Is this because people are generally willing to nod and smile while a young person regales them with the details of her life but don’t really want to hear about a middle-aged person, least of all a middle-aged woman? Perhaps in part. But, more than that, I think my reluctance to write about myself comes from what may be the primary difference between the young and the old(er). When you’re young, you think that everything you’re experiencing has never been experienced by anyone before, ever. […] It’s because finding something unique to say about the situation, finding something that wouldn’t be drowned out by what everyone else was saying, would require me to assume a position that suggested no one else had seen quite what I had seen. […] And if there’s anything I’ve learned from growing older, it’s that usually everyone is walking down the street in exactly the same way: preoccupied with their own problems and, nowadays, engrossed in their phones.I’m tool old to write about my life by Megan Daum.
The library had, for the thousandth time, performed its mundane magic trick: It had vaulted me into the future — the prosaic, dog-eared, heaped-by-the-bedside future — that this book and I would, however promising our first encounter, inevitably have ended up having anyway. The initial flush of book-lust promises: This book will change everything; this will be the one that finally gets you into epic poetry; this will teach you how to meditate. The library says: This book will contain a stranger’s ancient receipt and will be out of your life in three weeks. […]
And in dispelling my fantasies of permanence, the library does more than save me the cost of a paperback — it provides me with a template for navigating the great sea of longing and disappointment that is life. […]
Library-induced realism is a great thing, one that can do much to increase your happiness. Because the world in which you are perpetually under the impression that the next book purchase, the next apartment, the next significant other will be the one that finally delivers the goods is not a life of happiness. It is a life of perpetual dissatisfaction, a life of thin and sugary highs followed by long and unenlightening lows. The library is, with its careworn and temporary offerings, as lovely and as poignant a reminder of our actual human condition as the tides or a forest in fall. To quote Penelope Fitzgerald (whose books are well worth owning): “Our lives are only lent to us.”Library Books: A Small Antidote to a Life of Perpetual Dissatisfaction, Ben Dolnick, The New York Times, December 8th 2020.
Sur son blogue, Beth offre une réflexion très intéressante sur l’écriture du journal intime. En référence à Thomas Merton, elle dit :
He had left the academic world of New York in order to seek God and some sort of personal overhaul. He was aiming at authenticity, transparency, honesty, directness, egolessness… and yet he learned how the very act of writing — which he couldn’t help, couldn’t give up completely — became a trap for the ego. He talks about it a lot. This was his huge struggle: the need to say what he saw and felt out of the depths of his contemplative experience, to communicate it to others, and to try to make a difference in a broken world, but how writing can become performance that addictively seeks something else entirely: admiration, praise, fame.
Ça m’a fait penser à un texte de l’autrice Helen Garner que j’ai lu récemment dans The Guardian. Elle raconte l’expérience pénible de replonger dans ses vieux journaux intimes :
A few years ago I had a huge bonfire in my backyard and burned all my diaries up to the point where Yellow Notebook begins. I did this because when I went through the cartons of exercise books one day, looking for what I’d written around the time of the dramatic dismissal of the Whitlam government, I found to my astonishment that I hadn’t even mentioned it.
That day, crouching over the crates in the laundry, I was soon so bored with my younger self and her droning sentimental concerns that there was nothing for it – this shit had to go.
Elle a quand même fini par y trouver du matériel qui avait une certaine valeur de partage, mais le travail d’édition des écrits en question n’a pas été facile. Je n’ai pas (encore) lu le résultat publié, mais les réflexions qu’elle tire de ce travail sont d’une pertinence cinglante :
And of course I soon found myself, day after day, strapped into the straitjacket that is the very nature of a diary: it’s got a voice, it’s entirely composed of voice, but it has no voiceover. It exists in an eternal present.