Clutching My Pearls is about Jane Austen and the times she lived in.
Click here for the first in the series.
I thought about the various points I could put in there, such as "the more you talk about yourself, the sooner people will get to know you, and the better they will like you," And, "If you have relatives who live in a very grand way, be sure to work them into the conversation as often as you can."
Then I thought, I wonder if can Chat GPT do this? So I asked it to "write an advice column as if you were Mrs. Elton in Jane Austen's novel Emma, on the topic of being a good conversationalist." Almost immediately, the writing started scrolling across the screen. Here is the result...
It is with utmost pleasure and delight that I, Mrs. Augusta Elton, take up my pen to offer you my esteemed advice on the art of conversation. As an individual of superior breeding and impeccable social standing, I consider myself an authority on the subject. Allow me to enlighten you on the essential qualities required to become a truly accomplished conversationalist.
First and foremost, it is imperative to have a deep understanding of one's own importance. Always remember, dear readers, that you are the central figure in any conversation. Your opinions, experiences, and anecdotes are of utmost significance. Ensure that your interlocutors are aware of this fact by confidently sharing your thoughts and stories, sparing no details of your personal triumphs and accomplishments. After all, who can resist the charm of a well-told tale?
Secondly, it is essential to be well-informed on a wide array of subjects. A true conversationalist must possess a breadth of knowledge that exceeds that of the common masses. Familiarize yourself with the latest fashion trends, political affairs, and cultural events. This will enable you to engage in stimulating discussions, gracefully steering the conversation towards topics in which you excel.
Maintaining a superior attitude is also crucial when engaging in conversation. Display your refined taste and impeccable manners at all times. Do not hesitate to offer advice or correction to those less enlightened than yourself. Polite condescension, delivered with an air of magnanimity, is sure to captivate your audience and establish your superior position as a conversationalist par excellence.
Lastly, a true master of conversation knows the importance of verbal eloquence. Cultivate a sophisticated vocabulary and employ it liberally, thus impressing upon others your superior intellect and linguistic prowess. Be mindful of your tone, ensuring that it conveys a sense of authority and elegance. Remember, dear readers, eloquence is the hallmark of a refined individual.
In conclusion, dear readers, to become a truly accomplished conversationalist, one must possess unwavering self-assurance, a broad knowledge base, the art of subtlety, a superior attitude, and impeccable verbal eloquence. By embodying these qualities, you are sure to become the life of any social gathering, captivating all with your engaging discourse.
Mrs. Augusta Elton
Mrs. Eltons walk amongst us today. Although it seems that with the younger generation, the surest way to gain distinction amongst your companions is to trade in victimhood, not just brag about your brother-in-law's barouche-landau. Augusta Hawkins circa 2023 would be telling us about the privations, injustices and hardships she has endured growing up in Bristol. Orphaned, presumably, at an early age, and sent to live with an uncle, her entire life could be recast as a tragedy.
Both the original Mrs. Elton and her modern counterpart do not see social interaction as a give-and-take of ideas and pleasantries, but as an opportunity to talk about themselves. While Austen's Mrs. Elton does the usual humble-bragging and dispenses advice, the modern Mrs. Elton does not see a distinction between a social conversation and a therapeutic one. Without invitation or preamble, she will disclose intimate details of her life and her emotional state in a way that Austen would find shockingly disconcerting and vulgar. She is not especially interested in hearing some kind of reciprocal unburdening of your own hardships and traumas. You are there as her audience, remember.
As for Chat GPT, I know that I'll continue writing because it gives me pleasure, but I'll continue to experiment with the capabilities of this new technology, too.
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