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TELLTALE HEARTS

The Nicholas Green Scholarship FundThe Investment Company InstituteWashington, D.C.May 17, 2000

I CAN'T THINK OF a more apt title than “Telltale Hearts” for my talk today. For I will indeed tell you a tale of two hearts. Both of them continue their unremitting beat, as regular as the seconds that tick away on your watch (if a bit faster), but both of them are also—behold a miracle!—“thumping away like native drums” in human beings with whom they had not yet been united just six years ago. One is the tale of a heart given by a young American boy. The other is the tale of a heart received by an aging businessman.

Fitting as the title is, I confess that I borrowed it from a “Talk of the Town” piece I read in The New Yorker only a week ago, perhaps inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Hearts have been in the news, and that brief essay (which included the wonderful metaphor about native drums that I quoted at the outset) talked about the heart of the Dauphin of France—Louis XVII, had he been crowned—and the fossilized four-chambered heart of a dinosaur, recently discovered in South Dakota. “If the Dauphin's heart ends one legend,” the essay noted, “the dinosaur's amazingly modern heart feeds another … yet within these two hearts beats one story, for the truly odd thing is that we care so much …. We want a heart to be a heart,” Adam Gopnik's essay continues, “the final thumping vault of our deep, permanent incurable folk vitalism, the summer house of the particular spirit. ...

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