Shaping the self via journaling


“The movement they seek to bring about is the reverse of that: the intent is not to pursue the unspeakable, nor to reveal the hidden, nor to say the unsaid, but on the contrary to capture the already-said, to collect what one has managed to hear or read, and for a purpose that is nothing less than the shaping of the self” (Foucault 2).

Several years ago, over the span of around two years, I would journal nearly everyday—often, I would sit down for around two hours at a time, and write until the hand cramping became too unmanageable. This was a process that was notably in-line with Foucault’s idea of self-writing. To clarify and expand:

Foucault states that “hupomnemata ought not to be understood as intimate journals,” and that “they do not constitute a “narrative of oneself”; they do not have the aim of bringing to the light of day the arcana conscientiae, the oral or written confession of which has a purificatory value” (2). This reminds me quite a bit of my past experiences with keeping a “journal.” When I began this process at the age of thirteen, I was in recovery for anorexia, EDNOS, and OCD. Nonetheless, while the journal was kept for the purpose of helping me through these issues, the entries often avoided discussing the topics directly; instead of revealing unsaid secrets, my lengthy entries would often turn out to be a total recollection of my day, where most entries were full of what could be considered mundane details. I was hardly confessing anything unsaid within these journals. Ultimately, the process of writing became a way of processing and reorienting, rather than a means of directly venting my destructive thoughts.

So, truly, this process of journaling absolutely functioned as “nothing less than the shaping of the self” for me, personally.

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