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“I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?” — Jason Bourne.

* * *

Throughout the years in primary school we made our way through different text types. I remember haiku. My glasses are cool, my glasses are very cool, my glasses are dumb. I remember capitalising on exclamation marks in narrative writing. I remember a good friend’s poem that rhymed ‘number-twoer’ with ‘sooner’. One year we did diaries. I think it was every day we just had silent writing time to write about real life things in an almost real diary. It’s reality was compromised because if you wrote about girls that you liked then you’d have to accept sharing it with peers and the teacher. But you could write about other things.

As I grew older, the idea of a diary made perrenial returns in my personal life. In early high school I tried the whole write-about-the-girl thing and grew increasingly frustrated when I couldn’t find a nice sounding word to describe blonde hair. ‘Tussock’ regrettably sufficed. In my post high school years it was a kind of predecessor to this blog, a coming-to-terms with my new faith and the infinite possibilities and inconsistencies this brought to surface ex abstracto.

Pretty attractive.

Throughout my limited experiments with the medium of diary/journal, I continually realised one limit, which I now have the language to express: Authenticity. Because the self is expressed in a foreign medium, it is necessarily distorted. Thus in high school, rather than providing the object of adolescent desire, true feeling was slaked through my lack of words. The medium of representation differs from that which is represented. So even in the most ideal situation, an external kind of machine which could read all your inner thoughts, desires, motivations, etc, and represent them objectively in a diary would fail. The diary would represent that person but it wouldn’t be that person. The perfect form of representation, then, is not representation at all but the person in its complete authentic selfhood.

Someone can write a book about Justin Bieber and earn some dosh. But Justin Bieber sees himself from the inside; no doubt he can write a better book. There are two Biebers here. There is the Bieber who sings, records and hangs out with Usher, and there is the Bieber who actually experiences himself doing these things. This latter Bieber writes a book. But Bieber ultimately fails even if he writes no book. In his internal monologue he fails: The Bieber who reflects is one and the same with the material Bieber. Thought is at once the medium for representation of the material self and a part of the material self.

In the case of Jason Bourne, his struggle for identity is especially interesting: Though the material, actual Bourne remains, the conscious-reflective Bourne has been displaced and replaced by an incomplete version of itself. This is a metaphor for the diary: The self that wants to know itself is already itself and somehow already knows itself. Something is lost in reflection. The same self which attempts to scrutinise its own motivations, “Why did I take up faith?”, is participating in a motivation as it writes, thus presupposing a zero-level impenetrable base which falsely enables it to represent its false self.

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