Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Susan Sontag

Photograph by Fred W. McDarrah
Sontag at a symposium on sex in 1962 at the Mills Hotel, now defunct, on Bleecker Street.


31 December

On Keeping a Journal. Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts — like a confidante who is deaf, dumb and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.

The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

There is often a contradiction between the meaning of our actions toward a person and what we say we feel toward that person in a journal. But this does not mean that what we do is shallow, and only what we confess to ourselves is deep. Confessions, I mean sincere confessions of course, can be more shallow than actions. I am thinking now of what I read today (when I went up to 122 Bd. St-G to check for her mail) in H’s journal about me — that curt, unfair, uncharitable assessment of me which concludes by her saying that she really doesn’t like me but my passion for her is acceptable and opportune. God knows it hurts, and I feel indignant and humiliated. We rarely do know what people think of us (or, rather, think they think of us).. . .Do I feel guilty about reading what was not intended for my eyes? No. One of the main (social) functions of a journal or diary is precisely to be read furtively by other people, the people (like parents + lovers) about whom one has been cruelly honest only in the journal. Will H. ever read this?


From On Self, New York Times Magazine September 10, 2006.


5 comments:

loveyouintheface said...

your girl Sunday is a smartie pants.

Michael said...

No, you're the German-knowing smartie pants.

God, I love you.

scruffylooking said...

Both my daughters keep journals and it kills me sometimes not to read them. I want to respect their privacy, but I'm also so damn nosy.

It would really hurt my feelings if they wrote something bad about me - even though I'm sure they probably do.

Michael said...

Do your girls know about (and read) your blog?

scruffylooking said...

They know about it and I've shown them some posts. They don't go to it on their own, though. They're probably afraid of what they will find too.