Sunday, June 10, 2007

What Secrets Are For

I find myself continually fascinated by the weekly release of postcards over at Post Secret. The premise is simple: Make a post card illustrating your secret, and mail it to someone else. I don't know if it's the idea that there are people who are so painfully full of a secret that they must bundle it up and mail it to a stranger, or that there are people who are so bad at keeping secrets that they must bundle it up and mail it to a stranger in the hope that it will be published on the Internet, or possibly in a book. There are surely people who send "secrets" and then obsessively check the website and buy the books to see if their secret appears. I've wondered how many have become addicted to this process, and now manufacture secrets, just for the guilty pleasure of sending them for possible publication? Is there something validating about having your secret selected for publication? How many of the secrets are true? My questions about this process are nearly endless, and I've read hundreds, perhaps thousands of these postcards.

Perhaps what interests me most is a question of what kind of thing is this postcard project? Is it art? Is it social science? It is a bizarre flavor of psychotherapy? What is so appealing about this process? There's a guy in Maryland who probably spends all day reading postcards from anonymous strangers, and then sorting them by perceived value. These are good enough for the next book, those can go to the web. These should be saved for the next public speaking engagement, those should be burned. How many postcards has the author turned over to the police? Can he tell when they're fabrications? Can he tell when it's yet another card from a habitual submitter?

Secrets and shame go hand in hand, and somehow Frank Warren has found a way to make a living off both. It's brilliant.

1 comment:

Rufus said...

Claire loves PostSecret too. I wonder how many of them are sent in by ex-Catholics who miss going to confession.