Note to self: a pandemic is a great time to keep a diary, plus 4 tips for success



Marcos Paulo Prado/Unsplash, CC BY

Peta Murray, RMIT University; Kim Munro, RMIT University, and Stayci Taylor, RMIT University

A search for “Coronavirus Diary” on Google yields 910,000 results. News outlets like the Guardian, The Atlantic and The New York Times have chronicled an increase in personal record-keeping.

Whether for future historians, self-care or to relieve feelings of isolation, we are in the middle of a diarological moment.

And today’s diaries aren’t just handwritten reflections in bound notebooks. They might be social media posts, video entries or visual collages – so long as they are regularly updated over an extended period and personal in nature, they fit the bill. The secret is in the repetition, and the pledge that drives it.

‘Dear diary, what a day it’s been.’



Read more:
Museums are losing millions every week but they are already working hard to preserve coronavirus artefacts


On the look out

The word diary entered the English language in the late 16th century, via the Latin word, diarium, which comes from dies, meaning day. The diary asks us to attend to this day.

Diary-keeping sharpens observational skills, so it is no wonder then that cultural institutions have begun projects to crowd-source details of what otherwise might be quite banal aspects of our lives.

The State Library of Victoria has a Facebook group, Memory Bank, where posts of shopping lists and sourdough recipes have given way to more melancholy images of closed shops and empty streets in the CBD – a collective chronicle both hyperlocal and universal.

The State Library of New South Wales subtitles its Diary Files an “online community diary”, and currently contains nearly a thousand entries, searchable by keywords. School, time, home and COVID are among the most commonly written words, and the greatest number of contributions come from Sydneysiders between 10 and 15 years of age.

Video “lockdown” diaries can also be viewed online, via BBC Reel, or listened to through Corona Diaries, the interactive open source project which collects audio stories from around the world.

Social researchers have identified the diary as a tool to capture the impact of the pandemic on daily life. UK sociologist Michael Ward began his research through CoronaDiaries, where 164 participants ranging in age from 11 to 87 submit entries in a variety of forms. Ward suggests:

These entries are able to highlight the multiple different lives behind the dreaded numbers we hear announced each day.

Vic Lee self-published a Corona Diary. He sold 2,500 copies and donated some proceeds to charity.



Read more:
Lockdown diaries: the everyday voices of the coronavirus pandemic


Famous diary keepers

Most of us can name some famous literary diarists of history – Samuel Pepys, Virginia Woolf, Adrian Mole. When we stray far beyond this list, it is often the times, rather than the writer, that make the diary notable.

There is Lena Mukhina’s perspective on the Siege of Leningrad, 13-year-old Anne Frank’s account of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and the poignant scratchings of Sir Robert Scott’s on the day he perished: “For god’s sake, look after our people”.

Nelson Mandela’s desk-calendar notes, kept in prison, speak to extraordinary experiences under extreme conditions.


Penguin

Diaries from the 1918 influenza pandemic came into their own as more than ephemera for both historians and scientists in 2020.

For a book length account, we can look to Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, about life in London in 1665 – bearing in mind the author was only five years old at the height of the epidemic, so it is likely a factual-meets-fictional rendering.

Diary-writing serves broader society, and can help individuals make sense of difficult times.

Interviewed for this story, psychologist Robyn Moffitt told us:

From a psychological perspective, keeping a diary is a really useful (and evidence-based) way to engage in healthy self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and behaviour … writing things down as they happen can provide some objective evidence and perspective on the frequency and severity of different events, and we can use this to correct distorted thinking.

The process of writing itself can also be quite therapeutic. It can allow us to process and reconstruct past events, problem-solve, and create new meanings, and in some ways this makes it similar to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is often referred to as the “talking cure”, and writing can provide similar therapeutic benefits (the “writing cure” perhaps)?




Read more:
Diary of Samuel Pepys shows how life under the bubonic plague mirrored today’s pandemic


What makes it a diary?

The turn of the 21st century saw a resurgence of the diary in public reading events such as Mortified, Salon of Shame and our own experiments with The Symphony of Awkward.

It might be argued that social media has since overtaken the diary as a means to chronicle one’s life. Indeed, there is crossover in the ways lives are shared and curated across different media, from the handwritten diary to blogs.

The ritualistic structure offered by the personal diary can be repurposed in digital spaces. The notion of publicly committing to post something – an image, a video, a song – every day offers another way of marking out time when every day is Blursday the fortyteenth of Aprilay.




Read more:
What Groundhog Day (and my time in a monastery) taught me about lockdown


We have experimented with each recording a sound a day, collected from the few spaces we were still able to inhabit.

A diaristic practice, whether written or not, supports us to stay in the moment, as psychotherapists and life coaches exhort us to do.

Fountain pen on notebook
A favourite pen or notebook can heighten the journal experience.
Unsplash, CC BY

And it’s never too late to start diarising. Here are some tips:

1. Decide on your platform

Digital or analogue? Decide on your medium. The written or spoken word? A photo? A sound? A song? Choose something that pleases you (a special pen, a fancy notebook) to heighten the experience.

2. Make a vow

Make an entry every day, or on a set number of days for four weeks. 28 days is said to be a good target if aiming to break or start a habit – though it may take longer.

3. Make time

Set aside time at the same hour each day to capture your experience.

4. Rinse and repeat

Carpe diem. Seize the day!


The Symphony of Awkward is hosting a free online forum on September 24, 2020 to discuss diary practices.The Conversation

Peta Murray, Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Media and Communication, RMIT University; Kim Munro, Lecturer, RMIT University, and Stayci Taylor, Lecturer, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Evangelical archeologists skeptical about ‘Joseph coins’


Two evangelical archeologists have expressed caution in evaluating reports that ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph have been discovered among unsorted artifacts at the Museum of Egypt, reports Baptist Press.

“The scholarly community will need to see the full report and images of the artifacts to make a judgment in regard to the interpretation of these objects as coins,” Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said.

“It is more likely that these are amulets or jewelry. The initial reports are probably based on an initial zeal to support the koranic verses that mention coins associated with Joseph rather than a comprehensive study of the finds,” Ortiz told Baptist Press.

Al Ahram newspaper in Cairo first carried a report about the artifacts, and a subsequent report appeared in The Jerusalem Post Sept. 25, based on a translation of the original article completed by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The research has not appeared in a scholarly journal.

The Post said the significance of the find is that archeologists have located “scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.”

MEMRI’s translation said the artifacts initially were believed to be charms, but a thorough examination revealed that the objects bore the year in which they were minted as well as their value.

“Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” the report said. “… This [find] prompted researchers to seek and find Koranic verses that speak of coins used in ancient Egypt.”

Robert Griffin, an ancient Egyptian history scholar at the University of Memphis, noted that he couldn’t make an assessment without seeing the artifacts or scholarly reports, so he wasn’t ready to accept the discovery as it is being promoted.

“My initial response is one of skepticism in that the ‘interpretation’ of the coins is quite subjective,” Griffin told BP.

The Al Ahram article said the coins are from many different periods, “including coins that bore special markings identifying them as being from the era of Joseph. Among these, there was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows ….”

“It’s a bit of a stretch, to say the least,” Griffin said, “especially when you consider that one of the most prominent goddesses in Egyptian mythology is Hathor, who is represented as a cow or a woman with cow’s horns as part of her crown.”

Hathor was popular in the late Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period, circa 1800-1600 B.C., which corresponds with the general time period of Joseph, Griffin said.

Also, Al Ahram said Joseph’s name appears twice on that particular coin, written in hieroglyphics, “once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer.”

“I would be interested to see the actual writing of what the researcher claims are the names of Joseph,” Griffin said. “The English transliteration he gives for the ‘Egyptian name’ of Joseph is close in form but not exactly as it would be transliterated from the Hebrew text.”

Based on what he knows at this point, Griffin said he would hesitate to say the artifacts are definitive proof of the existence of Joseph in Egypt.

Report from the Christian Telegraph 

STUDY: GAY LIFESTYLE STRONGLY LINKED TO DEPRESSION, SUICIDE


A new study in the United Kingdom has revealed that homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population, reports Kathleen Gilbert, LifeSiteNews.com.

After analyzing 25 earlier studies on sexual orientation and mental health, researchers, in a study published in the medical journal BMC Psychiatry, also found that the risk of suicide jumped over 200% if an individual had engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.

These findings strongly support the results of similar studies conducted in the United States, which have unveiled the severe physical and psychological health risks associated with homosexual behavior. Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron of the Family Research Institute revealed in 2007 that research shows that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 24 years shorter than that of a heterosexual. As a health threat, even smoking pales in comparison, as studies show smoking can shorten one’s life by only 1 to 7 years on average.

While the Health 24 article suggested that homosexuals may be pushed to substance abuse and suicide because of anti-homosexual cultural and family pressures, empirical tests have shown that there is no difference in homosexual health risk depending on the level of tolerance in a particular environment. Homosexuals in the United States and Denmark – the latter of which is acknowledged to be highly tolerant of homosexuality – both die on average in their early 50’s, or in their 40’s if AIDS is the cause of death. The average age for all residents in either country ranges from the mid-to-upper-70s.

Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist and member of the Catholic Medical Association, says there is evidence that homosexuality is itself a manifestation of a psychological disorder accompanied by a host of mental health problems, including “major depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, conduct disorder, low self-esteem in males and sexual promiscuity with an inability to maintain committed relationships.”

Fitzgibbons said the American Psychological Association, which is known for its support of homosexual “marriage,” ignored the evidence he presented that homosexuality presents significant danger to psychological health.

Report from Christian Telegraph

AUSTRALIA TRIP 1: The Top End


Back in 1998 I went on my first major holiday, travelling to Australia’s Top End, visiting such iconic places as Kakadu and Uluru. It was a fantastic trip and one I’d love to repeat again – or at least head north again and see some of the places I didn’t get to, as well as some of the places I saw back then again.

During my trip I kept a diary/journal in which I logged the places I visited, distances travelled, etc. This journal along with photos of the trip can be found on my web site.

Visit: http://www.kevinswilderness.com/Australia/oztrip1.html

Litchfield National Park - Northern Territory, Australia

Litchfield National Park - Northern Territory, Australia

KYOGLE, NORTHERN NSW


I had forgotten this journal on several previous trips, so this will be the first trip fully recorded in this journal.

Yesterday I began my journey from home and reached as far north as Woolgoolga, north of Coffs Harbour. I stayed at a place called Rosebourne Gardens (a motel – 48 Clarence Street Woolgoolga). It cost $55.00, with $10.50 for breakfast (total $65.50).

Of interest are the travel times (especially for future trips):

  1. hour: Karuah
  2. hours: Taree
  3. hours: Port Macquarie
  4. hours: Macksville
  5. hours: Woolgoolga

For my further travels north it took a further:

  1. hour: Tyndale
  2. hours: Ballina
  3. hours: Murwillumbah

My first destination was Cudgeon Nature Reserve. This simply involved driving through the area, which is clearly an important reserve area for native wildlife.

From Cudgeon N.R. I travelled along the Clothiers Creek Road and then headed to Tweed Heads and the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Tweed Historic Site). It was shut, which may have been a good thing since it costs $15.00 for adults to get into the museum.

I then travelled back to Murwillumbah and headed for the Wollumbin National Park. The access road travels through beautiful country, but the road isn’t all that good.

After Wollumbin N.P. I travelled back along the Tyalgum Road and back onto the Kyogle Road. Off this road I then headed for Mebbin National Park and this trip’s first bush walk.

Here I walked the 450m Byrrill Creek Walk, which is quite obviously drought affected – very dry indeed there. The walk begins from the camping and picnic area on Cadell Road.

When I headed off on the Lemon Tree Road for the other walk I managed to get the car stuck on the very bad road (suitable really only for 4WD – in hindsight). After struggling for about 10 minutes to move it a 4WD happened along and the occupants helped me to move the car.

Having moved the car and turned it around for me, I was able to head back up the road and continue on the drive through the park (well worthwhile).

So for tonight I’m staying at the Magnolia Manor Bed and Breakfast (198 Summerland Way, Kyogle, 2474). This was a well spent $95.00. It is a great little place.

NEW JOURNAL


Having spotted this journal at the bookshop I decided to purchase it in order to be able to keep a ‘hard copy’ journal of my various journeys and trips to Australia’s wild places, for my own future reflection and that of friends and family.

My next trip – somewhere reasonably close I think …