""'O great and might Master Li, pray impart to me the Secret of Wisdom!' he bawled... To my great credit I never batted an eyelash. 'Take a large bowl,' I said. 'Fill it with equal measure of fact, fantasy, history, mythology, science, superstition, logic, and lunacy. Darken the mixture with bitter tears, brighten it with howls of laughter, toss in three thousand years of civilization, bellow kan pei--which means 'dry cup'--and drink to the dregs.' Procopius stared at me. 'And I will be wise,' he asked. 'Better,' I said. 'You will be Chinese.'""
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart