Vidal on People

Vidal, WIlliams, KennedyFrom Gore Vidal‘s memoir Palimpsest:

Recently [1994], a television interviewer quoted me as having said, “I seem to have met everyone, but I know no one.” Grinning like a tiger in anticipation of antelope, she leaned forward, gently salivating, eager to hear a tragic sigh, see a tear of self-pity. Plainly, due to my high and solitary place in the world—am I not the Living Buddha?—and to my cold nature and to my refusal to conform to warm mature family values, I am doomed to be the eternal outsider, the black sheep among those great good white flocks of folks who graze contentedly in the amber fields of the Republic.

I told her briskly that I had never wanted to meet most of the people that I had met and the fact that I never got to know most of them took dedication and steadfastness on my part. By choice and luck, my life has been spent reading other people’s books and making sentences for my own. More to the point, if you have known one person you have known them all. Of course, I am not so sure that I have known even one person well, but, as the Greeks sensibly believed, should you get to know yourself, you will have penetrated as much of the human mystery as anyone need ever know.