One of the temptations of world fame (I suppose), especially when it is gained early in life, must be to treat one’s own utterances with undue reverence. Their provenance becomes the guarantee not only of their truth but also of their profundity, and even the most casual meanderings or off-scourings of the mind, once expressed in public, are invested with ineffable preciousness.

Since I consort but rarely with the world-famous, this is something that I discovered comparatively late in life. I happened to be in Buenos Aires when Elie Wiesel was there. He was to give a public address, followed by questions and answers. I attended along with a large and expectant audience. A man who had survived the Holocaust would surely have something worthwhile to say about the wellsprings of human evil and the purpose of life, two subjects that could scarcely be more important or interesting. It didn’t occur to me that one can’t go...


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