ABSTRACT

RECENTLY I FOUND among my notes this sentence of uncertain origin: fragments of lives create a social fabric in which the laws for social life are not made but found. I would like to think it my own, but, in fact, I suspect Walter Benjamin (a writer who deemed plagiarism a rhetorical trope and dreamed of an essay constituted from the sentences of others). No matter the attribution, the uncited sentence bears, in a preliminary way, the weight of some things I would like to consider, namely, questions about the role of the personal in life writing and the inevitably twinned matters of autograph and authority. Best of all, this sentence serves as an axiom for life writing and specific procedures responsive to poststructuralist and postmodern critiques of the possibility for biography.