Beginning : a series of fictitious speeches

Written by on February 19, 2018


Just to remind you, (A) this is an old episode of Box of Chocolates originally streamcast on the 20th, of September 2016. And (B) I am now beginning a long transcription of fictitious speeches from the 1996 novel by Daniel Quinn The Story of B. They go something like this:


The Great forgetting

16, May, Der Bau, Munich

I wonder if you’ve ever considered how strange it is that the educational and character-shaping structures of our culture expose us but a single time in our lives to the ideas of Socrates, Plato, Euclid, Aristotle, Herodotus, Augustine, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Descartes, Rousseau, Newton, Racine, Darwin, Kant, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, Goethe, Freud, Marx, Einstein, and dozens of others of the same rank, but expose us annually, monthly, weekly, and even daily to the ideas of persons like Jesus, Moses, Muhammad and Buddha.


Why is it, do you think, that we need quarterly lectures on charity, while a single lecture on the laws of thermodynamics is presumed to last us a lifetime? Why is the meaning of Christmas judged to be so difficult of comprehension that we must hear a dozen explications of it, not once in a lifetime, but every single year, year after year after year? Perhaps even more to the point, why do the pious (who already know every word of whatever text they find holy) need to have it repeated to them week after week after week, and even day after day after day?


I’ll wager that if there are physicists listening to me here tonight, you do not keep a copy of Newton’s Principia on your bedside table. I’ll wager that the astronomers among you do not reach on waking for a copy of Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, that the geneticists among you do not spend a daily hour in reverential communion with The Double Helix, that the anatomists among you do not make a point of reading a passage a night from De humani corporis fabrica,


that the sociologists among you do not carry with you everywhere a treasured copy of Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. But you know very well that hundreds of millions of people thumb daily through holy books that will be read from cover to cover not a dozen times during a lifetime, but a dozen dozen.






  • No idea what
    is on this
    old playlist
  • and I'm too
    lazy to give
    the show a listen
  • and write down
    all the tracks
    I played all the way
  • back on the
    twentieth of September
    Two Thousand Sixteen

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs


    Reader's opinions

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Font Resize
    Skip to content