The Voyeur in me

Some days ago I was lying in bed reading J.K.Rowling’s biography by Sean Smith, while my wife was trying to catch my attention – something that is next to impossible when I have my nose sticking between the pages of an interesting book.

After a few unsuccessful nudges, she exclaimed : “Voyeur !”

“What ?” I didn’t quite understand her.

“I said you’re a Voyeur.”

“What did I do now ?!”

“Well, you don’t pay attention to your wife, and instead involve yourself in the pursuit of knowing the details of another woman’s life.” she replied, plainly.

My initial reaction was laughter. I had never heard anyone equate the pursuit of reading a biography to voyeurism, and it seemed rather amusing to do so. My wife, however, was not amused at all. I kept the book aside, for the time being at least….

Much later, I thought about that seemingly innocuous statement again. There was an interest in knowing the personal details of another person’s life, yes, and I realized that this had always been the case with the people whom I admired. Richard Feynman, J.Krishnamurti, M.K.Gandhi, S.Ramanujam and Garry Kasparov were some people whose biographies ( or autobiographies ) that I could recollect reading. The statement struck home more in the case of J.K.Rowling, since she had resented the large amount of public attention and interest in her personal life that her phenomenal success had generated, and it resulted her in withdrawing into a shell.

It seemed to me that it was debatable whether such an interest in the personal affairs of another human being was tantamount to an intellectual type of voyeurism. One could not, as I did earlier, dismiss it lightly ( it had indirectly lead to the death of Princess Diana ), and one could not take it too seriously either ( there is a lot to be learned from the lives of others ). What was needed was a balance between curiosity and obsession. Easier said than done, clearly.

The book itself turned out to be an engrossing read ( and I could not find anything which the celebrity author would possibly object to ). It is not as authoritative and fascinating as a good biography should be, but it is still the best single source we have yet about J.K.Rowling – I would recommend it to anyone who loves Harry Potter and has some desire to get to know the person behind the creation of the world of Magic and Muggles.

6 Replies to “The Voyeur in me”

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