Records: public and private
Is everyone concerned with fading into nothingness?
I’m taking a brief respite to address why I decided to make this project something public. I believe that this process of reading letters and understanding the past is enhanced by its being shared. This forum is allowing me to create something new with records of the past that are both historical and personal. These are records that I view as valuable to the world beyond my family. On a logistical note I am pushed to continue reading and thinking about this project because the blog posts are time sensitive. I am regularly making someone else’s work public, piece by piece, causing the events of my own life to play more directly into how I read the documents.
I’m one of those people who has kept journals (on and off, of course) for most of my life. And yet I would be mortified if they were to be made public. Well, not even if they were made public but if anyone read them. I save, collect, and document the world around me fairly regularly. Who am I keeping these records for? I’m largely keeping them for myself, yes, but having re-read a lot of these journals I’m pretty sure that I was also writing to some imagined audience. Thirteen year-old Molly was certainly concerned that Future Molly (or whoever) might think that she was shallow or naive. So from time to time she takes a moment to write something “deep” and “thoughtful” with words that she may or may not understand. She does all this in an effort to assuage her own harsh judgment. Of course, this is all for naught since she ends up sounding, well, even less clever.
Herein lies the danger of a blog. For many people a blog can become (or is created to be) a personal diary explicitly designed for the public viewer. There isn’t anything wrong with that but it makes me consider how I utilize this blog. I wonder if I am being hypocritical by sharing private letters that two people wrote to each other while I would never want my own personal writings to be made public. These letters were not written for the public eye. While this presents certain moral ambiguities, I think Alex and Sylvia’s assumption of privacy is part of what makes the letters so important and worthwhile. The confidential nature of the letters contributes a new narrative to the story of an era that is entrenched in myth and lore, a time known for censorship and propaganda but also for democracy and righteousness. And so we persevere.