His latest essay is one of the most, no other word, brilliant pieces of memoir, parable, persuasion, history, teaching, exposition, logic, clarity, and originally combined ideas I've ever read. Here's a taste:
When I finally got to the payoff a shot of electricity went through me. I realized that I was now in possession of such history-changing information that I distinctly recall getting up, opening the door and peering out into the rain to see if I was being watched. I felt, truly, for one half-hour that my life might be in danger. I wish I could say I am making this up.
That sense of uncovering deep layers of ancient cover-ups is what drove the sales of The DaVinci Code. There, too, a web of truths, half-truths and outright fabrication spun a story that left the reader with a palpable sense of awe. It made you feel important, like you knew something absolutely essential that very few others ever were privileged to know.
Now most normal people do not look at life from within a pit of failure and despair. Our lives are measured by small successes -- like raising children, serving in the military, doing volunteer work at your church -- or just doing the right thing in a thousand small but important ways, like returning money if someone makes you too much change.
These are simply the small, ordinary milestones of a life of value. They give you a sense of identity.
But if I didn't have that sense of identity rooted in my own small achievements, I wonder how likely it would have been for me to grab onto that sense of sudden empowerment, of being an initiate in some arcane club of hidden wisdom. I wonder what might have happened to me if being the Holder of Secret Knowledge had been my only source of self-esteem; the one redeeming landmark in a life of isolation and failure. Indeed, I wonder what power such a worldview would have over me if I could believe that behind the scenes lurked vast and unknowable dark forces -- forces that could topple a president and perhaps even explain why a person of my deep, vast and bountiful talents was not doing a whole lot better in life?
I wonder what might have happened to me then.