• Introduction to a biography

    by  • 8 February, 2003 • Biography • 0 Comments

    This is I, Luc, the subject of this narrative.
    I owe Tom at least an introduction. Here is my paltry attempt to it.
    Read it and forget it. It only gets interesting from the next chapter onwards.

    What do you say to a man who proposes to write your biography? “Thank you” does not exactly do it in this situation. Nobody, no school, no life experience prepares you for something like this.

    Through life and through mimicry we learn what to say in happy circumstances (like “congratulations”) or in sad situations. You know how to deal with this because it happens all around you, starting from your childhood. You witness your sister getting married maybe, and how people react to that, or you see your parents lose one of their parents, and although maybe you’re too young to experience the grief they do, you “understand” somehow the reaction of the people surrounding them and you. And then, when confronted with similar situations you just copy that behaviour, you’ve “learned” something.

    No one in my circles has ever entered the house clamouring “hey, you know what, such and such is going to write my biography! Aren’t you happy for me?”. I can’t exhibited any “learned” behaviour. So, in the absence of even the faintest idea about how to appropriately react to Tom’s offer, I can only describe what I feel. It’s a mixed bag.

    Pride. On the one side there is pride. Sincere pride. Because here is this guy who is willing to devote a substantial amount of time to put on paper how he has perceived me for the last 20 years or so. Did he even pay attention to me at all to that extent? I had no idea. I don’t mean this in the colloquial way of “paying attention to somebody”, of course he did that, we were friends. No, I mean, did I ever do something that caught his attention beyond the level of “hey, you’re okay, I like you, you’re my buddy, let’s gets drunk, the both of us, right after we finish setting the world straight together”? Wow!

    Vanity. Geeh, aren’t I interesting. I admit it, I’m a peacock. How many people have come knockin’ at your door to write your biography?

    Guilt. With the pride and vanity comes the guilt. My catholic upbringing has apparently deeply engraved in my child’s soul that pride and vanity are of the devil. I feel guilt that such an honor, because that’s how I see this, is bestowed upon me. Where did I deserve that?

    Fear. Then there is fear too. Not for what you might expect though. Not for what this narrative will reveal about me to you, the readers. I have since some time come to realize that you’ve all probably seen through the smoking glass that I, like so many others, pull up. We all like to have the best perception of ourselves, even though a minimal sense of reality tells us that others perceive us differently. I’ve no illusions that you’ve noticed sides about me that I still think are hidden from all, including myself. No, what I fear is that I will recognize myself, in all my facets, and that maybe I’m not going to like me that way. Lord, have mercy with me!

    Gratefulness. Ah, yes, this. This is the “thank you” part. I find it the most difficult feeling to describe, which is maybe unusual, because it’s a feeling we are all too familiar with. But when I try to squeeze that feeling into words, they all come out as clich�s. I’ll leave it at that one word by itself.

    Tom has warned me that occasionaly the story might get discomforting for me or people around me. I know what Tom is capable of. I’m forwarned, and thus prepared. You, my friends, my family, may not know what Tom is capable of. You’re herewith forwarned.

    Finally, Tom writes in the preface that “throughout, he will allow me to make comments within the text, which will be flagged as such. He’ll allow me to clarify, to obfuscate, to lie outright. In short, to defend myself” [sic]. I will not do that. As I said in the posting where I announced what Tom was up to, this is his story, the way he sees me. I don’t feel the need to change that perception now. The artist should have complete freedom. You will read it and you will judge if it coincides with your own perception. If it doesn’t, maybe you’ve learned something new about me. Or you disagree utterly and completely with the presented view. That’s fine too.

    It’s just dabs of paint that might turn out to be a portrait, the man said.

    This is going to be interesting.

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