Monday, 6 July 2015

Unconsummated longing and petty humiliations

I haven't blogged in a while because I thought I was going to do my Masters this year and so I was working on my application. I've decided instead to take a year out, to work, to save money (please David Cameron, make graduate student loans available! agh!!) and to really, seriously focus on improving my writing. Before I ultimately decided to postpone my application, I was writing the personal statement and thinking about what drives me to write and it lead me to read this New Yorker article by Louis Menand on why people keep diaries. He writes a Freudian interpretation featuring the id, the ego, and the superego to theorize why people keep, and ultimately give up, writing diaries. I thought it was fascinating, I don't think I agree with absolutely everything, but I've copied some extracts here. 

The ego theory holds that maintaining a diary demands a level of vanity and self-importance that is simply too great for most people to sustain for long periods of time. It obliges you to believe that the stuff that happened to you is worth writing down because it happened to you. This is why so many diaries are abandoned by circa January 10th: keeping this up, you quickly realize, means something worse than being insufferable to others; it means being insufferable to yourself. People find that they just can’t take themselves seriously enough to continue. [...]

The id theory, on the other hand, states that people use diaries to record wishes and desires that they need to keep secret, and to list failures and disappointments that they cannot admit publicly have given them pain. Diary-keeping, on this account, is just neurotic, since the last thing most people want to do with their unconsummated longings and petty humiliations is to inscribe them permanently in a book. They want to forget them, and so they soon quit writing them down. Most people don’t confess; they repress.

And the superego theory, of course, is the theory that diaries are really written for the eyes of others. They are exercises in self-justification. When we describe the day’s events and our management of them, we have in mind a wise and benevolent reader who will someday see that we played, on the whole, and despite the best efforts of selfish and unworthy colleagues and relations, a creditable game with the hand we were dealt. If we speak frankly about our own missteps and shortcomings, it is only to gain this reader’s trust. We write to appease the father. People abandon their diaries when they realize that the task is hopeless.

I've written a little bit about why I write in a previous post. I write to get to know myself. I write to exorcise painful thoughts. But it is also almost an impulse for me; I must write. To survive. While I can't deny that somewhere in my entries and in the act of keeping a diary (and a blog) lie the threads of narcissism, (and I have tried to be as self aware about it as I can) I feel my objectives in keeping these journals, both on-line and privately, are a result of a  mixture of the id and superego theories. My private journals, especially since I've turned 18 and started writing in earnest, do contain things I would rather nobody ever knew. However, from a very young age I have never been able to shake the feeling that I was writing not just for myself. Maybe it's the way in which many people have come to write diaries: you address it, as though it was a person. You say Dear Diary or you even name it. You write in a conversational voice, like it's a friend, and you're telling it how your day went, or what you're worried about, or sometimes you are confessing and praying you will not be judged. And, I don't know if this is narcissistic or not, or sometimes I suspect it is and then decide I do not care in the slightest (but I do), I imagine somebody in the far future reading it. 

Is it because I'm a woman writing? That I'm so concerned with coming off as narcissistic? I look at the reviews of books like Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be, and see people, particularly men, describing it as self indulgent and narcissistic because a woman is writing about herself and the minutiae of her life. Yet the outpouring and rants of male authors are held up as insights into the human condition.

There are some other articles exploring writing about the self here and here.

Which of the theories, if any, speak to you?


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

That gleam in your eye is so familiar

1. I made a tshirt using an image from Daniel Clowes' Ugly Girls 2.Me in the elevator at Piccadilly Waterstones. I actually hate lifts

Letter from Amelia with new journals. She also sent me Moonrise Kingdom stickers!
After getting nothing but surveys and the occasional postcard of gratitude from Dominos Pizza, it was really cool to get some snail mail from the awesomeness that is Amelia. Thanks! I promise you'll get yours soon, I really need to get my shit together! <3 Getting some mail from the other side of the world is quite exciting and gives me a real desire to write letters and to gain the courage to travel. I got a text from a friend who's on holiday in Tokyo.

Friday, 5 June 2015

A murderous desire// Nabokov and Me// Why I write

I wish writing for me was creative in the sense that I do it to create. But if I really take the time to think about it, there is something malevolent and even murderous in my desire to write. Not towards myself, but towards the thoughts and ideas I have. I read, I think things over, I feel things that excite me and very often trouble me, and I write to exorcise those thoughts and feelings. In 'Watt', Samuel Beckett writes 'For Watt, to explain was to exorcise'. I scribble all these things down on the page, and there they die. My journals are graveyards.

I don't know how I feel about this, if I'm honest. I love creation, the idea of creating and the fact that people create and have created the most incredible and inspiring things. But now I'm a little closer to answering that question all wannabe writers should ask themselves: 'Do you want to write, or do you want to have written?' Sometimes for me, it feels like the latter, and that disturbs me.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Blue Moon

In anticipation of starting post-uni life, I used my rapidly dwindling student finance to buy some things. I've got so used to having my own room for three years now, that it's a little bit disappointing coming back to half a room, even though my sister is going off to uni this year. However, I've tried to make the space my own again, and have it reflect my new interests: white space; the colour blue (my favourite colour), trinkets and curiosities. 

I briefly mentioned my interest in the fascinating (and very problematic) circus showman P T Barnum. I saw this circus poster on vinmag, which has stores in Brighton and London and sells amazing retro items like posters from classic and cult films. The blue is amazing; there is no way my iphone was able to capture the deepness of that blue. I also decided after five years that I would retire my poor old navy Kanken and buy a brand new one. This one is 'Estate Blue'.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Cabinet of Curiosities

I'm finished! I've handed in my dissertation, panicked through my exam and officially finished university. There are no words to describe this feeling of composite joy, restlessness and outright terror. Well, not officially but I call this The Post-term Jitters. You get them at the end of every term when you've been steam-rolling through essays and lectures and then are suddenly confronted with the prospect of having NOTHING to do. I found myself in this position on Wednesday, and feeling a little bewildered, I did what comes easily to me whatever my mood: buying stuff! Some of the things have already arrived, including a beautiful wind up music box, but I will do a little haul post next time. 

Being finished means time to pursue all the things I became interested in but shelved to focus on studying:

I'm a little obsessed with the work of Mark Ryden. This is his study or library and it's beautiful. I love how the shelves are different sizes so that he can fit his busts and other ornaments. He seems to have an obsession with Abraham Lincoln. I came across these videos on youtube. The first one I couldn't stop watching. It's a diorama full of freaky but fascinating objects and the song Daisy Bell plays.