Tuesday, April 28
Outside Arcada, 17:10
I had two conversations in Paris about Auo, her death, and its aftermath. The more interesting of the two was with Susanne Palzer, a German artist living and working in Sheffield. She had been looking at this site as part of her preparation for the conference and she had taken to reading this diary. She asked me, “is it all real or is it fiction?” Nobody had ever asked me that before and I was silenced for a few minutes.
At the time I took it very literally and explained that all the events depicted had happened and, allowing for failures of memory, happened more or less as described. I explained that I edited it. It is not a stream of consciousness and it is not designed to tell it like it is. It began as a photographic project because I wanted to commit to publishing a photograph every day as a form of self-discipline, and the captions expanded over time into little essays.
Now, thinking about it again on the way to work, I was not so sure. I think it may well be a particular kind of fiction, in that it distorts my daily life and manufactures an implicit inner life that may not be mine, but may belong to a character playing me.
Shortly after Auo died, I wrote about the beneficial effects of trying to impersonate Vince McMahon. If you walk as though you feel powerful then your mind will absorb the effects generated by your body and you will begin to feel powerful.
I have known for some time that this diary is being written using a similar technique. By writing in the character of somebody who is wryly accepting of the absurdities and pain of his situation, and yet still able to be happy within it, I am attempting to practise wearing the feelings of that person, and thus becoming him.
As Thoreau once said, about something entirely different, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”.
This line of thinking occupied my time on the bus, metro and tram, and when I got to Arcada I switched to thinking about the day’s teaching. I spent the morning with the CMS group and the afternoon with the XML group.
Now it is time to go home. Outside Arcada the sky has brightened and the air has warmed. We were promised the return of winter but fortunately it has not come. The sky is magnificent.
Once home, I will clean the floors, do some ironing, and sit in silence, reading or not reading.