An Encyclopedia of Self

...memories written in the mind, body, and culture

We all live in the Past. No, really. We have no choice in this (New Scientist 2015). The real question is what we record, how we recall and relate and what symbols and artefacts can be used to transfer and translate our experiences? Some experiences are so intimate that they can only be written into the privacy of our bodies: illness, evidence of ageing, kinetic memories of touch and love. Some are lost forever: the shapes of our selves as children and the continuous growth and decay of every cell and structure. We talk, show and tell with rough approximations of these. Perhaps all Art is an attempt to do this.

Since I was a small child I have tried to record, draw, paint, write as ways to show what my experiences are. I am an anecdotal person. I have three children. I have friends. I have worked with many people. Like many people I have casual acquaintances with workers in shops, banks, and petrol stations. I live in the world and interact daily with it. I collect the minutiae and ephemera of these experiences which are sometimes so small that they do not form an anecdote.

When you die. All this is lost. Memories untold. Stories forgotten by children and friends. We are not immortal. In our anecdotage when stories are all that is left who is there to listen? What marks have I left in our Culture?

Is there a way to record it all as we go along? The mundane. The extraordinary. The everyday happening of a Self.

What does this song sound like? I can sing it for you now but will you hear my memory of that Saturday morning and the sixpence spent to do this? What memories of your own would it trigger?


In early 2005 my daughter lent me a book my Amy Krouse Rosental (An Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life). It was an eye-opening read and an emotional experience. It takes a snapshot of Amy’s life and includes lists, and anecdotes, presented in pseudo novel form. There have been many developments online which point almost to a need to capture an individual’s life – the (often) critical reviews of so many bloggers’ work is however, the point. These people still do not have a framework within which they can create a personal digital Self. Facebook isn’t it. Twitter isn’t it. WordPress isn’t it.

For the first time I saw how it might be possible to ‘write’ a complete history of the self – think an A-Z of Being. To download our past and ongoing experiences into words, pictures and sounds which might approximate the idea of a unique Self. I started to collect and sort experiences, memories and fragmented thoughts which don’t even have a coherent form as part of the research phase.

I am now building an online database to log, post, edit, and present this Encyclopedia of Self to the world. I am working with Physicist Dr. Edward Gomez on building basic infrastructure for this work and looking for funding to develop the online platform accordingly. This might then be able to be extended to the world at large for everyone to record on a global scale.

Research elements of the project:

  • An interactive Encyclopedia of Self online
  • Digital records of the Body and Mind – via FMRI, X-Ray, Dental Record, Body Monitoring
  • A Timeline for the Self
  • Private and Public access
  • Public domain tools for development

Any comments on this project please Contact me.

Status: Work in progress
Year: 2005+
Website: Not published yet