Daily Archives: March 31, 2006

On Biographies

I love reading biographies. I think it’s because I want to know where I stand in relation to others, not because I’m competitive. I just want to see how the world-changers and idea men came to be. The most compelling realization to me was that people who make a difference are usually in their mid- to late thirties. There is a perception right now that talent is getting younger and younger, probably from watching the Olympics and King LeBron James and Tiger. But the truth is that most people flounder around in their 20’s, dabbling in various things but not really having the vision and focus that we associate with them later. In short, their 20’s were when they were still seen as human.

Some people don’t even seem to be that driven before they’re famous. They’re just normal people. Eventually something happens and their lives accelerate though. Critical mass. But it still seems as though drive and heart are the prerequisite traits.

But I’m having a problem with more and more biographies now. Why? Because of the cultural infatuation with chemical dependency. It tires me to see someone described as a genius through the use of chemicals. I am not interested in pained individuals who retreat to alcohol or drugs to soothe their souls and which thusly inspire them to create great works. The inference is that if you lose control of yourself to hallucinogenics or things that take you outside yourself that you will produce something great too. Is there any denying that you actually have to HAVE genius or creativity first and that external factors only rid the inhibitions binding that control?

To me, what makes a human being most interesting is the choices he makes, not the blunders he makes while he is not in control of himself. Why do people make certain choices? How do small choices become career-enders or massive derailments? What compels someone to consolidate all their possessions to sell in order to invest in a dream no one else sees? Why do some people destroy their relationships with others in order to pursue something? Are there people who could’ve been world-famous businessmen but made a direct choice to pursue a family instead?

These are what interest me. Alcoholism is so boring, in comparison. Okay, so this person wasted a lot of time with the sauce. They couldn’t control themselves. That is just sad. Not that I have a problem with alcohol or drugs, but I don’t find it compelling to read about. I wouldn’t want to be an artist known for finding my muse in Johnny Walker or Mary Jane. I’d want to be known for the conscious, progressive choices I made in order to develop my own style and cultivate my artistic career.

But hey, that’s just me.

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