I’m currently reading The Art of Time in Memoir, by Sven Birkerts (not my own copy, mine is still in the mail) which talks about present and past subjectivity — something I was puzzling over last week. Birkerts claims that subjectivity is a necessity to memoir — memoir shouldn’t simply document experience, but document a ‘way to reflectively make sense of experience’. (Yes, I already know this.) In contrast to many of the essayists I’ve been reading, Birkerts argues for specificity of detail and a fluid, continuous double portrait of the writer self and the self from the writer’s past.
What is my past self and present self today? When I sit down to write from the past today, specifically, what else is on my mind? What makes what I write today slightly different to how I might write the same events a month from now, or even tomorrow?
Here’s me today: (be warned, this may bore you — sorry.)
April 28, 2013
I have sore muscles from my morning at the gym, also from sleeping on the dodgy pillow last night because I was too tired to change it with the other one. I am not sure why I am going to the gym so often — I don’t play any sport, so it’s not fitness for some other activity. And there’s no real physical difference as far I can see. I suppose I want to feel stronger? / I am sitting in a quiet university library, hungry but reluctant to buy lunch because I need money in the bank until my pay goes through this week. / I am still thinking about Marieke Hardy’s first memoir I read last night in You’ll be sorry when I’m dead, where she reminisces over this ‘bad boy’ she once dated who made her do crazy things like have threesomes with prostitutes, only to end the chapter with an email from him writing that he was just a boy in love who was living off her energy. / In three months I will be about to come home from a tropical holiday overseas. I will be sunburnt and vowing never to touch vodka or suspicious chicken skewers ever again, and this will be okay. / My boyfriend is potentially moving to Sydney for a job next year, and this is stressing me out for various reasons. / I am conscious that it is my ex-boyfriend’s birthday today, hesitant to wish him a public HB but feeling like I should. Why? We haven’t spoken in over a year, except for the time I sat beside him on a train. / I am beginning to worry about next year’s plan — half-wanting to apply for a PhD, half-wanting to enter the real world and put the books down for a while to make some money. I have been looking at the strange things that are ‘graduate jobs’ — either in the government or at corporate firms. These jobs are open to arts graduates, but I discovered that I don’t know what the difference between ‘consulting’ and ‘private clients’ is, and then I found out I’d have to buy a suit for these kinds of professions and now I’m just feeling really stupid about not having thought before about what I’d do in the real world. I don’t even know how to drive?
How will each of these details affect what I write today? Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty — seems to be the main theme…