Adam Stoner

Museum of the Self

I have Andy Warhol: Polaroids on my shelf.

Andy was obsessed with celebrity, he used to take photos of people all the time. As I was flicking through this the other day, I stumbled across a photo of Pelé, the footballer, who died at the end of last year.

I don’t really know why but I thought that they lived in entirely different time periods. Maybe it was because Andy died younger than most or that Pelé simply lived into my own time period – or that I wasn’t expecting the world of an American artist and Brazilian footballer to collide on the pages in front of me.

Warhol would take these pictures and later turn them into portraits. He said of Pelé that instead of having 15 minutes of fame, he’d ‘have 15 centuries’ of it.

When he was 7, Pelé purchased a radio and it was on that radio in 1950 that he heard the World Cup final. Brazil lost to Uruguay. Pelé’s father cried and Pelé promised him that he would win a World Cup.

Eight years later, Pelé scores in the ninetieth minute. Brazil win the World Cup.

Pelé’s love for the beautiful game inspired his legacy which lives on in the form of statues, documentaries, and in museums. You can see that radio set – perhaps the very thing that set him on his journey to becoming ‘The King’ – in Museu Pelé in Santos, São Paulo.

‘Polaroids’ is a time capsule, these photographs half of an incredible diary that Andy Warhol kept. The other, phoned in to his assistant every day for just over a decade.

For over a decade, I’ve kept an audio diary – a journal – in the Voice Memos app on my iPhone. I’ve captured the voices of friends and family, of relationships past and present, of people no longer alive, of places that no longer exist, moments of frustration and genuine joy too.

Keeping a journal is an amazing form of delayed gratification. You get very little from the process as you actually create entires – in fact, I probably look like an absolute nutcase, blabbing some thought into the record as I stroll down the street or waving my phone in front of people’s faces – but the magic comes from the legacy you leave yourself.

This past month, I’ve been moving all of my journal entries from Voice Memos into Day One. They now carry the weather and their location, paired with photos and videos too. Now I’ve got a multimedia diary – audio at its core – spanning the past ten years; a map of my life over the last decade.

As much of an achievement as diarising a decade is, I know the contents of those entries are probably of very little relevance to you. Pelé’s got a museum to commemorate him, Warhol’s got the same. This is a museum of the self – a personal time capsule – and listening back to these entries, there’s a theme.

Diversity. Action. Adventure. Growth. Perhaps the most important theme is love. I can hear where I was years ago and experience again pure, innocent love for the life I lead and the incredible things I get to do…

Like this month, I’ve been on private tours of the Musical Museum in London, the Oxford Castle and Prison, and the Story Museum too. I’ve been to a football game, I saw the latest Avatar film, and gone climbing in Bicester as well.

On October 1st 1977, Pelé retired from football. Andy Warhol was at that game. Towards the end of that diary entry, he says this:

Pelé played on one side, then on the other. When it started to rain, they passed out raincoats to the VIPs. And it was nice in the rain, it made it more exciting. 75,000 people there.

Minutes after the final whistle, Pelé stood up in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey and gave his farewell speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here with you in this greatest moment of my life. I want to thank you all, every single one of you. Love is more important than what we can take in life. Everything pass. Please say with me, three times — Love! Love! Love!

31 Jan 2023

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