Jan 6 2023
Young Balzac: Disordered Knowledge, Strange Student
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✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer✦ Join our network state at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ The next cohort of IndieThinkers.org starts Jan 16. If you're working on independent projects, request an invitation.