private thoughts of a physicist and chessplayer
“Biography lends to death a new terror”
nice..from the same author I also like:
“Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes his biography”
I think that the most revealing biographies are written by the Judas’s. Sycophants also write biographies of their heroes, but publishers usually reject them as boring drivel or they don’t sell and get remaindered. In the publishing world, particularly for subjects like history, intrigue and treachery are actually selling points. A biography is a history of a person (Thomas Carlyle said that history as a whole is just a summation of biographies). History isn’t a completely objective science, it’s a subjective art that can be formulated from different points of view.
To get a useful biography that is written by somebody who knows the subject of the biography in depth, yet who writes not just hero worship and glorification, you are forced to hand over your thirty pieces of silver to a Judas. (The real friends will abstain from writing about the negative aspects of the character, while the consistent enemies won’t have been close enough and will be too biased. Judas betrayed Jesus not out of hatred, but out of desire for wealth. The only motivation was personal gain, not revenge, so any biography written by such a person may be honest, if unflattering.)
Alex, thank you for that one, I did not know it and I am going to use it.
Nige, I am very interested in the matter. I might become a judas myself one day.
Thanks, Tommaso. Being a Judas might be a good idea because it will make you both extremely rich and famous, two symbols of worldly success that will attract swarms of beautiful women.
Nige, I sure do not object to the category!
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