Truman Capote lived convinced that nobody loved him. People don’t like me. I’m a weirdo. I entertain them, I fascinate them, but they don’t love me. All the sadness and resignation contained in those words can be heard from the writer’s mouth in the documentary ‘The Capote Tapes’ (available at Filmin). The worst thing about being an outcast is knowing that you are.
Capote knew it. He always lived out of place in this world. There are people who, no matter how hard they try, always feel out of place. First they carefully cut the roots of their childhood and then they look for a place, a dream in which they never quite fit. Uprooting is never gratuitous, the penance of denying who you are is precisely that, the emptiness and the constant search for that lost identity. A restlessness, a concern that never goes away.
What pained him most, he once said, was “the unnecessary loneliness” of his childhood. An unhappy childhood like yours, with the wound of your mother’s abandonment always open, can be the perfect excuse to deny your roots. It was precisely in this flight that Capote invented himself. He made his successful disguise to perfection and managed to reach that heaven of which he ended up denying: “It is better to look at it than to live in it.”
He tried so hard to dynamite those foundations of his childhood that he needed to break everything again as an adult, when he had long savored the honeys of success and New York high society had welcomed him as one of them, although he always felt his jester. With the serial publication in Esquire magazine of several chapters of ‘Attended Prayers’, his unfinished book in which he recounted the secrets and miseries of that New York high society, Capote once again expatriated himself. As if the only way to feel alive was to feed the perpetual dissatisfaction of uprooting.
Liliane Kerjan, author of her biography published in 2017 ‘Truman Capote’, pointed to this condition of the writer disengaged: “Capote reached high for his literature, but, also for his literature, he was considered a traitor and ended up as an outcast.” The question is If you can betray something of which you have never felt part of the whole.
This world is full of those outcasts, the bad thing is that none of them have the talent of the author of ‘In Cold Blood’. It should be remembered that without that genius, everything boils down to something aspirational. You run the risk of becoming something worse than a snob: an imposter. Capote was eaten by his demons, but he always knew who it was: a great writer. The rest, the outcasts of the 21st century without recognized virtue, end up paying six euros for a latte. Or buying villas in Galapagar.