art form die out? Should we resurrect lost arts.
Abram: That is entirely subjective.
Matthew: But subjective is objective in many instances. At least in the humanities subjects.
Abram: The lack of concreteness in those subjects bothers me.
Matthew: I can understand, but we have nothing else left. Back to art, when an art form dies, you lose something, you know?
Abram: Once again, you may personally feel that something is lost. Others may not. I do not see how to reconcile that, per se.
Matthew: Conversation–what we’re doing right now–is the closest thing.
Abram: Fair enough. What do you think is lost when no one reads epic poetry?
Matthew: I would feel better speaking on narrative poetry. I think telling a story to adults, in verse, is all but lost.
Matthew: Imagine reading a compelling story but with language like “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day / Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”
Abram: I can imagine the story could be more enchanting than when in basic prose.
Matthew: EXACTLY! Something, then, is lost on the general culture.
Abram: But let us just take myself as an easy example. I like poetry you write. But otherwise, I do not care for much of it. If I do not care for it, who is to say anything is lost on me?
Matthew: There is a difference between you and some others, though. You are open-minded. You entertain topics you may not care for because your friend cares for them.
Abram: Ah, yes! Friendship: that sublime gift.
Matthew: So, you are losing something, you see? You would be losing a part of our friendship.
Abram: But which could be easily replaced by something else if you were someone else.
Matthew: Yes, but I am not. I am me. That goes without saying!
Abram: Perhaps. But so much goes unsaid; you can never be sure what is worth saying and what isn’t.
Matthew: I agree. But back to friendship and art–
Abram: Friendship and SCIENCE. Friendship and MATHEMATICS. We cannot forget those things either.
Matthew: Okay, friendship and “knowledge” then–
Abram: That’s better!
Matthew: We exist in two fashions: as individuals and as a group. Neither can be tossed aside. That is why the “great man theory” of history so popularized by Carlyle is incomplete.
Abram: I think I follow you. If we do not share our prowess–our skills, perspectives, information etc.–we ALL lose something.
Matthew: You did the nail on the head, my friend! Just like you and me. You are passionate about robotics. I tried it with you, because YOU were interested. You were sharing your interest with me. This broadened me as a person. I thank you for that.
Abram: No need to thank me. I would do it again ad infinitum.
Matthew: This, in short, is why we should all think about epic poetry and quantum mechanics.
Abram: I’m afraid, though, there will always be ignorance. There will always be people who will turn away from certain modes of thought out of laziness or difficulty.
Matthew: That is the question! How do we overcome that?
Abram: Simple: We cannot.
Matthew: That is kind of self-defeating right off the bat, though.
Abram: I would not say so. There has always been ignorance and there will always be ignorance.
Matthew: I am glad you say “ignorance” and not “stupidity”. Many people say “the common people are dumb.”
Abram: That illustrates my point. We humans will always judge–always look for the easy way out.
Matthew: But we have to try to fight against it and improve.
Abram: Trying is always key, I know. The only kind of failure is giving up. How far we will get cannot be ascertained. Not at least until we get there.
Matthew: We cannot worry about outcomes. Only how to get there.
Abram: We have to keep both in mind, wouldn’t you say?
Matthew: Well, yes–
Abram: Too much focus on the now leads to directionless. Too much focus on the future will lead to getting stuck right now. There is always a middle ground, it seems to me.
Matthew: I cannot argue with that.
Abram: But how will we know when we have succeeded?
Matthew: I am not sure that is a question worth asking. I do not even know what “success” is.
Abram: I suppose if we help even one other person think for themselves and appreciate a holistic interpretation of knowledge, we could consider our time useful.
Matthew: There is the correct attitude! And we must start with ourselves.
Abram: That is what we are doing right now, silly. Talking these topics out, tossing ideas back and forth like a tennis ball in a tennis match.
Matthew: Of course. But we should bring in other people to help us spread the word.
Sarah walks in.
Sarah: Hey guys, what’re you talking about?
Matthew: Whether or not an art form should die, why it dies, etc. Why don’t you join us?
Sarah: That is a fascinating question. We are so stuck in our own time, it is hard to take an all-encompassing look on the question.
Matthew: That is my thoughts. There are dead art forms we cannot appreciate, since we are not exposed to them as much.
Abram: Tell us about wildlife biology–your specialty–Sarah. Enlighten us!
Sarah: With pleasure!
Matthew: And knowledge, my friends, marches on!