Thierry Crouzet

Automatic translation from french

Some of my best friends have been dead for a long time, often before I was born. I met them through their diaries, their memories, their correspondences, more than by their canonical works. Flaubert, Tarkovski, Gombrowicz, Nin, Lovecraft, Lartigue, Kahlo, Delacroix and many others less influential to me. With them, I learned to live, to look at the world, to work on it.

So should we publish his journal? Yes, because sharing his experiences, emotions, thoughts, more or less day by day, is to give to live by proxy, it is for me more powerful than the romantic, more powerful than any other form of literature, because that the newspaper can absorb them all.

That does not mean that we should all keep newspapers. The newspaper often makes sense only because it is constituted in parallel of a work, feeds on it, shows us the reverse. There is an art of the newspaper as there is an art of the novel, but an art which develops only in conjunction with others. It's a bit like working on a piece of work, forging a look at it, a style, allowing you to write the diary, all of which are missing from Anne Frank's diary, which only holds me by its dramatic side.

Strangely, I do not know of any essay that would titrate The Art of the Newspaper. No doubt literary critics think that all newspapers have the same form, day-to-day entries. Yet some are not timestamped, some mix dates, everything is imaginable. But the art of the newspaper is well beyond any chronology, it is in what is said, noted, discussed, as much as in what you are. A diary involves a story, an exciting diary takes us into a life like a novel, it awakens our curiosity, it feeds our imagination, it gives us to love, to laugh, it makes us cry and think, all with a tone, a style, an inimitable music. Through his diary, his correspondence, his memories, an author helps us to be him, to share his life in a hurry, as if we were his best friend, his confidant, as if we were himself. It's a great gift.

So, when we keep a journal, should we write it with the idea of ​​its publication in the more or less long term, even if it is posthumous? I do not see how it could be otherwise, at least for an artist who aspires to touch his fellow men. Flaubert knew that his correspondence might end in a book. He knew the fate of Madame de Sevigne's letters. One can not be an author and believe that his intimate writings will not interest readers. In the past, this publication was conceivable only for celebrities, today the question arises for all of us, it is a new dimension of the art of the newspaper.

I like Lartigue's case. Friend of the painters, he wanted to be a painter. The eventuality of the publication of his newspaper probably never touched him, at least before he knew the success. His photos were also a diary in picture, entertainment according to him. It was with the greatest of luck that, during a voyage to New York, while on a table he was classifying his photographs, which an American gallerist noticed, he immediately organized an exhibition and, at sixty nine years old, Lartigue became one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century (and a totally forgotten painter). He left us a journal that was essentially not thought of in the idea of ​​a publication (and which has not yet been published in its entirety).

The question of the posterity's will of the newspaper arose with Amiel. His works have been more or less forgotten, except his diary, one of the largest ever written, published after his death. Why did not he try to publish his masterpiece during his lifetime? Maybe because his size frightened him. I only read excerpts from this monumental text, too long ago, I do not have the answer. Or maybe Amiel, like many others, thought the newspaper was a minor genre. And maybe today, with blogs, social networks, posts sown to all the winds, this art is becoming major, because we all keep a newspaper, but too often without asking the question when to publish it, because we do it in the moment, often without thinking, without art ... This is where it bugue, rather than give us to live we devour the time of life.

One can not, and one should not, keep a newspaper without asking the question of when to publish it.

The first entry of mine dates from August 15, 1980, I had just turned 17, but I began to publish it monthly only from August 2015. My work as a diarist took place in four stages.

1 From about 1980 to 1990, I noted only a few ideas from time to time, noted some biographical facts. My diary was not yet a project in itself.

2 From 1991, probably influenced by Perec, I aim to write the life of a man this man being myself. I begin to write abundantly in my notebooks, almost furiously. Therefore, I think publication. This diary will be my work. I will have to clean it, rewrite it, but it will be my canonical form to me.

Until I moved to London in 2000, I stand stubbornly in this project. Although I write other texts in parallel, my diary is central, an invisible cathedral. In London, for a moment I think of keeping the diary of an expat, then I start working at Eratosthenes, I write other texts, soon The people of the connectors, then I start blogging from 2005 and I neglect my notebooks, returning only sparingly until the blog form tires me - this idea of ​​publishing more or less independent notes - I want to slip back into a continuous narrative, more raw , more personal, so take back my notebooks, what I do in 2015.

4 I am entering a new phase. Some days, I write with the same jubilation as during the 1990s, others I remain silent, often because I work on other texts, sometimes I'm happy with a photo, a cryptic note. But the idea of ​​imminent publication does not leave me. It implies a fairly strong self-censorship. I forbid myself to talk too much about the family. I mention Isa, Tim and Émile, but I never go to bed. Many things are dead, which were not in my previous notebooks.

I refused to publish my notes daily. This project would have imposed itself to me with too much force, it would have dictated its necessity, soon forbidding me to work on other texts, swallowing everything in it. I also needed some time for the repentant, to cut, to rewrite, often to censor what after a few days no longer had any interest.

When one decides to publish a diary more or less intimate, the temporality of the publication must be weighed because it immediately influences the form. To publish is to lose freedom of speech. During the 1990s, I told myself that "I will rewrite and cut later", today I have only a few days for this work, which influences what I write at every moment. I often do not even start writing because I know I will not be able to publish what I want to write. Publish implies a form of modesty, at least at home. I am ready to say everything in public, but by keeping the content under control, what a daily and almost immediate publication forbids.

To solve the temporal difficulty of the publication, Guillaume Vissac publishes daily with about one month of shift, which does not prevent him from wondering if he should not carry out compilations monthly.

Some readers told me that they thought my monthly notebooks were too long to read, that they would prefer daily or weekly deliveries. Frankly, I do not care what's practical. The question of the temporality of publication influences too much the writing to be reduced to a question of convenience. I know that if I publish my notebook daily, or weekly, it will change color.

Maybe in the future I will adopt another temporality, a situation will require it, or I will judge that it is the moment, but I am aware that, if I increase the frequency of publication, my notebook will take the step on my other projects of writing, because to publish, even if it is fast online, implies a not insignificant time, because in addition to the writing the attention to the readers, one must write and publish at the same time time, and not publishing would be a mark of contempt.

The art of the newspaper is multiple. I am just sketching it, knowing that I have developed mine over the years, sure that my newspaper has its color, a fact I do not doubt, while I am more circumspect on my other texts. I do not question the interest of my diary because it is vital for me, because without it I will be blind, less myself. I could stop writing books but not my journal.

One day, I may decide not to publish it online anymore, to keep it for myself, perhaps the day when self-censorship will become unbearable and prevent me from writing what I have to write there.

PS: Small reflection induced by Lionel Dricot who wonders whether or not to publish his journal?