volume 22 of the golden west: 2001 january - may  work & days: a lifetime journal project  












This is another slog journal, a lot of bookwork and figuring-out. Writing continuously. In Part 1 I learn that Frank has died. Part 2 the Taking nature seriously conference in Eugene. Part 6 Mike Hoolboom publishes my interview as Liveable margins.

Mentioned: Garrison Keillor, Julie Tolmie, Lorraine Code, Nancy Tuana, Debbie Rose, Donna Harroway, Omni magazine, Vanaja Ramprasad, Julia Butterfly Hill, Iris Dement, Shepard Ogden, Before night falls, Peter Manning, Wordsworth The prelude, Michael Ignatieff, Ronald Langacker, Beryl Bainbridge, Wuthering heights, Pride and prejudice, Spem in allium.

The rest of the story of Frank is collected in a separate section of Work & days called Frank after his life.

30th January

Fullness of heart. Place in the depth of the cunt where I am home. Closer to the wind. A life in feeling and images. Grief at not being included. Unwanted on the road, nowhere to be me. Flirts with Tom. Army jacket white Indian shirt blue jeans silver boots. Asking what is the essence and being answered. Green parasilk loose pants. Can write only lyric bursts. A sense of being close to death. At seventeen looking at runnels in the mud. Honed, like a new moon, in bone of ribs and jaw and shoulder. Sitting with a book about Einstein feeling the structures of intuition. When I was reading a voice forming on the right, a parallel voice about something else. Was it carried in the voice written? No, your own. I had come into existence with yoga, the women's movement, Sufi exercises opening the heart, sex, suffering, music, Luke, Roy. Centeredness in instinct, in adoration. She had never seen a real love woman. Living as she would, with shining silver eyes. Floating or flying or falling. The righteous investigator. Eating, color. Wanting to be with the beautiful women. Wants to be where someone is wilder. And now work woman's best company is always love woman.

A great scorn of people sitting in churches. Someone in open fields, in gardens and farms. The woman in a blue dress in a white marble room. Aphrodite who rewards with shining skin and deep fucks. You were a seagull, you rode alone with that keening cry at the shoreline. But there is something else, the light we saw together. There's always structure out of sight, off side, the way ripples come into frame in Trapline.

There, I feel my heart now. Grateful. It has to do with listening. Speaking through. Coming from the side, beside. Tremor. I used to give my mother small containers. It is the fine beautiful one. She is Elfreda. What I see in them, ageless. Write the story of being two women. I wrote looking at her in the mirror. Her head is open at the top like a window.

1st February

Alright, the presence introduction.

Presence is the epistemological core. What happens in contact is more secure, as knowing. Persons are most and best structured in the moments of contact, most finely deeply clearly pervasively structured ( - except for all the people, most of the people, who are cut off, which is why what I am saying is pagan post post modern hope not recognizable to most even of the artists) when there's a world it is working to see.

Presence is the evolutionary core, say. Presence is the paradise people expel themselves from. Yeah, and why am I not there now, but away away in theory. Because, because. Talk about it later.


Tom is on a dock in Santa Cruz talking to Lorie. He says, It's like this. We can turn and walk away from each other. At any point either one of us can stop and turn to look after the other. If the other one stops and looks too, we can decide whether we want to start walking back toward each other. But at some point one or the other of us will go around a corner.

A couple of years later, when they have broken up and parted several times, he is coming home to the Quinta late one night. At the distance he sees a couple walking toward him. He is attracted by the woman's shape, the way she is walking. She's got her crotch against the man's leg, panty-fucking him. That's a hot woman, he thinks. As they get closer he sees it's Lorie. He watches her face go into shock. He passes them. At the end of the square, after he has walked down the steps, he stops and turns. She has stopped too. The man she is with is standing at a little distance from her. Tom walks on.

I wrote a paragraph today that I might see quoted in somebody else's book someday. Here it is.

Theoretical worries about activity and passivity have a gender undercurrent, and to those who have not been able to sort this question, there is this to say: a perceiver can be understood as fortunately hermaphroditic, like the snail. Perceiving requires that we poke ourselves into the world while being penetrated by it.

I read this to Tom, who was rising through layers of water, more himself than when he is awake. He told a quotation from the Koran that says the eye is promiscuous. They veil women so the women cannot penetrate them - I suddenly saw. The moon is full tonight, and he in his room and I in mine are happy. You blissed me out last night, you were speaking to me with such wonderful naturalness, he said.


M says Frank killed himself in the middle of January [19th]. The funeral was the 24th. He'd been in the psych ward with depression, had shock treatment. His marriage broke up some years ago. His two sons weren't at the funeral. He was 60.

Mary read Leaving the land and said it was heavy, and because the brain is so complex it can't have evolved, and she never had any feeling for the land. "It had nothing to offer me." How does she feel when other people do? A little bit jealous.


I woke thinking about communities of influence. I was thinking it in relation to Frank. He didn't know he was in psychic community with the people around him. He was living among people unconscious by deep lying. People unconscious by deep lying have a crazed right hemisphere - no a crazed nonrelation with a desperate, isolated right hemisphere. His community made him crazy because he did not have the courage to define himself against it. More than courage, resolution. He didn't do the work to save himself.

17th Feb

Er ist trauherzich, Grandma Epp said about Frank. I am seeing his chest and shoulder, the round sweet muscle. His ironic Fraser Valley boy voice. The red truck in the rain. His stubs of thick curled eyelashes. His brown wrists. The way he walked in his loose work pants and moccasins. The way we'd stand and hold each other quietly and then he'd want to crush me. His woods and fields. The ironic curl of his mouth. His guns. The fond daily voice of his letters. The easy lucid way we belonged together - very lucid always, clean like kids. He was the only lover who knew where I came from, he knew my grandparents, the farm, my brothers and sister when they were kids, my country, the church.

He was a lover. He loved his family. He loved his friend Marvin. He loved to walk out into the valley and see Baker far away to the southeast, a white pile on the valley's rim. He was irascible about fools but never with me. He had a hard-working, well-made body, a lean belly. He was 5'8", strong. He wanted to be tall. He looked beautiful, dangerous, in a suit. He was a badboy. He would sometimes smoke a cigarette.


When I had finally finished ch 3/4 this late aft and sat at my table in low sun from the west horizon with a big enamel cup of tea, I saw steam reeling off the rim of the cup and the surface of the tea, cutting just such curves and swerves and twisted ribbons as it streamed and chased and shied and fled. Sharp, sharp in gradients of grain.


A charming dream about Cheryl and Trudy. They were young small bodies stopping in a public place to do a mirror dance. They stood facing one another not quite opposite swinging their arms and shifting their bodies perfectly in register. Neither was leading. It was just something they could do.

Two things about it. Seeing it was an opening into visual wonder, again, like then. The other that seeing the steam as fine and momentary as I did, I was in mirror dance, just something I can do.

My cohort dying. Frank and Janeen. I thought of the stream of bubbles blown from a wire loop, all perfect, all reflecting, all journeying forth, some larger, some blown further forward in the initiating puff, some wandering up, some sinking to the grass, some sailing confidently across the road, each popping suddenly out of existence, some much sooner, and the whole cohort quickly gone.


I zonked yesterday afternoon until 2 AM and now this morning until 11. I'm suppressing something, what? Something about Tom. The dream said, fear he'll get picked off if he's in the state he's in - is that it? Will he? No. It's something I have in me, being sidelined watching a man ignore me, enthralled with another woman. Primaeval trauma. I have it from a time before I even knew I needed to be fucked. I do mean trauma. It's felt as threat to life. High school, college, Roy, always, with men. It is harrowing, harrowing.

March 9

Ray says it's tremendous.


Frank lost his farm when he was 45. The day he died he was calm. He sat with Marj and watched a Christian broadcast on TV. When she went to her volunteer job at the school he asked when she'd be back. She said she had a chiropractor appointment at 2. Throughout the morning he answered the phone when it rang. Three people spoke to him, the last at 1:30. One of them was his sister Judy. He put on his jeans and work boots and his old blue jacket. He set the stepladder next to some of his stuff stored in the garage, honey from his bees. The coroner said it was an expert hanging. He used electrical cord and tied eight knots.


Peter Manning. There was someone next to Barry who looked so British it had to be him. Big eyebrows. Sideburns, curly hair. A portly man with beer puff in his face. Looked like a Yorkshireman, a hobbit.

His piece was pleasure from the beginning. The large sounds had shapes and movement. Inner texture and foreground detail. They were clear to me. I felt I could see everything in the piece. There was nothing I didn't like. A very perfect sensibility, calm, exact.

At the intermission I went directly to him. Barry was waiting to set up the introduction. I brought out my piece of paper. Sweet of you, he said. We can't have that, I thought. I don't know whether it's sweet but it's true, I said. He was standing next to me in the narrow space between rows of seats, not much taller than me, 5'8 or 10, not fat but portly, with a hobbit's round tummy. Grey tweed jacket, open collar. Mild British voice. His hand maybe a little smaller and cooler than mine. I said immediately that the difference between his piece and the student pieces was that there was more form over all and more detail. At that point, I think, he took off his glasses and held them so the right flange was poked against his right temple. He looked across the seats to the stage. He agreed calmly. I went on. When I said I'd like to talk to him about space in his pieces he said he would be glad to. There was a moment, I'm not sure exactly where it came, when he had turned back toward me and we were looking in each other's faces. What I was seeing amazed me, under or amid the effort I was making to direct the communication. What I saw was the person who makes the pieces, invisible up to then, or invisible to me in the Toby I had been seeing. I saw a young person, neither boy or girl, mid-teens maybe, very clear and calm, small-featured and slender, looking fearlessly and steadily at me.

We agreed we'd talk on email. The intermission was over. We separated hurriedly.

What I saw was the truth, wasn't it. He looked like that because he was seeing me. The meeting had the transparency of that look because I worked hard to call it there.


I have been curious about the authoritarians. Is there a core of what they are. Augere to increase. Is that the core, a tribal attitude to wealth? The rules that would create a materially successful culture. Is that what it's about, organizing a collective?

So the other wing, liberals, the free and generous, are the smart or gifted or unusual people who leave the collective.

Authoritarian cultures benefit the mediocre who cannot do well unless the whole culture is competitive.

Liberals are individuals who can do better outside the collective's rules - is that it?

This economic motive is built on top of a psychological structure that has a tension between L and R hemispheres. Authoritarians deal with the tension by walling off R hem, which is why they advocate the word, the gun, lies and secrets, environmental exploitation, prisons and a transcendent god.

Liberals deal with the tension by processing, coming through, treating.

So are authoritarians a subset of liberals?

Liberals are frightened into defending only the R hem because the authoritarians want to wipe it out. it is a mistake to identify with the R hem. Identify with a related state of R and L.

The concerns of the authoritarians would be met if they felt the liberals in that position. In fact it is the position a liberal must find to be economically viable, because the R hem is too young.

I like the feel of this analysis. It makes me happy. It means I must play with the enemy.

9 April

Louie is very wonderful but her dark self is a little dwarf, a little monster-will stupid as a stone.

Do I have a dark self of that kind? No, another kind. A better kind? No. Is it as distinctive as hers? Yes. Tom's is his blazing maniac. Jam used to walk around in hers most of the time, it was the puffed professor. Michael's was the Frankenstein rager that would sometimes show up, that I'd have to shout down. Mine, it says, is the illusion that there is gain in the defeat of friendship. A complacent coldness. Like my dad's.

The monsters are all defenses. They are stupid because they are false. They're highly dynamic. Are they statues overtop of the well? Yes. Are they necessary? Yes. Is it conflict they cap? No, fear. They say what the core fear is. They all say, I can handle it. Is that the point? Yes. So the core fear in every case is, I can't handle it? Is that it? Yes. When I see one arrive I know I'm on the edge of the crater. YES. So will you tell me what to do with monsters? Liberate them by truthfulness, graduation and generosity. What do you mean by graduation? Withdrawn honesty integrated in overview. Saying what I said but saying it of her state not of her. Yes.

16 April

When I think of writing something for Frank, about him, I don't feel there is a truth to be told, I feel unformed space. If I wrote I'd draw a line behind me. There would be something made. Make something not about him or for him but something else, what? It is not a gift to him, though it would like to be. It is not a memorial because what people would remember would not be him. It would record his state, which was a core state, simple, true, generous, lonely, afraid, trusting, sharp and good.

Frank after his life.


Frank's tirades of unconsidered political opinion. In his letters to my folks, many numbers, the weight of fish he catches, the number of months the trees were in cold storage, the horsepower of tractors. I saw something I hadn't realized, that Mennonite isolation had given the men a sense of command in the world, and when the culture had to open up, men like Frank were in a fury of insufficiency. They knew nothing, they had no hold. He wants to be competent and in any larger space he's not. I went for it because I had a ticket. He didn't have that ticket. He went for land ownership. He would have had competence in the church community but at the cost of believing lies. His dreams of escaping were dreams of escaping from felt insufficiency.


Grieving for my friends is a pain so different from - I don't know what to call it - personal psychic pain. It is like keeping them company. It's a form of love. I like it because it's that. I don't wish to escape it.