...writing a book regarded as wildly brilliant in one's late twenties or early thirties surely will. Case in point: Douglas Hofstadter, whose I Am A Strange Loop I started reading last night. I remember reading Hofstadter's 1979 Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid when I was a senior in college and thinking this was the most miraculously clever book I had ever read in my life. Hofstadter says readers mostly missed the real point of GEB--regarding consciousness--and that he is going to take a second try at the heart of the matter at IAASL. He also says "I would characterize I Am A Strange Loop as being my own best shot at describing what 'the human condition' is." A hundred pages in, the human condition is apparently wildly disorganized and as much about indulging the self-admiration of Douglas Hofstadter as anything else. I remember there being a current of that in GEB, but now it has gone from current to a scorching thermonucleoelectro wave.
At least I think this is what's happened. I was a lot younger when I read GEB, and so I'm wondering if I would be less enamored of it if I read it now. This is when you know an Established Brilliant Person has really bothered up a book, when you not only want to discard the book at hand, but it makes you question the work that led you to conclude they were brilliant in the first place.
Update: OK, now I just went back and started looking at my copy of GEB and, particularly, my mark-ups in the margins. The new hypothesis is that I am misremembering GEB--specifically, I recalled the good parts of the book and forgot how many problems I had with the character of many of his arguments, even back them. Plus, the cleverness of Godel, Cantor, Turing, etc., rubbed off onto my assessment of him much more then than now, perhaps. It bothers you up, aging does.