Friday, September 16, 2011

557 - End of the Interview

Perhaps that would make him go away, but it was a vain hope.  He was careful with my scroll, but seized it avidly, all the same, and then kept asking questions.  I wanted to go swim and assuage my wounded spirit and here he was digging into me, looking for some shocking scandal.  I hoped sincerely I had not been as annoying when I was a freelancer.

“Why, thank your brilliant self,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “So--how does your excellent self feel about having so fallen short?”  Like I want to bite off the heads of writers asking stupid questions and shen down their necks, of course.  Ten Gods, how am I supposed to feel?

“I have two years where I might have had time to correct my paper’s failings, but I suspect I shall be much more focused on what Arko wishes me to learn, specifically the political.  The final problem would be ensuring my anonymity should I re-present.”

“Right.  They’d know it by the subject matter.  Did the august professors show any sign of... dismay or concern, when they learned it was your elected self they’d so critiqued?”

That brought back a little twinge of mischief.  I let my face lighten up.  “Oh, they are still in the Hall of Mutual and Serene Considerations, with refreshments, if you’d like to speak to them.  It seemed to me that some were more dismayed than others. But I am actually... less upset than one might think, for this to have happened.”  There.  That sounded grown up enough.

“Well, your fine self’s career does not depend on it, for one thing.  Unless your great self thinks it might hurt you politically...”  Ow.  Why did that question hurt so much? Yes, I’m not depending on this for a job.

“I cannot see how it would hurt me.  If someone wishes to have me re-write, re-do my thesis, then I will, of course, place it before the Arkan Assembly to see if they wish it.”

“Well, it could conceivably be deleterious politically if, say, someone were to say it’s proof of less than great intellectual prowess on your illustrious self’s part.  Does your fine self anticipate that might happen?”

Oh I wanted to bite his head off... I managed a smile instead.  “I anticipate nothing of the sort.  If someone cares to argue this with me on the floor of Assembly then I am prepared to debate this.”

“Your great self means... argue that... argue which?”

“I doubt that Assembly is concerned with my intellect when it comes to doing my duty, as required by the Empire.  If someone wishes to argue that I am not, as evidenced by my not achieving one of the highest Academic titles, then I shall of course first wish to see their own credentials in Academia for holding his or her titles as Assemblypeople... and then I am willing to debate my intellectual ability with the person who is so concerned.  Should Assembly desire this, of course.”

“But serin... your magnificent self has been elected to the highest office in the land; might not some people argue that it requires a particularly high standard of intellectual ability?” Would YOU like to challenge me in this regard you… you… How dare he impugn my intelligence!  I didn’t think I showed any of my temper, at least he didn’t react, eyes fixed on mine, pen poised.  I noticed he had an ink spot all the way up his elbow and focused on that for a moment.  He was new, but he’d go far if he needled all Asspeeps like this, I was sure.

“I ran on my own intelligence.  I was elected on the intelligence I showed.  Should people require more than they shall have to vote for me to attempt it.” He was being particularly annoying, probably deliberately.  I kept my pleasant expression firmly fixed on my face, as his pen flew across his page. My gut hurt.

“Imperator-elect, may this humble one ask, what subject is your thesis on?”

“It was on the evidence that Yeola-e and Arko were much more closely related politically, two hundred years ago.  And that their semanakraseye who would be king -- Notyere -- might well have been influenced by Tatthanas Aan.”

“Does your wise self think possibly the thesis was rejected due to unconventional or controversial subject matter?”

I was critiqued in detail...”  I nodded at the scroll I had lent Foranas.  “There.  As far as I read, or heard afterwards in discussion with the learned Professors, none of the critiques concerned its unconventionality.”

“Does your scholarly self mean to pursue academic pursuits on the side, even if Assembly does not urge or permit greater time than that?”

“If Assembly does not permit me time... then I shall have to cease my own scholarly pursuits, of course.”

“Unless in your fine self’s spare time...?”

“I shall continue to be interested in political history, certainly. But then your fine editor himself has requested that I continue writing things in my spare time.”

“Political things, this one would think, serin.  Well.... this one thinks he shall peruse this and return with further questions if necessary.  Thank your munificent self very very much for answering this impertinent one’s questions.”

“You’re welcome.  Oh, the Hall is down that way.”  I indicated with my chin.  “Feel free to come talk to me, as necessary.”  Pisser.  Impertinent was certainly right.

“Thank your most kind self.” He vanished almost as quickly as he’d appeared at my elbow.

“That’s a good trick, disappearing like that.” I said quietly to Joras, who laughed.

Scholarship in Arko Defended!

… excerpts from article…  “The incorruptible Spirit of Knowledge is defended from all onslaughts, up to and including the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect.  

Those who feared that power, position, prestige, popularity, and public acclaim would allow our potential supplicant an easy path through that defending labyrinth of academic white-thorns and brambles will find that the current ordeal of our noble elect to obtain his place among the esteemed professors of history has left him unbowed.  But he is deprived his laurels by our academic luminaries.  Minis Aan will not begin his pursuit of the Professoral Crown.  Citizen he may be, leader he may be chosen, only the path to full professorship has been denied him…”

“This is why we protect our diligent youngsters with the rituals of screen and herald,” Professor Mirminar said.  “Honest Professors needn’t fear to speak the truth in the new Arko.”

One Professor was overheard to say that the Imperatorship wasn’t what it used to be, and perhaps the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect would make it back into what it was under his father.


  1. One Professor has attended one too many palatial orgies.

  2. Hah! Well, the old guard can hope, hmmm?

  3. No, Forlanas is not doing it deliberately to goad Minis. I know this both from having played him for this scene and from real-life professional experience as a journalist, sometimes asking questions that seem goading myself. (In fact sometimes I ask questions I know the interviewee will refuse to answer, just so I can write that he refused to answer; e.g. I just did a story about fishing in which I asked all three of my expert-angler interviewees where their favourite fishing holes were, to add colour to the story through their refusals to tell me.) We're not trying to hurt the interviewee; it's not about the interviewee. There are two reasons: 1) We are trying to get good quotes and 2) We are asking what we think our readers want to know. It's about the story.