For no discernible reason, seven of the last fourteen books I’ve read have been memoirs. This wasn’t planned. Some were chosen during a flash of inspiration, others coincidentally rose to the top of stack around the same time after many months in waiting. I’m not even necessarily a big fan of memoirs.
Four of the seven books were by people who are renowned in some area of the arts in which I take a special interest: three were writers and one was a performer.
A number of similarities arose in these books.
- Each attributed much of their success to luck, yet had no problem taking credit for it just the same. (In his book, “Outliers”, Malcom Gladwell documents many such cases of success coming by being in the right place at the right time through pure serendipity, if you believe in that kind of thing.)
- Each wrote with a significant sense of entitlement, as if they simply got what they deserved.
- There was a uniformly distinct lack of humility in tone, even some amount of condescension.
- None of them had any problem dismissing and rationalizing their personal failings, of which there were many.
- Without exception, they all went out of their way to disparage religious belief. I wonder what prompts people to be evangelistic about their lack of belief but condemn those who proselytize a genuine faith?
- All at times sounded like spoiled children who whined when things didn’t go their way or when something was missing from their privileged lives.
Regarding that last point, it amazes me that the more we have (and these folks have lots) the more we take it for granted. It’s not just the Rich and Famous. After all, by the world’s standards, I’m obscenely wealthy. From my observations in the time I’ve spent in Haiti, people there are more thankful for the little they have than we are for our abundance. And they readily acknowledge God as the source of their few blessings. Gratitude and faith are among the first victims of the pandemic of Affluenza.
I don’t criticize out of spite or envy. I’m just making observations. The four books are the works of brilliant minds, people whose work I have tremendous respect for. Perhaps these kinds of personality traits are helpful in reaching heights of fame and/or creativity.
Every one of us exhibits some or all of these tendencies at one time or another.
We just don’t publish them for the world to see.
[In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I should note that a memoir I read last year, “As you wish – Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” by Cary Elwes showed very little of these characteristics. It was terrific, as I reported in a previous post.]