None of what you hear.

May 5, 2009

rumorsI grew up with great truisms like “There are three sides to every story. Your side. My side. And the truth.” and “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” So how much of what you remember should you believe? I thought keeping a journal would give me an edge on remembering “how things really were”.

But there a few problems with that:

1. I was highly focused on things I no longer find interesting. Some of which I actually find embarrassing. So I don’t actually read much of the journals I diligently kept. Even though I also can’t bear to throw them away, just in case

2. I wrote poetry. I thought it was good.*

3. (and this is where I get really philosophical) What I felt about what I was experiencing when I was 12 or 16 or 22 is no more real than how I understand it in hindsight. Recording bare facts is problematic because they are boring (I have a few journal entries that are fact focused so you can really trust me on this one). But recording feelings/responses to experiences doesn’t tell as much about the experiences as it does about where I was at or who I was when I wrote about my experience.

I like the way Jeannette Winterson dealt with this whole problem by embracing the nature of the memory and classifying her autobiography, Oranges Aren’t the Only Fruit, as fiction. 

I’m not sure people are capable of telling the truth, try as we might. There is too much in the way of us even really seeing the truth, how can we hope to tell it to someone else? So I guess what I am saying is that while I will work to be accurate in my retelling and presentation of my memories, I can’t actually promise that it’s true. 

Hopefully it will be interesting. 

* This is a constant reminder of the possibility of self-delusion at any point in my life.

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