A friend of mine has been trapped in the quagmire of a divorce that recently seems to have taken a wrong left turn down Crazy Avenue. To wit, she called me the other day to tell me that she had been served with a subpoena for documents that included among other things “…journals of your thoughts…” for a time period of almost 15 years.
A subpoena for her thoughts. Is that like a penny for her thoughts? I guess not, because in offering a penny for one’s thoughts there is an implied sharing, not to mention the monetary compensation for said thoughts, whereas a subpoena is simply a legal demand notice to produce evidence of the actual thoughts themselves.
Like many people, over the years I have committed to paper through written word, sketch and paint, expressions of my ideas, feelings, emotions, aspirations, fears, plans, resolutions, frustrations, desires…my thoughts. They are the ingredients that, blended together, create the person that I am. These expressions are the fabric of my soul. Is it possible to subpoena one’s soul? That sounds rather Faustian to me.
The expression of my thoughts comes in many forms, not least of which is art. I can look at doodles or sketches and know what type of feeling or emotion lurked in my soul during its creation, based on something as simple as the use of a fine point or wide point pen. Often times a drawing can be more expressive and meaningful than the written analysis of it. Would a drawing fall under the category of demand for her thoughts?
When I was about 6 or 7 years old I received gift of a small diary that had a white faux leather cover with flowers on it and a bright gold-tone lock. Taped inside the cover was a tiny key to unlock the diary. Even at such a young age the message was clear: A diary is a safe place to express yourself because the lock will keep out intruders. The tiny key will keep your soul safe from those who are not privileged to share it. There is something sacred about a diary or journal. Consider the number of movies and books whose plots are based on the unwitting or unauthorized disclosure of the contents of a diary. It is akin to the opening of Pandora’s Box, which in fact draws many parallels to a subpoena for a journal of one’s thoughts.
Unlike Pandora, will the recipient of the subpoenaed thoughts be prepared for what they discover? What personal benefit or satisfaction can be derived from the demand production of another person’s soul? I wonder if a thought or emotion is somehow diluted or diminished in significance if the sharing of it is under duress or false pretenses? And what do you do with information that presumably lurks in a written or painted record of one’s mental reflections? Do you publish it? Punish with it? Demand punative damages if it is not to your liking?
Or do you create a small tear in your own soul, one that rips ever so slightly, and becomes like a hangnail that won’t heal, every time you are accosted with an event or emotion or thought that triggers recollection of information that you wish you didn’t have.