He was a total hero to the people he didn’t kill, that’s true. The ones he did kill were poor people in other countries, so they don’t matter much to his reputation. Would you like to see a different volume? Someone who loved the poor instead? Ah yes, this one. Well, you see, this is a woman who was devoted to God and served the poor at a leper colony. If you read this book, you’ll discover that she fetishised the poor and unloved, kissed their feet, told them of love and abundance and the value of suffering. That last part? Yes, that is awkward. She didn’t do a great deal of actual helping: no medicine and very little food was provided, because suffering is holy and more suffering is holier. Whether that’s your own choice or not. You can read all about it in this book.
That one? An artist worshipped by millions. This book isn’t about his art, of course. You can find those in any old library. This book is about the fact that he got drunk and beat his wife and children every night.
I’m sorry? Oh, my friend, you’ve come to the wrong library. Lots of people do. The good news for you is that you can go to any other library and find out about the positive things. The people need their legends, after all. But in order to do that, they take all the facts of the figure’s life, and put them into a strainer. The heroic deeds come away pure and untainted, and those become the story everybody knows. The painful truths are drained away and passed to us. We pour them onto pages, let the whole thing set, and then those books get stored here, in the Library of Legendary Figures. It’s the only way to turn a human into a legend.
It’s not depressing at all, my friend.
Don’t people need heroes? Of course. But every legend is somebody else’s villain. We exist as a quiet repository of their pain. In this library, the blinding light of legend is shrouded in the shrouds of those who cannot challenge it. The figures themselves are thus purified to be the dazzling inspiration that the people themselves never really were.