vyb005 (2008)

Robert Shields, a retired minister of Dayton, Washington kept a diary from 1972 until 1997, logging every five minutes of his life. As such, it is the lengthiest document of its type in existence and contains some of the most mundane prose ever found. The entire 37+ million-word diary was donated to the Washington State University in 1999 and won't be released until 2057.

A handful of page scans from his typed diary have appeared online, and what appears on this release are readings from six of his diary pages from five days in April, 1994.

While the subject of Rev. Shields' diary is admittedly prosaic, the work itself and the nature of its author is fascinating. He stayed committed to making entries in his diary for a remarkable amount of time, and in excruciating detail.

Particularly interesting is the way he characterizes certain activities. Reading the paper, taking his medications, and watching television are described succinctly and seem to bore him, while the descriptions of his frequent visits to the restroom are done with the most evocative language in the diary. By setting these diary entries to music, I have used his day-to-day activities to expose the analytical mind beneath the surface.

Click the track name to view the diary entry.

  1. Monday, 18 April 1994 6:00pm-3:55am 7’03”
  2. Tuesday 1’44”
  3. Tuesday, 19 April 1994 2:50pm-9:55pm 7’00”
  4. Wednesday 1’40”
  5. Wednesday, 20 April 1994 10:25pm-4:35pm 8’35”
  6. Friday thru Thursday 4’14”
  7. Friday, 29 April 1994 1:35pm-3:20pm 7’50”
  8. Saturday 2’02”
  9. Saturday, 30 April 1994 10:40pm-6:55am 6’42”
For more information about this release, contact vybeauregard [AT] gmail [DOT] com.