SD: The question was not meant to be literal! What I'm referring to is the misunderstandings that inevitably spring up because of the centuries between us. I can't shake the suspicion that this interview is is an amusing jaunt for you! An opportunity for a sociological investigation, prodding the primitives with a stick! Or am I being too suspicious? Bumbly: No, no, no, good sir. Not too suspicious at all. It is very amusing, but not in a malicious fashion. Should I not be enjoying this interchange? (if so, perhaps this is a primitive attitude I am not sensitive to). Please advise.
SD: Well, I'm not sure. This is a serious business. That doesn't preclude the possibility of pleasure. But it's not to be encouraged for its own sake, certainly! Is your own era a particularly mischievous one? Or are you just a mischievous fellow?! Are any of you capable of taking things seriously?
Bumbly: Surely it can't be too serious. Don't forget you're four centuries dead from my standpoint. That particular novelty won't wear out soon for me.
But, to be clear, and earnest, you may fairly classify me as mischievous, if you must, but I shall refrain from making generalisations about the society of my time as any willing to make such commentary most likely suffers from limited sampling and severe pareidolic biases.
Furthermore, seriousness and pleasure need not be mutually exclusive do they?
SD: Ah! I spot the rhetorical trick sir! Your little straw man doesn't faze me! I never claimed they were mutually exclusive. But it so happens that some things are more serious than others. This golden rule has persisted for centuries, and I can't see any good reason why it won''t last another four or so and span yours as well! You broach subjects that most sensible men would label important, and worthy of serious, sombre consideration. Surely there's still something approaching a settled consensus on this subject in your era?! Most of the weighty fellows of your century would agree with me, I'm sure. A modicum of earnestness is appropriate!
Bumbly: I presume by weighty you speak metaphorically? And one can only presume that "men" includes women, mangotans and humunculi; we collectively and generally refer to all sentient creatures as "people"...
You may not have said they were mutually exclusive, per se, but you continue to imply it is so. I shall put mathematical symbols in as I hear they are popular in your time. You say serious = sombre, but this is an assumption on your part. When confronted with the horrors of the world (by world I of course mean the civilized areas of the galaxy and by civilized I mean people reside there, not conveying any sense of development or society), the natural reaction is thoughtful, somber and earnest; but when in reflection, if one is determined to be dour then the results of your meditation are largely predetermined and the consideration is only for show.
On your second query, of consensus, perhaps if we limit the scope to possible areas of consensus, such as near-Earth; ecumene that have enough interaction that a survey could be done—then I'm sure any arbitrary question would find a range of answers, one of which would naturally be the highest scoring, as per the logical outcome of such contests. Is this what you refer to?
SD: Mangotans and humunculi certainly, but probably not women! Hahah! Am I correct? Hahaha! Ahhh, dear.
Bumbly: I am lost for a response.