In recent times, that is. Devon Zuegel asks:
Who would you name as a contender for having led the most interesting life in the last 100 years?
Keynes pops to mind as one contender. He was a top-tier intellect and economist, he was closely connected to the arts, had plenty of brilliant Bloomsbury people to chat with, married a ballerina, played a major role in politics several times, and he participated in several critical and indeed formative moments of history (Treaty of Versailles, fiscal policy, Bretton Woods). He experienced both world wars (no one said “interesting” has to be good!). Still, he didn’t travel enough to be a slam dunk (I can’t quite bring myself to write “nor did he have the internet.”)
How about Bill Clinton? He was president twice, oversaw the 1990s, has indeed traveled the world, and known many of the most interesting people of his lifespan. He also has had rather, um…diverse…experiences in one realm of life. And he married Hillary.
Paul McCartney was a Beatle, wrote amazing songs and hung out with John Lennon, had domestic bliss with Linda for a few decades, raised lots of kids, was successful as a businessman, and also has a history of…um…diverse experiences. But did he smoke too much pot?
This list of “best lives” includes Hugh Hefner, Tyra Banks, and Elon Musk. Here is one Quora answer for “most interesting”:
Personally, I find the following people intriguing: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Marie Curie, Diego Maradona, Michael Jordan, Socrates/Aristotle/Plato, Samori Toure, Nelson Mandela, Michel de Nostredame. It’s a long list. There are even some historical figures that I do not admire, but would like to know more about – people such as Joseph Stalin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Judas Isacriot, among so many others.
I hope you are not offended if I rule some of those lives out on grounds of insufficient length, or too much time spent in prison. Here is a list of interesting writers’ lives, topped by Ernest Hemingway.
Contrarian but not crazy answers would cite the person who raised the greatest number of children, the person who lived the longest in decent health, “whoever you are,” and the person who has traveled the most, at least adjusting for the quality of the trips (working on an oil tanker may not count).
Is it possible for a very famous person to win this designation? Their very fame limits the possible range of experiences they have, and perhaps at some margin the consumption of additional status and adulation, however fun (?) it may be, just isn’t all that interesting. Can Paul McCartney or Bill Clinton go out in public much? Is the real answer someone most people never have heard of?
Who is your nominee?