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Repair Work in Autobiography

miércoles, 13 de noviembre de 2013

Repair work in Autobiography

(A comment I add to a thread in PsyArt, as an answer to questions further discussed in Celia Hunt's 'Therapeutic Effects of Writing Fictional Autobiography', Life Writing, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.231-244).

One might contend, perhaps, that the conscious BUT UNACKNOWLEDGED decision to beautify, streamline, skip, or otherwise "improve" the autobiographical truth by means of distortions, additions, or whatever, need not breach the autobiographical pact, in the sense that if the work is presented as an autobiography, the pact holds vis à vis the reader, and the writer keeps his cake and eats it. It is only when the accuracy of the portrayal is somehow publicly contested (more or less publicly, that is) that the autobiographical pact is dissolved, but even in this case the dissolution may not be complete, being rather more akin to a local weakening or a more generalized fading or blurring of the generic conventions. As to the possible therapeutic effects of intended distortions, it is rather a form of remedial work on the social face of the individual. To the extent that this face is or might be damaged unless the remedy is applied, this is preventive health care rather than therapy. Unconscious repair work may have additional dimensions, but anyway, a relevant question is, who does the evaluation? —from whose (reliable) viewpoint are these distortions to be defined as such?

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