Posthumously released diary: yea or nay?!
I am so torn over this question. On a recent evening after work, the beautiful November Vanity Fair [long live print media] was in my mailbox touting the upcoming release of Marilyn Monroe’s private writings. I was sucked into the article immediately, despite not really being a fan of hers. What is it about access to the private thoughts of dead celebrities that seems to fascinate the common folk? What are we hoping to gain? Insight into untimely and/or unsolved deaths? Assurance that US Weekly is correct in proclaiming “Stars, they’re just like us!”?
I believe it is a combination of all of the above, plus much more depending on who you ask. A lot of it is based on the notion that we put these well known figures on such a pedestal and it is somewhat sickly comforting to learn that even the most famous blonde bombshell was just as painfully insecure as we all are. Celebrities seem to have it all: money, notoriety, sex-symbol status….. none of which can eliminate self-doubt or mend a fractured childhood. It is so reassuring, right?! Maybe I DON’T have it all that bad when I miss the train bythismuch in the morning!
The title of this post comes from the cover of Journals, a collection of Kurt Cobain’s writings made public in 2002. This quote speaks to me as a writer and journalist because it gets to the core of why the concept of a diary is private: where else can one bitch, moan, emote, expose the inner weirdo without judgement if not on the blank page in the book hidden under the mattress for no one else’s eyes? The very idea of journaling creates a solitude unmatched in other creative outlets, especially among the online culture of tweets, status updates and blogs [ahem] that we find ourselves in today. I always put myself in the shoes [er, coffin?] of the dead celeb being exposed, most likely in the name of profit. How would I feel knowing my deepest thoughts/hopes/desires/insecurities were being sold to the masses? What is to become of my own journals (of which exist sporadically all the way back to my childhood and consistently since May 2002) when I am not around to fill them?
It might be silly to ponder the reactions of the deceased, but I know we all see the bigger question here being one of privacy. In the aforementioned digital age we currently inhabit, is anything truly ours? The comfort of the written word is the one place I feel completely safe. As far as what becomes of my own method of self preservation when I head to the great long sequin covered runway in the sky, I shall ponder.
There are discrepancies between public and private personas in all of us- I do not mean to suggest this only occurs among the rich and famous (and/or dead). Keeping one part more guarded and protected against eyes that Kurt knew would only judge, ensures an outlet where we can reconcile the two parts and as best we can. Sort of makes me wish they still made those novelty diaries with tiny locks…
Until next time: read, write, judge, forgive, empathize. We’re all in this together! Some of us just look better. Wink!