Volume 6 of Aprhrodite's Garden: 1987 June-September  work & days: a lifetime journal project  







Part 1 editing notes in origin. Part 2 working at the steambath for the minimum wage. Part 3 notes in origin comes out at the Cinemateque.

Reading notes: Pythagoras, AS Byatt *, abstract version of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, Buddhism, Lis Rhodes Pictures on pink paper, self interview about film, medicine wheels and other stone circles, more Orphic notes, Lis Rhodes program notes, landscape notes.

Mentioned: Tony Gordon-Wilson, Kirk Tougas Return to departure, Henry Jesionka,

30th June 1987

What is the question under it. It's what does it make me when I wage public power struggle.

Curiously having relations -

3rd July

The little doctor, fine gold chain and kissy mouth, there she is under the porchlight when I open the door, a thin smart small dyke without rings on her hands. The way it feels being in a room consulting with such. I wish it were like that all over the world, sane and warm, not polite, exact. I liked her clean new well kept clothes too, saw from them a life where clothes are in closets and sent to the cleaners, replaced before they're faded and not especially loved.

Then Captain Cat in the garden. I notice how spruce he dresses, raves, but shoes go with the day's choice. Today after I walked away from a snarl he came by to sit in the pit behind the green rock. "Do you think I'm terrible?" "No I don't think you're terrible." Kiss kiss kiss kiss. "Don't get romantic, you have a romantic look on your face."

And in the old house Michael and baby and Mr Smith, green Michael in divine lengths, the yellow room with many paintings, rug, famous avocado plant and brass lamp. Swedish house and sky, baby (when I look shyly round the corner) to be seen on Jim's knee, feet hanging down, eating a peach.

And Pythagoras. Blood-orange beanflower, bean seed attached in the pod, the way reading scholars I can see through them into the rapture in a beanfield, whose image is passed on, as he knew images are, in a mash of language.

I was working with a pick breaking the clay and other very hard subsoil, already tired I think from giving Ro electrical support in his illness. He was wanting to sit near me, hot, flushed, wet, and today I didn't have endurance though I ate steak. Then would sit with my legs in the excavation looking up at the flowers in the center bed. Then that strangeness marvel sets in, the color of the field poppies and their grey-blue-green seed heads, and of the white/red shirleys against the overcast very luminous sky, backlit I suppose but also the otherworld unfamiliar complete shocking beauty. I stood by the post and sang I dream     of Jeannie         with the light brow-own hair /     Floating     like a vapour         on the summer air. It was for the second line, I needed to voice it. And then also felt Eric in his heaps nearby hearing a siren. Well he'll have to look after himself.


Dollar Brand. What to say. From the left front row where cheap seats are empty by convention, for outsiders to come close under the firelight. Piano, sax, amplified highly refined sound, spirit metal tempered, clean, flashing, like copper, brass and steel - which they are and I hadn't understood - that I was hearing breath in through metal. Sonny Fortune wringing the breath out of his body with whatever it can carry of what the body is, screaming, the way I know, you have to unwind it from your feet up like a pitcher. His screaming, Dollar Brand jumping at the piano, shafts of light standing all around. I realize I'm in heaven, there couldn't be more joy, everything forgiven, my dears near.


He got into a rowboat in fog and rowed to the States to ask for political asylum. Five minutes in the hour wd tie himself down and sleep. "Those guys were my guide," pointing to a robin. Victoria to Port Angeles. "There's gotta be a way, I kept saying. There isn't, he kept saying." (It was about a group home with greenhouses.) "They put me on a jet. I was in a box with Mexicans, they were going one way I was going the other. I got off the jet and walked twenty miles home." "Was there still a home for you to go back to?" "I went to my mom's place."

Last day baking on the bench I saw a scar on his ankle and brought my little foot up to show him and told him about being three and sent away. OH! he kept saying. OH! OH!

Reflection, naturally, I'm wanting to know how an abandoned person is different from other people.

I can see he's too far into his own branch - the way I am - to be able to join anyone. "I try to stay out of desire because anger is right behind it." When I was out blindly chasing a steak and met him beside the bike that night I knew I couldn't have dinner in a restaurant with him, be at a concert, do anything but intersect his busyness somewhere.


Space, time, and it's the vapour that's knowledge - not the vapour, the visible shapes of vapour.

In burning noon up on a stepladder nailing lath on the arbour ceiling. Eric without his hat a frail elf sitting quiet among his earned dirt.

The poppies have bloomed and dried.


This morning thinking of writing the story of C and T and I from outside it. What I thought was that it would take me into the heart of writing, it would be where I couldn't glide, and it would be the story most useful to women, and if others read it it would let them know me. Learning to do it would most assemble me. I would have to make a form of fiction to tune me to tell the most exact truth. There's the ecstatic truth like Peter Lake's white horse galloping in the first chapter, what it was in the speed of hope released. The reduced truth of our separation and aging. What would I want to say - Trudy's touch. The learning to look for essence (as in this moment). Devastation of feeling outrun by another culture. False reductions. The drug states. Mind. Being able to go into that span of minds to write them. What's the starting place. An imaginary platform. Try it. It's like a transparent Persian carpet.


How did you first become interested in film?

When were you first absorbed in looking and listening?

When did you discover the effect of holding a camera on that looking and listening?

How old were you when you first looked carefully at images?

How are images you've 'taken' or made different to you, from images other people have made?

What do you learn from the repeating that a recording technology makes possible?

How are you affected by the breaking-up this kind of information makes on your habits of flow?

When did you learn to see in an image a reflection of the person making the image?

A: I'm not very interested in film. I haven't had teaching jobs because I didn't want to be professionally interested in film.

What are you interested in?

Perception. I want to learn to perceive.

How is that related to making and showing work in some particular medium?

I make a lot especially in writing that no one sees. Also I make things many people don't like to see and a few do. There's a sadness in not being seen or in having people not like to see what I like to see.

I show what I like to see and what I'm just learning to see, as a way of testing and strengthening it.

A lot of what I've made is never shown. Or there is a gap, of many years at times, between making something and feeling able to defend it. Or even to know how to present it.

Making and showing are separate. I make something as a way of learning to see something, it adds concentration.

I'm always longing to have people see my work. I want them to be like me and delight where I delight, but also I want them to teach me, the other part of me, that doesn't yet understand. But showing work is something else. It's seldom really finding company for delight, or comprehension completed. It's more to do with seeing how many others there are, how other they are: and that makes the work itself strange, again and again, in many different ways. It's the puzzle about identity, how am I seen and does it have anything to do with what I am, but displaced onto an object the others and I can look at together.

I have to say I'm aware of personal urgency in the question. My visible body is often counted against me, socially and erotically, and so I make something visible that will stand in for me physically and be more liked.

In fact what I make is as often disliked. But I like to see it, I love to see it. It is a form of myself I can love to see. And if there are people who can't love to see me, and yet love to see what I love to see, at least we can do that together.

That's the foundation. The childhood in it.

In terms of the adult work of intervention in power-distribution it is also a defense of something. A politics. What it hopes to be is a demonstration that we can be in pleasure, in contact, in comprehension, outside the nets of social life, language and anxiety. We can go to heaven when we like, it's here, next door, available.


I want to release myself in love, when I see Michael I am staring looking for a go-ahead, when he's remote or sad I can come at him hungrily, that in itself is the go-ahead it seems. His little head still has that minus look, but if he's away inside himself there is something to be hungry for. So I come at him - cautiously, always feeling for the inner nod, as if accepting him is dangerous like walking a goat trail on the side of a cliff. I can do it so long as I discriminate moment by moment - I like his nose and mouth etc - but it is a caution that's really about coming on the edge of the illusion. "That's not bad, it's quite acceptable" I'm saying. but then I say something a little outside his vocabulary and the way he says ha-a? that stunned pitiful bleat and I'm out on the other side of what I can't take. And then the way I feel spelling out an explanation, behind it I'm aghast at what I'm acceding to. And I flee home to put something in my mouth, lie down in hot water, pour someone else's sentences through me. Why do his patches of dumbness take the floor out from under me the way Jam's more destructive patches of craziness didn't. When Jam was crazy I felt attacked. When Roy was raving I did feel the ground open, that was fear. When Trudy got into one of her manic dependencies I'd feel like escaping. But was it ever what this is, shame? What I'm wondering is if what I feel is the pure form of what the other is not expressing.

Beyond this movement, the one I don't reach - was ist dass - a separatedness. What is this stupidity in front of me? Test it. A speed and mobility I haven't had in a long time but am being recalled to. It doesn't have an aim beyond.


[Local CBC interview about the garden.]

It was alright on the radio. There was the voice light supple sexy humorous holding itself intelligently aimed while with the other hemisphere it danced through many slants of a long sentence, drew birds jumping in a hedge, a garter snake by a pile of rocks, the little hills and a shade grove, and came out singing a useable cap.

So what do I think about succeeding in persona. Odd the way when I'm talking I don't hear the darkhaired seducer, who sounds like Marilyn Cox and who I like and who is not at all bulky. I have nothing bad to say about her. I don't see how she can be the real thing but she's a good creation. Sounds like she has long hair and an experienced mouth. You wdn't know she was lame, no. She doesn't sound like a farmer. She sounds like a - writer? Not quite the vocabulary. A courtesan, yes, she sounds like she's teasing a sexual friend. She sounds free and adventurous. She's not like Muggs clear and friendly, or Trudy springing in bubbles and gurgles. She's more air than water. A wiry breeze. I liked Yarrow too, standing eye to eye with Eric. I liked her lurk, she's smart. I could see her placing her tone and, what else, salting with the picturesque, knowing the words Margaret wanted in a repeat. I'm not phonier but I'm placing myself in a different class.


I know now that a movie isn't what it is until some years after it has been out.

3rd August


What about Buddhist exercises. The aspiration is right. I don't like the numbers and the glamorous gods. I like the exercises of colors. Don't want mantra in another language. Don't want to be colonized. Wd like the principles translated into a pure form, a non-mnemonic form. Don't want to take on a mass of inessential and then sort it. Want to be clear and interested, the best states. Want to see form color movement in grain in space. Want to be mobile as in drugs. Want to know how to go into the other. Want to know how it works. Want to know or decide about showing work as art. Want the surge of will and energy with courage and comprehension.

A platform, like a sheet of glass in outer space. Big enough to walk around on. Green-tinted like sea-ice, wire reinforced, showing a faint grid of gold lines.

It's out in the blackness, just a platform, strongly absolutely lit, in a complete absence of atmosphere. Shadows thrown by the person standing on it, by the folds of her clothes, by the fuzz on the back of her arm, are absolutely inky black.

There is a near sun and its planets. Piercingly clear drifts of the further suns like sharp bubbles in a stirring sea.

It is a location, specified, unlosably anchored in the gravitation web, the lines of sight, from all the distances of all the degrees of circumferential space.

And something else. A cloud of particles, in black space too, but unlocated, not lit by a sun. The particles are self-luminous. They can be any color. They move as they do. They're watched.

I take my position at the northeast window harrowed by opposition from the window across the court. I'd like to be here without her eye on the face I am as I work. I can't look out along my shoulder to the mountains in their blur, the gravel scree of her building's roof, without feeling myself presented as a target.

At her window the lid is down. She's behind shades, a rolled blind more than halfway down, a picture stuck on the glass from inside, a crack across the lower pane. Even the small rectangle left uncovered is obscured first by specks of paint and then at another focal depth by the dull reflection of still another window, our mutual neighbour's, in parallel lines of shiplap siding whose interruptions show the glass around the crack to be slightly dished.

Describe something. An anchor sinks into the present. I take a breath. It brings the scent, the taste, of nasturtium, orange; sweet pea, purple. The colors themselves, they say, the delicately veined wings of the sweet pea, the skin-like crushed velvet of the nasturtiums, are there on the windowsill by having come to me, inverted, twice, and then gone back by another medium to be where they are. The medium in which this hypothetical geometry is drawn is what interests me. I fear her, I love the flowers. She is fear, the flowers are pleasure. I reflect. Alright.

Alright. There is a story.

Eleven years ago when I was thirty-one and had been living in this city with my son, who was five then, for only a year, I found the people I had been looking for.

It was legendary; there is that way of telling it; but I'm going to try to avoid that way because I can see that the sense of legendary patterning, so strengthening and delightful to me then, was also the dangerous weakness I brought into a deadly contest.

Deadly, no. We are all still alive. But not as alive as we were.

A platform, like ...


Night aches. New neighbours' voices' terrible intrusion. Beef men and nice women horribly white, child's strangled crying.

Falling asleep I was investigating the knot between the eyebrows. A woman's brown fingers dipped in warm oil reached in and stroked a vertical cord. There was a most elusive electrical shiver like a tiny orgasm in the astral body. Stroking the left side of the fissure. I started to wonder if it was the midwife's massage. But couldn't take that further. And then sinking away a bit, seeing my hands stretched, stretching them, and feeling the knot relaxed.


The beautiful gate, the grove there will be with red and yellow and jumping crows and 9 people proudly rooted especially Eileen - kidpit full of little girls making sand birthday cakes, closeby and in their own territory - Tod's beauty marked by the entrance - my own preeminent - the shed roof and hills - a Lugnasad full moon fire feast fiery and hot and watermelons without limit - what else, rocks on rockpiles, wood on woodpiles - moon lifting in the east and an incandescent pot borne out of the hearth in the midst, my brick platform for the kiln, Michael painting a bowl, and I got a moony one, and Diane's kids - and Eric's accomplishment, and Yarrow's, and Muggs' friends from Carnegie, and Anne's and Chorhon's master gardeners.


Daph calls to say tessera 3 out of 4 in the end with her persuasion will probably take charm value ethic tactic though they find it idiosyncratic and don't see what it has to do with feminist theory.

I drove her backing off politely as she does, "I should get off the phone " because when she offers something in conversation, like a man I can't take it up. Harmonic convergence. She and Betsy got up and meditated, she felt a ground swell, she felt a silence in the city. Blank. Well she'd know. What did I feel. Hastings Street. What does she mean, meditation, is what I want to know and there wasn't time. She felt abandoned she said, Kit went back to Seattle, Betsy's teaching. I'd've thought you'd relish it I said. Who is everybody else, I'm so out of step I must be a genius - or a bitter cripple - or what?


Cheryl said, lying in soft covers and clean sheets, in a washed teeshirt with freckled soft arms, that Trudy said that the night I improvised with Paul Kram I stole from her. The silence after, none of my supposed friends would acknowledged anything had happened. Roy did. I'd gone out into space and moved in a freedom found among a thousand considerations and she couldn't bear for it to have been someone else who did it. And then her and their weekly music and her embarrassing show with Roy and Howard.

I'm here in the fresh current of air, the roofers have been banging since seven. Now I have to get C to stop trying to sabotage me.

Alright, I do it myself with Michael. They. The root fright = it isn't I who will be in the center of possibility. What more is there to know about envy.

Relativity. That in any group the being of anyone is their position in the group. This happens like cattle sleeping in shifts. I'm thinking of the way with C I take the position of being less affected. As I do it I watch the denial but at the same time I feel I'm defending myself from her effort to get me more into it so she could be less.

Why we let someone into a position or not.

Dear One, I think of you and feel my mouth swell, I remember all four kisses. It's fall, you've gone away again. Japanese maple trees with claws. Is that the culture you can be? I'm sorry you find me too smart. There's a connection between intelligence and dancing, as in Bach. Duets in heaven is how I'd like to think with you. One day are you gonna be up for it?

I've tried to get around behind you, but I don't know you, I'm not around you, you're there unexplained on the other side of the surface of your eyes. I honor you as if my own life is in there with you. I'm drawn to surrender to its cold silver green light.


Up the mountain, the road darker than night below radiant fading sky. Tree giants standing in their idiosyncrasy of shape, a meccano tower with three red lights. The man drives, I'm aware that we're in his body, don't quite like the way he takes curves but am accepted in my and Rowen's tension and have in me the moments at the top, pearly everlasting along the roadside and rocks in the streambed getting most of the light, the cities below a gauze of fine greyblue and yellow lights, ships in harbour pointed all in the same direction toward the bridge like nails toward a magnet, silver wakes of invisible small boats in disorganized commas, the great sky a very powdered old orange, and nearer by, beyond the abyss, the black extraordinary line of the sums of the mountains - it has a few very plummy dark folds this side, shades of black, but what reaches us is the shape of natural stone - that over there, and at our feet on the steep road grade the pearly everlasting holding onto more light than the sky seems to give. Look at the skyline he says. "I saw, it's very strong."

2nd September

Walking east on 5th Avenue in deep leafy Kitsilano. Arriving at a house whose living room shows the writers' walls of books, all quiet with a grey chair and golden light and latest model telephone and glassy framed art. And from the dining table such clean dry hydrangeas barely blue barely green in the black glass, and clothes outlined up in the sky starting to move. "What do you mean, sacred?" "Soul is when you feel yourself to be on a journey." "And destiny," Daphne says. Near death experiences Betsy brings in.

"I don't know how the brain dies but if it dies from outside in, the tunnel experience and so on ," I say. "You mean the column of light that asks you what you've done with your life is the brainstem?" Daphne very quick. "Maybe, but it's not less wonderful if it is that, than if it's Jesus or something."

"There's a book by Olive Shreiner, not African farm, another one called From man to man, do you know it?" (Some scrimmage about the title.) " There's a woman in it who's dying, there have been all sorts of disasters" - it's Daphne I'm telling, across the table - "and she goes out in the veldt and is lying in a covered wagon. She takes a mirror and looks at herself. What she's saying is, we've been together a long time and now we're saying goodbye."

And then there's a long silence. A star of five. Twice Daphne tries to break it. We resist. I love the way we keep it. And then she tries again, the star unfixes and we lean forward and remake the focus and leave the presence of all of the outside.


She wants to use words like worldly and otherworldly, the sacred, religion, mysticism, and I can see how to look at the thing and find a description of what it's like. What is it about comfort and coupling: what do I believe about it? That it prevents you looking through things and getting to the essence (like the difference between career feminism and living as a free female person, which is too direct to need discussion). What I mean is about the prenatal.


Frightened of the new movie, yeah. In dismay. Frightened of hating Rowen, using Michael, posing and bragging with my friends, spurting at the meeting, putting out an empty film. Frightened of the two weeks in which I have to manage to get it done.

Cranky-fretty like he is, confined, raging.


I liked the NFB building. Other people looking after it, marble and oak, the waste paper basket emptied, three elevators discretely opening and closing, a night clerk saying goodbye. All the surgical implements at hand, filtered air, editing paper off a roll, projector with a console.

I realized sitting in the marble Ladies that the hospital was actually a security. I liked it as a building. I liked standing in the foyer hearing the mighty elevators approach. I liked the way the floors were marked, bands of terrazzo, with a wide skirting curling up for a cornerless meeting with the wall. Heavy slow doors on huge piston springs. I didn't know I liked it. I walked in it the way I saw Luke walking, looking looking at the building and feeling the space.


Wanting to write Robert, as if I could now.

Dear one, to begin in the middle of no where, I want to be sharp in love again, I want to see you in front of me thin as the moon, bones eyes and nest of hair absolutely driven to be. I want to be in a room with the air like soft water between us. When you signal I want to go with you into the other room. I want to kiss your hands, I want to feel the doors standing open and love brightening the whole.

I want you in me, I want your ribs in my hands, I want your bone, I want it ferociously.

I want it bringing you next to me, arms, shoulders, shoulder blades in my arms. Your hair confused. Your eyes. I want one kiss after another. Dry curved brief ones that go on after they stop. I want to hold your arms in my hands and fuck you like the sea ahh - khhh ahh - khhh

I want to lie in images with you, I want your breathing, I want the pulse in your thigh, I want the dry heat in your palm, I want your thinness, your dry skin, the hollow over your liver. I want to want and have you, adore and study you, withstand and give in to you. I want you in a chair across the room, reading, in your glasses, many years from now.


Second day with Rowen, woken three times at night. When he clawed my face this morning the way he does I slugged him on the side of the head. I feel bad to find so little interest in his company, when he approaches I'm like a giant who can only think of eating him, there's nothing else occurs to me to do with this pink pretty vicious inarticulate little thing. Who strews the house, damages my goods, needs constant cleaning up, and squeals and cries and is unhappy with me.


She calls the making of a solstice point primitivisation but it is contemporary. It has to do with getting a physical experience/understanding of physical world, which is the actual god: the explorable enormous.

19 Saturday

I get home, there's a message from Lucy. Searching in the sound of her language for some island of mind. It's all muck, mhm mhm mhm. It's lard, nonexistence. A soul can't be this disgusting. Offering another sentence to see what'll come. The burst of greasy feeling about the letters she wrote me during her courtship. What was her actual position? She wrote romantic letters to a seventeen year old, they are read in public, the family hoots and applauds. She likes the applause, she is applauded for being betrayed, there is no ground to find her standing on.


And actually I look nice, a thin winter Queen with antlered hair and an extraordinary cut of face. But only a distant king can love me now, I'm remote and dangerous.


He'd rather talk. He talks and undercover I have time and safety to be in my touch. All by myself on the back of his hand, the inside of his arm. It wasn't plowing but it was something. I was grateful just for it, the bone, oddly grateful, watching the body have feelings obscure to me. Knowing I'm not there with him nor he with me nor his body with me, but my body in some way with him, or with itself. Next to talking self she becomes quite safely but not yet anything like totally body.