Saturday, May 31, 2008

A martyr to the weed

At the Sunday Times, Ferdinand Mount on Vaclav Havel's memoirs:
He records that when, in his early days as president, he appointed one of his old dissident friends as a minister (there was nobody else untarnished), “I suddenly began to behave more politely towards him and take him more seriously.” What, the importunate Hvizdala asks him, is the most important thing Havel discovered in his political dealings? Havel replies: “A very ordinary thing: good taste. It is good taste above all that determines how long one should speak, how much one should reveal, how deeply one should probe; when to make a joke and when to speak seriously; when one should speak indirectly and when one should speak fully what one has in mind; how to make sure that the conversation does not languish and that your partner is comfortable.” He adds: “I am an opponent of every obsession because I consider obsessions the most dangerous of social phenomena.”

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