Friday 4th December 1992
In Ping's Café. She says it's easier for the book if she comes
and sits on my side. She puts her chin on my shoulder, closes her eyes and
goes far forward to the place over the water. From there she is speaking
to both of us about the center.
(We'd eaten. She's drinking coffee, three cups. She's fretting still.
Does she have to break up etc. I say it's such a scare word. She finds something
with that. Such a word to live with for a week.
I say suddenly, Can I talk to the book? Dear book, I'm going away for
a while. You know that already, but.
Long silence while I feel various things I shouldn't say.)
Then how does it get to the road into the water. Her voice comes slowly
and with a slight drag. "Have you seen a wooden road going into the
water, with some birds at the end?" "I'm seeing it now."
"It's where you are walking," it says. I'm frightened. Is Louie
hypnotizing me with an image that says die? To walk into the water.
I ask. It says, "No one can tell you to die, no one can tell you to
live, do you know that?" I don't know that. "The road is a road
you are building. You" (swim out with a plank and push it back - something
like that). "It is not meant to go to the other side, it is to go to
the center where there is water and sky in the water and water in the sky,
and light. The birds are light small spirits. When you get there you never
want to come back." "But do you look like a corpse to other people?"
I still have to check whether this is a trick. "You are doing what
you always do, riding your bike, talking to people. But you are yourself.
You aren't worrying about how people see you."
I'm in the familiar puzzlement of being near something I know, tantalized,
not knowing how I'm supposed to act. I know what it is to be myself and
not stopped by other people. After sesshin, that drive; on acid looking
at Josie. The afternoon after I conceived Luke. That's the center. "It's
telling me that I could be there all the time?" "Yes." "Would
I do what's necessary?" "Yes. There's no store there, no storage."
The night at Rumsey. The time I spoke to my father, other times around it.
I'm remembering now how it began. "You were brave defending your
joy this morning. There is danger. Joy is like you, it doesn't want to be
married, it doesn't want you to say You're mine, it wants to go away
from you and visit other people. You shouldn't call it I. You should
speak to it, you should say, How are you doing? What do you want to do?
Let's go, and See you later. See you later."
"Is Ellie bad for me?" asks Louie. Silence. "Why don't
you answer that?" "You used a censored word." "Does
Ellie want to get rid of me?" "She wants to get rid of herself."
"Which self?" "The anxious one," I say. It corrects
me, "No the one that doesn't feel. The anxious one feels."
"Is it the one who doesn't feel who wants this break?" "It's
both. Here is a model you can use: there are two people and they both want
the same thing but for different reasons, with different outcomes. This
"Should I have a baby?" sez Louie. "Yes." "Will
it be able to go there?" "How should I know!"
After I asked whether Luke can go there, long hesitation. "He might,
but he has obstacles." "Doesn't everyone have obstacles?"
"It isn't a state, it isn't esoteric."
"What are these café people thinking?" "That someone
has died who you didn't like." Two people in dark clothes huddled somberly
and bursting out laughing.
Now it's daylight, train whistle at the crossing, seagulls' bright high
lines. An open sky. I'm sitting at the desk with my hand inside the neck
of the sweater holding my right breast. I've never seen anyone say that.
The quiet of the house before school traffic begins in the alley.
I haven't said Michael's working his way toward living on Read or another
island. This will be the last of my life with Rowen.
Going to the corner for milk. A light, a light on the side of the cherry
trunk, on the boles, on the moss. On the grass. A chopper high and far in
the northeast swaying on a slow cycle so its light appears and disappears.
The mountains white in their whiskers and airs. All so soft and live. And
now I disappear out of it into the relational theory of machines.
It's morning again, frost on the shingles, crows in signifying constellation
crossing a blue more translucent than air. A wind contained in the box of
the heating duct. Creaks in the floor, a change in the light. The skin over
my nose feeling itself, how - bright and easy. Imagine a small cloud in
itself. Not a thing with round edges, a mark in few well-organized colors,
not held, not set, a shape.
So much I can love, so much I can do, day, with you, bright and dark.
With you, words and pictures, color and sound.
It means beloved. And what is lameness in it. To be beaten, to run away,
to run away to a place like this. To run away and be unable to find you.
To be in despair that you will not want to touch me. But you do touch me.
You don't stay, you are a friend whose time has to be honored. It is not
my lameness but my carelessness you mind. My lameness is the shape of a
cloud, something you can see and I can feel, another companion. My cold
foot. How are you doing? Are you a child left standing in the snow? A girl
who'll come with me to the end, who'll follow after if she can't walk beside.
And you, image, what do you say. You're listening, in yourself, in your
warm clear usual self. You're smiling. Later in our bed your touch will
For now you take notice. And get up and go to work.
There's an area of this discussion that's dead metal for me - Turing
computability, decidability, effectiveness, Chomsky's language hierarchy,
recursion - all that stuff. What's the metal I'm seeing - aluminum - white
ash of - but as soon as I get into nonlinear dynamics I'm caught up in an
eager wind, hungry and joyful - this is what I'm doing here, this is what
I need, this brings me to where intuition can learn to talk, this is the
far fairyland where my gift joins me. The tactile mind, oh the one I made
and found that visited me this morning. I looked longer at the way frost
rippled down the roof over its lath support, a motion independent of the
lapped asphalt wavelets. And at the nonlinearities in the er words
around erotic. The mathematical generators of the streak on the lip of an
iris, of the streaks on the many kinds of iris. Imagining a film in which
there are dictionaries of these beautiful structures made in ways that change
as the making proceeds. Linked parameters. Some ways to say what it is about
them. What is it we can see in them.
Your voice on the phone. What was the very fast sorting I went through
alone at my end. "Is this Ellie?" Who's this, it might be -. It
isn't until he says his name that I hear what's particular in his voice.
(It's two things, a near-American-border accent, and some underlayer in
- And immediately also that he's frightened or nervous. This is a good
sign. Let's do this in a fast friendly way, then.
And then: not so composed. A knock before I thought. I tumble down in
my singlet - that's true but also contrived - open the door and have to
find him around the corner, hiding the way I do when I knock at strange
houses for the first time. Looks cold, wooly half gloves and red fingers
and red nose. "Come in." He's offering me the thing to sign. "Go
up." A tone strangely definite. I won't let him get away at the door
like a courier. He likes the courtyard. I'm putting on my shirt that was
ready on the banister post. "Do you want to see the house?" Turning
on the light and standing there in my bedroom, he standing carefully on
the threshold. Realizing I don't know what to say. I'm stunned. At a loss.
Dredge up something about the green wood. "Everywhere there's wood,
the plaster was falling down." I'm standing on the rug turning around
going on valiantly not minding that my fright is showing. There's little
space and time in that state, only time for the intention to push forward.
My sense of it is he's stunned too. I don't mind because it's a tribute.
This is the moment when this is happening, whatever it comes to mean
"Two windows, they don't make houses that way now." I'm too
rattled to pick it up. "When it isn't raining the mountains are there."
We're side by side looking at the neighbour house, at the corner of the
Ukrainian Hall. It has been an extraordinary three minutes of confusion,
rapid like being hit by a car but not injured. By the time we're together
at the window looking north we've sorted it out. Then there's the rest of
the house. My grandfather's bench. Pink houses, a park.
"You have to sign that thing." Does it mean he's leaving. Get
it at the work table in the warm light room. Sit on the chair staring at
it. He sits on his heels in the doorframe. Faculty meeting. What they're
like. Hume and Hegel. "Hume's punctuation has to be re-indicated and
then he's a beautiful clear writer. Hegel" - I get my chair out of
the way and sit on the floor too - "is a grand intuitive, he's feeling
around back here, you can't read him head-on." When he talks about
Hume I get to see him a bit, he's less cold. I gape at his face like something
I thought I knew but am completely startled by. Is this him? This is him?
Really it's the confusion of a whole given before it parts, a connection
way ahead of its constituting contacts.
I hang balanced. I care and want to care and will do what I can carefully
and won't resign any speck of what I want and will do nothing to coerce
gods other than my own. "Have fun on the plane and get a window seat."
And yes I didn't miss the haw-haw grin at drinking on the plane.
"Is there another way to get back to the street?" "You
came over the fence?! No one's ever done that before."
Alright, now am I calm? An hour and a half getting this story down. Hi
Louie are you reading over my shoulder?
There's never been another Christmas bush like this one. It's near midnight,
I'm celebrating with candles and all my flowers brought in with them. Cambridge
dweebs - don't know why I want to call them that - talking about god - a
story that seems more ill-intentioned, this year, than it ever has - Oh
come let us adore him - the name could have something still - the roundness
of the C - howley spirritt - horrible the way he said that - a very
predictable descant about to break out - if trees have spirits then indeed
it is bizarre to kill them or rather cut them off and bring them inside
to die slowly. Really this is a beautiful and interesting one, thick to
thin trunk in four feet, shelves of scallopy skirts spread wide as it's
tall. All the loved seedpods and roadkill bits of metal hung on the top
half because of Scratchy who tears into the room and dives under the branches
like a cat diving under the skirts of a bed.
When have I ever liked unwrapping presents as much as I liked unwrapping
those little tissue rectangles, a boxful. Over the summer walking to the
garden he collected bits - "no this one isn't ready yet" - filigrees
of rust, a beaten slug of aluminum, something red and gold, round and squashed,
all with unimaginable provenance, what machine could they possibly have
served, how did this ring get folded to a new moon. Extraordinary tiny forms
chased to perfection on the roads. That Japanese icon with round arms. And
a string of his heritage beans - the pink kidneys and vine red kidneys,
soldier beans, Jacob's cattle, black little beans like jet.
Three in the afternoon, third time the phone rang. Outside it's a clear
space of charged light between snow and grey cloud. I'd been joyful in my
complex systems notes. "Hello" I say. "Hello" says the
man. "Hello - oh it's you," overtop of his saying hello
again. [Luke] "It's very happy to hear from you!"
My obvious joy at speaking to him is lifting us both. I don't ask if
he's coming back. At the end of January a lecture series on chaos, in Cambridge
with Carlos, Miguel, Manuela. His alternate family he won for himself (his
version of secular and abundant). "No, I mean I was literally just
looking at my chaos notes when you phoned." And he has his copy in
front of him. "I was so glad to get my books out." Ranier like
Fuji turning under the wing. Irrigation circles near Denver, where snow
blew over the runways and he joined a flight from Honolulu, half empty carrying
home celebrators in Hawaiian shirts. He could not see New York as they flew
out over the sea (how did I know that was the route) but there were so many
How is it I assume my spirit is seeing in him too - as if I feel or imagine
the space in his head and it's the color and specific density of the space
in mine. Do I feel that about anyone else? What it was like speaking to
him - is like, thinking of it - is elation. A banner. In the throat,
is it? And forehead.
3rd January 1993
Oh Scratchy at the window rattling her mouth at a bird - have I ever
heard that? He sees a gull white turning through white. In falling white
the neighbourhood houses: blue, green, pink, grey. The fences: red, brown,
an old red greened over with moss.
What kind of bird is he? A crow in his bright black eye. There is a kind
of blackbird, the golden-eye, that is compact like him. When he looks at
you, you always know it.
What kind of bird. One with a blue shine on the wing as it dips from
roof to tree. A local bird. A singer? Is he a singer? Yes he sings in the
truck. How does he sing? Plainly, you'd like to hear.
The candle flames. Sentient and unspeakable. I'd like to write something
that would carry me into the place in his solar plex that's like them. A
tethered flame pulling and drifting on its stem. Like a flame off the sun,
a tethered center of consumption. That burns a hole in the black back of
my eye. Golden-eyed blackbird. What kind of bird. What sort of night. A
night with stillness for miles. A moon with a cloud beside it. Not a full
moon. The sort of light there is in the sky around a cloud, and the sort
of silence there is in the bushes: that's you. The way the sky around the
moon holds light, it's like the shining of the air around the candles too.
That's you. The solid silver of the mirror across the room. The way when
I see your eye - it is your eye - when I see your eye on me - when
I see that I'm in your eye, I'm glad.
It's snowing at a steady serious pace. At the speed of time passing I
want to say. The hemlocks in that old woman's yard; and the big pear beside
them, in thick coats. The many upper arms of the hemlock stirring weightedly.
There's a black car stuck in the alley, spinning its wheels. The car door
opens and a young Chinese man looks out. Is he going to decide to dig finally?
He's getting in worse. I'm laughing. It's a new little car. Hyundai. Now
he's bashed his fender into the old stove. He's going to dig himself out
with his ice scraper. RRrmm. Someone's come to help. Lori with a garden
spade. They put the baby in the car. Her friend is going to drive it out.
This house is warm when it snows, cold when it rains. I'm avoiding the
Yesterday in a Far Eastern gear shop on Commercial I was trying on silver
and gold thread mirrored vests, wearing my laundry jeans, and I saw my bum
so tight and round and perfectly nice that I wanted to flash it all around
the department. It's the cut of those RG Browns but it's the yoga mainly.
8th 5:50 AM
I am, I am: an efficient machine for turning O Henry's into pages of
prose. About 43 so far. I've loved this day. Dedicated. 5:30 solar plex
woke me loudly. I was writing. Don't lie there, light the candle. Look at
the time. Turn on the light, take up the journal, write what it says. The
moment beginning to write when I realize sleep thought it was more than
it is. Or else something has been lost between then and now.
Pick up where I left off last night at midnight (then yoga 'til 1, I'd
been so intent I was partitioned - vibrating with black electricity). Write
rapidly 'til I have to eat. Run bath water. Rapidly make meatballs to cook
in chicken broth left in yesterday's roasting pan. It's daylight. Don't
turn on the radio. Put marrow and broccoli in with the boiling soup. Get
in the bath. Always the pleasure of hot water. Get out, get dressed, wash
one of the good bowls, dish up the soup. Take it into the warm room. (Close
the vent in the bedroom first, so the flowers won't dry out.) Pick up Johnson-Laird.
It seems alright to just keep going from what I did this morning. Write.
Do I need to eat again? Salad. It's noon. Eat in the big chair looking out.
Now I have to finish up with Sloman. Cup of tea? Yes. Not more than one.
Write 'til it's done. Now I'll type the pile since last night, see whether
they connect. Read them through. Candace has the family baby downstairs.
Israeli folk music, that means. Keep going 'til I'm caught up. A lot of
pages. Take them to the warm room table. Order them. Number them. 12. That's
the length of a normal essay, which will never seem long again. Now. I'm
thinned right out, exhausted. Hot water. Lie there. A bright planet. The
sky dark dark clear dark blue, turquoise and salmon pink. Warm enough to
go lie down. Turn off the bed lamp. Unplug the Christmas tree. Get in and
pull the covers up to my chin. Remove the pillow. Dark aches and buzzes
a lot of places. Feel them. Feel the breath in the throat. Think of Blackbird
in green army pants and a red sweater, getting up early and sitting at a
computer with headphones on. His beautiful hands. Pangs in the kidneys.
That's the tea and chocolate bars (I've been running sweat today.) Farther
away. I can't remember where, but I was awake. Quite far. Realizing it,
come back. I'm awake. Did it go as far as sleep? It wasn't long. I feel
amazingly delicious all over. Lie here? No, get up. Plug in the tree, pull
up the covers. Heat the soup, eat it. At the table looking at what I have
to do next, which is pick up the section on analogy I left 'til after I
did part II. Chocolate bar? I'd thought not, but yes. Put coat over undershirt,
blue flannel pyjama pants. Pink socks. Gumboots. Leave door on the latch.
Come down the ice hollows on the sides of the stairs, holding on. Ice path.
Coming to the gate the security light switches on, shines on my back, over
my shoulder. Leave the gate open. The bare rectangle where my car was when
it snowed. Store man alone in the shop. Eighty-five cents precounted, honours
student killed in freak accident on school outing to Blackcomb. Photograph
of a high school girl with long brown hair.
The bright planet. The moon - the full moon! Oh with a smudge of light
over it, but the face of its continents clear. White and high, over RayCam's
ugly towers. I'll walk around the block. Looking at houses, each one, their
lights, that I don't know and know. Fresh air. Clear black, that nice clear
black. Walk slowly on sidewalks glazed in front of some buildings, cleared
in front of others, telling stories of who's who. Sense of the open paths
of the neighbourhood, that I don't take. Have been eating chunks of the
chocolate bar, putting the rest, in its wrapper, in my book pocket. Come
upstairs into the warm. Sit at the table with the last half of it. Eating
it very thoroughly. Start at the top. What do I have. Numbered piles. It's
6:30. Write, erase, small writing on the graph pad. It goes. Look at number
1. It isn't going to go. Ten o'clock. Stop? Yes. Close things down. Lids
on the pens. Vent open. Kitchen light off. There's a sliver I have to get
out. Bedroom lights on. Candles lit. The beautiful supernaturally beautiful
blue and blue and blue and yellow iris have curled their exquisite edges
because it was warm in the room these four hours.
I want to say something too about how well organized all of this is.
I've got rid of everyone; I could get rid of everyone. I have enough
money, or access to. There is nice equipment helping me - the red towels,
bowls, the organic vegetables, my blue undershirt. The fact that Rob brought
me flowers yesterday "because you're working." The array of vitamins
and supps. The typewriter that remembers whole rows of words to erase them
and has a tab that works and a shift lock. The bedroom for emotional life.
Luke's room with rows of signifying piles round the sides. A big table for
work in progress. Another table for the whole thesis, rows for the sections,
slots to be filled with paper-clipped pages. Kitchen with the typewriter
on a pad. The high octane high technology of an O Henry. The knowledge of
when to eat it, on top of a protein meal. The lights to turn off and on.
Heat systems for the middle room and this one. The fact that I can see it
will be done, I can see beyond. Moments writing when I think of the initiation
of duality. Feeling professionally initiated. Last night when I came upon
the collapse of digital into analog by surprise.
Didn't want to stop last night. Wanted to thank for the snow. A Saturnalia
of quiet, the interstitial days of the calendar, the week between Christmas
and New Year - extended.
11th Monday 5:30
Don't know whether Rob will remember to wake me, so I had to get up.
Two hours of quiet ahead. I mean, bathed, dressed, fed, lunch made, teaching
prepped, moonlight on the hall floor by the west window, sound of wind at
the heating vent like a breath of life. Hello Luke.
These days I lie down to sleep and some time in my past comes back to
Watching again how before I wake I'm thinking about work in one voice,
which is a steady level neutral voice, and then when I realize I'm thinking
another voice crashes in, which is a loud social voice much stupider-sounding,
and in this voice I can't remember what I was thinking.
Rowen last night in his undershirt and pyjama bottoms, another kind of
body than he's had, a boy's long strong shape with a solid bum. He was making
pop-out cards and had in mind a room with a window through which you can
see a man on a chair. Couldn't figure out how to do the facing wall. Wants
me to help. I'm in my bed wanting to read about Hopfield nets but get interested
in the problem. Okay, maybe this way. Two folds instead of one, cut across,
fold it back, glue it on a backing. There's the room. He skips with joy.
Oh so nicely and innocently. "I really like doing projects with other
people not by myself."
Kneeling on the rug talking about Read. "Michael said ever since
I was a baby he wanted that for me" - to live in the country. A serious
moment. "It's because he grew up in the country and he liked it so
much. He wanted you to have it too. And I grew up in the country too and
I liked it very much and wanted you to have it."
For goodnight hug he lies down carefully on top of me.
In the morning when I'm getting out of the bath he comes in to pee and
jeers at my breasts (Lise's are bigger), "Your tiny little ...."
I'm put out - will I hold back? - "Well your penis isn't very big either.
What am I seeing - that loving boys has always saved me from the crucifying
treachery of women - and that other women have their identities safe by
just that transfer - and that I have it complicated in two ways - by a much
more global treachery, and by having the transfer to father blocked by the
nature of mine. - And that men are more vulnerable and maybe more
driven/mad by the nature of their personal choice. So I'm like men in being
more vulnerable and more driven/mad.
Phil phones this Sunday night and says he couldn't put it down. I'm happy.
What do I see. What I immediately see, a doctorate, a job.
There were other students yesterday. Judith Stapleton who tells me she
won enough money in court to take her through medical school. An astonishing
smile. She's a thin worn mom, and then she's suddenly a bright pink radiant
kid. And Babby Tiong who was so annoyed with her C that she sat through
the tutorial refusing to take notes, after class expostulating in Cantonese
to Diana Tu, with Sean Seah cocking an ear from across the room. I know
to catch her on the way out: How are you doing? Fine, she says. "I
thought you might be unhappy about your grade?" She admits it. I say
come talk to me. She doesn't sit down 'til I ask her to, a skinny boy-girl
with hair cut under a bowl, uningratiating, headlong in the way she moves.
She's very insulted. I ask how she's managing with lectures. She says she
doesn't understand a word. Listens twice to the tapes and picks something
out of them. I know what she has to hear from me. I say I know what she's
doing is very hard. I say it with specks of tears in my eyes, taking that
in passing as just something that happens. And I say I know she's smart,
I can see in her paper that she's smart. Tell me the truth, she says. I
say I think we can get her to a B. She gathers her stuff muttering You.
are. a. good. TA, which is the point of the story, and which in this
instance is true, because I was unerring in my instinct about her. And also:
this unerring instinct has a sadistic root.
Rowen's National Geographic brings me Venus technologically imaged,
"temperatures similar to those in a self-cleaning oven," "rent
by rift valleys, scarred by comets and asteroids, and blackened by seas
of hardened lava," a "textured surface" formed by "volcanic
and deformation processes." Aphrodite Terra "a continent-like
region about the size of Africa." "Stretching and failure of the
surface." Sharp black band, a data gap. "Complex deformed terrain
called tessera." 900 degrees F. "Volcanic, tectonic and impact
processes." Lada Terra, Ammavaru Caldera. Arachnoids surround by spider-web
like fracture. Lakshmi Planum of Ishtar Terra. Sif Mons. Gula Mons.
But beautiful images of what cannot be seen. A dull orange light through
sulfurous clouds, turbulent order, no softening of the surfaces by water,
sharp billowing of the plane. Then these exquisite maps, sharp white lines
on black, seeing them like feeling in perfect detail the sweep of intelligent
sensation through junctures of a neural net. Just that. Intelligent feeling.
intelligence like the most minutely structured run of fire. Like light on
the floor of the sea, caustic nets. retia interlacing arrangement,
as of nerves; network. rete. retis. rhema. rhetor. rhetorike techne.
rheos a current.
Steven Davis giving me a ride [to Andrew's party] asks about my thesis
as if he's heard nothing about it, and then decides suddenly to tell me
what Phil told him and others. The thesis is good. "He says you're
a beautiful writer." And I should think of going somewhere else. They'd
write me letters. San Diego? I say.
2nd February, Tuesday
Candlemas, and it has been. Light's return.
Working today in a light current of excitement and desire. That's all
I'll say. Light-hearted especially this morning as if there was a stream
of connection going, as if he was thinking of me.
How is it that my feeling him supports me? As if I'm floated by the sense
of a possibility. That, by itself. Thinking of him floats me. Imagining
him, seeing him. All day, when I'm not working. It feeds me with pleasure.
Was it ovulation?
One of the deep pleasures of this rounding-off work is that I get to
re-touch the books that gave me joy two years ago, four years ago. I mention
them, find a place for them. Maturana and Varela from ten years ago. Chaos.
Michaels and Carrello today. Neurophilosophy and A neurocomputational
perspective. Rosen. Tiles. Pribram. Keller. Whitford. Korzybsky. Vygotsky.
Hebb from twenty-five years ago and again two years ago. Wilden. Halliday.
Marr. Newell. Wittgenstein. Hegel, even. Are there more? The great excitments
and absorptions of their times. The satisfaction of filling-in. I've felt
how this student life has at least given me books - a capacity to read in
a new domain, books like Hallett on Cantor. Tiles on set theory was the
most satisfying for stretch and shape. So good. Good in its setting-together
and teasing apart. Wonderfully good in its overall spread. My paper on it
was a collaboration. The beautiful structure was hers. But I set it beautifully
into eleven pages.
I wrote twenty-two pages today! 50 since Thursday. And it is quite a
beautiful structure I think, starting threads and working with them and
leaving them and taking them up again.
Oh, but. In three years I could have written a novel. But yes I will
certainly go on writing about hard books I don't understand 'til the last
moment. And there is much more to say about what's good in Tiles or Patricia
And what it's like to write a thesis. Last chapter tomorrow. Lines converge.
I've been converging them here and there on the way so maybe there's not
much to do. Or maybe it will be the moment when something blooms up out
of the level, the silent helper's comment on the work.
There is a new flight path in the last days, something big and invisible
passes overhead, a sound that takes up a broad swath of the sky, dark, coarsely
granular, clumpy, massively strong like thunder. I've been liking and wondering
at it without noticing. A voice.
- Finished it just now. 18 pages since 4 o'clock .
- Wanted to phone Luke. No answer.
- Full moon across the bathroom floor.
- A freight train saying my ---. Saying me.
- Having finished it. Still moving. Such strong life
- A sheet of paper with big disordered writing. A smell in the book.
- Now sleep 'til seven.
Sleeping next to Louie on a Saturday night, Sunday morning, I dreamed
the phone rang and I got up and answered it. "It's Dave." I can
barely hear him, but he's confused, crying. "What are you doing to
me? I feel as if you've put a spell on me, you've been enchanting me."
I say carefully, in a hoarse or sleeping voice, that maybe I have been overdoing
it, I have been trying to seduce him but maybe I've done too much.
Lying in bed in the morning I risk telling Louie this dream. We talk
to the book. It takes me seriously in so kindly a way that I feel myself
in the midst of an extraordinary presence of feeling. It is completely real
to me. I'm saying "I'm really terribly in love with this man."
An anguish that feels like a soul. I say "My soul is here." The
book says, "Where?" I say "here," rubbing my chest.
I don't think I could find it now - as if his spirit, one of his spirits
maybe, was there, and the whole of the blaze of my being taken with it.
The intensity of soul was an intensity of conflict. Desire so real and
strong, wanting to knock on his door. Hesitation so real and strong, this
is nothing to do with him, my own dream, don't mistake it. Don't implicate
someone who has his own real life to find.
I said I feel such impatience, I want to eject from it. I'm impatient
of the fear.
It said but you have been patient, you have been beautiful with it.
I love what - the life of finding in this immaterial.
There is a knock. He's standing at the door. This time I don't fly over
the moment. I look at him. I take a step forward and touch. And touch. Somewhere.
In brave fear. And then. Come upstairs. Turn off the light. Sit in the kitchen.
And then. You sit here. I'll sit here. We'll be voices. We'll hear space.
I'll sit quite nearby. I'll feel the shape of the sound of what you say.
I'll know where I feel it. The hour will be black open air lying quiet around
us in all directions. We'll be at anchor in it, wavelets of invisible light
will be running through our chests.
Do you know the magnetic sensation? Sitting next to her, a current across
a foot of space between our flanks. Lying with him in sun after looking
at roses, body full of a slightly pulsing white light that is desire satisfied
to be desire. The way a hand on an arm is a contact that allows a flow so
bright, so soft it must be fluid love. Oh tonight I'm charged with it. It's
like summer heat.
What's the mind slow and strong like this - what else can it do - it
can wait - it can listen - behind a waterfall,
It's panic - what's panic - forehead and throat - I'm so panicked I'm
not knowing how to write - this is an anxiety that comes with the realm
of the fathers - I am talented, the fathers will take me up, but among them
I am sad and frightened and expect to be unseen.
We sit in the cold on the steps and it's so dull I don't know why he
And this is his dream. In front of him an old woman, big and strong,
like a peasant woman, who is wearing something low-cut that shows the yellow
skin of her chest. Behind her a yellow wall. There is a tattoo on her chest,
maybe a sailing ship, with an inscription arced above it. Skin becomes wall
becomes the chest of an old man. The inscription on the tattoo reads "Thank
you for letting me wear your breasts all my life." He likes the two
of them very much, they're so strong and lively.
There haven't been times like these, it's pain, it's crashing, hot forehead,
cold hand, a dependency that kept me all day at L's though I have a lecture
to prepare, wanting her to say something that would crack me or satisfy
me, impatient, saying Come on, oh please fix me.
Tell me what's happening.
The book said, When you went away from everyone you didn't feel it but
you felt it afterward, you're feeling it now, about Rowen and Dave and Luke
and Rob and Louie, that you lost them before and you'll lose them again.
It's a path in your brain.
That was last night. This morning it said, What is it to you that I love
you? I said, If you were part of me so that you couldn't go away, it would
be something, but as it is you can't stop me getting paralyzed, you weren't
there all those years when I needed you, why did you take so long? Bitter
weeping. "I come when people want to know." "I have always
wanted to know, there was a time it was all I wanted." I was thinking
of the child who decided her mother's love was useless and still thinks
What Joyce said was: the panic makes sense, the crush on the young man
was saving you from - what? - I've forgotten what she said. What I have
to do is just feel the pain of all the times there was no support. So will
I have to feel the pain for a long time, or will I just have to feel it
very intensely for a short time? I ask. She giggles, "I do not know,
I do not know."
I say last time I got attached to somebody it ended in poverty and sickness
and incapability. She says, and this was the relief, it isn't about attachment,
it is about love so full that it isn't afraid, it's completely self-balancing.
And that that is my task altogether, not just in this episode.
We seem to be done but the time isn't over. I sit glancing at the harbour
and mountains, seagulls, behind her. It is very quiet. She's gazing at me.
I'm feeling I could go out of focus and see lights. After, she asks what
was the quality of the energy for me. I say peaceful and nervous. She says
it reminded her of, she was on the edge of, a time with ayahuasca and datura.
What? A shamanistic other universe.
Unexpected. Saturday night, I'm in the bath, phone rings. I'm in so good
a balance I seize bold opportunity and tell him I know he likes being beautiful.
He says he's red. Will I come out either tonight or tomorrow?
In a room packed with people, close to a candle at the bar. A horribly
amplified singer cutting into my left ear. White wine. We're closer than
any other space would let us be. yelling in warm candlelight. Physically
in love, I mean simmering in magnetic touch. I'm facing his face and fully
in heaven. Not frightened. He says he wants advice. He wanted that from
the first. A woman in Toronto. "I never stopped being in love with
her I believe in true love and being happy together." She's a filmmaker.
Break-ups and running away. A network of fear. Of being alone and - what
was the other one? - inadequate.
I say, "If that's what you want, go after it but do it altogether
... Did you like hearing that?" "Yes" he says, "but
that isn't the whole of it. Sartre says ask advice of someone who will tell
you what you want to hear." I have an imprudent rush and say "and
I hope you know how disinterested it is." I say that with a rush of
something like mischievous delight. I am telling him I want him. The joy
is the joy it is and the joy it is to have a way to tell him. Oh see me
loving to love you and no longer angry and not at the moment frightened
and happy not to be frightened. And does he see it? I don't know. I'm not
sure he knows what disinterested means, he looks as if I've said
I don't want him.
We're confused. I do what I sometimes know to do, which is take charge
of him with a gesture. I ask him to tell me what it means. He does know.
So why is he looking hurt. It does hurt when somebody loves you. Alright,
I understand that. But I didn't then. I was impatient, "Do you want
me to spell it out?!" Indignant. But thinking it's a good tack to show
an indignant moment.
There he is at the door. There is something to say about how it is, and
it's this. As soon as he comes toward me at all I'm full of natural gestures,
the way when we stepped into the elevator together we stood leaning back
against opposite walls to see each other on the way down.
I like the way he sits during the seminar, like this for instance [drawing]
with his parade ground boots that won't pass muster up on the white couch.
I like the way he concentrates on the person of the speaker, he sees to
them personally, tonight smiling at Lou but it would be so for anyone. I
like how he's quick and bold and warm. He's instantly there and perceptive
and true, something about the way he positions himself physically is those
things. The way that moment when I turned away to the counter collapsed
into shame he was instantly there next to me, like something borne on the
wash of my turning away. The way it was in the elevator. The way I have
those instants where I don't say, but act, like taking his sweater from
him and putting it onto the back of the chair, I mean the moments when,
for all my diffidence, I just take hold of him.He does it too. "The
color in the dream wasn't really yellow, I realized it was the color of
your skin." "What are you thinking about?" "I'm still
with 'disinterested' I guess."
Louie had so beautiful a dream. While she told it we were both far gone
into the fairyland I feel with this man. She comes to my new place. I'm
not there but a light is left burning and the radio is on. It is clean and
white, an old-fashioned place. On the table is an open binder, my high school
project about love. Images she finds beautiful. On the last page the teacher
remarks that I've gone very deeply into the project and next time maybe
I can try something that's not so hard. An old man and woman arrive. I'm
with them. They are her parents and the landlords. The old people are yellowish,
in their eighties. As if her parents had been able to grow old together,
as if her father had not died.
Dear you. Yesterday I was seeing you all day. Did I like it. In the way
that I like to see you, yes. But it is a trouble, like being squeezed in
a press. Riding the escalator at Harbour Center racked with change.
Inwardly the moment when I stand with my eyes closed putting forward
my palms toward you.
Today I was elsewhere and maybe you were too. I said we were people with
dotted lines down the middle and arrows pointing both ways. I don't mind
that you are. I think I could like to be in your company when you are in
two truths at once. Do you like to see starlings? The many flecks of color
in their black. They are the intimate exquisite birds no one mentions.
This is what I think - my grain work is alternative to his image. I mean
that I hang onto him as a way to be in the heaven of loving sight. He is
the dot of it in this field of man-mind.
I could romanticize that and say I follow him in through, I follow his
Oh but - my grain work is not alternative to his body.
These weeks working in the Mac room at Harbour Center. Often I see the
same faces. We come in, sit down, press the on button. The machine
says BINGGG. Light plastic clacking. Good chairs, adjustable. The seat sinks
or rushes up, the backrest presses forward or lies back. In the afternoon
when the room is full and the machines are slow we'll sometimes all have
our screens frozen and then we wake up and look around and see each other.
The computer young men who know everything reassure us in almost loving
voices. We're like strangers in a big quiet bed together.
They are sexy afternoons. Why so. Being physically close to the men and
all of us in trance together, and then coming out of silence into an internal
room with carpet and low light. Weak thin attendants friendly and available
coming quietly to sort us out. Sliding gestures on the screen. The way highlighting
magicks up a wanton but finely controllable bar of color. Turquoise. The
steady unsystematic learning which has had no ambition in it and has simply
relied on help. The really flattering competent obedience of the system,
which produces this satisfying visible object as if with no trouble, over
top of an invisible depth of complex labour. And also the company of my
image, who was there today in the men passing behind my chair, seen in peripheral
vision. The rest of the building just there outside the door. Money machine,
food floor, library. Smell of cookies baking at the mezzanine door. Mountains
in standing clouds, the harbour. Paintings changing from week to week. A
flower stall with orchid plants under the escalator. A bathroom mirror that
shows me a face I like, thin.
Still heart shaken. I haven't been seeing the violence I have ahead of
me with the defense. It is like submitting - to Tietz, Schwartz, Todd -
and if I carry it off as I know I could, in bravado pretending to be as
I would have to be to make it work, then I participate as one of my own
oppressors, one of those who say, I will pretend this is not a violent occasion,
I will pretend I have not been invisible here.
The dream I woke from was a story about the departure of one of the people
in a person. A beautiful woman is leaving. A dwarfish engineer sort of man
is saying "I will miss her fearfully. I was the one who always
looked after her."
If the beautiful woman in me who is departing is my feeling for him -
if a dwarf engineer, a delayed mechanism, will miss her fearfully - if I
love loving him for the beauty I am when I imagine him. That my feeling
for him is a woman, I didn't know, but it's true - how much I miss being
a woman - wants to be, wants to be, ah, pretty - I want to cry, feeling
there is no way to it - at least, though foolishly, oh I did become a woman,
wanting you - that's what it meant, the gestures - oh Joyce it isn't being
loved I miss, it's the possibility of loving. The gesture of lifting my
Working on this deeper level of the thesis, a sense of sophisticated
philosophy, ie holding a term's many senses in their sorted net.
Erotic love and work are my life. I don't care about support, security,
'growth.' I have loved companionship but when it forbids me erotic love
I will do without it.
Joyce you do not understand the bitterness of the floor of rivalry between
Appalling unbearable rivalry of the nearest and only.
I'm having to feel it in so bare a form.
Appalling and unbearable betrayal of the nearest and only.
There is no one else who can know me, men cannot, but the one who knows
me will kill me if she can.
If I started again I would have two good years. If I stay with this it
will get worse.
Or get through.
Is there such a thing? Does anyone ever get through?
When people get through it is not as if they know they are through.
Where do they think they are?
They are crying and frightened.
What are they through, then?
Through lying and trying.
Dear you, it is a tangle and very hard to be true.
What is it like.
Like being in school worried that the kids are shunning me. Being in
high school with my thin leg showing. I've learned so many ways to say I
don't really want to be with you. Do I know a way at all to say I want to
be with you.
I want to be with you. In what way. I want to be brave and true with
you. I want to desire and adore you in the open, unconcealed. I want to
be visible scared and sore so you can see. I want to look at you with so
fearless an interest that I could speak to the thought behind your thought.
I want not to be afraid of my fear of your beauty. I want all of this to
be so when I'm not with you, too. I want also to be interested in my boredom
and dislike and judgment. I'd like to see you naked. Oh and not to be frightened
of you seeing me that way. Wanting you is soul, it's radical, it's loss,
it means I have to change, I have to have a harder life, I have to be lonely
and unsafe and sad.
She tries to get me to say what would be the best that could happen and
I cannot. As if the wish has so great a ring of fear around it that I cannot
approach it. The best I say finally would be if I felt this for someone
Editing - so emotional it was. Laying sound over picture, satisfaction
when a sound took in the image. A frog, the flap of a flame at a distance.
Sunflower drifting, I feel when to come in. Michael's voice saying "I
love the life in my garden" just that clean clear blue/yellow/green.
The way focus pulls slowly through fennel to a difficult resolution while
Mrs Hsu's voice is being pulled up in volume to get her last mutter clear.
The way Monty's voice clears when he says "clear." Microdecisions
of sound-image relation. Old Mike's eyes under his cap, blurred eyes, look
up when Max is thinking his name. Michael's brain searching, getting set
up, over the bees. Ways I'm unorthodox on tape.
We are extraordinarily in agreement about the material and extraordinarily
tense in the technical work. We take pleasure in each other's decisions
and can't bear each other's physical presence. Elbows bumping in the windowless
closet. Shooting back on the rolling chair to get farther from her. I think
the truth is we're equally frenzied by waiting through each other's working
process. I wanted to hit her. It was her tone.
Motion, few times a motion sensitive as a touch.
Old Mike weeding on his side lies still, I pull back a very little, just
to the grey post on the left. He stands getting his squash ready, passes
it left to right. Frame drifts right just enough to get the red post, then
stops. His puff of smoke exits on the left.
Ruby's hair, side of the face. Pulling back. See the velvety texture
of her face. Further. The corner of her mouth. An extraordinary face being
unveiled quite slowly from below and the side and there she is speaking
without being heard, birds speaking through her face as if it's transparent.
It's a way of cutting immediate to me - given the materials - that simultaneity
of attention not native to daily attention though.