Return to Krell's Class
By ice rivers
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" Phi, Chi, sigh, omega"
Haylen smiled. She had completed the Greek alphabet twice on one match. She hadn't even glanced at her notes.
While Krell nodded at Haylen; Arthur, Julia and I exchanged glances that screamed " we're the bozos on this bus".
A moment later, according to my notes, Krell started in about Socrates.
"Socrates was born in 469 BC and lived until 399 BC. If you do the math, you'll see that Socrates died when he was only thirty two years old. Go ahead and do the math and find out for yourself."
I did the math.
We did the math.
No problem. Socrates was only thirty two when he died.
Then Haylen raised her hand.
"Mr. Krell, according to my math. Socrates was seventy when he died."
"Seventy, Haylen?" Krell raised his eyebrow.
I thought maybe the three of us were geting off the bozo bus or at least making room on board for Haylen.
Haylen continued. "Yes sir. In this case, the count is backward rather than forward. Socrates wasn't one year old in 470 BC. 470 BC was also 1 BS."
Krell seemed not only to understand but also to be entertained. "What, may I ask for the good of the class, is 1 BS?"
"Sure" responded Haylen. " 1 BS is one year before the birth of Socrates. Socrates was born in 469 BC. One year before his birth, the year would have been 470 BC not 468. In 468 Socrates would have been one year old. Of course, he didn't know the year was 470 or 468 or anything BC. Nobody had any idea when Christ would be born or who Christ was or why Christ would be important or why their very birthdays would be determined by the future son of a carpenter"
"Very true, Haylen. Now how does your counting backward mechanism work" asked Krell.
"It took sixty nine years to get from 469BC to 400 BC. Then you add one more for 399 and that leaves you with seventy. Socrates lived to be seventy"
I did the math. Haylen was absolutely correct.
"Do the math again and you'll find that Haylen is absolutely correct. You should also learn to think carefully about anything that your teacher says. Particularly if that teacher is I" said Krell.
At that moment because I had done what Krell had said before he said it, I felt like an Advanced Placement Bozo. I was still on the bus but I was moving a couple of seats closer to the driver.
"Before we go any further, does anybody know anything else about ancient Greece that would be illuminating for the class to consider?" Krell asked.
The usual silence followed.
The usual silence was followed by the usual two follow ups. "Anybody?.....Anything"
I was feeling pretty smart in a stupid way so I decided to step up.
"Yeah, that's where the first French fries were made"
Julia, got all over that observation. "No they weren't they were made in France. That's why we call them French fries"
Krell came to my rescue.
"Wherever they were made, they were indisputably made in Grease. Good one Ovid"
Haylen laughed out loud.
Arthur and Julia were pissed.
I probably should have quit when I was ahead but instead I tried one more.
"And judging from what I remember about Paris, that grease would have been awesomely ancient "
Krell laughed again. Haylen out laughed Krell. Good thing she wasn't drinking milk.
Julia lightened up a little.
Arthur must have felt marginalized because he responded with a snarky comment to Krell which he read from a three by five index card. "My father told me that Socrates, despite his place in history, was over-rated. He actually wrote nothing because in essence he felt that knowledge was a living, interactive thing. Most of what we know of him comes from the historical inaccuracy and misinterpretation found in the works of Plato and later Thomas Aquinas."
Krell answered " Well Arthur, your father seems like quite a smart man. I imagine he's had a great influence on your life. There's a lot of truth in what he says but like all truths it bears closer examination"
Arthur seemed to wince at the mention of paternal influence.
"First of all, let's deal with the concept of over-rated and let's consider the list of the over-rated. I'll bring up a few: Shakespeare, Caesar, Elvis, Lincoln, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Meryl Streep, the Beatles,Amelia Earhart Picasso, Da Vinci, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Katherine Hepburn, Mother Theresa. All may be considered over-rated simply because they are famous. Fame is an integral part of iconic over-rating. How can you be over-rated unless you're famous? Nobody's gonna over-rate Sid Gertner, the guy who lent Lincoln the pen that Abraham used to write the Gettysburg Address. Where would we be today if at that moment of inspiration, Gertner didn't have a pen. The reason nobody's going to over rate Gertner is because nobody knows that Sid, performing one of the millions of unnoticeded acts of kindness that characterize human behavior lent the pen to Lincoln in the first place.
"Of course, you might say that since I identified Gertner and Gertner is long departed, he must be somewhat famous and thus susceptible to be over-rated. The problem is that I don't know whether or not Gertner gave Lincoln the pen. Somebody probably did. That somebody has been totally forgotten by history so just because I name that somebody Gertner doesn't mean that Gertner becomes a figure of historical importance although I'm sure that exact mechanism has occurred in history many times over.
"Even when that somebody, like Gertner, might not have existed at all at least under that name.
"We remain alive as long as anyone who ever knew us or knew of us remains alive. The people who live the longest are those who have created enduring works of art or who have had enduring works of art created about them or who are simply remembered by the most people.These people are famous. These people may end up over-rated.
"Socrates was such a one as for that matter was Plato and Aquinas. I agree with your Dad about part one."
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I'm not sure how he got the
I'm not sure how he got the 70 rating, but I guess he's dead by now
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