Vulnerable and Ordinary

I have been aware, as I write this autobiography, of a feeling of boredom with the project. My efforts to make what I write interesting seem pitiful. My hands are tied, I feel. I cannot write about myself as I write about the people I have written about as a journalist. To these people I have been a kind of amanuensis : they have dictated their stories to me and I have retold them. They have posed for me and I have drawn their portraits. No one is dictating to me or posing for me now. . . .

If an autobiography is to be even minimally readable, the autobiographer must step in and subdue what you could call memory’s autism, its passion for the tedious. He must not be afraid to invent. Above all he must invent himself. Like Rousseau, who wrote (at the beginning of his novelistic Confessions) that “I am not made like anyone I have ever been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence,” he must sustain, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, the illusion of his preternatural  extraordinariness. . . .

Autobiography is an exercise in self-forgiveness. The observing “I” of autobiography tells the story of the observed “I” not as a journalist tells the story of his subject, but as a mother might. The older narrator looks back at his younger self with tenderness and pity, empathizing with its sorrows and allowing for its sins.

Janet Malcolm, Thoughts on Autobiography from an Abandoned Autobiography (from here) 


“[Director] Graham Blundell once wrote about me said no-one does ordinary and vulnerable like Noni Hazlehurst. “But then I thought it’s okay, because in fact we’re all vulnerable and we’re all ordinary. Although, a lot of our energy is spent trying to prove the opposite.”

Noni Hazlehurst , acceptance speech, induction into the Hall of Fame. May 2016 (from here) 

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