Keith Haring’s 24th birthday diary entry
It’s May 4th, 1982, and Keith Haring is sitting in an airport in Brussels waiting to return to his home in New York. He has just turned 24 years old. “It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything down,” he writes. “In one year my art has taken me to Europe and propelled me into a kind of lime-light…in some ways it is the situation I always wanted or always dreamed of.” So much has happened and now he’s trying to process what he’s supposed to do with his success. He’s trying to keep things in perspective, “Knowing that is up to me what happens next (and knowing what when it is out of my hands).”
The one thing (and in the end it was always the only thing) that I have control of is what comes out of me and into the world. It is hard to control the thing once it has come out and entered the world. But only I can bring it into the world. The world doesn’t want these things and doesn’t need these things, but when they are here, they are here. The importance of these things all comes from what other people in the world do with these things…
…Today I am 24 years old. 24 years is not a very long time, and then again it is enough time. I have added many things to the world. The world is this thing around me that I made for myself and I see for myself. The world will, however go on without me being there to see it, it just won’t be “my” world. That is what interests me most about the situation I am in now. I am making things in the world that won’t go away when I do. If this “success” had not happened then maybe the world would not know these things after I go away. But now I know, as I am making these things, that they are “real” things, maybe more “real” than me, because they will stay here when I go.
…In the situation I am in now… I am not… making things and waiting for the world to have them. The world is waiting to have them. At 24, that is maybe a funny feeling…
The world is waiting for the things and I am the only one who can bring them these things. There is a kind of freedom in that. There is also a kind of hysteria in that, but it depends how you see the world. I only think that I want to be the one who makes the “things.” I don’t know what I want the world to be. But only I can make these “things.” These things that are called the works of Keith Haring.
Read more of the entry on the Keith Haring Foundation’s excellent tumblr, Keith Haring: 1978-1982 Journals.
(You can also buy the journals in paperback.)