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In a memoir, you trace your life and what happened in it. In this memoir, I turn the beat around: I trace a few things that happened, over and over again, and how they influenced my life.
Defining our terms
Situationism has a long history.
My own definition
I’m adapting the term here. A situationist history is a recounting of events united by a common theme that emphasizes unseen patterns in life. The same things keep coming up, and those things aren’t all quintessential "big issues" of the sort that are supposed to typify our lives, like career or loved ones or sickness.
Instead, it’s the details that count. What did the film After Life (Japan, 1998) teach us? That small moments are what we remember best? That our fondest memories may derive from simple, brief, and possibly unanticipated experiences, the kind that might be dismissed as mundane by someone else?
But it’s not someone else’s life. It’s ours. What’s important to us is what’s important to us. When it comes to influences, input can be small but output large.
That is the philosophy I espouse here. Something as small as a pop song can united disparate experiences across the years of my life.
Think about your own life: Can’t you remember seemingly trivial details, particularly those that recur over the years, more clearly than soap-opera-scale mega-events in your life?
This is an ongoing project, and I’ve finished two so far:
Both instances are musical in nature, and two more in that vein are upcoming: The Smithereens and Bad Religion. (And yes, electronic music and rock both have influence on my life. How ecumenical.)
There is, however, a very grand situationist history after which this entire site is named: Redheads. The Redhead Cluster Phenomenon is the strongest example yet of the deterministic influence of situationism over my life. Start with the History section.
Stretching the concept a bit further
A former journalist, I tend to take notes wherever I go, and that includes parties, lectures, and the local leather bar. I’m including my diaristic entries on this page because I consider the documentation of specific events a necessary part of documenting situationist histories over time.
I don’t know if these diaries will actually predict what I will later decide was a trend. I am not entirely convinced there is a huge link between my new situationist approach and simple diarism. I grant such objections in advance.
A similar concept
This approach of using events as a narrative device to elucidate patterns in one’s life may find expression at Matt Haughey’s nascent site, Ticketstubs.org. A brilliant idea, the site invites people to upload scans of ticket stubs along with a written reminiscence of what happened on the night of the show.
Ticketstubs.org isn’t up and running yet, but Haughey is definitely on to something. I’m open to some kind of collaboration. Maybe we could put together some kind of Webring of sites in similar conceptual categories.