Philosophical riddle, posed by Alfred Bester, in his novel "Golem 100":(Pronounced "Golem Eight", for the binary-minded. Yes, it's really four. But that's The Word of God, so I'm stuck with it.)

Imagine the following thought experiment (I usually imagine Hugh Laurie giving the cues):

Given standard dictionary definitions, define each one of these words. Pause long enough for them to each sink in.

Define "real". Remember to pause.

Define "old". Completely now, so you know every way you could use this word...

Define "time". Again. Slowly, Take your time.

Define "flavor". Got it?

Now, given the definitions above, try to explain the phrase "Real Old-Time Flavor".



The phrase itself is interesting: does it mean the flavor something might have in your own memory, or the memory of an older person living today, or of someone living earlier in the 20th century? Is it a pre-industrial flavor, or early industrial? In America, it usually means, in the South, before the Civil War, when machines were more expensive than manpower. Nowadays, it could mean something as late as the late Sixties.

In another way, it was an opportunity for Alfred Bester to snark at his rival at Analog, L. Ron Hubbard.  In "Word Clearing", a "study tech" of Scientology, difficult passages are dealt with by defining. each. word. including. the. and. and. (And if this doesn;t work, use clay or demo materials.) Oddly enough, the puzzle is stuck way deep in the novel, in a child's schoolbook. When the little girl says she doesn't understand, her mentor tells her to pick an easier book.

Either way, it's (my Waterloo word...) intriguing.

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