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Autobiographies to Lie With

I've been thinking about autobiographies for the last couple of days. Maybe it's my mind finally coughing up a disused thought based out of the James Frey thing, but I kind of doubt it. Australia's had a few writers like Frey, but I've never invested myself in such a work like this to the point that I would feel betrayed if it was revealed to be based upon lies. I was never the same after Milli Vanilli was revealed to be fake, you must understand. I was young. It shattered me. Absolutely shattered me. I remember sitting round with my friends, holding the tapes of the albums we'd copied, and cutting our dreadlocks off, tears streaming down our faces. Such pain. Nowadays I save this disappointment and betrayal for the relationships I find myself in. It's healthier for me.

...What?

Don't look at me like that. It could have happened. I distinctly remember seeing images on the television of crying, betrayed fans who were burning their albums and posters and t-shirts. So it happened somewhere. Maybe there were even Millie Vanilli suicides. Wouldn't you just love to be the mother/father/sister/brother/whatever of a Millie Vanilli suicide?

In barely related terms to this, when Kurt Cobain killed himself* my high school had an assembly and counciling so that all of the apathetic, disillusioned students like myself didn't go out and blow our own brains out. I remember thinking that it was the funniest thing I had heard that day. I didn't much care about Nirvana at this point (I've since learned to enjoy a few things) but the idea that I'd kill myself because some celebrity did was ridiculous. I wondered why it was, however, that in Scripture they spent hours telling us that to give up your life for someone else was one of The Best Things You Could Do (tm), but then never paused, and quietly, and in all seriousness, added, "But I don't wanna hear of you crucifying yourself after school, okay?"

Anyhow, like I said, I've been thinking about the autobiography, and how, in a fashion, it allows the author to restructure his or her life. To give it a narrative, an event sequence, perhaps even a purpose. Narrative and life rarely go together, so you have to assume, at the very basic level, that certain things are massaged in autobiographies (and even biographies) to make them fit. I guess the truth is, I've left the whole reality of an autobiography way behind, and just jumped onto the idea of massaging parts of life into something more interesting. Which brings me to this weeks project, which is going to be a story that is about me, and which is based off one of my very first memories. Perhaps the first. I'm going to called it '1982', because I was five or six at the time, and if it works, and if I write a couple more, I'll just keep jumping through the years.

The idea comes, in a roundabout way, from Lyn Hejinian's My Life. It's a small book, consisting (in it's last edition, I believe) forty five pieces containing forty five sentences, since Hejinian was, at the time, forty five. Once sentence and one piece for each year of her life. Reportedly, she updates it every so often with new sentences and new pieces as she grows older, but I've no idea if she's kept this up. Still, it's a different way of looking at your life, and I've always been fascinated by how Hejinian has done it. My idea has absolutely no similarity to Hejinian's, of course, but I thought it'd be interesting to reference the influence just for kicks.

I'm slowly turning '1982' over in my head, talking about it aloud to get the thoughts and ideas out, and I think tonight I'll finally sit down and begin it. With any luck it'll work out, but if it doesn't, well, it doesn't, and there's that idea tossed out. Still, I've got my opening, and it goes a little like this:

In April of 1982, when I was five, my father took me to see Doctor Morris. He was my father's family doctor and the first that I can remember seeing; a thin, greying, narrow white man dressed in a white shirt, brown slacks, white socks and black loafers, he existed in a large faux wood paneled office. Once we had sat, and he and my father talked over me, he had me take of my clothes in front of them both. I stood in my coloured children's underwear as he poked at my skinny white body, measuring and examining me in so many ways that the embarressment of being nearly naked in front of two adults was almost gone by the time he was finished. He was searching for the reason that I was walking strangely. Walking, it appeared, on my toes.

Finally, crouched in front of me, he said to my father, He has grown too quickly.





* He allegedly wrote "It's better to burn out than to fade away" on his suicide note. It's taken from a Neil Young song, I believe. Of course, this is if you don't believe that he was killed by Courtney Love in some alternative rock conspiracy.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2006 08:09 am (UTC)
Frey's book is really good - even if he did...well..you know...

And I laughed my head off about Milli Vanilli. Oh yeah, sweet revenge on manufactured popular music...and kids like you...oh yeah.

Rju
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 10:13 am (UTC)
to be fair, i never had any interest in frey's book, and i don't have any now. i saw his recent one, MY BROTHER LEONARD, the other day, but it didn't appeal to me none, either.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 10:19 am (UTC)
yeah, but i like some of hole's music anyway.
(Deleted comment)
fengi
Mar. 21st, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)
Have you ever heard her live cover of Hungry Like A Wolf? It's great both in execution and how they sound like they're going on the nod after about a minute.
fengi
Mar. 21st, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC)
I think everyone was freaked out by the extremely passionate coverage on Triple J. There were excerpts on Triple J's 30th anniversary retrospective and man, if I was a principal and heard that I'd have a big rally just to cover my ass.
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC)
i wasn't paying attention to anything about cobain at the time. plus, i barely listened to the radio at all. see all the things passing me by...
nick_kaufmann
Mar. 21st, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
He allegedly wrote "It's better to burn out than to fade away" on his suicide note. It's taken from a Neil Young song, I believe.

Are you sure it isn't from the Def Leppard song "Rock of Ages"?
bodhichitta0
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
I thought the SAME thing. *laughs*
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)
i'm pretty sure it's in a whole lot of places. it was said in the first HIGHLANDER movie, after all.
nick_kaufmann
Mar. 22nd, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
"Happy Halloween, ladies!"
crookfactory
Mar. 21st, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
It's from Young's song "Hey Hey, My My".

Yay I win geeky lyric reference award!
speshal_k
Mar. 21st, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC)
I remember when I heard about Kurt Cobain's death - I was cleaning my room. I was cleaning my room when I heard about Jeff Buckley's death too. Nowadays I try not to clean my room too often.
bodhichitta0
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
I cried like a baby when Jeff Buckley died.
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
you wuss :P
benpeek
Mar. 21st, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC)
i don't remember either of thier deaths. i think maybe i was sleeping. or at school. who knows.
bodhichitta0
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
Not the point of your post but oh well. :-)
I got Kurt Cobain's journals one year for Christmas (yes I was/am a nirvana fan) and he has this hilarious thing toward the back of the book where he talks about how he wants to die before becoming Pete Townsend. "I would only wear a tie-dyed shirt if it were dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry Garcia."

exp_err
Mar. 24th, 2006 05:17 am (UTC)
I like the opening of 1982. An interesting exercise is to take a paragraph or two about some period of your life and then continue the story as it would continue if it was an SF story. One of my stories was written like that and I was happy with how it turned out. I've been meaning to try another.
benpeek
Mar. 24th, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)
i've kept the opening of the story, actually, just cause i think it's strong. going to need a new title though.
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