Diary For Sale

15 Apr

I was glancing through the headlines earlier and saw where Anna Nicole’s diaries were up for auction but so far had failed to sell.  This got me to thinking about privacy and intrusion into a person’s private thoughts and personal effects after their death.  Regardless of the life Ms. Smith led I think selling her diaries to the highest bidder is a callous thing to do.  I wonder how she would feel to know that things she wrote for the sake of journaling and to fulfill whatever need keeping a diary filled for her were being sold at auction for any and all to view?  Would she be embarrassed, out and out mortified, thrilled with the attention, what?  She was aware that she lived in the pubic eye but shouldn’t the things she purposely kept private be left private?

I have kept journals off and on throughout my entire life and the thought of these books being publicized gives me pause.  In periodic closet cleaning endeavors I’ve came across dusty old journals and reread them.  A few times I’ve destroyed my writings just because the feelings they contained were no longer pertinent and seemed petty, and not something I wanted anyone else to ever read about.  Maybe that was a mistake on my part, simply because all events, feelings and reactions that we have at any point in our lives play a part in the person we are at the present and were valid feelings at the time. 

Would I read the diary of a loved one if I happened upon it after they had passed on?  Yes, I’m sure I would unless I had been asked not to.  But what if I didn’t like what I read there?  What if there were things written there that I should never have known or would never have wanted to know about that person?  Depending on what the journal contained, wouldn’t that affect how I thought of that person from that point on?  Of course it would.  There is always some risk involved by reading what someone had thought would always remain private.

I understand the great historical value of old letters and writings of long dead literary greats or political leaders and the sentimental value and family history/genealogy that is contained in letters between spouses, siblings, parents and children.  Letters kept in my family from our grandfathers to their wives, our grandmothers, during war-time are prized possessions never to be sold.  And I wouldn’t object to my future children, grandchildren, and so forth reading letters that DH and I have written to each other over the years, if only so they will know the great love we have for each other.  That is a powerful piece of family legacy to have a tangible hold on.

I just think privacy is something to be taken seriously.  There is a certain line that should not be crossed.  And some things are better left unsaid, or at least unpublicized.

3 Responses to “Diary For Sale”

  1. marfsbaby 04/16/2007 at 1:35 pm #

    Good blog today Finn… lots to think about. I agree that privacy should be respected and taken seriously, but I also believe that we give that up (to whoever stumbles across it) the minute we put anything down on paper (or the internet). I kept a very detailed diary from age 13 to about 18, a highly critical and private time in a woman’s life. I destroyed them years later as I would roll over in my grave if anyone found them after I died. Same goes for my giant pink vibrator… sadly for them (and probably quite uncomfortably) one of my poor kids is going to find it as they go through and clean out my earthly posessions.

  2. Finn 04/16/2007 at 8:07 pm #

    Hee! You crack me up! I hear ya but my mom reads this so I can’t say much. 🙂
    I agree with what you say about once we put something out there, it’s fair game. Even so, I resent that in a way, simply because if I couldn’t pour it all out on paper or on the screen I would explode. So it’s therapy for me, no one else. Interesting.

  3. Lynnster 04/17/2007 at 5:08 am #

    I have kept journals off and on most of my life, but the ones I kept from late high school through about the mid-’80s, I threw out in a fit of just wanting them out of my sight, and have regretted it ever since. As far as real “journaling” goes, those were probably my best years of writing. But I either just didn’t want to be reminded of a lot of it at the time, or didn’t want the chance of anyone else seeing it all. Not sure which.

    Now, when my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, we discovered that she had started keeping a journal after her second husband died (which was not quite a year before she did). I wasn’t really party to it, one of my aunts was reading it aloud, and there wasn’t anything horrible to hear in there – most of it was very sweet – but I kind of wanted to crawl under the table anyway.

    (Though not nearly as much as I did a few years after my grandfather died and she was dating the man who would be her second husband, and she and my mom are sitting there playing Scrabble at nearly sunup one weekend night and she starts talking about the talks they had been having about sex – OK, right then I was just about to crawl under the table!) :p

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