Monday, April 17, 2017

On Bantering And Warmth

There is a group of six or seven people gathered just a little way behind me who have aroused my curiosity a little. I naturally assumed at first that they were a group of friends out together for the evening. But as I listened to their exchanges, it became apparent they were strangers who had just happened upon one another here on this spot behind me. Evidently, they had all paused a moment for the lights coming on, and then proceeded to fall into conversation with one another. As I watch them now, they are laughing together merrily. It is curious how people can build such warmth among themselves so swiftly. It is possible these particular persons are simply united by the anticipation of the evening ahead. But, then, I rather fancy it has more to do with this skill of bantering. Listening to them now, I can hear them exchanging one bantering remark after another. It is, I would suppose, the way many people like to proceed. In fact, it is possible my bench companion of a while ago expected me to banter with him -- in which case, I suppose I was something of a sorry disappointment. Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not a foolish thing to indulge in -- particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.

Excerpt from The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro

I like this quote mainly because I had similar thoughts and questions frequently while growing up. I wondered about the skill of talking and about whether people practiced at it, and I wondered whether people felt more or less close because of it all, etc.

But as I was looking up the wording for this quote online (I'd listened to the audio format), I found it referenced in a book called "Bullshit and Philosophy", which was amusing. Bullshitting is a good thing, it asserts, and I don't disagree. As it goes on to say:

"Just imagine that every conversation were to be informed with a strong concern for the truth. Conversations would be terribly fatiguing."

Then again, conversations are often fatiguing for me. Even the amusing ones.


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