Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cicatrix Manet

"In sapientis quoque animo, etiam cum vulnus sanatum est, cicatrix manet." So said Seneca in De Ira, meaning, "In the wise one's heart, even when the wound has healed, the scar remains." (Five years of Latin study are good for something.)

But Seneca was a Stoic. Augusten Burroughs, who is about to publish yet another memoir of a horrifying childhood, seems to prefer to pick at his scars until they bleed afresh. Which is why he's gotten a large "cicatrix manet" tattoo on his arm, so that "the scar remains" quite visibly.

Perhaps that's what being a memoirist requires: exhuming and examining your scars, and abrading them anew as needed. I struggle all the time with my desire to put concealer on them, to make everything pretty. It's also possible that I'm just not all that scarred up, despite a lifetime of lacerations large and small. (Which would make me stoic, but not Stoic.)

I don't have any tattoos, because they are immutable, and I am a fool for change. But I wonder if I need to be willing to embrace the idea of something permanent in order to capture this life of mine. I could write twenty thousand more frivolous words on whatever I feel like that day, or I could have a purpose in doing so.

At some point soon, I'd like to figure that out.

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