Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Notes to a Future Self

I'm reading Paul Auster's Report from the Interior, a memoir of mind, a book that reconstructs the awakening of consciousness. In the course of doing this, Auster laments the fact that, though he wrote stories as a child, none of his early scribblings remain.

He never much saw the point of keeping a journal, he says. The problem with the journal was that he didn't know who he was addressing, whether himself or someone else. And if himself, he muses, then "why take the trouble to revisit things you had just experienced, and if it was someone else, then who was that person and how could addressing someone else be construed as keeping a journal?"

I bristled a bit reading this passage. As a longtime journal-keeper I'm hypersensitive to journal-keeping being considered an idle or superficial exercise.

But Auster comes around. Here he is again, writing in second person, as he does throughout this book:

"You were too young back then to understand how much you would later forget—and too locked in the present to realize that the person you were writing to was in fact your future self."

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