The biographer has two lives: The one she leads, and the one she ultimately understands. The rst is a muddle of misgivings and misapprehensions, hesitations and half-chances, devoted to the baggage carousel or the Net ix queue or wherever the empty calories of existence are served.

The second – the life the biographer pins to the page – has themes. It has chapters, a beginning, middle and end. Intentions align with actions, which bloom into logical consequences. The biographer is as cleareyed about the second as she is clueless about the rst: It’s the kids-of-the-psychiatrist conundrum. In one realm you’re moving forward in ignorance. In the other you’re moving backward with something resembling omniscience. What manifests as suspense on the page feels disconcertingly like anxiety in real life.

This link has been posted in retrospect from a collection of articles I compiled in 2012 using the iOS app, Instapaper.