On the evil of a diary
This is said with all the love a person who has suffered and forgiven, suffered and forgiven, can muster— that is to say, as much or more than the average person.
Truly: Who gives a fuck about your day? Do you? Will you?
“Took a shit. Why do I hate mom? I never called her mommy. My fault? Mustn’t think like that. Ignore that splotch by the way, just a milk stain. Headache today, 2 ibu.”
The egotism of you people is sickening.
“Hard to get out of bed. Harder to write. Went to yoga class. Made great eggs. Turmeric is key. Thought about dad. Should call him, don’t want to. Another day.”
My curiosity is genuine: Is this helping you? Is recording every inanity which passes through your head really worth the time you’re taking to do it? Doesn’t it simply, at the very least, double the amount of time you’re wasting?
“Jerked off to porn. Not proud of it. Wonder what in me likes that sort of thing. Wonder where I’ll be in a few years. Probably here.”
If it were helpful, why are you thinking the same things you were when you started the journal? You’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your time and you’re going to die soon, any minute now or any minute after that, you’re going to die and you spend one of those minutes writing about one of the other minutes, and you’ll forget both, and the product of both, and then you’ll die. And no one will read any of it.
Stop proving to yourself, and to some posterity you ridiculously imagine will one day read your drivel, that you exist. Your existence will always be forgettable, so be strong and stop pretending otherwise, and write as if you care for the experience of the person doomed to read the memoir of the least impressive person ever to exist. If hell exists, we’re all there, reading those journals we kept when we had nothing to say, and crucially, criminally, no interest in anything besides ourselves. It’s a misanthropic, nauseating, despicable sort of narcissism which makes one record their day. Might historians of the future wonder what the day-to-day experience of your average do-nothing shitheel? Perhaps. But here we arrive at the true evil of your “harmless little exercise”: You don’t, at any point in your recording of your own existence, express yourself. It doesn’t just make for poor writing (and therefore reading), but calls your sanity into question. Why not, instead, scribble the words down and immediately burn them? Or flush them? Better yet, skip the middle man and pop your head in the water and “journal” out loud as you flush, flush, flush, and don’t stop until either the words or the air run out.
Once upon a time I too made a bureaucrat of myself, by myself, recording my day as if composing the most useless character study possible.
One must be flighty, thrifty, and concerned chiefly with the worlds which surround, rather than the internal swamp. I once made a bureaucrat of myself, dutifully filling out my paperwork, checking the box which confirmed my existence, that I had been alive and that I had done something, even if it were nothing, and it was often nothing, on that day. In this way I smothered my own soul. “What sort of magpie keeps this book?” said Didion. Said Didion, “Remember what it is to be me: that is always the point.”
Impressions will remind you who you are, who you were. There are people over there having a conversation. Listen to it. Write down the funny thing she says. Light is streaming in, tell us how, from where. What’s that woman wearing? Something cheap, no doubt, you’ll write, but not as cheap as you. She looks like a whore, but you admit you only think so because you envy her legs, and you feel a bit guilty for thinking that, now. The man beside her is a horror to witness, though, so maybe there was some truth in your judgement. You’re judgemental, but you enjoy that about yourself, your judgements keep you company. You’re lonely, but you’re fine with that. Look at that— the fattest cat you’ve ever seen is being pushed around in a stroller by a man only slightly larger than his charge. A wedding ring glints on his finger. But you never wanted to get married, anyways. Eat the pastry and keep watching, listening, it’s what you’re good for.