Whether great conversation traverses easy or difficult terrain, its reward is a more poignant connection with others. But to converse well is challenging. The art of conversation lacks well-defined rules, yet places high demands on our capabilities. Perhaps it is helpful to consider philosopher Michael Oakeshott’s brilliantly concise description of conversation as “unrehearsed intellectual adventure.” In these three quick words he beautifully encapsulates the spontaneity, challenge and pleasure of this quintessentially human social interplay. To say that conversation is unrehearsed is to acknowledge that it depends on the moment. It thrives not on plans or goals but on improvisation. (Dialogue with the hope of some gain is not conversation; it is lecture, competition or interview.) There is an unspoken consensus among linguists that conversation is process-oriented, that its course cannot be predetermined. University of California, Berkeley philosopher John Searle once lamented that “conversation does not have an intrinsic structure about which a relevant This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Two Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Food Issue 19 My Kitchen Table: Dominique Crenn French-born chef Dominique Crenn knows how to keep a level head and relishes the nights when she gets to cook to her own soundtrack. Food Issue 19 Recipe: Chamomile Cookies When your day is filled with too much excitement, taking time to sit quietly with these calming morsels and a cup of tea could be just the antidote.