Larkin was there, speaking, and the rest of the crowd.
“That’s an excellent point, Miss Brown,” he was saying. “One cannot separate the two. However, one can observe the ways in which they are connected and the effect they have on each other. I suppose that since this is all still in the theoretical stage it’s difficult to speak in terms of observable results, so perhaps we should leave it alone for now, what do you say?”
Whatever it was, Miriam clearly did not want to leave it alone, but she nodded demurely—something she would never have done in a debate with me. Larkin commanded her with the authority of a father. No, more than that: he commanded her with the self-assured ease of a man training an already-obedient dog. He could have been talking about anything, proposing any course of action, and she would have acquiesced in silent adoration.
“Let’s turn back to the idea of randomness and our fear of it,” said Larkin, once more addressing the crowd. “I want to suggest something which I’ve already suggested, really, when I spoke about our capacity to make self-destructive decisions as a natural element of our evolutionary survival. I want to make it clear how serious I am about the idea, not just as an abstract topic of discussion but as a real and influential part of our existence. We literally have the capacity to destroy ourselves at a moment’s notice—or without notice, I should say. Think of a time when you were up on top of a tall building looking down at a view of the city, how you were drawn to the edge to peer over and wonder what it would be like to jump from that height. Maybe, as you looked over the edge, imagining yourself falling towards the earth, you suddenly felt a moment of terror in which you believed you would jump. Something told you that you were actually in danger of turning that fantasy into reality. Of course, you stepped quickly back from the edge and returned to ground-level in safety telling yourself not to be silly. Has anyone here had that experience?”
Several heads nodded affirmation. Larkin smiled...