Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A diary of sorts

Whenever I start to write an entry in my diary I am reminded of the Scottish poet and diarist William Soutar. At the age of 32, William - who was afflicted with the spine infection acute spondylitis - became bedridden and during this time and shortly before his death in 1943 he wrote one of the most exhaustive diaries in the history of English literature. Some believe that Soutar's medical affliction effectively imprisoned him with his diary, a defacto companion it would seem from 1930 to 1943. He describes the practice of diary keeping as something: "we tend to indulge in it over often: it becomes a habit which would ever seduce us to say more than we ought to say and more than we have the experimental qualifications to state." I do not envy the situation that seems to have brought about blossoming of Soutar's diary but I do admire the discipline and intellectual honesty of his work. In his entries he described the diary as an assassin’s cloak to be use to stab people in the back with a pen. And a month before Souter died he wrote in his dairy: "There is a quirkiness about a diary which cannot be assessed: something which may seem to the diarist himself to be of real importance may in later days prove to be a bore; and some little aside or comment which has just dropped from his pen, by the way, may prove to be the most penetrating glimpse of a situation, or a revolutionary flash lighting up some strange corner of the spirit. The true diary is one, therefore, in which the diarist is, in the main, communing with himself, conversing openly and without pose, so that trifles will not be absent, nor the intimate and little confessions and resolutions which, if voiced at all, must be voiced in such a private confessional as this." Thus, here I am again staring at blank paper on a computer monitor attempting to write a diary/journal of sorts.


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