volume 7 of the golden west: 1996 july-august  work & days: a lifetime journal project  







In part 1 Tom takes a week off work and comes to Vancouver for the first time. While we are camping at High Bar in the Fraser Canyon - the spot where two years earlier I had fasted and prayed for a strong heart - he tells me a version of his life story that is closer to true.

In part 2 I'm writing Auditory maps, a research paper about the neuroscience of audition.

Mentioned: the Skeleton Woman story in Estes' Women who run with the wolves, Trainspotters, Jake's progress, Stone butch blues.

16th July

Could talk about ordeal. I took him camping. He didn't want to go camping. We got on the road Wednesday afternoon. Heavy traffic on the freeway. That's an ordeal for me. He wanted a motel. I took him into Lytton. I didn't tell him I was on the tracks of myself two years ago when I was on a quest to recover from Ken Sallit. Ken is obliterated in me though the places I saw are not. I wasn't particularly feeling that I was with a man I'd been given because of the work I did then. I wasn't in wide perspective. But now that I think of it, I was lying beside the fence that's down now, praying to be given an able heart, and my heart with Tom Fendler has been able.

I wasn't in love. I was physically unmoved, until yesterday morning when I let myself touch his arm, his shoulder, feeling that he was so soon going, and started to cry.

Up in the canyon when he had the green bandana on his head, so strange a bony flat face. We'd stare at each other. Always his eyes like other than human silver reflectors. What a strange old bird, I'd say. He'd look like Samuel Beckett.

30th July

These last two days I have been hearing helicopters with pleasure. They are a chord sustained as it moves. The higher note is quite constant and the lower, which I feel as a dark scumble, rolls louder and lighter, wider and thinner, below it. A satisfying song about air.

I want something here - I've been contented in these perfect basking days but I want to be singing too, as if by writing here I could move into the sky and on and on. I want to be wide feeling sailing, unrolling, riding, leaving a mark. I want to be grand and free in motion like the moon.

8th August

Try it this way - perceiving is when and to the extent that we are what's with us where we are. Imagining is when and to whatever extent, and in whatever parts, we aren't.

I have been seeing that neural response is temporal entrainment with where we are, with what's happening where we are.

But it is also selective spatial activation of one very complex total state out of many possible total states. That's 'tuning.' Is that what Gibson means? Resonation of a totality to a totality.

Conscious experience is anyone's feeling themselves being that? Not really, some of what they are being they are not feeling.

I feel I'm clarifying into a real knowledge of what knowing is. As if now I understand various things I've read.

9th Aug

Happy. Why.

Knowing how to sort it. Not writing yet, but finely sorting. What took so long. I couldn't read the auditory neuroscience papers though I could read them well enough to know there was something in them. Just this week I made the push and could read them. One after another. Why. Because I had come at them in relation to each other, from enough directions, and it began to jell. But then I still wasn't there, I was combing them again because I couldn't hold them in relation to each other, I didn't have an outline. I sort of had an outline quite a few times, once a day maybe, but I kept losing it. It's almost a question of emphasis. Coming through again today I saw I should put a ring around the notion of filters.

Sunday 11th

At 5 was awake understanding how to show what the connectionist contribution is - the neuroethologists are showing where the maps are and how they come up through the brainstem. The connectionists are showing how they can form themselves as differential sheets by interacting locally and on to the next level or back to an earlier one. It is as if the entire brain from conception is being formed by the intersections of its in patterns. At the intersections of its in patterns. The same neurons can be doing completely different things because what they are doing depends on what else is happening - in all directions at once.


Monday morning. A shabby night, a worn-thin night. Too much of the personal yesterday. In these working days I have felt physically amazingly well - a young body full of stretches and surges. I went out to buy milk and walked up the centre of the street seeing blazing shreds of cloud between the electrical wires. My body has been open sky.


I was getting underneath why I'm interested in the neural. I was writing without flagging the way I do writing the science - every hour or two hours I'd have to eat or walk around - because I was writing from my real base. I go to neuroscience to find support for my real base.

I said the world touches us. I said it gets into us at the tympanum. I said we feel it in our tissues. It sounded sexual and I felt it that way. It was as if that sexual valence was the true base whose coherence was giving me flow. I thought of it as easy writing though four pages in eleven hours isn't easy writing. I thought of it as easy because stylistically I was doing what seems so easily done I've been led to feel it isn't worth doing. It's woman's talk, with canyons, deserts, seagulls, trucks, trains, the raised dot on a moth's wing - with love - in it. I forget the framework of physical comprehension I have built as the grid in which it stands.


What is this: reading Ricoeur yesterday, very absorbed, behind it feeling the presence of Leucadia. Today, again, the presence of some other place.

What I am seeing: my interest in metaphor is in the way it is not split reference but split speaker - the smaller self takes as metaphor what the larger self is saying literally, for instance about itself.

This is the same thing as taking pictures whose structure I don't see, or being fascinated by the motion of snow on the road.

The literal meaning is hidden in plain sight = invisibility of the means by which we are being.


The motion I learn with the book is patient tracking, persistence in action. I haven't had that with people. I feel it as a great stretch of faith. It is fine-scale valor. Concentration in doing what needs to be done next, in knowing it. Like driving on a mountain, like teaching. Inner work.

Speaking to Tom last night when I had phoned back. He noticed that he had been the way he gets, riding over me, actually not stopping when I'd say something. I was a sad small girl. Saying goodbye sad and resigned. We went back to it. He said the telephone is a rough road. I said, There's a gate and you go through it into a pasture and sit under a tree. I turn into a horse and gallop around the field and sometimes come and have my nose stroked and you have nothing to do but observe the horse and say What a beautiful horse, what an intelligent horse, look what the horse is doing now. That's what I mean by holding a space.

I was satisfied with that. He had held the space for that gallop and I'd enjoyed it.

26 August

We came out maybe a couple of hours later, from full resistance to contentment. She came through. We have made that passage many times. Then I said there was something I'd like. I'd woken with anxiety in the solar for the first time since Tom was here, and it might be x, y, or z. She said what it was and then she said, put your hands straight up over your head, now turn the palms outward and lower them slowly.

My back opened and the solar was released, but there was a cramp in my forehead. She said now do that in your forehead. It was a remarkable sensation. Sides of the head really opened, something standing peaked at the top of the head. My face was rearranging itself. Eyes wanted to blink. I was laughing with pleasure. The sensation in the face was like parts slipping.