The Paris Diary

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Ned Rorem

I think of writing in a diary as a daily self-meditation.   A diary can be a chronicle of our inner life, outer life, and often both.

While I can flash my vulnerability in person, the idea of putting it down on paper where it can be read by strangers, or worse, people who know me, is a terrifying idea. Like swimming in the ocean at night, I yearn to do it but too many things lurk below. I admire those who are reckless or fearless enough to take the risk.

Ned Rorem is such a reckless and fearless man.   No doubt partially due to his Norwegian heritage. A profile of Mr. Rorem appeared in the October 27, 2013 New York Times which described him as a “composer and diarist.”  The Paris Diary, covering his stay abroad from 1951-1955 was published in 1966. Reviewers were shocked or thrilled, author Janet Flanner was both–she called it “worldly, intelligent, licentious, highly indiscreet.”

In an interview with Phillip Gambone in The Gay and Lesbian Review, Rorem admitted to second thoughts about the frankness of his diaries. “I have found that if you write about real people, no matter who you are, someone is going to object. I’ve lost two friends from the diaries. One is the wife of George Perle.   She was my best girlfriend. We’re civil now, but she objects to things that I said. But if it’s a question of should I withdraw it, well, if I withdraw it, there’s no diary. Certain people always say, ‘Oh, I was there too but it didn’t happen that way.’ A diary is a chancy thing.”

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