Sept 27 1987
There were clouds under us almost the whole way across. Then the windows
across the aisle had the splendid band orange and yellow burning around
a curve, and its counter-band on my side arcing up dimmer turquoise and
blue. The clouds over the entire ocean, maybe, formed in a calm like a vacuum,
hung in cells like florets. The first rim of the sun comes under the plane's
belly and colors the jets rose, and then - I'm looking through the viewfinder
- is stopped by mist so the silver fades like breath held to immaterial
[London YWCA] The repulsion with Mary has always bin there, but less
acted on? More mixed with affection. This time it was almost unmixed horror.
She's like the ugliness of the tearoom downstairs, a tasteless cavern hung
with travel posters at random. Wanting to assume attachments for her old
age. The fact is I've lost face with her by her finding out I'm on welfare
and by losing Jam and getting Michael instead. And she won't know what else
I do. She wants to attach me but she doesn't want to know me. It's as if
the emptiness of her sponsorship those years shows now. Talking to her I
burst out, You don't have a clue what I do, or what it's worth or how it's
done. She says quite complacently that that's true, she lives in another
world. I say You could know but you don't want to, you want to stay in the
world you're adapted to.
And under, under, what is it happening. I'd like to outright contempt
and ditch her but I'm afraid of the meaning of abandoning one's mother
as if it means I abandon myself, or would on some level be taken as an instruction
to abandon myself.
Joyce would say, She has abandoned you, you don't want to know she has
abandoned you, not just in the past but now, again. She has abandoned you
as unprofitable. And then there's a lightening. If she's abandoned me I
can get on with the second half of my life.
Lookit this railway embankment, street level papered and scribbled. VIVA.
TELEPATHY. Windows broken, but all intact, arches, cladding, a buddleia
springing from the corner of the gutter and another is in plumes out of
the dripline. Grit on the page. Chalk Farm Road, the coffee is too expensive
to have two.
Annabel [Nicholson] the girl, I'm always looking at her with love, seeing
her smile with her mouth corners pulled up against the bone, russet colors
of eyes and hair. She wdn't let me wear her cardigan, the one she lent me
was the man's and I was wearing it to hold her. "We had planned to
have children together." Looking at her with a tear unexpectedly in
my eye (left eye), I'm so sorry, I'd like to give you my child. Not
knowing quite why I'm saying that. She came delicately to cry on my shoulder
and I was interested when we unhooked to find an actual tear falling off
my cheek and another that I'm not sure whether it's mine or hers falling
off the right cheek too.
Thankful she doesn't have children so she can be still this vivid reticent
being who always gives me hope and newness.
A row with a man who was smoking behind me on the bus. What was interesting
was how it persisted. I kept yelling and staring at him. He tried physical
threat, ignoring, Greek swearing, firm instructions to stop looking at him.
So then I knew to keep looking at him. And then another woman sitting at
the back started on him and I began again from the front, and he got up
and actually moved, trying to save his hereditary face and us fixing him
between our eyes so he cdn't save it. You lesbia? he yells. Then it's over,
the woman he liked to beat up in his mountain village gets a moment of vindication.
Or else he goes home tonight and beats her more. Or maybe both.
Yesterday morning Roy was droning in his automatic male-information way
about neurotic categories, I came in half-conscious of subversion to show
Sara garden photos, the kids were jumping and yelping, he yelled at Jedi
and crashed his fist onto the table. I automatically gathered my photos
and skipped into the kitchen. He and Sara throned themselves in the living
room and there I was muttering out of sight amazed how a patriarchal dominance
signal had got me out of the way in a flash.
Feeling in Jill MacGrael, Annabel, Sally an unspoken steering away from
my slides. Analysis they say. Show yourself holding yourself above the pagan.
The way the voices are squeezed over on one side like someone wincing away
from an inner barbarian. I hear my own voice exaggerating American relaxedness
and I feel it in the middle of the path, flowing straight ahead and not
squeezed over on the right. A physical dislike for Jill MacG, what's she
doing in Canada House dressed like a schoolboy, flawless oval face, virginal
and in fact unimaginable in sex. (From upstairs in the bus looking down
on a punk girl, bleached yellow hair, black tights, silver studded boots,
kissing a boy at the bus stop. The way she was doing it, kiss, kiss, and
her hand on the side of his neck with one finger touching. Essence. She
felt me looking, saw me smiling, smiled too, a pretty, symmetrical face.
The way she did it was perfect. It's that roundness I look for in people
and see instead an attenuation whose wrongness makes me try to hide my distaste.
There was Isabel from Glasgow, immediately something else. She was
round. But how. Sara telling a story of a large family. When she was ten,
her mom pregnant again, her dad tries to abort her, her mom dies, he's accused
and goes to jail.)
If they are for some reason squeezed over on one side, they'll need to
see things about oppression.
Lis. Her voice scares me. It sounds as if it has swallowed many. She
sounds like a troll in a hole. More now than then. A troll in a hole with
a radar screen. Countered with the brilliant courageous supple voice of
"Kate" that's closer to my own mobility. She extends her voice
into four plus, but the eye is always the same. It's that I reckon she's
my age or younger, a woman and my better, in a same way as Jam, masculinely.
Then I feel myself femmish. Then I remember where I got to by digging in
where I stood in blissful staring and journal writing. Before I meet her
is there any way to find myself in it.
Eyes said one thing voice another. Eyes said, it's alright. Then we looked.
Except when there turned out to be someone called Kenneth and then I was
looking somewhere else. So what was it like. She set me a quiz. "Dorothy
Richardson and Gertrude Stein, do you feel how they are the same?"
So I felt for it. "They are both" - I didn't have it till then
- "phenomenologists." "Yes they are."
I was looking at a face I wd never have expected to love, and what it
was about it was the mouth. It's thin, turns down, is very strongly strangely
outlined. It is the face I heard, but less body behind it. A thin small
body, covered, slightly hunched. Long beautiful thin hands broad at the
thumb. But what is this face. Singular they'd say. She shows me her house
to the top. So it's what a cautious provident person looks like. - I know!
- the glasses and hair and thin lipped - it's those Tennessee Farm women.
There's more in that than I know. Maya Deren she said, meaning I know what,
and was glad to know and wanted to put it at her service (within limits).
A baby daughter 6 months old scooting on the floor. Brown hair, blue
eyes. This is the first I've seen of her. We haven't bonded I'm thinking,
looking at her with a cold eye. Later there's a moment I catch her eye -
hello. Later she's on my lap and we're having a lot to talk about,
black hair, my black haired daughter. Stroking it. She's French kissing
me in a determined way.
The windy night. I woke and saw a tree convulsing, halfway over. A large
thing crashed down the staircase. There were so many dreams. [UK hurricane
of October 1987]
O windy bright. Last night smoked turkey at the Savoy, bread and butter
pudding with cream. A silver fork so large who's it made for. £14.
"If it looks like a Rolls but it doesn't have the hood ornament it's
a Daimler." A thick red man and two fancy women climb out. Doormen
in top hat close their doors one on each side. How often in a day do rich
people have to see a smile as false as this.
Today in a caff roast pork and peas £3. "Would you like a
sweet? Jam tart, apple tart, aiz crream." "I think I'm full."
Oh heavens I'm wanting to be married, it's innocent isn't it, what's
it like, it's in the mouth, fat and hungry, and the image of the shape of
the man in a corduroy jacket and that pale lonely look and even the voice
from an unimagined world. Seeing him here today I was frightened and began
giving off a frightened smell. Maybe there were other messages in it too.
I can smell myself now very strong. The fear was because I imagined speaking
to him. Go slowly and notice everything. There are many false starts.
A sweet lover looking for someone who knows how
A man's bright face bright black eye. I say something he says something,
snap - I'm thinking in a flare, if I've got this one I don't need to look
further - he's bold dark and warm.
What we were talking about - a painting of soldiers with lances, walking
R, thru or beyond them fairy lances, what I could see was just lacy goldy
towers. The inference was another troop present in the first. This isn't
easy to get right. "A fairy troop" was a way of saying something
else, (here I went into a discursion about Lis and her house, Daphne's house
being so conventional, Lis's being so bare and her work so full, Sara and
I in this house each with a journal in which we speak a dialect different
than the one we speak to each other). What the man said was hallucination
and what I took him to mean was what I imagine about the meaning of every
event being different to the 'other side' - the right hem, dream life, etc.
(Here I'm back in the thesis about polarity and spectrum.)
Jill of the empire liked Hume. Lis works for her honour. I'd have liked
to be more in the center. "That's my kind of film but it's not the
sort of film being made now." I know. Lis being there took my little
thunder and was my support. There not being any people in it - Lis said
I was in it so strongly she couldn't say there were no people in it. Telling
about the 100' rolls. The puzzle of why I'm not more impressive and whether
it's a discount for lameness or some other thing about the way I present.
I can tell I have gone further into what I do know. Is it an untrueness
of trying to match down? I don't figure out how to know. Was watching Lis
be ordinarily social, socially lying, oiling her way through and not losing
by it. Well my wraith I love you anyway for excellent many reasons; want
to put my forehead on your knee and swear allegiance. Yeah even if you are
Whether the depth of - I said and had only begun to write, he passed
putting on his coat - the core depth and truth of desire, which seems to
have no answer - I feel sick in the shock of that contact - can be, can
be, moved. "I know how to pine for a man but not how to love him."
As if more than once in a day I feel the catch of it so strong an undertow
so barely into consciousness that I realize it only by the way I've suddenly
called for help - o universe quietly like someone going down a drain.
Came through my aisle when I was going to leave. We intersected at the
end of the island. The face he meets me with, the way we meet, full on,
wondering, younger than at first, who are you, I'm here, staggers me. I'm
trying to leave it alone and not set my defense calculator onto it but what's
also happening is I'm soaking into fantasy. I stopped and closed my eyes,
the troubledness was pushing me sideways, what I found was - I'm excited
- and came back to the light the big space the blurred charcoal colored
sounds of people shutting their briefcases, pulling them across the desk,
pushing in their chairs.
He sees my crookedness and wildness and doesn't avoid my eyes.
He's sitting all day scribbling in such a big looseleaf binder. Puts
on his orange-brown jacket and his muffler, puts the binder into a grey
sports bag and goes away home somewhere.
What I imagine is he's calm and straight and I am too.
It's pouring down rain. Today was very dark.
The lovelessness of theory is what makes me feel it useless. Philosophy
seems useless. Not the larger sense but immediately, it doesn't give pleasure.
It could. Pleasure or perception. The books full of quotations with life
in them connected by a tissue without. I could do it allowed live presence.
It is too separated in its own history. - A practicing philosophy of imagining
would be learning to do it, and commenting. Doing it and commenting. A distanced
description. I think philosophy is the left hand. The third term I'd guess
would be always here. What I always say is documentary-dream, the synthesis
is always a perception of the given. Space-time-knowledge. If I were really
going to study philosophy it should start in Berkeley.
Dissertation and thesis. Would be gather the instances and don't comment.
Ignore the commentaries, set them so anyone can see what we know already
about word not being the thing and being a family of. Narrow it down to
experience of something not present as such. Wd it be difficult to stay
out of the bitter minds.
What I decided is the loving one is to be allowed to love, the knowing
one is to be allowed to know, both as fully as possible and let's not have
That people's images are powers (as if gods) and if I keep Trudy out,
feeling and creation are kept out, if I keep my father out, what? I keep
phallic sex out. (Seeing the carved mutilated men and horses - a horse in
profile.) And all the time I am in dilemmas of not keeping the person out
sufficiently because I don't want to exclude the value. She calls that identification.
So what value is JM Fletcher [actually John Harris]? It's the value of the
back of your head and your straight back sitting working at a desk, it's
your steady and felt meetings, that you're faithfully searching in the intuitive
studies, that you're manly straight and tall and have a sweet head real
among the scholars. That you'd be satisfying to have in my arms, the right
shape of shoulder and neck and arm, and an unknown smell (sperm it said)
and a capacity for vision - myself a man, and his possibilities (and not
myself my father, that door to stay closed).
What does she want - HIM - wd anything be able to satisfy her - oh yes
- the smell of his shirt.
Alright enough of that.
I saw that setting up a stone is like moon worship but isn't moon worship,
and never was; it is appreciation which is simply perception. - That was
as I was falling asleep, what does it mean?
I saw the stone with light on its face, the moon a stone with light on
its face. Setting the stone in front of the moon is saying, It is like this.
Building a fire at noon, the same. There is an offering - I offer my perception.
"I had some thought of my own ... at times I brought to life new
movements in thinking." [Wittgenstein]
- What I do or make is a form of perception, it is perception. I could
say it's unconscious perception because it implies a grasp but I haven't
grasped it yet. It is a token of perception. Something has to be like something
before I feel it. The way the slides are of that. Then the slides are tokens
of - no, the likeness says, this of this, the smokeness of foxtail
(an equation), something to notice, and then the rest to notice too.
The cup of tea. We were walking in the old streets beyond Westminster,
narrow and dark, brick Council flats rising straight and plain, a Victorian
pocket hidden by the Gothic Parliament. River nearby. The rich borough rising
just the other side of a bulk of blank office buildings. Not that we knew
exactly where we were. We had come into it through the misty colors of the
Embankment gardens, standing perennials in rusted shades very soft and glowing.
Dabbled our fingers at fat goldfish and then saw the black fry aimed in
lines like iron filings. We doubled back alongside the river and it was
full up, full, river and banks all covered over with a grey-blue dusting
We had to climb past the Houses of Parliament and saw an MP in a chauffeur-driven
Jag shooting out of one of the drives. Then - it was getting dark, the change
to winter time - we got into the strange place by walking along watching
the wine color of Virginia creeper on a wall, a dim gold bush, and a thick
rubbery blue on a door.
All along, all day, I have beside, behind, ahead of me the floating very
tall narrow black coat with Luke's close-trimmed head, pinned-back ears.
This imposing spirit treads on long flat shoes, hands in pockets, or sitting
across from me in the caff was spidering with his long fingers on the toast
plate or picking intently at his little spots. A big soft transitional mouth
and small eyes not brown but army green. Face not yet in its man's shape
but showing a jut in the bone that can turn into my sort of handsomeness
when his nose and mouth fine down at twenty-one.
There was a very small worker's caff on the corner, yellow light, a fry
bar and hot water urn. I stopped on the pavement. I'd like a cup of tea.
Do you want one? We go in through the door at the end of the wedge. An old
man with straight fine hair in a sheet above his face. Two teas to take
out please. He's crossing over behind the chip bin. A young man comes through
from that side into the counter side where we are. He's a big crude face
and rough long curls, in some way a type, arresting like a type. Two teas?
To take out. He crosses over again to the back. The lean old man has returned.
Two teas? To take out or to have here? To take out. Do you want sugar? One?
Do you want sugar? Luke says no. One for me. He's reaching for the styrofoam,
hesitating. To take out? Yes, to take out. He takes up his beautiful big
kettle, hinges up the lid. I think he's going to add water to old leaves
but he shakes in a spoon of loose fresh ones, turns the boiling jet on them,
clicks down the lid and pours. Is that all right for you? Not too strong?
It looks alright. He gets near the top of the styrofoam and then he's pouring
in jerks of his arm, alternating cups, to shake the leaves back from the
spout. We don't need lids. We don't need lids, thank you. Thanks. Cheers.
We stand on the corner and take a sip. It's good tea. I think this is
the way English tea is supposed to taste, when I have tea at Jack's it tastes
like this, Luke says.
We go on. I have to stop to drink, he can drink while he's gliding. We're
in a sort of charity area, Salvation Army hostel for men, Great Peter Street.
And then the baloney sandwich pile of the Bishop's Erection. Shall we go
see what it is? A marvel, the ceiling almost invisible in darkness, smell
of beeswax candles, many beautiful little pyres at the various side stations.
It's a pantheon, though Artemis is nowhere here. Flowers for the Virgin.
Extraordinary junky splendor, a fat pillar carved from one piece of green
marble. Mosaics. A man swimming with his elbow raised over a little boat.
A confessional with a red light on, the priest in the center slot is showing
his dissipated face through shutters turned back. A woman whose body shows
her lack of sin steps behind the curtain. He leans out of sight.
And Hyde Park. By then we've been worn out by traffic and crowds, thoroughfare,
and what is wonderful is the long paths like airstrips, soft orange, the
misty commons' wide distance, a group carrying a large sheet of plywood
on a path crossing ours obliquely, and then the deck chairs at Marble Arch
standing dewy like penguins in family groupings.
(That night dreams. A kind of writing shown me in pictures, the quality
of the pictures' colors. It was as if saying this is the quality worth perpetuating.
I was thinking it was like the Peace River Country slides but there was
another quality too. It was a man's writing and something slightly comic
and distorted like country humour, visually lovely but slightly grotesque
in form, like coming into the Northern School rooms at the Nat Gall after
being with Dutch, Flemish, English - dark and contorted nature.)
Room after room of painting and thick with devout visitors. I was showing
Luke how they paint horses like erections, had my hands up blocking off
the golden horse's legs when the guard was suddenly saying Your hands
are much much too close, so I jumped and actually touched the sacred
surface. Sorry! Sorry! And Luke I think disgusted until in some further
room full of dark masters we sat a while and got to a right ground of laughing
that was the pivot from which we went on to Thames Park, river, Millbank
and Bishop's Baloney.
Crying in bed so it felt in weariness of the misery of so-long female
second classness. Struggling through the congestion of Cambridge battling
with this tall male who thinks he would manage it all without an 'attitude'.
Balance, balance, it says. Take refuge, take refuge in the universe.
There is no life among people.