Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How honest are you in your diary?

This post was originally written on 18th April, 2009.

Today, the webmaster told me a story from Greg Egan's Axiomatic. The story, “The Hundred Light-Year Diary”, is about a future invention that allows people to send messages to themselves from the future. Every person can send about 100 words every day (similar to Twitter?).

The protagonist of the short story is a guy who has been writing a diary for his entire life and sending it back to his younger self. And naturally, the younger self has been reading the diary his whole life (of course not when he was just a little baby). The story starts when the protagonist meets his wife for the first time. But he has read about her already, and he knows everything they will do for the rest of their lives.

The protagonist has a friend, and in the diary it was predicted that in this friend’s wedding, he would have a broken arm. The protagonist and his friend knew about this ten years before it happened, and they even joked about it. There is nothing the friend could have done: the diary said that he would have a broken arm, so he will have a broken arm.

When the wedding day comes, however, it turns out that not only does the friend have a broken arm, he is also very badly beaten and is ‘sodomized with a bottle’ by muggers.

So, why did the protagonist not mention in his diary that his friend was nearly beaten to death? And why did the friend not send the truth of his mugging to the past? How honest can one be in one’s diary?

9 Responses “How honest are you in your diary?” →

April 18, 2009
I believe in honesty, or it’s just difficult to define what it is. Perhaps behind each partial truth, there is shame and a reason that no one ever knows. A very interesting story.

Shadowy figure
April 18, 2009
None of us is writing in our diaries or blogs or twitter feeds as ourselves… but as personas we’d like to be. There may be different degrees of forgery, but it’s inevitable. In fact, I think it’s so inevitable to “lie” that who’s to say that the lies are not really us? Does it matter if Shakespeare’s works were not written by Shakespeare, but a man called Shakespeare?

April 19, 2009
another thought provoking post Tammy!
Do you keep a private diary? I used to as a teenager – but even then I admit to editing my feelings…in case it were ever found and read by someone other than myself! I think I’ve only been really brave and ‘exposed’ myself in poetry. But then I hide the poetry!

April 19, 2009
Sadly, I don’t keep a private diary. I wish I had one! But the horror of someone else reading my private diary is too strong….
Post some poems on your blog, Mio!

naperville mom
April 19, 2009
I used to be very honest in my diaries EXCEPT that I used these li’l codes that I thought, at the time, were very brilliant. Looking back, I see now that those were VERY easy to read:-)

April 20, 2009
I can never understand dishonesty in personal diary. What the point of that? If you’re writing to hide things, why not just hide them in your own heart? Then, of course, it is too laboriously to record every detail so it seems inevitable some things will be left out. But I won’t call that dishonesty.

April 21, 2009
i’m also pretty boring in there, that’s why it’s just for me.

April 21, 2009
Maybe non-experiencers of your life (i.e. everyone other than you) may find your diary very interesting!

April 11, 2010
Interesting question!
I don’t’ keep a personal diary as such, though I blog and tweet about my work. Now that you ask, I started keeping an online diary as part of a ten year project that will chart online people’s views and reactions to environmental change. It is an OU/BBC project that will become, hopefully, a sort of huge living archive of ideas, concerns and experiences about the environment. Does this count?
And yes, t, to answer you question, I try to be …


  1. My 100 words for the day

    "I woke up at 4AM read Twitter messages
    checked email facebook NYTimes
    San Francisco Giants won World Series.
    Forgot to watch Sherlock Holmes
    Today I wrote part of first draft of poem
    about fairy tales and ghost stories
    I heard a song I fell in love with,
    called ‘To the Grain’
    By Junip
    My wife Arisa got mad at me because I was stubborn
    But I realized I was wrong and apologized.
    We went to 24fitness for 2hours
    I met our new neighbors Gabriel Ruby and daughter Melissa
    I have been reading the books “Snake Lake” and “Hunger Games”"


  2. Webmaster said: "I re-read this blog post, thanks for it. But in this case, it was not a completely private diary: it was read not only by the protagonist himself, but also shared with his friend apprently. It would have brought undue distress if they had known he'd be raped some time in the future."


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