It’s most probable that the attendees overthought and overanalyzed this short book. Yes, anybody can read The Little Prince in one sitting. In fact, it’s so short that it’s hard to write something more than 500 words about it if you decide to do that right after reading it.
But writing about it right after a book discussion is a different matter. There are little thoughts here and there that open a can of yucky worms. Seemingly innocent questions can fry your brains, particularly me who got the infamy of being the only person who was unable to answer a discussion question.
A little background: I was in a little bashing mood that day. I felt that I had to do that for humor’s sake. Why do I always feel that? I don’t think I am a funny person. I can be funny, but I definitely am not that sort of person one would consider the life of a party. Oh well, it must be the food that I was eating.
The discussion improved significantly from last month’s. Instead of picking a number and passing around a piece of paper where the list of questions is printed, the participants for this month picked envelopes where the questions were sealed. I felt that I could at least give a thought or two to the questions picked by the others, except for a couple that seemed to me too rhetorical a question. And of course, mine.
So why am I harping about that unanswered question? It was something like this: Explain the difference between matters of consequence and matters of indifference in the text. It’s longer than that and structured more complicatedly, but of course, you don’t expect me to memorize that. It was embarrassing, what with me bashing the others. That’s what one may call karma, I guess.
But one question stuck with me until I got home. It was uprooted when one rambled something about the little prince achieving wisdom and going to wherever he is supposed to go. I said something about growing up and wisdom being two different things, and the possible wealth of wisdom in what children have to say. And then someone said something about gullibility and innocence. And then someone asked about innocence.
I admitted that I couldn’t find the words at that time to define innocence. It was a humble non-answer to a sincere question. I had a feeling that I will be taking the question to bed when sleepy time comes. And it did.
So how do I define innocence? It is a virtue devoid of malice. It is borne from stuff where good intentions come from. It is not gullibility or childish curiosity. It is not always about believing something, hence the innocent face, smile, et al. So is it possible then to have innocence even if one is technically an adult?
I think it is. It doesn’t need to be lost. It just needs to be sort of maintained. Just like that Jewel song. Argh. I’m supposed to stop liking her. Oh well. Lest you think that The Little Prince is only about innocence, it is not. Wait, what is it about?
It’s about children and grown-ups. Dear, it’s a conspicuous book. It is one of the most translated books in the planet. One can read it in an hour while milling about a book store. Go get a copy, or go lounge for an hour or two at your favorite book store and find out for yourself. Or maybe you already know?
Anyway, I’d like to give a hundred claps to the discussion leader, Jzhun, for drumming up those ideas on how to make the discussion engaging. We don’t mind the hard questions and the harder nonquestions. We don’t mind that he shut me up when I said a stray sentence about Voltaire. How could you mind if you have a set of goodies?
A daily planner, a bar of chocolate, a print out of a favorite quote from the book, and roses. Roses? Wait, those are from Patrick. It’s a little gimmick devised by the discussion leader. You give roses (for men) or scarves (for women) to the attendee whose quote you liked. Patrick gave them to me. Sweet! I would like to believe I blushed, but I didn’t feel my face warming up a one-watt bulb. Perhaps the muffler I was wearing blocked the blood from rushing to my cheeks?
The Little Prince Book Discussion Details
- Date: February 25, 2012
- Place: Kitch Cafe, Amorsolo St., Makati City
- Time: 1 PM to 5 PM
- Attendees: Me, Aaron, Alona and her boylets, Aries, Ayban, Camille (newbie), Charles, Ella (sorta newbie), Han (sorta newbie) and her posse, Ingrid, Jzhun (discussion leader), KD, Kwesi, Maria, Patrick, Po, Sheryl, Tina
- Food I Ate: Baked salmon, watermelon-flavored soda, apple streussel bar
(Most photos courtesy of Kwesi, including the one below.)