Somehow the Morgan Library forgot to invite me.

Posted in blog post on January 23rd, 2011 by Merrill Markoe
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There is a new show at the Morgan Library and Museum, in NYC, that appears to be retrospective of the human being and his centuries old need to present himself and his life through the keeping of diaries.  From the review I read in the N.Y. Times, it looks  like an exhibit I would love. The show appears to contain everything from a fifteenth century ” first printed edition of St. Augustine’s ‘Confessions,’ and that book’s 18th-century secular heir, Rousseau’s “Confessions” to the hand written  musings of assorted luminaries such as Sir Walter Scott,  Emily Bronte, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife (see below). There are also contributions from that old diary perennial Anais Nin as well as  musings from Bob Dylan, Tennessee Williams and a policeman at the site of the World Trade Center during 9/11. All appear to share the amazing details of being alive in their particular moment. Somehow everyone seems to know instinctively how to create the kind of entry that deserves to be placed upon the sands of time and burned in to the pages of history.

But speaking now as someone who has been keeping diaries since I was in the third grade,  I was a little stung that I wasn’t asked to contribute.  Yes, yes…of course I am aware that I don’t exactly occupy the same space and weight in the world as a Sir Walter Scott or a St. Augustine. But still…does not every life matter equally in some a kind of a basically incomprehensible quantum physics kind of way? That was what I was telling myself as I  went in to the closet to fish out my earliest diaries and examine them for relevance.  What, I was wondering, might I have been  able to contribute to the exhibit had I only but been allowed a chance?

My instincts were correct.  What I found were the richly rewarding texts written by  my younger self as I documented daily life at the beginning of the sixties.  The excitement of that decade’s rebellious  spirit of  social upheaval comes alive on every page, as we clearly see in my first entry below which was written when I was in the fourth grade. Its interesting to note how  l  reject the constraints and gender expectations of a post war American middle class,  while also predicting the coming  feminist wave . In a follow up entry written just several days later,(not shown) I go even further down this path as I  boldly dismiss ever having anything  to do with the whole idea of menstruation, entirely. 

Illustration two, written a few weeks after that,  shows an oddly prescient sampling of the change in consciousness that this tumultuous decade would eventually bring.  The truth is that  every page of this amazing diary is such a treasure trove of  textured insights, it was hard for me to pick just a few pages to highlight for this summary. Nevertheless, I will close with one that  offers a tantalizing glimpse of the woman I would one day become as it tells the engaging tale of my attempt to triumph in  a contest  being held by a local television show called The Jim Dooley Hour. Then, as now, I was overcome by a heart felt desire to win a personal visit from a chimpanzee. (illustration 3)

Summing up,  I would like to say that there are many many many other pages just as worthy as these.  And since The Morgan exhibit doesn’t even close until May, there is  plenty of time for them to give me a call.  (Note to curator : Also available upon request are diaries from the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades.)

8 Responses to “Somehow the Morgan Library forgot to invite me.”

  1. Tina says:

    I know exactly what you mean Merrill and I agree they should have included you in their exhibit. Further, it occurs to me Ms. Bronte, Mr. Hawthorne and Sir Walter Scott most probably wrote entries at some point in their diaries similar to your’s from April 27th and April 28th. As they say, great minds think (or in this case DON’T think) alike. But don’t despair. At least you have that cool Mr. Dooley Hour contest to remember.

  2. Lucy says:

    I have a vague memory of Jim Dooley. I keep getting him confused with Charlie Baxter. Do you remember M.T. Graves?

    • Do I!!!! We practically had a relationship! I once rode in a car to a shopping center opening with M.T. Graves…an honor I believe I won in a different contest! And then another time I saw the guy who played M.T. sitting in an audience somewhere, like maybe at the ballet, but not wearing his grave yard costume, and I went up and got his autograph. I believe I still have it. Which only goes to show you how badly I need to go through my closets and start throwing stuff out before someone calls up the crew from Hoarders .

      • Lucy says:

        I think I still have his autograph, too. If I do, it’s in the box with all my Beatlemania paraphernalia. My first “Brush with Greatness.”

  3. Christine says:

    Dear Merrill, I’m the curator of the show. If only I had known. Let’s talk. Christine

  4. paul buttles says:

    I lived in Gibraltar for a few years as a child. My father hired a tutor (Miss Levy) for my sister and me. She would come to our house every afternoon after school and spend 90 minutes with us. One day, a couple of weeks before Easter, she told us that she had 2 presents, one for each of us. We would have to decide which gift we wanted as they were entirely different items. Our choices were, a MASSIVE chocolate Easter egg, or a 5 day gig appearing on Romper Room on Gibraltar Television. I knew IMMEDIATELY which gift I wanted, and so apparently did my sister. We both simultaneously screamed out, “The Easter egg!!!!” “Romper Room!!!” I looked at my sister in utter disbelief. How could she choose Romper Room over a MASSIVE Easter egg? Anyway, I devoured the egg and was left with a completely empty feeling, despite the calories, and then had to watch my sister on TV for 5 nights, with the green devil sitting on my shoulder. Thanks for reminding me of this time in my life, a precious, innocent and carefree time, even with the green devil making an appearance from time to time.

    • Great story. Now go find a picture of your sister on Romper Room…blow it up…and frame it!

      • paul buttles says:

        Good idea. I think I have one of her ‘riding’ a stick-horse with an old GibraltarTV camera in the background. She was the cutest/prettiest child who EVER lived. I defy anyone to submit a photo of a prettier child. When I show people photos of her at age 3, their hearts melt. I am absolutely disinterested in children, and photos of children, but EVEN I melt at the sight of her back then. Since 1980, or thereabouts, she hasn’t really photographed that well. She went to a Swiss boarding school, discovered she was a lesbian (alas, not of the lipstick variety) and has morphed into more of an overweight lumberjack look, with a heart of gold. At this point in our lives what matters most is what’s inside, rather than our looks. Right? Right?
        I read today in the Daily Mail that women become invisible to men at age 50. I don’t believe this is true. I’m still attracted to ripe women. Maybe they become invisible to the young. I don’t know. I’m just glad I’m a man.


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