Memoirist, let the ‘dogs of narcissism’ in

Listening to Terry Gross last night interviewing J.R. Moehringer who is the author of the memoir Tender Bar, I was captured by his phrase—keeping “the dogs of Narcissism” at bay when writing his own memoir. He was explaining that when he ghost wrote the memoir for Andre Agassi he didn’t have that concern. He had to inhabit the body of Agassi.

My takeaway advice to novice memoirists. Let the dogs in. If you don’t meet your narcissistic self or Self, you cannot transcend it. You already inhabit your body, so live in it fully. To remind you, Narcissus was a hunter renowned for his beauty and full of pride; he pooh-poohed those who loved him. Nemesis decided to teach Narcissus a lesson. So he drew Narcissus to a pool where the latter saw his reflection mirrored in the water and fell in love with his own image. The downfall was that Narcissus could not leave his reflection and so he withered and died. (Note the probably same root of Narcissus for the words “sleep, numbness.”)

That’s where the memoirist parts ways with this mythic creature. Don’t wither, just make yourself larger. Find your other names, too, and the other god/desses who inhabit your body.