Knowing a Man vs. Knowing About a Man

Sportswriter Joe Ponsnaski is in the middle of writing of biography of Joe Paterno. And then last week happens.

On his blog, Ponsaski reflects on the man, and starts with this:

Writing a book comes from the soul. It consumes you — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of it. I have thought about Joe Paterno, his strengths, his flaws, his triumphs, his failures, his core, pretty much nonstop for months now. I have talked to hundreds of people about him in all walks of life. I have read 25 or 30 books about him, countless articles. I'm not saying I know Joe Paterno. I'm saying I know a whole lot about him.

Love this distinction.

3 Responses to Knowing a Man vs. Knowing About a Man

  1. The Joe Paterno fiasco would be a huge wrench in anyone working on a story about him, let alone and entire book. Good luck to Ponsnaski, we’ll have to wait and see how the book turns out…(cringe)

  2. Lucas Oman says:

    I think this reveals a huge flaw in human nature. We tend to project a person’s strength in one area to all areas. People look up to Joe Paterno, Steven Tyler, Chuck Norris, but not to simply admire their talents in coaching football, making music, or kicking people’s butts. People tend to extend their reverence to their moral character, their courage, their uprightness—even if these qualities never existed.

  3. THM says:

    “I knew a lot about the man, but I didn’t know the man. “

    I suspect Sandusky’s wife has been reflecting on that distinction.


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