Other Life

A story about childhood and the unjustified gall to believe in one's potential greatness.

Show Notes

I'd like to share with you some biographies of great writers, artists, maybe some inventors—people who represent the other life ethos—people who have produced great work from the fringes, or in weird niches they carved out for themselves in life.

Here is a passage from a biography of the French novelist Balzac, Prométhée: ou, La vie de Balzac (1965) by André Maurois. I've translated it to English, of course.

This is a story about reading books, childhood, the productive benefits of disordered knowledge, unjustified presumption, an obsession with printed paper, ecstasy as a motivator and a product, and a kind of hunger that nothing can ever satisfy.

It paints a fascinating picture of education in France in the early 19th century. But it's also an inspiring vignette about something we see in the early lives of many great writers, which is... Here we have a strange, disaffected, aloof child who just seems a bit absurd or confused or even dumb—his teachers and classmates literally thought he was just stupid—but his appetite for wonder and knowledge drives him, from an early age, to just totally withdraw from society, into a life of the mind. That's the other life.

If you'd rather read than listen, see otherlife.co/balzac.

Other Life
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What is Other Life?

I study the lives of the wildest writers who ever lived.