Ben Franklin Bent The Truth


When I get to choose what I read, for the great majority of my life, I have chosen non-fiction.

Or at least what I thought was non-fiction.

I was about eight years old when I convinced my parents to open the cover of the bookshelf in the living room that housed the Harvard Classics and to let me take one volume at a time upstairs to my room.

I was thrilled at the idea that real folks who had once walked the earth and even been famous had written their truths, and I could take them up to my own room and read them.

I remember vividly grabbing the first volume, Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, and opening it while I sat cross-legged on my bed and digging in.

It was a mega-success when first published.

I thought that Ben must have been a heck of a nice guy, and by the time I finished what he had written, I was hoping there still great guys like him around for me to locate and marry in 20th century America.  Here is the only modern review that touches on the true nature of this book.  It is no accident that it is the only one I have ever seen that even hints there is more going on than meets the eye or that it is published in the U.K.

I still love Ben, but in a different way.  I love him like I love my colorful bipolar/manic-depressive patients.

I think he always fancied himself a citizen of Europe.  He is the guy whose statue sits in front of the American Embassy in Paris.  The guy who once said something to the effect that “America is my country but Paris is my hometown.”

He left his wife home in Philadelphia while financing the American Revolution by presenting himself as a “backwoods boy” with a coonskin cap instead of a (then popular) wig.

He flirted with wealthy French Noblewomen and set up hoax marriages.  Back in the states, he seems to have been creative about a lot of the news he published.  He wrote at least some of his livelier letters to the newspaper his brother edited, signing them as a woman — Silence Dogood.

By the time I made a pilgrimage to view a suit of clothes Ben had allegedly worn at the Smithsonian, I was pretty sure I was aiming for a higher ethical and moral level in anybody I would love.

I found one — a man of a higher ethical and moral level.  This idea obsessed me so much I wrote a book.  Since few read, watch my videos for more on how to pull off this one.

Now, much easier and at least a bit wiser, I think Benjamin Franklin did a wonderful job of creating his own myth in the Autobiography.  Here’s the text. Enjoy for yourself.

Me, I am starting to wonder if fiction is not sometimes more deeply truthful than non-fiction.  Just somehow abstracted from reality, and rendered, on some level, more anonymous.

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