In an era of unbridled self- promotion on social media, blogs and the taking of selfie’s, I am wary of joining in the rush, then I recognise the hypocracy; I have been keeping a journal for nearly forty years and have included a self- portrait on my biography page, oh and I have a website. My journal and self-portraits so far have been done for private purposes however, whilst a website is an outward, predominantly business tool. Now I shall fuse the two purposes, like an amphibian crawling out from under a rock into the light.
The urge to record your daily experience of life and your thoughts and feelings as well as capturing your own image have long historical roots. The French 16th century nobleman Michael De Montaigne, one time major of Bordeaux and advisor to the King of France invented the “essay” as a literary form, which translates as “to go forth”. In his essays he explored in great breadth and depth any area of life which caught his attention, often with reference to ancient Greek philosophers and writers from 2,000 years before his own time. These essays were available in print nearly five hundred years ago, as they still are today.
Becoming obsessed with your own image is explored in the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, as a cautionary tale. Painters and sculptors have produced their own likenesses for eons. The most famous being the life long series of self-portraits produced by Rembrandt, some of which are amongst the greatest examples of western art and the most famous selfies of all time.
Ultimately a journal is perhaps about exploring life and what it means to each of us, whether heavily influenced by a wider culture, or religion, or out in the existential woods on our own, or somewhere between these two extremes.
I will try not to take my own thoughts too seriously, they might change tomorrow.