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Your Biography in 7 Words: A Project Between New York’s Public Library and Great Creative Minds

A radio show by the Public Library of New York makes prominent figures in the arts and sciences summarise their lives in seven words.

Throughout his work, Borges reaffirmed the literary belief that a person’s life could be epitomised in a single instant, a moment in which the biographic trajectory acquires a sense both in the present where we live, where all things happen, and in the past, which led up to that moment, and in the future where everything will culminate. This is, according to Borges, an instant that quickly and unexpectedly justifies existence, as he displayed in his renowned story “Man on the Pink Corner”, but we can also find it in other stories like “Deutsches Requiem”, or “The Secret Miracle”, among other, you can find these three stories and many more following this link.

This project has a certain affinity with this narrative premise –– Since 2005, the Public Library of New York has hosted a series of highly creative conversations which climax by asking the interviewees to summarise their biography in seven words.

Taken to this finish line by Paul Holdengräber, a prominent businessman in institutional culture in the United States, the most varied writers, scientists, philosophers, musicians, etc., they finally reach these type of “microbiographies” that, as Pierre Michon’s Small Lives, Marcel Schowb’s Imaginary Lives, or a Universal History of Infamy by Borges himself, express in a handful of words the simple complexity of human life.

Tom Wolfe: Ace daddy, gym rat, Balzolan reporter, Ph.D.

Daniel Dennett: Philosopher, professor, author, sailor, New Atheist.

David Byrne: unfinished, unprocessed, uncertain, unknown, unadorned, underarms, underpants, unfrozen, unsettled, unfussy.

Brian Eno: I like making and thinking about culture.

William Gibson: Postwar. Cold War. Stop the War. Later.

Errol Morris: autodidact, necrophile, voyeur, filmmaker, opinionated writer, father.

Don DeLillo:

Bronx boy


why he is here.

Rem Koolhaas: Mystic rational sober baroque patient immediate.

Paul Holdengräber: Mother always said: Two ears, one mouth.

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