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The first handbook, which gives you the lowdown to Ibiza, promises to be written "in a language and tone that clubbers will relate to", which rather suggests the MoS won't be hiring Paul Theroux or Jan Morris for the job. But at least the publishers have a sense of their own worth: We'll be the judge of that.

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Except they're rather hedging their bets: Born in Germany during World War II, he dreamed about exploring the world, and at fifteen, he became a seafaring youngster traveling the oceans of the world in pursuit of that dream. At nineteen, he jumped ship in the United States and became an illegal alien.

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This was an exciting time, yet he realized that his future as an illegal alien would not be secure. His career at the American Express company became a major part of his life and future. He was recognized for his abilities and advanced, over time, to a VP level.

The Autobiography of A Somebody

His expertise in risk management and fraud prevention allowed him to give seminars to foreign government agencies, including the renowned KGB in the Soviet Union and others. After twenty-seven years at AMEX and his return from overseas assignments, he opened his own real estate company.

His lifelong quest for achievement once again took on a new direction. The history of Alexander Selkirk and the years he spent shipwrecked on an island off South America tells us more about Selkirk than about us, we say to ourselves; the so-called history of Robinson Crusoe tells us more about ourselves than about Crusoe, if only because Crusoe never existed. So, along with Defoe, we conclude it is no bad thing to invoke the autobiographical pact for our own fictional ends, and break it, even if we must recognise the act of invoking and then breaking the pact time and again cheapens the currency and has a diminishing returns effect that cannot be good for autobiography in general as a mode of writing.

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The intellectual roots of autobiography, at least in the West, are bound up with soul-searching and the confession of sins. Whether or not, somewhere in the history of Judaeo-Christian religion, there is a pessimistic heresy that questions whether the confessing subject can ever know about himself all that God knows, I cannot say, but let me for my present purposes, and in the spirit of the great Jorge Luis Borges, postulate such a heresy. In our post-religious age the corresponding heresiarch would be the Freud of the pessimistic moments when Freud wonders whether the talking cure can be a cure in all cases, whether there might not be cases in which therapy is interminable, in which the therapeutic goal of getting the subject to speak the truth of himself is unattainable, since the time needed to get past all the screens of lies and self-deception would be longer than a lifetime.

A fiction of the truth, in other words. Where do I come from? Serious autobiography reflects upon the question of beginnings, realising that the beginning is a more difficult concept than may at first sight seem. A story, says Aristotle, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. An autobiography, by definition, does not have an end.

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As a story it is therefore inherently unsatisfactory. It lacks a shape. How does one give a life story a shape? Is the pattern really there?

Is a pattern something that resides in your life, that you discover by dint of introspection, or is it something that you create in the process of recollecting the past, selecting details, bringing them together, writing them down? Autobiography, as we usually understand the term, has to do with writing and publishing; but there is a wider sense in which we are, almost daily, telling ourselves and others the story of our life, and in the process either discovering or creating a pattern in it.

In this respect, autobiography is only the most formal, most formalised way of reliving the past by retelling its story, and thus of bringing the past into the present as the origin of the present.

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In this respect, autobiography is very much like history: Autobiography, talking about oneself at length, requires a huge egoism. In a book was published in England under the title The Diary of a Nobody.

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Intended as a humorous book, it is less funny today than when it was written.