|Bust of Epicurus, from the |
Pergamon Museum, Berlin
No, not orgies and overeating, but an evening of good grub and fine conversation. This was one of the 'conversation dinners', hosted by Melbourne's new School of Life.
(There is a dinner with Simone de Beauvoir next month, hosted by Clare Wright.)
As I noted in my ABC essay on Religion For Atheists, these conversation dinners tie into de Botton's 'Agape restaurant' idea: "a forum for profound intimacy, which provides structure but not content. His Book of Agape, like the Jewish Haggadah for Passover, prompts diners with questions."
At my table, we spoke (and argued) about religion, death, pleasure and pain, wealth and freedom. It was a blast.
I'll write more about importance of the evening in detail in the next week or so. For now, I'll end with the great Dr Johnson, with whom I disagree:
When I complained of having dined at a splendid table without hearing one sentence of conversation worthy of being remembered, [Johnson] said, "Sir, there seldom is any such conversation." Boswell: "Why then meet at table?" Johnson: "Why, to eat and drink together, and to promote kindness; and, Sir, this is better done when there is no solid conversation; for when there is, people differ in opinion, and get into bad humour, or some of the company who are not capable of such conversation, are left out, and feel themselves uneasy. It was for this reason, Sir Robert Walpole said, he always talked bawdy at his table, because in that all could join."(Photo: Keith Schengili-Roberts)