And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

8 March

1713
Edmund Harrold,
wigmaker

‘It is every [Chris]tians duty to mortifie their unruly passions and lusts to which ye are most prone. I’m now beginning to be unesie with my self, and begin to think of women again. I pray God, direct me to do wisely and send me a good one, or none, if it be his will I must have one.’

Did wife 2 tymes

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1943
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘Whenever Goering cannot himself preside over the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich, which is to meet every week, he wants me to be chairman. This is to develop into my becoming his permanent deputy. Lammers would thereby be relieved unostentatiously of his post as deputy to Goering and pushed back into the secretarial position which had always been intended for him. Bormann and Keitel, too, are really nothing but departmental secretaries to the Fuehrer and have no authority to act on their own. They are assuming authority at present because the persons who were given far-reaching powers by the Fuehrer failed to use them.’

The Nuremberg ten

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1958
John Wieners,
poet

‘The sun shines. Miss Kids is across asleep on the couch. She wakes and says “I dreamt I just put on...” I cant hear the rest. She goes back to sleep. Dana is asleep in the bedroom beside this one where the sun fills three windows. Miss Kids’ dark glasses sound/crack on the floor.

I must forget how to write. I must unlearn what has been taught me.

Last night I dreamed Alan appeared in a hallway where I leaned against a lintel; there were open doors on all sides and he presented me with a doll, his doll, the country one whose dress he ironed 3000 miles away. He was smiling, a great smile and I still see his white teeth and the black beard on his face. She was dressed in black, the doll, and her long thick hair was tied back the way I had left it. He had put it on top of one of those innumerable chests he had around his house. And I take it as a sign that all is well, I am and he is, today with the doll handed between us, he wanted me to have what he named was his. It is only Miss Kids and Dana who have hangovers. I must not let them hang me up.

She awakes again and asks “Is it cloudy outside yet?” I say “No” and an automobile horn busts our ears and the Chinese kids overhead beat and stomp on the floor.

These days shall be my poems, these words what I leave behind as mine, my record up against time. It is all very sad that we have to fight it. Possibly I may come to love time and its taking of my days.

“It well may be, I do not think I would.”

Right now, it is very fine. The cable car track shuttles in right inside the street and they empty the mail-box. A motor-scooter or motorcycle guns its motor and what bright flesh runs on Leavenworth Street. The 80 bus stops. Miss Kids has the Mohawk blanket that we (Dana and I) bought in the Morgan Memorial up to her eyes and her hair, her yellow hair is all over the pillow and her shut eye-lids. The cable car conductor rings the bell twice. It also stops. Only man and time move. And the space we are given to inhabit, so fast it is thru our fingers.

I must learn how not to write. I must watch with my 5 senses.

“the 5 perfections that are the 5 hindrances” and I must nail down those who would, all that would hang me up.

I must forget how to write

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1963
Dawn Powell,
writer

‘Was told yesterday I had not won the National Book Award. I felt some relief as I have no equipment for prize-winning - no small talk, no time for idle graciousness and required public show, no clothes either or desire for front. I realize I have no yen for any experience (even a triumph) that blocks observation, when I am the observed instead of the observer. Time is too short to miss so many sights. Also chloroforms, removes the weapons - de-fanging, claws cut, scorpion tail removed, leaves helpless fat cat with no defenses and maybe exposing not a sweet, harmless pet but a bad case of mange.’

Powell’s diaries auctioned

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1989
Derek Jarman,
director and artist

‘I have re-discovered my boredom here. The train could carry me to London - the bookshops, tea at Bertaux’, a night in a bar; but I resist.

Film had me by the tail. Once it was naively adventurous - it seemed then there were mountains to climb. So I slogged onwards and upwards, often against a gale, only to arrive exhausted, and find I had climbed a molehill from where I had a view of a few yards, not endless mountain vistas. All around the traps were set. Traps of notoriety and expectation, or collaboration and commerce, of fame and fortune.

But the films unwinding themselves in the dark seemed to bring protection. Then came the media and the intrusion. At first a welcome trickle, something new. Then a raging flood of repetition, endless questions that eroded and submerged my work, and life itself. But now I have re-discovered boredom, where I can fight ‘what next’ with nothing.

You can’t do nothing: accusations of betrayal, no articles or airtime to fill. I had foolishly wished my film to be home, to contain all the intimacies. But in order to do this I had to open to the public. At first a few genuine enthusiasts took up the offer, then coachloads arrived.’

Tired of the cinema

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In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.