I admit I have an irrational idea that only good people keep diaries.
Diary writing is, to me, associated with self-reflection and self-expression, both of which I tend to think of as constitutive of good character. To know yourself is a necessary step in developing the ability to empathize with others. To express your thoughts to yourself is also a way of learning how to sort through positive and negative impulses, and to write a new narrative for yourself that is empowering and affirmative.
I know, I know this is a rather naïve view — and one that has been put to the test this week, as the diary of a mass murderer has been in the news: James Holmes, perpetuator of the Aurora CO mass shooting in 2012.
I don’t have much to more to say about this — I don’t really want to know that he kept an elaborate diary of his plan to commit mass murder — but here’s a round up of relevant links, if you have the stomach for it:
Peter Holey, “What James Holmes’s Diary Says about the Aurora Theater Shooter’s Sanity” in the Washington Post
Jack Healey, “Diary’s Pages May Help Jurors Decide if Colorado Gunman Was Methodical or Mad” in the New York Times
Mark Follman, “5 Chilling Pages From the Aurora Mass Shooter’s Diary Debunk a Favorite NRA Talking Point” in Mother Jones