As has been reported widely, writer Gore Vidal passed away recently. Link HERE. I'll confess that I've never read any of Mr Vidal's books, and while I know him by reputation (and by virtue of the fact that William F. Buckley once called him "queer"), I can't say that I was drawn to his work. I do, however, respect the fact that many have been touched by his writing. You can link to an example of what I mean HERE.
The passing of Mr Vidal does remind me just how much we can be impacted by the written word. As Gort mentioned in his posting (the link, above), I too, at about the same age, had some neurons reconfigured via reading a great book. In my case it was The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson. As I've noted here before, it was the first book I think I've ever read cover to cover that intellectually grabbed me and made me think about "things". The specific lessons about politics...and the absurdity of politics...aside, the book also was the first time when I actually felt okay to be, well, somewhat strange. It was as if there was a subtext to the book that said "it's okay to be a weirdo". Later in life I would learn that we are ALL a little strange, in our own beautiful ways. To this very day I still treasure the time when I first read The Great Shark Hunt.
As a side note, I was not really broken to pieces when Thompson committed suicide. In fact I was more relieved than anything else, as I had read where the last year or so of his life was lived in quite a bit of physical pain. While I'm not advocating for suicide here (as someone who has had member of his family make such attempts I know all too well how painful that can be), there is something graceful in a person who consciously makes the ultimate decision to take charge of their life.
The moral of this all? I think that there is tremendous power in the written word. We need to cultivate great thinking via great written works so that others have the same opportunity to learn and grow that we have enjoyed in our lives. To the extent we have a culture it is reflected in the works of people like Gore Vidal and Hunter S. Thompson. What a great legacy.