So, what changes people’s minds? Oddly, a weaker argument might help. Asking opponents to flip from a strongly held belief to its opposite is a huge psychological demand. It involves acknowledging that they have been grievously wrong, which might call their entire belief system into doubt. Making a smaller mental leap is less challenging.
For the same reason, it is also easier to convince us to change our minds when the change doesn’t threaten our sense of identity. Take people who are devoutly religious: they are likely to have friends who share their faith, to belong to circles in which faith is important, and perhaps even to have a spouse, parents or children who would be hurt and alienated by a change of heart. In such circumstances, jettisoning a conviction is freighted with emotional trauma.
First, the good news: Hill has so much talent to burn that he can pull off just about any style, imagine himself into any person and convincingly portray any place or time. “The Nix” is hugely entertaining and unfailingly smart, and the author seems incapable of writing a pedestrian sentence or spinning a boring story.
A Gentleman in Moscow is a novel that aims to charm, not be the axe for the frozen sea within us. And the result is a winning, stylish novel that keeps things easy. Flair is always the goal — Towles never lets anyone merely say goodbye when they could bid adieu, never puts a period where an exclamation point or dramatic ellipsis could stand. In his narratorial guise, he likes to drop in from the sky in dramatic asides, rhetorical questions, and cute self-referential footnotes.
Before going any further, let’s explain why airplane food has had the same lousy reputation since the 1980s. One part is stinginess, understandable in an industry with tiny profit margins. Another is that most food comes from the same few industrial catering kitchens. Airlines often partner with fancy chefs to plan menus, but catering chefs do the day-to-day grunt work of churning out meals for a bunch of carriers.
Then there’s the combination of cabin pressure, altitude, and dry air that knocks out roughly 30 percent of a person’s sense of taste, Farmerie says. Salt can fill that gap, but a heavy pour can create the over-processed texture people associate with plane food.
No matter how spectacular the sunset, I have a limited capacity for appreciating different hues of orange. Are we not just one more day closer to death?