Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: Secrets

Monday, November 26, 2007


I've been kicking around the concept of secrets this week. My thoughts range from the personal (wondering about the secrets my family keeps vs the stories we tell) to the social (considering the phenomenal Post Secret).

The OED tells me that a secret is used in decribing "feelings, passions, thoughts: not openly avowed or expressed; concealed, disguised; also, in stronger sense, known only to the subject, inward, inmost. Hence said of the heart, soul, etc." (It's got a ton of really fun entries and is worth looking up for those of you who are into definitions.) It strikes me here that, if it is indeed the case that secrets describe feelings, etc., we hold close to our hearts and souls, we might need secrets to construct our identities.

In the spirit of experimentation, here are a couple secrets:

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(Former) Secret 1: When I took this picture I was glad for the tears and the mascara and the tissue and my camera because I thought it made a good representation of the moment.

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(Former) Secret 2: I took this picture, focusing on the aesthetic pleasure the rows of cut grass might create, because I was spooked by my surroundings. I was about a mile from the cottage in Ballyshannon (where I was staying alone). Up the street from where I was standing to take this was a trailer. Its front lawn was bounded by rusty barbed wire and there were runs from each front corner of the structure. One held a scraggly cur, the other a scraggly horse. Despite the fact that I felt utterly foolish being so spooked, I took off quick as I could back to the cottage.

I admit it: both of these secrets are totally banal. Even so, for some reason, I was very reluctant to write about either of them in a public way (even in the very limited way that I have here). So, I wonder in what ways I can tease out this tension between telling and not telling in my poems. It seems to me, too, that secrets could find their way into the prosthetic memory project.

Thoughts, anyone? Guidance? Suggestions for further reading?


Meghan Maguire Dahn said...

I found this interesting, but I couldn't think of a good way to fit it into the body of the post: secret has the same root as segregate.

So, in a way, a secret is that which we divide off and seperate from other things.

melissa said...

wow -- that's really interesting. it also implies that we're somehow ashamed of our secrets. in some way, i think i embrace my secrets (thus the "mel cache" -- i like having a hidden part of myself. sometimes i lie to people -- harmlessly, of course -- just to have a secret from them.

Meghan Maguire Dahn said...

So, building on what my lovely Melissa has observed, what happens to a secret discarded? Like "mel cache."