Stephen Fry was in Amsterdam yesterday evening to present his new memoir The Fry Chronicles and I had the pleasure and the honour to be in the venerable presence of this great and charming man (thanks to Sueli who managed to get me a ticket for me). He does love to talk on and on, particularly about Oscar Wilde, not to mention the fact that he’s rather restless or gets sidetracked quite easily (although he does always eventually return to his original point after a huge detour). These are but minor criticisms however, and let’s face it, aren’t these the very mannerisms which define him as he is? It is this along with his intellectual playfulness which has gained him so much popularity in the first place. So yes, all in all it had been an inspiring and highly enjoyable evening.
One of the things that struck me about Fry was how he carried his innate insecurity around with graceful dignity, refusing to let his insecurity impede him in his progress as an intellectual creature. He uses the word curiosity plenty and often. To be curious about the world surrounding us, to have this urge to learn, to know, to understand is a trait he seems to hold in very high regard, perhaps more so than any other. During the presentation he wondered aloud that if his homosexuality hadn’t caused him to feel so alone and isolated in his youth, if he would have developed the same passion for art and literature as he has now, or that he would become complacent. I wonder the same thing regarding his uncertainty, which for a part is probably very much linked to his homosexuality. Would he have had the same insatiable hunger for knowledge, the same desire to constantly improve himself otherwise? I have my doubts.