Kurt Cobain Journals
I’m quite a fan of Nirvana’s music – I can really relate to the sad moaning about disillusionment, self-hatred and disappointment. Being a big journal-writer myself I was excited when I heard that Kurt Cobain’s journals had been published but I also wondered whether we had any right to read them. That didn’t stop me purchasing them and the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath with some book vouchers I had been given – though I did wonder about my state of mind when I realised I was purchasing work by people who had both committed suicide.
The journals aren’t really “what I did today” but more “what i’m thinking about at the moment” and there are no dates or explanatory notes so I read them, often wondering, where was he at in his life when he wrote this? I did find some helpful info at http://slate.msn.com/id/2074093/#ContinueArticle where Tim Appelo gives suggestions on “How to Read Kurt Cobain’s Journals:”
“1 Don’t picture the author as a rock star. His peak journal-writing period was 1989-90, when he was unemployed, living off his maternal girlfriend… and jotting lyrics and delusional plans that came true…
2 Don’t feel guilty—it’s not like reading a normal diary. He often invited people to read his journals …
3 Don’t read simplistically… “This is not to be taken seriously,” one journal entry warns. “This is to be read as poetry.” …
4 Get used to it: Death was his default tactic… The journals are rife with it….
5 He was the sensitive type… His last suicide note reiterates the word “empathy” five times. The journals pullulate with instances of morbid empathy, and murderous rage….
6 He was funny…
7 He wanted to tell it his way. Besides being a chronicle of addiction and an inexplicable pain condition, the journals, like
the late Nirvana tunes, record Cobain’s volcanic anger at other people’s counter-narratives about him…”
Mark Reed on drownedinsound.com described the publication of the journals like this: “Goddamit. This is wrong. So wrong. This is like reading the diary of your best friend and realising that he’s as mundane, dull, and fucked up as you are… Ultimately, what these disjointed, non-linear, scrawls from a self-obsessed, self-disgusted, immature genius prove is that nothing is more tedious than depression.” And maybe that’s what Mark Reed doesn’t understand. Maybe people will see this, like Reed did, as exploitative grave-robbing, without artistic merit. But for me, the ramblings of a depressive make me feel less alone. I only wish this book came with some dates and explanatory material to put it in context. The rants about homophobes and jocks and cheerleaders and white
supremecists illustrate Kurt’s disillusionment and outsider status he made famous through his songs. And seeing where many nirvana songs got started was also quite interesting.