In the second installment of our new feature, we ask the Pals a question having nothing to do with books. The question posed was, “If you could question any dead historical figure, who would it be and why? (And maybe what you'd ask them.)” Here's what those brave enough to answer had to say.
First person that comes to mind is Nikola Tesla. I’m not sure why but he reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein. Except he used mechanical parts instead of human parts.
The next one who came to mind was Carl Jung. I love his insights into the human condition. Not that I would want him to analyze me or anything like that. Wouldn’t that be scary? I don’t know what I would ask him there is a good chance he would judge me from my question, right? He would start by asking me why I asked THAT question and it would all come spilling out. I’d cry and he would cry, it wouldn’t be pretty. None of us really want to go there…
Emperor Vespasian, he was a career soldier & eventually made it to the top of the ladder in first century AD Rome. I wrote about him in a couple of books, he's a fascinating man. I'd ask him about his survival skills.
Who thought up this question? I have a ton of questions about the premise. Am I going back in time to ask them the question or are they coming forward in time to visit me? If they're coming forward, if my question requires an understanding of historical events since their death, do I have to explain to them what has happened in the interim, or will they appear in front of me with the required knowledge? If it is someone dangerous, will I be provided with bodyguards?
Editors note: Didn't I tell you in the preface to the original post that Al was going to go on and on and … anyway, I told him to answer those questions about the premise any way he wanted and then to answer the darn question. Why does he have to take something simple and always make it so complicated. Anyway, back to Al …
Fine. The bodyguard question is no. I figured that out once I realized we'd have to pay them. Definitely NOT in the budget. As to the others, they'll visit me. (No way I want to get trapped somewhere with no internet connection.) They'll also understand all the history they need to. (If you think I went on and on above, that's nothing compared to the background my historical figure would need to answer my question.) For those readers not from the US, I'm sorry this focuses on our history. I suspect most of you will understand the question better than I would understand the history of your country though.
My historical figure would be Thomas Jefferson. Why him? Because he and the group of men who laid the groundwork for our government (commonly called “the founding fathers” - yeah, I know, women didn't get their due back then) are always getting second guessed by politicians, courts, and regular old people. We wonder what they meant (you wordsmiths understand how your words can be misinterpreted, right?) We wonder if they think the spirit of what they intended is how things have turned out or whether they'd be shocked and think we've gone far astray.
My question is simple. I'd ask him to comment on how things have turned out thus far, both those things that have worked out better than he expected and those that haven't. I'd also have him pick the one area where he thinks we've screwed up the most. (Did they use the idiom “screwed up” in the 1700s? Maybe I'll need a translator.)
How would you answer this question? Tell us in the comments below. (Those who receive our posts via email have to come to the site to answer. Responding to the email only works if you want to share with BigAl and no one else. That will just give him a bigger head. Don't do it. Click on the title in the email to easily get here.)
And we're still looking for questions to ask the pals in the future. Email booksandpals(at)yahoo(dot)com with your suggestions. Be sure to put “Ask the Pals” in the subject line.