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Compulsive Diarist

It was a failure of my imagination that made me keep leaving people. All I could see in the world were beginnings and endings: moments to survive, record, and, once recorded, safely forget. I knew I was getting somewhere when I began losing interest in the beginnings and the ends of things. Short tragic love stories that had once interested me no longer did. What interested me was the kind of love to which the person dedicates herself for so long, she no longer remembers quite how it began.


If I considered the act of procreation as essential to the world’s general ongoingness, I could almost accept it as an obligation of being alive. I believed that parturition would honor the force that, in the nineteenth century, joined my earliest ancestors I know by name, and the forces joining anonymous procreators for centuries and centuries before that, and so on back to the beginning, to the first sexually differentiated animals. And then, someday, maybe, someone will have needed me to produce one of their ancestors, and that fact of my parturition, that fact and my name, will be the last anyone remembers of me. All the rest of me will be gone, no longer anyone’s burden.

—Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness

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