Sunday, August 01, 2010

Borislav Pekić: Notes

Borislav Pekić: Notes

I keep a diary since my childhood, with more or less diligence.

There used to be days without any comments, after which I would (without any particular reason) write with killing persistence, day in day out, sometimes from hour to hour (as if this diary was my whole life, and that without it I would be dead), experimenting with self-observations which are recommended by psychology (in love with mental hygiene) and practiced by mystical schools (fond of deeper knowledge).

From 1948 till 1986, I economize with my writings a little more. I am more selective concerning the events that I describe as well as my own thoughts about them. There are also periods, in which something incessantly happens, about which I almost don’t think, and those in which I constantly think about something that doesn’t take place at all.


If there is something where my diary from 1948 onwards differs from some others, then it is in the first place its insatiability in swallowing everything that doesn’t belong, in the proper sense, to a diary (cuttings from newspapers, materials and ideas for future novels, correspondence, records and diverse documents from different sources); in the second place one should understand that a diary of a potential or actual writer is not merely a story about literature but literature about one’s life.

At the beginning I didn’t think either of diligently expanding a chosen theme or that I should bring a started topic to a conclusion, for which there was not enough time, or to compose a complete picture of my life. I could not avoid the temptation to develop a story (by a special selection) that would mean something.

Whether it will be understood as a tragedy or a farce depends on the diaries that as yet have to be written, and from my life that awaits me till the end of my circle.

Nevertheless, now when all is in front of me, I believe that I couldn’t have done any better had I left it to chance, had I opened the diary with my eyes close and chosen episodes, which such lottery would have imposed on me.

The diary looks, without a doubt, ragged, confused, incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory. Sometimes shallow, often false, in short – unnecessary. But, isn’t our life more or less like that?

The chronology has been maintained, but the dates have been reduced to years. A string of dots means that parts of the diary have been omitted. Sign ( ) means that a name has been excluded. The initials are genuine.

Parts of the letters are given with the permission of the person who was writing it (except if it is the case of some official acts). The authorization for citations or paraphrasing public domain work was not asked for.

What more could one tell?

If with this diary I have done some injustice to anybody, I have done it bona fide, I haven’t done it as a man who remembers in order to hate, or who hates in order to remember, but as a writer whose job is to write, and writing is a method of not forgetting.

Translated by © Ljiljana Pekić, 2006, from the book Skinuto sa trake (Taken from tapes)

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