Camestros

Yesterday evening I returned from the boarding school at Castalia and I thought that I should like to go and look at my old haunts. I began to make enquiries about the present state of philosophy, and about the youth, whether any of them were remarkable for wisdom or beauty. Of the beauties, Wrightias said, I fancy that you will soon be able to form a judgment.

At that moment, I saw Camestros coming in. By Heracles, I said, there never was such a paragon, if he has only one other slight addition, a noble soul.

He is as fair and good within, as he is without, replied Wrightias. And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught a sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame.

But I controlled myself. Tell me, Camestros, I said, what, in your opinion, is Temperance?

He said, in my opinion, temperance is quietness.

Let us see whether these words have any meaning. Swiftness and activity are clearly better than slowness and quietness?

Clearly they are.

Then temperance is not quietness, nor is the temperate life quiet.

I think, he said, Socrates, that you are right.

Hear, then, I said, my dream: that the many, who are not as individuals excellent men, nevertheless can, when they have come together, be better than the few best people, not individually but collectively, just as feasts to which many contribute are better than feasts provided at one person’s expense. Let us suppose that we nominators are motivated by our love of the genre and desire to honor our authors. Fandom, thus provided, would collectively seek to identify excellence, and the wisdom of the crowd would emerge from our collaborative efforts. But whether a mylar-flecked algorithm that seeks to satisfy the demands of every subcommunity or squabbling, partisan faction is a better way to honor our cherished authors and make them happy, my dear Wrightias – this is the point which we have not yet been able to determine.

I think, Wrightias replied, that if we do not nominate that which we truly love, our beloved writers will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else.

Did you love “The Day the World Turned Upside Down,” or anything of that sort?

God forbid. But I do believe that every fan should nominate whatever he or she thinks is great as a way to show respect, admiration and love for our hard-working and so often under-appreciated writers and editors, who, if I can try to put it delicately, did not get into this game for the money.

Then, I said, we are giving up the false equivalence between “winning” because we are privileged to have an opportunity to participate in reading and helping to select finalists for an award to honor our community’s cherished authors and afford them some small measure of happiness, and “winning” because some of the candidates we support defeat the opposition. And Camestros, I think indeed that there is a mistake, and that I must be a bad enquirer, for wisdom or temperance I believe to be really a great good; and happy are you, Camestros, if you certainly possess it. Wherefore examine yourself, and see whether you have this gift; for I would rather advise you to regard me simply as a fool who is never able to reason out anything; and to rest assured that the more wise and temperate you are, the happier you will be.

THE END

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