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Of what value is a diary?


It’s a good job we don’t all keep lifelong diaries, although Tony Benn’s from age 33 to 83 covering a life on politics must be of greater value and interest to most. My diary age 13 to 33 in contrast covers some tender and messy years – the process had been anything other than transforming. Why am I as I am rather than  how do I change.

These days we are all life logging if we have a life on line – there are a thousand touchpoints, especially photographic that give you that chance to look back and reflect.


Reflecting on Tony Benn


I am apolitical. My in-laws used to laugh, saying they cancelled each other out: Tory, Labour and Liberal. (That’s, mother, father and grandmother). I never asked and could never figure who voted which way; they kept their politics to themselves. I have voted in all directions from green through blue to yellow and red – I cancel myself out. I often vote different ways in local and national elections only voting for the person, not their party. In fact I wish political parties could be banned, so, I guess like Tony Benn, you can be your own person rather than being forever held to and subjugated by the party thinking.

That’s me on politics – an agnostic in religion, indifferent in politics.

Here though to pick up on a phrase used on the BBC obituary yesterday regarding his fifty years of keeping a diary (written, then audio). His view, probably expressed to a journalist to keep things short, was that ‘something happens, you write it down, you re-read it, then realise that you were wrong’.

In the aggregation of events, and musings, self-analysis is surely just as capable of creating such an aggregating of similar events and thoughts that you become entrenched, rather than transformed? Surely a bit of both is the reality. Or does it make any difference at all.

I’ve kept a diary and blog and relate to several others who do the same – the diary/blogging thing is part of who you are or have become, you do it out of habit, like saying your prayers at night. I cannot see across any of these people, especially those published diarists, that suggests that in any way the act of keeping the diary changed them. I rather think the opposite, that those who keep a diary are very set in their ways.

There’s barely been a module across the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE) that hasn’t expected students to blog. I wonder if this though isn’t for purposes of reflection, but is a learning journal or portfolio of work, a accumulation and aggregation of course work and themes upon which you build you knowledge. In these instances reading over does adjust your thinking, you become fluent in the language of your subject and wise to the ideas rather than ignorant of them. That should be self-evident in the diary I have kept here for four years.

Benns on blogging. Tony Benn addresses his grandson on the matter

From My Mind Bursts

To support the launch of a new book Tony Benn‘s grandson spoke to him in the Oldie Magazine.

My interest regarding blogs, twitter, facebook and the plethora of otherwise to ‘have a voice’ is that there are so many millions of blogs now and so many people ‘up on their soap box’ trying to have their say that their words risk being drowned … or being ‘deselected’ by search engines that favour sites that have been tagged to favour rankings and selection

Is a blog the way to be heard?

Would a well advertised book not do this better

Ref. THE OLDIE Feb 2010

‘Letter to my Grandchildren’ Tony Benn Hutchinson

‘You say that lack of editorial censorship on blogs gives those that write them ‘real power.’ Do you think that individuals writing blogs have the potential to effect significant changes in the world?’

Oh yes enormously. If all the great writers and thinkers in history had had access to the wider public through the blog then quite a number of big decisions might have been taken differently. And the right to free speech, which we boast about, has got to be accompanied by the right to be heard. The right to be hears is what matters. Anyone can go and shout in a public park, the question is will anyone be able to hear it? And what blogging has done is made it possible for people, without being controlled by proprietors, to put out their own thoughts. or publish other people’s thoughts, and all those those to enter into the public domain.’ Tony Benn

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