History is replete with boors. Consider, for example, Alexander the (so-called) Great, Oliver Cromwell and Mao Zedong. Sit down with one of those and you’d get such an earful self-aggrandizement (Alex), theology (Oliver) or ideology (Mao) that you’d be comatose within five minutes.
Fortunately, there’s more to history than presidents, kings and despots. Dotted through the story of humankind are the creative souls who invented the tasty ideas that shape our lives and that we too often take for granted.
Think. Who invented the computer? How do governments make money from lotteries? Everyone thinks they know it, but what the hell is “correlation”? There have been a dozen or more films about him, but who wrote the original story of Frankenstein? Why does the mention of evolution drive half of Americans to foam at the mouth? What is impressionism?
Behind each of these questions there is an artist or scientist n (sometimes two or three) who has more imagination and intelligence than all the political ideologues or military leaders combined. And it’s always been a fantasy of mine to pretend invite some of them over for drinks, dinner and conversation.
What I would like to do is to describe these folk and their personalities and accomplishments in a paragraph or two, and leave it to you to decide if you would join us — I may even describe the dinner — by following up on the links I will provide.
The main criterion for being my dinner guest is to be entertaining. But I’ll also describe some bright innovators I would strike off the invitation list. Geniuses are rarely tedious, but they can be very annoying. Such will not sit at my dinner table, but I will give them a couple of blog sentences, including links, so that you can do your own research.
I expect to publish one of these little biographies every two weeks. Approximately.
First up will be Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (1725-1798), actor, mathematician, musician, adventurer, seducer and the driving force behind the first modern lottery.