“People don’t want to read Karen King’s book” on Gnosticism, or the books of other academics, because they’re too dense, he said. “People want something they can take to bed. The facts alone, they don’t really matter. What matters is entertainment.”
The book, he assured me, would be a runaway best seller: “A million copies in the first month or so.” Our collaboration, he said, “could really make a big difference.” But he insisted on the need for fabrication. “You have to make a lot of stuff up,” he said. “You cannot just present facts.”
“The truth is not absolute,” he explained. “The truth depends on perspectives, surroundings.”
I let him go on for a while, but I was stupefied. I was reporting a story about a possible forgery, and the man at its center was asking me to “make a lot of stuff up” for a new project in which he’d be my eager partner. It was a proposal so tone-deaf that either he was clueless, incorrigible—or up to something I couldn’t quite yet discern.
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