Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Deleting the past and erasing the future
Sometimes I look back on this blog and shudder with regret and embarassment. Did I really think and feel those things and why did I decide to share them?
Originally, it was just me, my thoughts, a dark night, cyberspace and the random fear/excitement that an unknown stranger may stumble across these confused words. It was my ethereal Dear Diary.
I am often torn between trying not to express myself and over-expressing myself. I am openly obsessed with confessional writers but did they too share these aching pangs of regret? I will never know.
The only year I decided to keep an actual diary ended up being the worst year of my life. Everything that could have gone wrong mentally, physically and with all my relationships did so in the most catastrophic way. I have never really ever gotten over that year. Every time I feel I have forgotten it, some vague wisp of memory floors me with the weight of solid unhappiness. When I go home to visit my parents, I know the diary lurks in my old bedroom, taunting me to open it up and relive those awful memories once again. Perhaps I should throw it away and hopefully I will feel cleansed.
As much as my own diary-writing experience was so horrendous, I do still believe that there is a beauty in confiding and enscribing your thoughts pen to paper and in your own keepsake. As much as I can write openly about my feelings, there are some thoughts, longings and fears that will always remain stashed away in my mind and never revealed. I suppose that gives me some solace.
I attempted to deal with my diary experience a few years ago relating to an exhibition I curated in July 2008 at Whitechapel Art Gallery about modern nostalgia. I interviewed some friends about why they chose to keep a diary. The only person whose answer I can find is Faris Badwan's below.
How long have you kept a diary for?
Since I was three, unwillingly at first.
What first made you decide to keep one?
I was forced to by my schoolteachers. Gradually began enjoying it.
Are these wholly private or have you shared these with others?
Some pages have been published.
Is your diary - a typical diary e.g. about your day, a log book of thoughts, lyrics, drawings or all of the above?
All, and I have different diaries with different content, themes, pen sizes etc usually being filled in tandem.
If it’s an amalgamation of all of them, have you thought about separating these out - a book of thoughts, a book of drawings, a book of lyrics?
Would it affect your personal thought process
reaching for a different book each time?
I carry three different books with me usually.
Is a diary merely another thought compartment, does it really help to express yourself or is it just a physical store of personal confusion?
I spend so much time waiting, in queues, on the tube...inevitably end up thinking a lot - writing down some of these thoughts helps me to focus and concentrate more and in turn generate more ideas.
Recently, a collection of drawings from your notebooks were exhibited in London. How did it feel to see the public react to drawings that came from a very private source?
With the kind of work I do - very little negative space - I feel people get overwhelmed and just say it’s good as a knee-jerk reaction. Basically no one said anything particularly insightful and therefore I didn’t feel that self conscious. If they had been more analytical maybe I would have felt more uncomfortable.
Would you publicly display any other creative work e.g. poems/lyrics etc?
Would you ever keep an electronic diary? Would it affect your ability to express yourself if you typed out your thoughts instead of wrote them?
Typing can be useful editing-wisebut it can never have the same character as hand-written notes or the same level of expression. It depends where the focus is, on the actual words or their meaning.
For me, Wilde’s ‘De Profundis’ is a massive inspirational piece of personal contemplation. Have you read published diaries of others? Have any particularly interested you and why?
A lot of the art I like has an obsessive quality to it, the desire to document everything, found objects etc. Raymond Pettibon, Egon Schiele, Marcel Dzama.