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Andy: Meta-dandy (essay)


Diary of a Star is a critical take on blogging that appropriates selections from the Andy Warhol Diaries.

Blogging is an online activity blurring the line of the private and public, something Warhol was interested in doing in all of his work. As it is commonly known, a blog (short for weblog) is basically an online journal where the writer, who is called a blogger, posts entries for online readers. The blogs are mostly informal and extremely biased. Sometimes bloggers, as they realize that their logs have an increasing audience, may tailor their entries to accommodate the readers. This is not always the case but it does happen, particularly if the blogger has a way of letting the readers comment on the postings via a feedback form. The format of the blog is similar to diary entries, only on the Web the content is exposed to an unknown public. This uncertainty places the blogger in an odd place where the writing can at times be intimate along the lines of a personal journal while functioning in a public arena; because bloggers are implicitly aware of this, the entries can be considered tainted. And here the private public dichotomy that Andy Warhol was so interested in exploring becomes exposed.

The Andy Warhol Diaries function in much the same way as blogs do today; this may be due to Warhol's awareness of his public persona. The diaries read as though he knew that his material would be published at one point. Indeed, his entries when read online, especially when links are added, are quite fascinating. They read as though he wrote them a few hours before, just like an average blogger would do on an ordinary day. But the credit should really go to Pat Hackett, who edited the diaries, and who wrote all the original entries when Warhol called her in the morning to tell her about the previous day. Ultimately, it may be her editing that makes the Warhol Diaries read as an early printed version of a blog.

The Andy Warhol Diaries was edited by Pat Hackett from a set of entries primarily used as Tax expense records. After Andy's death on February 22, 1987 Hackett realized that the tax logs contained rich material that could become the ultimate portrait of Warhol. The result is a set of diary entries that tell us about Warhol's idiosyncrasies while doing what he did best: expose the rich and famous in unique moments that at times could even be considered embarrassing.

I use selections of the Andy Warhol Diaries in the form of a blog to comment on diary entries, the private and public, the idea of a celebrity and her life as a public persona, and the activity of web-surfing as part of a new social space. The way the project works is I select an entry from Warhol's diary and type it verbatim on the blog to the right called "diary." I create links of people and places that Warhol mentions. I then comment on the people and/or the entry itself on the blog to the left called "meta diary." What I write always depends on how I relate to Warhol's entry as well as what I learn while surfing the links his entry provided. The entries correspond by date. I will often take more than half a day to post my own entry, so chances are that when the reader visits this website the "meta-diary" will be a day behind.

Diary of a Star was inspired by Baudelaire's dandy, also known as a Flaneur. During a creative critical writing Ph.D. seminar I took with Lesley Stern at UCSD in the Winter quarter of 2004, I was expected to write a critical essay that was creative and which problematized the usual academic approach to writing. My response was an essay which combined Baudelaire's Flaneur and Andy Warhol's persona as the subjects of modernity and postmodernity, respectively. The essay explains how they become my avatars to surf the web. This is why the log entries are posted by "dandy" in Andy's log (right) and by "meta-dandy" in my own log (left). The essay is now part of this project and can be read as a pdf file. A corresponding link is at the top of this page.

This project consists of two parts. The first is from March 28, 2004 to May 11, 2004. The second starts on July 1, 2004 and is still going on. The first half has entries from the first two months of Warhol's diaries. After writing for sometime, I came to realize that it would take me about ten years to write all of the Warhol diaries online. I do not have this kind of time to devote to the project so I decided to break it down to a more manageable time period of ten months, which means that each year equals a month. How this works is actually in the meta-dandy blog entry of May 11, 2004. It is quoted below and you can also visit the actual entry here.

Following is the May 11, 2004 entry:

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Today I should comment on Kitty Miller's party because this is the corresponding entry by Andy, but instead I find the need to layout important paradigms for the future of this project.
This particular entry marks an important time in the development of "Diary of a Star" (that's this website). Because the original entries by Andy in The Andy Warhol Diaries span over a period of ten years, I have come to realize that I will not be able to write about his diary everyday for ten years. My resources are limited and it is unreasonable for me to commit to such a long term task. Instead I have opted to select from the material that was originally published by Pat Hackett. This means that I will choose entries from her selected entries. I will not edit the actual entries; these will be posted as they appear in her book. I will add links and comments on the "meta diary" (that's this page), to critique on the activity of blogging in relationship to diary writing.

Pat Hackett selected the material published in the book from a much larger pool of entries. What Hackett is doing when she edits the diaries is becoming an author in her own right. She has left out material that the reader must wonder about, and created her own narrative of Andy. In a sense, then, when reading Andy's diaries, the reader is compelled to wonder about the other entries Hackett did not choose, as well as the parts she edited out of the days she did choose to publish. This process of selection exposes Hackett as an author, as a person who selected according to what she deemed important. So, in a sense when reading the Warhol Diaries, we are reading a portrait of Andy that was constructed by Hackett as editor.

With all this in mind, I find it more appropriate that I choose from Hackett's choosings. This strategy will also further comment on new media's dependency on metalanguages to function; that is, Hackett filtered material for the reader, then the reader (me, the book reader) re-filters this material for other readers (you, the web surfer). My main objective is to comment on blogging and its relationship to diary entries, the private and public, the idea of a celebrity and its life as a public persona, and the activity of web-surfing as a new social space; all these interests come to be reinforced by my own editing of Hackett's editing.

So, from now on, I will choose selections from the 10 year span published by Hacket as The Andy Warhol Diaries for 10 months. This means that for each month there will be about thirty entries comprising a year, starting with 1977. Due to everyday logistics, it might be necessary for me to have a month off from time to time; however, all sets of entries will usually be started on the first of the month and end on the last day of the month. In this way, the reader, while becoming aware of my appropriation of pre-published material, may have the desire to find out what material I did not choose and, therefore, might consider reading the actual diary, which is absolutely fascinating.

So the first edited entries will start on July 1, 2004. Like the previous entries, I will first post Andy's original journal entry, and then I will comment on his material on this page.
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