Both people in my row were poking on their laptops and I was wriggling
and it would be hours still so I unfolded my Mac and finished Carol's eval
and thought now what, and opened the Orpheus file. And there I became someone
I used to be, open-mouthed in beauty. Who am I being instead of this. Could
I make a living and be this. Nothing is more important than this, this is
the touchstone. I'm being something now that's connected to what I was when
I was succeeding, and it's what I am in ease, and this other thing is what
I had to find in my uttermost and maybe I have to keep being the successful
one to support something else, but now I should somehow transcribe Dames
rocket? The journals are floods of notes. It was about being - I can
say that. I was a solid young person and then I turned to air. The beautiful
work is air.
Vermont 23rd January 2006
It's snowing, I see against the pines.
Miz Susan arrived at the next table while I was talking to two new students.
I concentrated on not looking at her and it had the effect of stiffening
my conversation completely. And then S came to give me a hug. So what are
you going to do this semester? That needs a conversation and we have to
find a spot. There she is. Live. I relax. She says in her parenthetical
way that I like fighting with her. I say I do. When I think of her, even,
I feel the roots of my hair stand up. That's pitta, she says. Energy. Oh
definitely. (I sigh.) She's cold, can we go somewhere warm? My old office
in Studies. She takes the dishes away, I get some tea.
She comes into the room and shuts the door. I sit on the floor and leave
a space next to me for her. She sits down across the room. We laugh.
So why do I want her to write, she says. There I pause and go in. I tell
her the story of the row of laptops before Detroit and the moment gaping
into beauty. I say it's an airy person, and her paced writing is that, and
I want to write in that way and I want her to be able to write that way.
When I say that I have tears in my eyes.
I say I can't read that work aloud and don't think it's voiced. She says
yes, voicing brings in too much ego. I've said ego is the solid dwarf. The
book says don't do that beautiful work because it's evasion. So why isn't
it evasion if she does it? Because she does it differently. She says she
sees flame. I say yes, flaring, like gas wells. In me it's paradisal. Something
transcendent uses the dwarf to teach, in me.
There we both are in [our college] the land of social workers. She needs
the best. She said she could see rhythms appearing in thieves that
come out of childhood. I say there are people who would be interested in
that. Dead people, Duncan and Creeley. She should be doing poetics somewhere.
What else I said was that if I could fund it I'd want to do that kind of
writing with film. She said, You've never said that before.
What happened yesterday. I brought her upstairs and she sat in the chair
across the room and I told her what it was last time and saw her feel it.
And relaxed and saw her speed when she was describing Amanda talking, describing
the way her hands move and as if her comic timing. And was intimidated by
it. And hugging her, the fine-grained whiteness of her neck against my face.
The way a conversation with her can include a motion. She will notice what
I do with my hand. "Yes, like that."
What else. The moments in the workshop when the faces around the table
were absorbed - such lifted softened absorbed faces. Margo across the room
looking at them beaming.
Tom and Joe sat two and a half hours in a café. "We never
dropped eye contact" Tom said. Joseph has large wide-set eyes. Tom
could see Uncle Joe in him. "He's a beautiful man. He's intelligent."
He was loving. He said "All of that is in the past."
The woman yesterday who said to me, You have a lot of light in your eyes.
It stopped me. I couldn't go on, for a moment. I was looking at her letting
her see her hit.
Lying against her back with my hand on her bicep, joking that it was
like a boob. "More than a mouthful is a waste" she said. Laughed.
We laughed. Lying against her was making a field with a texture like flan,
I said, very fine-grained.
- Here is the most unusual thing. Was it in that passage during the night,
I think, when we had been sleeping and woke and were murmuring. She said
she was seeing waves of color, and then after a moment I saw one after another
a band of very pale yellow light sinking down the dark field of my closed
eyes. Their pace was slow and regular, slow count of 4 maybe. I had never
seen anything like that. Watching it didn't affect it. When I said it had
stopped she said hers had too, because she had spoken too much.
Wake thinking of skaters. Sasha Cohen, who is love woman gliding. Big
eyes, very slight, 5'2. Perfect in her lines, stunning in her lines. An
elf princess. Her coach is called John Nicks and is at least seventy, a
wrinkled small old thing who looks like a boxer's coach. "How do you
work with each other?" says the interviewer. "Carefully"
he says with smiling irony. Smart. Both are. She's well spoken. She's 21.
After she came 4th in 2002 she left him and trained other places and then
came back to him. "When she left she was a little girl and when she
came back she was a young lady." What she has had to learn was focus,
steadiness. It's the part of the story I like. Love woman in all her glamour
and fragility gradually learning to carry herself without fear. Not faking
it, not becoming a boy to keep from falling, not thickening.
I don't watch most of the skaters because I can see immediately that
there's nothing about them. But it sometimes happens that someone of the
four commentators will say something that is coming from inside knowledge.
I'm watching something they are watching too, and when it's interesting
they just shut up. When it's dull one of them will explain something that
needs explaining. What I liked was when the woman who'd been an Olympic
skater herself would comment as if to herself. "She's very stiff."
"She's tired, her legs are heavy."
When the camera was showing Sasha Cohen standing at the edge of the rink
a while before her own program, she said "Sasha is just having a peek
at the rink. When you first come to it the lights seem very bright."
That was a good moment because Cohen's face is so naked and sensitive we
could see her feeling that.
There was a lot to see. The woman who won, Arakawa, was a tall Japanese
woman with a flat reserved face. She was as if the opposite of Cohen, feeling
nothing rather than feeling everything. When she saw - she was the last
to realize it - that she had won gold, her mouth fell open into almost agony.
Her coaches were hugging her. It was as if they had drugged her to get her
through, so she was in effect their puppet. They woke her when it was over,
it was not her own.
Cohen fell on the jumps in her warm-up and the commentator was watching
her eyes. "They are completely different from the way they were. There's
doubt." Then when she fell on two jumps, "She knows she's lost
it. Now she's fighting to stay on the podium." As she waved and bowed
afterwards, "Her sad, sad eyes."
Slutskya and Cohen on the podium flanking Arakawa, neither faking it,
Slutskya crying, Cohen a poised soft sad spirit, so remarkably beautiful
in her realness.
A sport where the love woman / work woman crisis is demonstrated.
The costumes are events in themselves, sometimes so foreign in their
taste. Slutskya's sheer beaded black jumpsuit a lovely invention.
The dramas of destiny. Winning gold is like stepping onto a platform
where gods and goddesses mingle in open air. Anything less means staying
cramped under a ceiling. Nothing you have done counts and you are doomed
to feel your failure every moment for the rest of your life. Your body is
infused with subtle ash.
In these contests we are looking to see what kind of person is best to
be. There were women in the top ten who will never make it through because
there is something visibly inferior about them. The two Italians. They step
on the ice and we think, no, never. They don't have heroic fibre.
And now about my hero friend Susan. She has the fibre. Will she need
to eat me up.
Tom was here briefly. I said Tell me your week and he told the story
of being non-union on a union site, the men carryng pipe up flights of stairs
rather than use the hoist with its nonunion operator. They call him Operator.
He describes their economy of movement, everything they do, wheelbarrow,
forklift. He told the story with gestures and motor noises, very energized
and virtuosic. He was there. He was standing around in the hoist and he
took the motion around him into his body. Fully. He didn't just say rrhhm.
He said all the directions and qualities of rrhhm there were in a
5-storey site where men are proud of themselves and completely focused and
have assembled marvelous machines that creep or swivel or grind or dart
or rise slightly tottering first one floor and then another. He showed me
the way a union man moves a wheelbarrow, dm-dm-dm-dm-dum and done. Ironworkers
speaking across the space in hand signals. He showed me the signals and
the elegance they have taken on in these burly men in their union hard hats,
standing on a beam as it's lowered, giving it a tap to turn it. And then
the riveter comes in. (Series of growling grunts.)
Tom at his best, focused physicality. The world for male attention. Michael
acting his animals. Spectacular. The great dance. Full body imitation
and language and technical intelligence. On the street, That's a Mitsubishi
about 1990, Tom will say, and will tell me the story of that car's reception.
As I woke in the dark I was as if on the yard of the east place at a
moment when it was still intact but already abandoned. There's a sense of
grey bareness in the packed earth, the isolated buildings. Grey open space.
Over there the Jansen house, here the garage, there the barn - something
like that. What I was feeling was that that moment of imagined memory -
is that what I mean - was the brief description I would give of something
- I can't remember what. Of this period? There I sighed.
I'm feeling what Gendlin describes, the expansion of the cloud network
of meaning as I write.
This sensation of being in the midst of thought is rare these days. Being
without it is the bareness I feel in the journal, where I have nothing to
What I was feeling in that sensation of the yard was my real self, my
What would I say to myself young in affectionate belief in these people:
life is a very long test and what these people are isn't visible yet.
What I have been saying instead is, these people were themselves when
they were young and they aren't now.
The test is whether you carry yourself through. What I see in all of
them is loss of soul.
Ed kept soul more than any of them. There was still realness in him when
All of this has something to do with the journal project. The Golden
West years demonstrate and defend.
What did I want to write yesterday morning - something for the philosophy
intro of GW.
I want to say the journal as a whole is philosophic, the impulse is philosophic.
I've wanted to understand and explain. So I like the one-paragraph summaries
there are of many things. I don't need to write whole essays about these
As a philosopher I've insisted on keeping childhood and feeling included.
I like it that my formal philosophy is there among notes about gardening
and bookwork about Tom.
The philosophic accomplishment is a state. It's myself capable of meeting
things the way I did in those years.
The philosophic accomplishment is a state of the body, an organization
that was visible though I didn't see it.
I am mostly not in that state now.
I had the same feeling about being an artist - it was a different state,
the evidence is.
"held with extreme effort"
Vicki Hearne on training horses. 1. That she wants a coherent account
of what a horse is. Philosophy in the sense that it's looking for the right
way to talk. 2. That some horses are artists who love to be stretched and
perfect. Through the essay I feel the allegory. She's a poet and feels allegorical
significance, horse as body. Does she know it was about body and use the
allegory to talk about something in 1986 that couldn't be talked about head
on, the artist's body? The writer's body.
My dream of the brown horse and the black horse. Joyce said "It
would be better to ride well."
Rider and horse, conscious self and body as a whole.
But it's not a duality - how to think that.
She's wrong about time, I say. No it says. It's about getting to heaven?
Yes. The moment of perfect contact. It's not a natural state, it's a trained
Is she right that the horse exults? Yes.
Here I'm imagining that this is what Susan and I should be writing together
- this is embodiment pedagogy. Say this well. [Norman] Mailer training when
he had a writing project. The way I'd go monastic when I wrote papers.
She writes that an artistic horse will get depressed if left in the pasture
Say it well. There's the forehead-directed circuiting that isn't self
but at times of willed effort is felt as self. That self-feeling isn't split
off but it's directing something in the way we'd direct an other, by speaking
I got her finally to say what she doesn't like about it.
- a couple days a week I open the journals at random
and read a few
- para's/ what do I feel when I do/ sometimes I'm
caught up in your flow/
- in how things are happening to you/ and sometimes
I enjoy your writing /
- but just as often I feel uncomfortable/ just
as often I simply don't
- believe that person who is writing/ I don't believe
what she says about
- other people/ I object to some inflation of purpose
that suffuses all
- journaling I guess/ a kind of dilation of singularity
- and I begin to feel suffocated
- reading yr journals I feel you as controlling/
unswerving and insistent /
- holding my head in your focus without room for
my own/ inside your
- flights of grandeur and your humiliations / I
feel forced I feel I will
- cry out
- I feel angry that you want me to relate to narrative
and not to you
- living and now/ feel frustrated with the monolithic
force of you/ look
- at me look at me the words demand and if I loved
you/ I would
- at times you seem obliterating to me/ how in
love with yourself you
- are/ you take up everything there is no space
among the persons of your
- days that isn't you/ I feel mildly horrified
to recognize how little of
- a person I am then to you as well and then also
that this is
- something like the original human state - it's
likely true that I don't
- fully represent you or anyone else in "my
world" and what kind of an
- excuse is it that no one does
- so I struggle it going back and reading then
not/ then returning/ and
- I think of sitting on the floor of studies in
your room and watching
- you do breathwork and focusing and the feeling
in my third eye of
- which my own Voice said to me why are you fighting
her this is what you
- came for/ open
- Are a lot of people going to feel it like this
- I understand that most people would hate me who read
- And I want to post it anyway YES
- It's my first experience of being out
- There's a lot of love in the journals YES
- For work and days
- Not so much for people
- She sees the way I'm different than her about people
- If I am what I am people won't like me
- And that's simply true
- Whereas she's always been liked
- And I've preserved something
Am I ready to think about Susan and the journal.
Controlling unswerving and insistent - that one does bother me - because
it's stylistic - it means I'm a mind she doesn't like being - and I don't
like being hers either - is that dynamical probably - unswerving is what
lets me track - she could never do what I do with her self-conscious branching
and diffusing - so I'll accept this one.
Flights of grandeur and humiliations - I don't take either of those as
seriously as she does - they'd be grandiose if they were inaccurate - I
do have flights into illusion but they're usually about my attachments -
they're not about my work or perception - humiliations, does she mean crashes?
I don't think of crashes as humiliations.
I know it's not true that I only see myself. There's a lot of love in
them for many kinds of things, even for the comedy of wreckage.
What kind of enterprise it is to post them.
I'm telling hardly anyone they're there, because I consider it in relation
to particular people and say, nah they wouldn't like it.
And then the people who know it's there, who I know won't look at it.
It's true it's too much of one person. A lot of it isn't entertaining,
it's banal. It displays states people don't like in themselves. It doesn't
hide the ways I am more than they are, and most people aren't conscious
in that soul-competition layer. Critical intelligence is hard for people
who've given it up tho' delightful for people who haven't, unless they feel
it will turn on them.
What's worthwhile in it is:
It shows a lovewoman-workwoman conflict many women have, that isn't well
It shows someone gradually changing, it is an actual history of consciousness.
It shows unstable identity in others in a way no one has since The
It shows ambivalence in the self in all its fluctuations, it's the opposite
It records weather and place with love.
It shows the mixedness of a life in which there's sex, gardening, therapy,
teaching, reading, all the rest.
It's developed phenomenology, someone who has been observing for a long
It shows stages of a significant philosophical breakthrough.
It tells other people's stories with love for life adventure.
It has a lot of reading tips.
Jean-Vi after she looked at my journal wrote back very stiff saying how
different she is than me because she's outward and I'm disabled and excluded
and that's why I'm so intellectual and abstract.
Do I mind. A little. But I'm interested what will happen when I'm out,
who'll be left. I will find out which of my connections were delusionary.
As if I'm old enough, have come far enough, so I can afford to be out.
Given that you had a physically disabling anomaly
from a young age that heightened your sense of separateness and unincludedness
in peer settings, I am not surprised that you pursued such a rigorous inner
focus. The scientific/abstract cast of that focus is very much at odds with
my own impulsive and imaginal impetus. So, for instance, on a momentary
impulse I blithely remind you of how you hated my writing. Later I realize
that I have invited you to continue not seeing or appreciating me as the
deeply sensitive, creative and daring person that I really am.
I liked some of her writing but not the particular journalistic piece
I said was ingratiating. That seared her. Saying it to her was like saying
to Paul that he's mean to his wife - it's not understanding how frail someone
is in their self regard. They need me hidden.
Wd I appreciate her if I met her now? I wdn't estimate her highly as
a writer probably. I'd likely say sensitive, creative and daring but not
deeply. So does that mean I have to not know her? No it means she has to
not know me.
Phoned Tom, said, I'm bored. He laughed. I went and fetched him for breakfast
at Denny's. When we were on the way to the market, stopped with him at the
Friendship Hotel. Then when I was buying chard the man said Something must
already have happened this morning, you are glowing.
What else I wanted to say about Tom was that when he's in his bed listening
to cars pass he sees colored eddies around them, colors like neon. That's
in the five minutes before he's asleep. The eddies vary with the kind of
Two things: one, I notice I'm reluctant to write about any of this since
I'm not writing well, because I don't want to have to transcribe it later.
Two, something about how it is with Tom these days, comfortable, more comfortable
than we have ever been. Well, no - sometimes on happy days in the Maryland.
Two nice things he said. One was Saturday night leaning in the driver's
side door saying goodnight. He said, I want to tell you that sometimes when
you're happy you are so drop-dead gorgeous it makes my heart expand. The
other was that small breasts, my breasts, are like sports cars - GT cars
I said - yes GT cars (because they're fast off the mark).
But what did I see this weekend. The oaks in bloom, everywhere
in the Lake Morena area the dark somber oaks full of what can look like
light: thick polleny tassels in greenish gold or brownish gold or even,
one I saw, a dark pink. At the drive-in the sky next to the screen that
had its back to the sunset a luminous dark blue with one star. The contrast
of the flat near screen catching projected light and the openness and realness
and sheer distance of the western sky.
That was worth writing because I didn't fully realize what I was seeing
as I was seeing it.
It rained during the night.
We ended at H and M Landing parked looking over Mission Bay toward the
yellow sky after sunset. Tom had walked me around the Islandia dining room
where he was a busboy when he was 16. He could see his house from the lawn.
When he'd get home after work his mother would say she'd seen his bus crossing
Did she kiss you when you got home?
Or I'd kiss her.
Would she ask you about your day at work?
She'd debrief me.
He wanted to listen to a Nancy Griffith CD he found at the Goodwill.
I was behind the steering wheel and he had his head on my shoulder. I didn't
want the music but I held off saying so because he was in a lonesome-bliss
state. What I liked but could not get very far into was the water which
kept a bluesilver light as land and sky went charcoal grey. It was flowing
without waves and kept smooth areas of surface that didn't shift. I was
feeling dimly that it was an image for part I An ordered sea of light
[body and cosmos workshop]. We were looking across the water toward the
notch in the skyline where Tom's house used to be.
The thing that happens when I'm falling asleep at night, never when I
fall asleep in the daytime. It happens after I fall asleep and wakes me.
It is that my heart is beating fast, I have faded into a zone of anguish
about dying. Fear of damnation. When I fall asleep in the afternoon usually
I'm reading and I fade into wonderful times and places, vanishing presences
I like so much and cannot hold.
Writing isn't what it was. I have less confidence. The voice that leads
me falters - is it that? I'm more dubious, less energized. I say to myself,
But I had it, years of it.
I said to Daphne after Jam, Now I can write anything. It was energy in
silent perception, I was registering and afterwards could discover what
I knew. Now I'm not registering.
I say to myself, is it teaching? Is it Tom? Is it living in this little
jail? It says no, it's that you're not feeling. And there I stop.
On the radio in the late afternoon light Meryl Streep and another woman
singing a hymn. It wasn't much until Garrison Kiellor came in with a bass
line. He was just sketching it in. I was seeing dark smudges in a stepped
row. It took me to such a sharp memory of a Sunday afternoon at home, summer,
green on the hill. Everyone there a brightness. A particular age, maybe
12 with Judy 9 and Paul 8. Mary and Ed were young still, 33 and 35. June.
The yard was there as it always had been, house and barn and garage and
oilhouse and corrals and pumphouse and pigbarn and the old Jansen house,
the grey track beaten flat with trampled camomile and foxtail grass. The
yard. Just that. No one visible. Looking east.
What was the song - it was one of the Moody hymns. When I survey the
It was Kiellor's voice, his way of just brushing the underside of the
tune with a dark hum, that opened the bright abiding moment of the yard.
I guess it was Ed.