Ptolemy Tompkins

Ptolemy Tompkins is a former editor at Guideposts Magazine and the author of seven books. His writing has been featured in Beliefnet, Harper’s, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Best Spiritual Writing, and The Best American Spiritual Writing.

Books by this Author

Proof of God
Proof of Angels
The Map of Heaven
The Modern Book of the Dead

My Life in 8 Words

Author Revealed

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. I'll have to to go with Heraclitus' line: "Character is fate." Which doesn't mean that I think I have a particularly good character. I just think it's true.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. I think it was Proust who said that we never know when we're happy, only when we were happy. I don't know about perfect happiness, but I know I'd enjoy being able to inhabit certain moments of the past again, only as the person that I am now. To climb back into my past self kind of like a space suit and do it all over again, the same only... different. Actually, I think a lot of writers have this dream, and that that's one reason why at least some people become writers to begin with.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. Georg Trakl (eccentric early 20th century Austrian poet). Talk about someone who wanted to be in the world but out of it.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. The psychologist Carl Jung said somewhere that at bottom, everyone's greatest fear is hell. Not the Christian hell, necessarily, but a place of ultimate darkness and negativity. A place that's DOWN, not UP. I think he was right. Well, he was right about me at least.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. Really? Okay, let's see. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" -- Joy Division. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" -- U2. "Dreaming" -- Blondie. "Moonlight Mile" -- The Rolling Stones. "I Am the Resurrection" -- The Stone Roses

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