I read an excellent novel this weekend, Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia. Like any good novel, it’s about many things, but in particular, it made me think about the issue of self-curation.
In his “Chronicles,” the character Nik elaborately archives his work in music and an alternate autobiography. He tells his sister Denise, “Self-curate or disappear.”
As I was reading, I realized: I suffer from archive anxiety. Partly about my actual life, which is why I’ve adopted resolutions such as Keep a one-sentence journal and Suffer for fifteen minutes. They help me chronicle my life.
But for me, the greater worry is the archiving and curation of my observations — not my actual life, but my intellectual life. Even though taking notes on my reading and thinking is one of my favorite things to do, it’s also burdensome: it takes up a lot of time, and I worry about whether I’ll be able to find what I want later and whether I’m making good use of my materials. So much wonderful material! I want to write book after book after book, to think it all through.
Reading Stone Arabia has made me consider this theme of “self-curation” in a different light.
I need to think about this more.
How about you? Do you “self-curate”? What steps do you take to preserve memories, to catalog memorabilia, to leave a record of your life, thoughts, experiences, and to review it? Do you do it for yourself, or with an eye to an audience? Do you feel the need to curate anyone else’s history?
* Check out the Pop vs. Soda map that shows, county by county, the most commonly used term for “soft drink”: pop, Coke, soda, or “other.”