londo_mollari: (LondoTimov)
[personal profile] londo_mollari
As I was idly strolling through the customs area and may or may not have been looking forward to the delivery of my favourite brand of brivari from Centauri Prime, I was accosted by a young human lady who told me she absolutely had to ask me a question. Now, I am the last man to be discourteous to a lady in distress seeking out my company, yes? Alas, I misjudged the situation. This particular young lady had decided that her life's happiness depended on interviewing the senior diplomats on Babylon 5 for something she called her "college paper". After she promised me she would not ask me what I wanted, or anything regarding the Narn-Centauri war (either one), I agreed to answer at least the question she said she was asking everyone. What can I say? She was not aesthetically displeasing.

What she wanted to know was who the wisest person I ever met was.

"And this is what you asked or are going to ask everyone?" I returned. "Shall I tell you what everyone but the Ambassador for Minbar will answer, hm?"

She looked uncertain and nodded.

"They will all name Delenn, or have already done so," I said benignly.

"But how did you...?"

"My dear child, it is the simplest of guessworks. Anyone who does not believe Delenn to be the wisest person they ever met will name her anyway as naming her will not cause any diplomatic incidents, and, by contrast, might contribute to gaining the favour of the President. Delenn herself, of course, does not have that option, and so she will probably name... no, not her dead mentor, this would be undiplomatic and might open old wounds, and besides, it would make her look like someone valuing only her own species. No, she will be her wise self and name a human being. Probably her husband's father, which is the kind of charming gesture no one can possibly resent."

The young lady pouted a bit, most becomingly, and then asked me whether I would name Delenn as well.

"Mmmmm," I said. "I should."

"Do you not think she's the wisest?"

"I think she is witty, and wise, and a pearl among sentient beings of any sex. I might even think she is the wisest, but you would not possibly believe me after what I have just said, yes?"

"Now you're confusing me," she said. "Get real."

This was a human expression I was not familiar with - the exhortation to "get real". I believe it is confined to the adolescent variation of the species. The rest of them, as the rest of any other race, is undoubtedly aware that our collective reality is highly disputable anyway.

"Very well then," I said. "With all respect to Delenn, I shall nominate my own wife instead."

"Huh. Doesn't the Lady Timov live seperated from you?"

"A dazzling proof of her wisdom," I said, "but how do you know it is the Lady Timov I am referring to? I could have been thinking of any of my divorced wives as well. After all, one of them tried to kill me, which half the known universe will tell you is a strike for wisdom. And another, who has been my wife all too briefly, once spoke a sentence which I still believe encapsulates all the wisdom and compassion we can ask for when we met in a tavern. She kissed me on the head and said: 'Whatever it is, it cannot be that bad.' Though I must admit that not everyone shares my regard for this sentence; when I repeated it to Mr. Garibaldi, he threatened to break my arm, which makes its wisdom questionable. Still. How do you know I was not thinking of them?"

"I would," she said, "since they divorced you. Looks wiser and wiser to me. Say, do you ever shut up? Wait, don't go away, I didn't mean it. Come on. Which one did you mean? It's for my paper, and I neeeeeeeed it."

"The one who would never believe I believe her to be the wisest of creatures," I said. "For she truly is, and thus she would never believe a professional liar."

I left the young lady then, muttering "wait - if she knows you have to be lying, then you don't think she's the wisest, only you do think she's the wisest because she would believe you're lying, so you weren't lying - or is it the other way around?" One always does have to do one's best to educate the young, after all.
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July 2010

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