BIOS: Basic Input-Output System.
“Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.”1
“Biography lends to death a new terror.”2
Whatever biography is, it isn’t a résumé. “Give me a bio,” someone says, and we dutifully hand in the author’s bio, the speaker’s bio, the panelist’s bio. Wrapped in sentences and paragraphs, they contain the list:
- Grew up in Morrison, Colorado.
- Bachelors, Boulder, Colorado.
- Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning, Denver, Colorado.
- International Postgraduate Fellow, Sydney, Australia.
- Lived in New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Australia, and Italy.
- Academic, nerdy type, reads a lot.
- Faculty, University of Colorado.
- Divorced & remarried.
- Chronic anxiety.
- Business owner.
- Member, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America.
- Likes wine.
- Once had his shoelaces eaten by a wombat.
If a biography is supposed to get at the heart of someone, to help us understand them, the “clothes” and “buttons” of these laundry-list items may help us to understand someone in exactly the same way that we might understand them by their choice in clothes. “Manners makyth man”3—meaning not only etiquette but more broadly actions—and any biographical résumé suggests something about actions, but what exactly, and what do they mean?
The more I learn, the less I’m sure, but I’m certain the answer has something to do with values, which are more like someone’s underwear than their clothes and buttons.
My values are autonomy, artistry, and love. It’s taken me a few decades to understand these values, and I’m still learning, still unpacking what they mean. If I’ve any biography whatsoever, it exists through those words—autonomy, artistry, and love—and this blog exists in part as a tool to sift into the interstitials between them.
I don’t expect anyone to read any of this, but I’m a writer, and inasmuch as writing has a public quality to it, well, I choose to make these inquiries public.