Subjects — D
A man who keeps a diary pays, Due toll to many tedious days; But life becomes eventful — then, His busy hand forgets the pen. Most books, indeed, are records less Of fulness than of emptiness.
These pages reproduce me very imperfectly, and there are many things in me of which I find no trace in them. I suppose it is because, in the first place, sadness takes up the pen more readily than joy; and, in the next, because I depend so much upon surrounding circumstances. When there is no call upon me, and nothing to put me to the test, I fall back into melancholy; and so the practical man, the cheerful man, the literary man, does not appear in these pages. The portrait is lacking in proportion and breadth; it is one-sided, and wants a center; it has, as it were, been painted from too near.
What the Journal posits is not the tragic question, the Madman’s question: “Who am I?”, but the comic question, the Bewildered Man’s question: “Am I?” A comic — a comedian, that’s what the Journal keeper is.
The Journal is not essentially a confession, a story about oneself. It is a Memorial. What does the writer have to remember? Himself, who he is when he is not writing, when he is living his daily life, when he is alive and real, and not dying and without truth.
This journal is a relief. When I am tired … out comes this, and down goes every thing. But I can’t read it over — and God knows what contradictions it may contain. If I am sincere with myself (but I fear one lies more to one’s self than to any one else) every page should confute, refute, and utterly abjure its predecessor.
“The horror of that moment,” the King went on, “I shall never, never forget!” “You will, though,” the Queen said, “if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”
The moment a man sets his thoughts down on paper, however secretly, he is in a sense writing for publication.
I think this journal will be disadvantageous for me, for I spend my time now like a spider spinning my own entrails.
After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
I am carrying out my plan, so long formulated, of keeping a journal. What I most keenly wish is not to forget that I am writing for myself alone. Thus I shall always tell the truth, I hope, and thus I shall improve myself. These pages will reproach me for my changes of mind.