Nancy Lemann, 'Diary of Remorse', in The Paris Review (2022)

I was plagued by remorse, but my remorse seemed inspired by insignificant dumb things—things not really worthy of bona fide remorse. That didn’t make it any less painful or plague-worthy, as I was still riddled with disgrace on a minute-by-minute basis, so I decided to conduct a scientific study to analyze the cause(s). Then I could modify my behavior so as to behave in a way that would not cover me with dishonor. Remorse is akin to regret but more violent than regret. The overall atmosphere in my case seemed to derive from generic self-loathing. But that was too vague. Once I conducted the study, I would be able to identify more exactly the source of the trouble…

Ever since I started keeping my diary of remorse, my remorse has evaporated. The answer to a personality problem or spiritual malaise is to keep a diary of it because then the quantity you are quantifying seems to disappear. Therefore I should go on to keep a diary of other troubling quantities. Such as Diary of Lassitude, Lack of Motivation, Failure to Act, etc.

Nancy Lemann, 'Diary of Remorse', in the Paris Review #241 (fall 2022)
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