Monday, September 27, 2004

Books As Conversations

by Asim Jalis

I stumbled upon some books by Daniel Quinn. While the books are interesting, what is even more interesting is the structure. The books are designed as a series of conversations between a 12-year old girl and her mentor (who happens to be a 600-pound gorilla). I think a conversation might be a great way to discuss the ideas that we talk about. This stuff does not work well as a textbook. The ideas are so interconnected and organic that a dry philosophical treatise on them would be both painful to write and even more painful to read. A conversation on the other hand can wander around and talk about things that are not completely understood. It can explore through allusions. It does not need to pin down every detail. It's probably not a coincidence that this feels more like a conversation than a book. This idea is not original. There is some precendence for this: for example, Plato.