27 June 2010
Waking at 3:30 from one of the dreams in which I end sobbing, sobbing.
I was talking to someone in London who said my son's
friend Josh had committed suicide. By Josh I understood his childhood friend.
Waking I'm not sad but worried for Luke, because he's in a gap time after
he breaks up with somebody.
Spoke to him for an hour. I so love when he laughs at me.
Barbara Meter's movies last night. I was loving her for them. There was
also an interview she said not to look at, a shockingly old woman, thought
of as my age - she's six years older - but speaking such ready warm English
and so my kind of person. She demonstrated her optical printer and said
how she likes to get into the frame. Beautiful images, brought up and down
out of the light, wonderful sound - sound like I'd imagine for Orpheus,
murmers, bits of music, all at the right, low level, clear and recessive.
I wrote her before I went to bed and she'd replied when I got up in the
Have been fixing the hyphens in Raw Forming, going through fast. Marveling
how impressionable I was, how intense an imprint of persons I took. It now
seems inefficient to feel so much about irrelevant people. I'm supposing
it was hormonal like frisking in puppies. I was at the age to make my life
ties, except that I wasn't making life ties, I was spilling capacity on
anyone and then writing the impression to erase it. The intensity made me
loveable, so there could always be new people, and erasing made me mobile
so I could speed from adventure to adventure always agape. Now I'm the opposite
of that, efficient in my impressions like an old dog lifting my head briefly
and setting it down again. I'm not loveable except to those I have good
reasons to love. But still I like reading myself in those excited times.
I like the stories I found, Fredi and Darinka, Ferdinand, Madame Matter,
the old woman on San Giovanni in Laterano, even the hitchhiking tales, the
survey of what lives are. Bill. Mademoiselle Ziechelmeyer.
Got my 10 ISBNs! Ant Bear Press.
Vancouver July 1
West Boulevard. A wet dark bank holiday when I couldn't do anything I'd
intended. The lost feeling of a house that isn't mine. Sniffles and sore
throat. Eating and reading junk, watching TV. Louie's bike crashes out of
its gear. The course tomorrow. A month ahead without structure. At the garden
they've built a greenhouse at an angle at the west end of the herb
garden, which is a neglected mess, now unreclaimable. Stopped at 824 and
found a family in my place, kitchen opened to the middle room, paint on
the balcony door slathered over with a muddy turquoise, the quiet logic
of the house wrecked, after all the years it had endured. Basement suite.
Someone is making 12,000 a month with hardly any repairs. Kids' bikes in
Dreaming a renovation to the house. I don't live
there now but I'm distressed. It's a mindless hodgepodge. Crude bamboo posts
for the upstairs balcony railing. I'm standing in the upstairs corridor
saying the light used to flow through the rooms - from there, and there,
Why people don't have a sense of whole spaces. This place of Janet's
full of bits, some irrelevant little thing everywhere, what they've done
with the garden, made it in their own image.
I have a sure hand putting a slide on a page he says, but don't have
a feel for text or text with pictures. That includes layouts I thought were
I'm at the publishing course in ugly shoes walking badly, and find myself
bitter. There are 6 women and 2 men, and the women are dumb lumps. One of
them sits there working at a piece called Obedience to God's Plan
for the Catholic Register. Peter has spent hours showing us hideous
covers he's made for Douglas & Mackintyre potboilers and telling us
how he made them. The rest of the time we're supposed to sit there working
on our own thing. There's a lot of distraction, his voice, yesterday kids
in the hall. I get snagged on technology and am soon at a halt. Then he
comes by and does sit talking about what I'm showing him, making suggestions
but he's rigid in his own style, just tells me to do it his way. So what
has the course been good for. It pops my set. Puts options into the air.
Hello. Sun on the roses that come pressing onto the long window. Tuesday
eight o'clock. Ry Cooder singing Across the borderline, not as well
as Willie Nelson who sings it with aching simplicity.
Mad Men marathon last night, 50s men in their entitled boorishness,
50s women in their elaborately outfitted slavishness. Thirty something
from the same milieu but thirty years later, Michael and Hope realer, Melissa
possible, anguish more mentioned. No one in the Mad Men era could
have written Mad Men.
I woke thinking of 824 before I left, its beautiful order, the life I
had going - the doc, Louie, the garden, Tom, the book, California and Strathcona
- its level my furthest - that I got to by building in place through 26
years - now knowing I will not be able to build to anything like that level
again - I don't have time - I'll go on having meager marginal years in a
What's up with Louie. She left me feeling abandoned - what happens when
she insists on being her baby, I realized today, is that I feel alone. I
get disgusted and stoical: alright I'm on my own. Louie's demands what they
always were, unsorted, indirect, projecting. It's the same feeling as Lise's
demands this semester, icky, somehow terrorizing, unclean. It's not straight
anger or accurate calling out, it is vile crooked irresponsible amorphous
guilting. I feel like a man with it, inwardly stunned into blank defense
while trying awkwardly to give her what she wants. What a poisonous little
spirit that is, the way it shocks the day.
- Is there a particular reason
- Old structure in her YES
- Can you tell me what it is YES anger, (Knc),
love woman, despair
- Anger and despair that I don't look for love woman
- That I don't see her as -
- She wants me to be a home for love woman
- Is it something I should do for her YES
- And someone should do for me
- I wasn't seeing her as love woman
- Because she wasn't being it
- It's her way of trying to turn me into a man YES
- I evoke man in her
- And rationality
- Support her love woman
- Are you sure that's it
Closed the G&F account yesterday after how many years, moved into
that neighbourhood when I was 31? The young woman asked why I was closing
the account and I held back tears. Then on the street with an official check
for $3983 looking at that corner on Hastings wishing never to see it again,
grey dereliction, the Woodbine Hotel's scabby pediment opposite the bus
stop where I'd stood so many years.
[notes from Nussbaum The fragility of goodness:
an excellent life
Joy, too, strains to track down eyes that it
can trust, "eyes on whose understanding, good will and truthfulness
he can rely."
the way lies can make the world rotten
the special beauty of the contingent and the
that much that I did not make goes towards making
me whatever I shall be praised or blamed for being; that I must constantly
choose among competing and apparently incommensurable goods and that circumstances
may force me to a position in which I cannot help being false to something
or doing some wrong.
in fact in the natural history of human beings
most people, when asked to generalize make claims
that are false to the complexity and the content of their actual beliefs.
They need to learn what they actually think.
They do not understand that it is by being at
variance with itself that it coheres with itself.
Heraclitus quoted by Nussbaum
our wrongly expecting an explanation, whereas
the solution of the difficulty is a description.
Wittgenstein Zettel 314
It will frequently be difficult for a single
human being to honor simultaneously the claims of gods as different as,
for example, Artemis and Aphrodite, and yet each human being is obliged
to honor all of the gods.
I have a central doubt in this book, and it's the notion of human goodness.
She lets it slide between a sense of social duty and a sense of personal
efficacy, "a good life," and where I doubt is something about
standards? I don't expect myself to honor all the gods. It seems to me that
humans are of many kinds and each kind honors the god of that kind - division
of labor. However, when she talks about tragic conflict I have my strong
example, what it was like to leave Jamila, knowing I was giving up sublime
companionship, a level I'd never find again. The whole maelstrom of Dames
rocket. There was also leaving Frank, and in another way the whole time
with Tom, in which I did for a long stretch manage a description that was
Work within a network of more concrete and informal
distinctions rather than with this dichotomy.
The doing of irreparable harm to another person,
violation of antecedent commitment involving major values
a whole tragic drama is capable of tracing the
history of a complex pattern of deliberation, showing its roots in a way
of life and looking forward to its consequences in that life.
people who wish to live together and share a
conception of value
Stylistic choices - the selection of certain
meters, certain patterns of image and vocabulary - are taken to be closely
bound up with a conception of the good.
ritual term designating virginity!
consistency in conflict bought at the price
of self deception
reared in a mythology of autochthony that suppresses
the biological role of the female
"The good agent" - in that phrase I can feel a sense of good
organism - a well-structured organism that decides optimally - and her point
in understanding emotion as praise- or blame-worthy. It's excellence of
body, as excellence of tree or car.
In this feeling-out of it, assessment is not like Christian assessment,
toward that characteristic moralistic sensation of 'goodness' or 'badness'
- it needs to be said better than that, it's a freer more neutral assessment
of quality. I judge students that way - Todd is an excellent being, is ambitious,
responsible, alert, sensitive etc - and Andy is not an excellent being,
he cuts corners, he's unclear and chaotic, he doesn't address what needs
to be addressed. There's pleasure and distaste in these judgments.
appreciation of the complexity of the claims
where suffering is the appropriate acknowledgment
An old fashioned notion of praise and blame linked to notions of will
and control. Passion, imagination, sensitivity are not thought to be controllable
by will so the agent isn't 'responsible' for them. And yet having or not
having will is itself not controllable by will. She's writing in defense
of feeling as an aspect of excellence of decision; it needed more saying
in 1986 and in the context of philosophy, but - what? Is she cutting it
In philosophy the notion of commitments to principles thought of as rule-statements,
and an effort to make the whole set consistent.
This book [Milo Wolff] is bad, a lot of typos, it repeats in a sloppy
way, many times, its language isn't thought-through, he keeps talking about
particles after he's said there aren't particles, his mind isn't the best
but he has to be approximately right.
I can believe the mass of quantum physicists are wrong because their
mistake is like the mistake of the representation theorists in phil of mind
who don't imagine propagated alteration of structure in a material, and
are caught in a metaphor. In both instances it's a metaphor that makes them
imagine an object, 'a particle,' 'a representation,' 'an image.' In both
cases spatial imagining is what makes a difference.
Instead of 'particle,' wave-center, space resonance. Instead of quantum
say subatomic. Space density instead of curved space.
Wave optics. "This is how waves behave."
I need to complain. Have I really been here 19 days. It has been deterioration.
I shd not stay in other people's places. I look grey and exhausted and I
ache. I don't like this neighbourhood at all. I hate the bland blank Globe
and Mail. Have to go see the anxious remains of my mother. Elizabeth
Jolley was gripping but bleak. She got down the way I am now, calling the
gone loves and places, cycling through them in the same way year after year.
Is there a name for this sensation, jaundiced? Discouraged, disgusted.
"I wish Ellie had a little more hope and faith in humanity. I think
she wd like this, and I think it wd help her bring her love to the foreground."
I am disgusted by humanity and the disgust is bad for me though it's accurate.
What do I mean by humanity. The people on TV. The ranks of new novels in
the bookstore. I'm grateful to see quality anywhere, and where I see it
I have to know it is quality of a moment not of a whole life or being. It
will lapse. And oh I hate knowing this crummy health will get more and more
permanent, till there's pain always. I don't want to be everywhere an unloveable
old woman, feeling ugly.
- I had come to my mate
- a shocked being, agog, a salt
- dab in his creel, girl in oil,
- his dish. I had not known that one
- could approve of someone entirely - one could
- wake to the pungent day, one could awake
- from the dream of judgment.
Olds Fish oil in 2007 The unswept room Knopf
I read two poems about her husband and burst into sobs.
Mary's institution like a motel for people in walkers.
My stars are in a mess.
My lectures are still unformed. What am I wanting to learn. How to imagine
materiality, how to visualize it. What is wrong with the physics we're taught.
What is alternative to it. Is there something right about intuitions of
- Stability and instability of pattern
- Matter and energy aren't different substances
- I don't trust the men of physics who are the priests of science. They
want an esoteric exclusionary vision.
- The students tend to some version of matter-spirit dualism, including
- The vision I love is a one-world vision, matter which is energy.
- It is partly a matter of language, which is also a matter of visualizing.
- Is the Tantric psychology really related, and how.
- Imagining the universe in a way that lets us feel ourselves part of
something marvelous and beyond us.
- Tantric psychology - open possibility - less locked down theory that
tells us what we are implies the limits of our possibilities.
Notes from Andrew Harvey Hidden journey:
I felt the whale feeling my terror and sending
toward me these great warm healing waves of energy ... sending me through
the sunlit water wave after wave of what I can only call love, a silent,
strong, immense, impersonal love.
Look at your hatred ... find the humiliation
that nourishes it, the fear that continually feeds it, the self-hatred it
that sea, and a wave of it, and all the other
waves too pouring light into us ... different lights for different needs
a clear, crystalline sea of soft fire
I watched the sea rearing and falling and listened
to that great deep sound of creation and destruction
each thing was made of the same substance, was
moving and breathing and shining and emerging in and from the same vast,
I don't like the word divine. What I feel when he describes light
given off is factuality. Calling it divine seems his desire for specialness,
a greed to be superhuman.
It is better, when someone says "I love
you" knowing all the doubt still within them. Then it means something,
then love can grow.
This mind sees and does not think, knows and
does not have opinions.
- Is this relevant to the physics
- A mysticism that's not miraculous
- One can feel it as a mother
- Envisioning it as a mother, enlists our youngness
- It isn't human but it's a way to unify our own structure
Is it the first thing I've liked since I got here, Mountain View Cemetery
tonight, driving the narrow lanes with a smell of hay, last light on the
tops of a rank of narrow beeches and waves of crows beating across from
the west. Long, far northern wall of blue mountains, the city in its dish
below and across. A few large monuments each with its mythic names. The
open acres, here and there a dense old heavy juniper or yew, dry grass shaved
close. A limber odd old couple walking fast, he with a white beard and knee-length
shorts, she with a long flowered peasant skirt.
Missing Tom, missing myself in times of hope with Tom - don't think there's
anything new to say or do about that, and yet I'm hanging out with the mention
Anything I want to say about Louie. Mainly just her tight pretty small
body moving in the room, her thick swinging ponytail. We're not tense. She
sits with straight back at phone and computer conducting business. I work
a bit, the rest of the time am idle. Now I won't see her for a month. The
most successful private yoga studio in Canada someone told her. The detail
she has to track, unending.
The truth is grief.
I've sat watching My name is Joe in bits on Youtube, crying at
- Will you lead me come through
- I shut down love
- And miss it so much
- And see no end
- And will just be hungry heart on and on
- It's like a scream
- Please lead me the child was with Tom to
- And now I have nothing but strength no
- I was stronger when I was balancing in love and fear
- I'm so vacant without that kind of love (crying)
anger, love woman, defeat and death
- Is it ever going to get deeper and realer again
- I'm so less than I was no
- 8 years of steady fading no
- That love was defeated
- And everything else has been trivial no
- I FAILED with Tom YES
- It was my one chance and I failed (sobbing) YES
- I didn't fight enough
- And now I'm sentenced to be without love for the rest
of my life
- And it's so barren yes
- I hate it (sobbing) yes, exclusion, balance,
- Instruction no, description
- Will you point this action
- I don't understand Tom is processing betrayal
and coming through
- Lifetime betrayal
- You're saying we aren't together but we did well
- And for that doing well I'm to be punished with loneliness
- That was the price of Tom's redemption
- So it's just going to be like this on and on no
- You mean worse no
- Please help me yes, balance, excluded child,
and strength, (Kc)
- Please explain act, to teach, what's withdrawn,
- I feel like giving up on this conversation
- Should I stop
I want to be in a different phase of my life and I'm in this one, frail,
dry, nostalgic, competent, hopeless of many things.
Emilee has sent a beautiful cover design.
Somewhere above farmland hazed over, bored with flying to Chicago.
There was a movie I watched, didn't listen to, because Jennifer Annison
was in it. What is it about her. She's a good frame, she moves with perfect
neatness in a tight black dress and heels. Speaks her lines with a lot of
little hair flicks and head tosses. Compare her to Lauren Bacall young -
it's another era of acting, more cognitively exact. Her little movements
are thought movements, whereas Bacall though I watch her every second the
way I do Annison, has lines float out of her mouth without being produced
by a body.
Rowen at Louie's last night, couple of hours before we had to get up
at 6 to take a taxi. I sent him to bring up a box: his pin cushion from
grade one, his quilt from Mike's mom, and the little Gund bear I bought
when he was newborn. He stood leaning his head against mine, had an arm
around me. I didn't know whether he was feeling it or being nice to me.
Then I unfolded the Kurdish rug and showed him the embroidered people and
animals. Made him a bed on top of Louie's. He showed me heraldry blazoning
on his iPad.
This morning murmuring together in the Yellow Cab back seat behind a
Sikh driver listening to a religious service at low volume as we drove through
6:30 quiet. That was the best of the visit. He was a brown bony profile
on my right, big pack in the trunk, red rug rolled and duct taped. We were
murmuring about college - looked at course offerings last night.
Plainfield 4th August
Have I livened enough to tell two stories about the trip. One is from
Chicago, the tight rows of waiting area seats at C4. I'd already had an
hour and a half there and more to go. It was a time between flights and
the seats were empty enough so I could lie down in a two-seat space with
my head on my shoulder bag and knees bent up, one arm behind me and the
other hand on my belly. I closed my eyes and went into slow breathing to
the point where I could feel the head pressure, and then faded out, or maybe
not all the way out. The seats around me began to fill. A German group arrived
and settled opposite me and in the seats beyond my head. I didn't open my
eyes. Something about the loud, dark German voices, people I knew believed
I couldn't understand them. I was there and not there, quite blissful.
Then in 3D in the smaller plane, in the last half hour coming toward
Burlington. It was falling dusk over layered clouds, some of which were
lit pink only at their bases as if rooted in embers. The upper layers were
faded grey-blues in many textures. A few large heaps, a near one very sharply
defined and still bulging, that one throwing a long cone of blue shadow
away from us. Other flatter layers some of which had areas of smudge like
moving water shot in long exposure. There were places I could see down in
and under to other layers at other depths, as if shelves of them. sometimes
a small fine flat webby bit that was closer and so seemed to be moving quickly
in the direction opposite to ours, like a spacecraft of an alien race whose
substance is only partly visible to us. Those were ten sublime minutes in
a trip where I hadn't seen much and was no longer hoping for anything.
Why am I so turned off marketing discussion - because none of the marketing
is or will ever be toward the kinds of students I'd like to have. All of
it is toward students who will waste me.
I'm such an outlier, it's never going to be my institution, I've done
what I can do well when I can, but over all my decisions wd change the structure
so it wdn't work for the people who are here.
When Margo was here did I feel less alien. Because I was intoxicated
with being able to do personal work as part of academic work. Am I bored
with that. I'm bored with the students I'm getting. I'm bored with the fac,
withdrawn with the fac. Margo made me favored child and that helped. These
long conversations seem not to ever end in anything, as if they are indirect
exercising of denied anxieties - something like that.
I don't like this hive mind, the way it has needed to pick on Lucinda
and Mark, the malicious buzzing and two-faced dealing.
- Shd I participate more no
- Shd I make more effort to be included no
- Shd I go to dinner with them no
- I'm exhausted by them
Particle model of the self.
Shioban and --- salsa dancing last night, forward, backward, shaking
their shoulders. Neely's narrow white-skinned waist in the belly dance,
Amber's exquisite person in the right cut of fitted dress walking toward
the door. Katie on stage last night on a chair with her accordion on her
lap saying, I can't cross my legs when I have an accordion on my lap so
unless you're into that sort of thing, eyes here. And then playing
what she composed when she had no one to talk to about Anna Karenina,
Russian ache. The way her small pointed face flushes pink on her long neck.
Her light girl body dancing last night in a fitted blue dress.
The room full for the physics workshop, Gianfranco's movie behind me.
Deidre in the clear, purple hair, goth jewelry, short skirts, a live sexy
ready bold bright turned-on girl.
Vancouver 14th August
While I was gone I had Cantique de Jean Racine in my head. [Fauré
Came in last night half past midnight lifting the suitcase one step at
Now it's evening on the porch. Green grapes in thin bunches, pink-ivory
sky in the south. That familiar traffic surf constant.
Saturday night mid August, here but when, heresay of past years, it's
still just me. Drinking tea from the silver cup, cards in their little box
next to me. Thinking of Amber and Katie, Amber's exquisite precision, Katie's
diffident girly brilliance, the way she speaks one word at a time, idiosyncratic,
lilting. Her swift thin hard hug goodbye, bare flat little ribs in my arms.
I feel large and old with these women, slow, solid like a thick tree
trunk, very plain.
Towering days. So hot in the afternoon that I swelter sleeping on the
Last evening took the bike east on Cordova, ended on Wall St. Jam's house
with all its windows open, blue paint weathered. Glimpses of freighters
on the river, superb high summer evening.
There's a half moon some west of south, clear bright cheese yellow. I'm
on the porch amid electric light and see it under grape leaves that are
hanging lit from above, a valence.
Rustle in the vine, little raccoon face looking down.
Libera me Domine is what is singing in my head these days.
A cold Sunday, grape leaves shaking in a west wind, grey sky.
With David and Dorothy in the Royal Tandoori last night, telling stories.
Dorothy's merry little face next to me in the booth, how can she be so pretty.
Her spine is so crooked forward that her face is near her plate but there
it is pink and winsome as an eight year old. The two of them play and I
drop into playing with them as if their air is native to me, a light grace
I like so much. Afterward she in her deep red chair and David in Russell's
and I where I was the point of their triangle telling [college] stories.
Mary on Friday a grey little bullet, tight grey pantsuit, hair cut too
short, new thin-skinned blue under her eyes. I sat going through her albums
looking for photos I want to scan and she beside me was naming people I
wdn't linger to look at. She did what she does, complained that Ed had sent
all of us so far away. It has been her constant old song she repeats with
no variation; her hands fly up when she says away.
I said she could be proud of how far we'd gone, that she has no idea
how far I've gone. I was pressing, I said I've gone farther in philosophy
than most of the men in the field. Then she clamped her arms across her
chest. She didn't believe me but more than that I could see that she didn't
want to believe me. I was disbelieving it myself as I saw her but I hung
onto remembering what I'd known at other times. She didn't want to believe
me for competitive reasons - she said she'd gone as far in her circumstances
as we have in ours, which is untrue, people in her circumstances have gone
much further than she has - and also for philosophical reasons. She said
in an angry burst, But why did you have to get rid of God? I said
I hadn't got rid of god but think of it differently.
And then said Let's go for a drive and took her to a place she knew on
the river, where she and Ed used to pick blackberries. She was happy to
be walking and liked sitting by the wide river where it sent spangles through
What I should notice firmly is the pressure she still exerts to make
me smaller than I am and to make me believe I am smaller than I am. She
doesn't wish me well. She cannot wish me well.
Is her disbelief what keeps me from showing that I know? It says yes.
Was what I said true? YES. Is it the fundamental reason? Yes.
Caffé Calabria Sunday early aft. Am I restored enough to risk
the mirror - white shirt, chalcedony earrings, grey hair off the forehead,
mouth held in, looking majorly mature. Alright, mature but not flabby. Kind
of tough. This is my tough side.
Moved tables so I'm head on. Not much better. Hair's nice, tail down
to the first button. If I lengthen my neck I can look distinguished but
that's not love woman. Small eyes.
Alright, Calabria thoughts. Coffee so good. Anything I want to imagine?
No pressure at all.
Beginning to think about a light workshop - light, vision and imagining.
What is light in wave structure physics. How does a body see.
- There are some nice-looking people in this neighbourhood, in Strathcona
there seem now to be crowds of slobs, fat women with tattoos and ugly babies.
Watching Mad men, all of season 2 and then back into the season
1 episodes I didn't see at Jan's. It is brilliant. It's a brilliant concept
to look at the years of the turn. Marilyn's death, Cuban missile crisis,
Kennedy's election. The outrageous entitlement of the men. Constant buttoning
and unbuttoning of jackets. Everyone smoking and drinking all day long,
while they're pregnant too. The New York glamour I studied in magazines
when I was on that beaten-earth farmyard 300 miles from a city. Women's
unexercised bodies encased in bras and girdles designed by men to make them
look like rockets or trophies. Their compliance and yearning. The men's
total dependency. Dialogue always sharp though occasionally anachronistic.
Beautiful mise-en-scene, never a shot too long. The continuous interest
of background detail - what's in their houses, what are they wearing, what
is a doctor's office like in the 60s, a railway car. They don't spare expense
with extras, it's a huge undertaking. The ad campaigns, watching them come
up with something. Don Draper's impassive Cary Grant masculinity, not my
type but he's well written as a man who fascinates by being remote. The
writing is good on the subtleties of gender politics. "As of the third
season, seven of the nine writers for the show are women." "Women
from their early 20s to their 50s." Season 1 March 1960, 2, Feb-Oct
1962. 3, spring-December 1963. 4, 1964. Jack Daniels a sponsor. Frank O'Hara
Driving with David and Dorothy on a day when the air was clean enough
to see Baker white and godly always larger as we neared Abbotsford. Hay
fields, hay in windrows, scent of hay. We jeered at monster mansions, praised
old farmhouses, Dorothy always noticing. On the way home lost north of the
highway wandering west, south, north, through farmland none of us had seen,
the north rim of mountains solid blue and craggy alongside us as we streaked
up two-lane blacktop in the little truck, David's warm shoulder and his
decisive manly driving.
The ice cream parlour in Abbotsford, Dairyland Ice Cream, where bent-over
Dorothy on a red leather stool between us ate maple-walnut from a paper
cup, remembering stopping in Abbotsford for ice cream when she was a girl
90 years ago. David drawing out the ice cream vendor with stories and questions,
admiring the copper kettle and marble slab.
Mary on a bad day truculent and hideous, complaining in all her rote
old ways, explosive hideous gestures, grotesque false tones, bizarre grimaces.
She's furious at the life she's had, she's furious to find herself old.
She's outraged to see herself in the old persons around her, some of whom
she doesn't realize are quite a lot sharper than she is. She's going down
gracelessly because she didn't fight for herself when she still had energy.
I was hating her for how gracelessly she's doing what she now has to do,
it sickens me to see it. I was feeling, Die already. Meantime she doesn't
like her wonderful south window that looks up a neighbourhood street toward
many trees and Baker on a clear day.
I kept trying to get a blessing out of her, some out of control and ugly
too. She said I had respected Ed for his strength. I exclaimed that I did
not respect Ed or find him strong, that I found him weak, that when I was
seventeen I wrote in my journal that I was stronger than he was. I wanted
her to say Yes you were and are wonderfully strong. You shouldn't have had
to be so strong but I'm proud you looked after yourself. She did not say
that, or anything like it. She wanted to lament and regret about herself.
Something about the way I brag these days. I didn't do that when I was
younger, it's a falling-off. When I need to hear something from someone
else and they don't say it I say it myself, to hear it said.
I put the bike on the 20 bus to go get a T2126 from the tax office. Got
off where it turns south and rode up the alley between Hastings and W.Georgia.
Where I crossed Burrard a man was playing the violin part of a piece he
had on a cassette player. I passed him into the alley beyond him. Man with
a moustache, forty-something, a cap. It was music I knew, though I didn't
remember the name. When I'd got halfway down the alley I turned and went
back because the music had made me cry. It was the same sort of crying as
when I heard music in London churches, sudden and sharp. I leaned the bike
against a wall and sat on it to listen to him more but he was finishing
the piece. As I came to put money into his basket he was squatting putting
his violin into a case with another violin. He snatched the basket back
away from me, You're too late, I won't take anything from you, this city
has no soul. I could see his feelings were hurt and kept steady, stayed
with him, said You made me cry, put two two-dollar coins onto the ground
in front of his case. This city has no soul, he said again. He was
confused because there'd been a sudden turn. I said, I do, put my
hand on my chest, looked at him. Now he looked back. After I'd pushed off
into the alley he called thank you after me. Coming into the tax office
the name of the piece came back to me, it was the Albinoni adagio. I was
still feeling the grief, was it his, I wondered.
Best moment was sitting on Rowen's roof together with the late summer
bay around us, listening to Somewhere over the rainbow on his iPad
(Israel Kamakawiwo'ole), Rowen singing along quietly.
- What made you fall in love with it?
- It was so weird.
He was on a footpath in Banfield Park and saw a small For sale
sign in its window a long way across the water. Stood around for ten minutes
trying to get a photo that wd enlarge the phone # enough to read. Went home
and googled it. The Craigslist ad came up.
Young pilot on the way back said to the passengers climbing the stairs,
You're welcome to sit in the copilot seat. I said, You're kidding and unbuckled
my seatbelt. Pushed through to the front, put headphones on. The whole spread
of islands and mountains. We happened to fly past the Saturna bay where
my cabin used ot be. Could see the neat green corduroy of grape rows
where orchard and pasture were. Farmhouse still there under the blond escarpment.
[Opposite page: shopping list and to-do list for Rowen's boat]
When Row and I were walking on the esplanade above the seaplane dock
a man came toward us who was my age maybe and stunningly right. Broad-shouldered,
narrow-hipped, confident, alive in his eyes, completely physical. We looked
into each other's faces as we passed. I was thinking, all women look at
this man the way I am looking at him, and so we should - something like
that. Hello there, stud daddy.
King St Station Seattle. When was the last time I did this - what's different
- I have enough money to stay in a hotel instead of taking the grim 5:30
bus. Fine old room, white duvet, big window throwing leaf shadows, light
on when I opened the door, hot deep bath, good pillows, moss green velvet
carpets in the corridor, light-spirited Asian boy on the desk last night,
handsome big black man whistling for a taxi this morning. Wordless soft
I'm nostalgic for being 14 or 16 or 18 and interesting to everyone, interested
in everyone. A bit dejected expecting a journey where no one talks to me.
There was one day in the last two months when I liked to see myself in the
mirror. It was the day after I took David and Dorothy to dinner - had on
the black shirt. My face looked longer and lighter. Was it because I'd laughed
with David and been a bit adored? That one - I want to be that one, not
this squared-off grim old head.
California. Ridge of velvet hills with patches of oak. Dry grass by the
roadbed, sun. Spanish in the lounge car. Wayside bushes with smaller harder
leaves that glitter.
Tall dry weeds standing intricate in ranks. Fennel with flat yellow bloom
at its tips thick along the tracks. Perky old thing at the breakfast table,
smudged blue eye shadow, big red-rimmed glasses, tanned parchment skin,
said, I'm not happy till I see the bare hills with live oaks. Oh oaks. Eucalyptus
Santa Barbara Bay with a fog bank some way off, blue in sun an hour above
the horizon. Thin weeds perpendicular to shadows three times their length.
The amorphous task of finding how to live now.
The eighty year old woman who was in advertising in the 50s said, And
you're an artist. I said What made you think so? She said, Well, everything.
She was lazy in conversation, I had no way to know what she meant.
It's the time of evening when whites begin to glow. Three egrets in a
tree, I think egrets. A man in a white teeshirt standing by a marsh. Sink
anchor into an art.
A superb girl - I saw her striding through Union Station and she arrived
later in the seat across the aisle - tanned all over, short yellow string-strap
dress in thin cotton, flat-heeled ankle boots. She was laughing with the
high school boy in the window seat, calling up songs on his computer, singing
along, nattering about college water polo coaches and practice. Had long
athlete's hands with interesting crooks in their poses, shining knees, a
smooth envelope of muscle. Talk full of quick play, a delighted quiet laugh,
stood up in the aisle to demonstrate the stanky-leg dance. Told him half
Irish, half Sioux. A well-raised competent girl, a charming physical girl
not trying hard at all. - This between LA and Irvine.
Friday 3rd September
I wrote her down because I wanted to go on seeing her. Was there anyone
else on the train I wanted to see. A throwback hippie family, small tight-bodied
quite young man with Jesus hair. He was wearing a white shirt open to the
3rd button and Salvation Army dress pants. She was a broad-faced blond in
hippie layers, draggling skirts, bandana, scarf tied around her hips. There
were two tousle-haired kids, very small, with unwashed faces, barefoot.
The littlest girl lay tugging on her mother's empty breast in the lounge
car. In the dining car he made a fuss about his eggs being cold. "Do
you have a complaints form?" They'd brought in their own coffee press
full of some green liquid and own large jar of honey. Last sight of them
staggering down the ramp in Union Station, the two kids in a carrier, one
on his back, one on his chest. A lot of miscellaneous bundles dangling from
a peeled stick between them, he carrying the front end, she the back. Making
a statement I supposed. He was bent double with the weight.
An eighty-seven year old man in a seat next to me in the station who
had a good lower lip and a quick answer. Bulky older black woman redcap
who swished her cart around corners with strong-minded verve.
My house - my house - big sigh. It seems I don't like to be away from
- There jumped up and moved the phone plug, orange-oiled the floor. It's
ten Saturday morning, Labor Day weekend. Needed to make my house loveable,
and now have been at my desk seeing the sky fade over the ocean, window
open, only one lamp so the room can see what's outside it.
- Shopping and cleaning, doting on my house. There's a run of 24 weeks
before I have to go anywhere.
- It will be winter.
- The sun already is further into the room at 5.
Just now - just this moment:
I wanted to say hi, because I've been reading your journal. Deep and
authentic, dark and repetitive, generous and beautiful.
I'm at a milestone, January 1974, when I was born. The Wales poem
motivated me to send a link to my friends on Facebook, and so it's also
a good time to say hi. "I want to flash through your flashing leaves"
is how I felt the other day watching a windy Kingston sunset.
Thanks for sharing this life.
The other home story - on Friday morning when I looked over the back
stairs rail there were some homeless person's bundles piled, and bits of
things left on the table, a rug between the trees in pots. When I came through
after dark a small man doing something on the opposite stairs. Next morning,
Saturday, with the business buildings empty, I came through on the way to
the jeep and saw him better, a small man, very small and thin with meth
sores on his face. I said good morning, he mumbled, didn't look at me. In
the afternoon he was raging, a woman came by and cursed at him. He was on
the carpet under my window all day, talking to himself, weaving his hands
and head. I saw him lying in his sleeping bag. Sunday morning I heard him
smashing glass, banging a metal sheet on the ground. Called 911. "This
isn't an emergency. I'm not sure it's even a crime." She dispatched
an officer. I heard him asking for name, social insurance number. "You
can't live here. You should go back to your brother in Florida." When
the officer was gone he picked up some of his stuff but then he smashed
glass again. Parking after the farmers' market I saw two policemen talking
to a street man on the edge of the park, went across to see whether they'd
come deal with him. They called the original officer instead, who showed
up downstairs to talk to me. He knows the man, he says. Meth addiction but
there's more, some kind of mental health problem and he's HIV positive.
"He's going down fast." The officer was good looking, a silver
brushcut, and he was speaking with something like love. Frank Caropreso.
I said the man was angry. He said, Do you know what he's angry about? People
keep stealing his CD player. He said it's the third one he's bought. I said
he needs to hide it better."
This morning his bed was gone and so was he but a lot of his bits were
still piled or spread. Someone had swept up the glass. There was shit against
the wall. I cleaned up the back corridor, assembled all his bits under the
stairs. A pillow without a case, a large velvet cushion, a waffle iron,
a packet of sugar, his faded carpet, plastic boxes of little things, a hat,
a basin. On the table he'd left a centerpiece of two black aeonium rosettes
[from the Barrio Star garden] set up like flowers, a power steering fluid
container, a cup, a candle in glass. If he didn't come back for his bits
within a couple of days I was going to dump them but this aft I see someone
has already done that.
The reason I am telling this long story is, I want and don't want to
say, remorse. Not that I think I shouldn't have acted to get him gone, but
that his efforts to furnish a home, which were like mine three stories above
him, had to fail. The sight of his pale mean little face covered with sores.
He's sinking into death cast out and bewildered.
Alastair Macaulay's brutal wonderful account of a ballerina's decline
- Times June 29 C5 - I clipped it and am rereading it now.
To find such a combination of sweep and sweetness
was startling. She had fearlessness, wit, delicacy, expansiveness and an
irrepressible love of dancing.
My memory is that by 1992, her dancing had become
scaled down, polite and musically safe. Since then her career has been a
long, slow fade.
My life was changed by the 56-year-old Margot
Fonteyn, but there were people who could not bear to see her dancing anymore,
just because it had once meant so much to them.
I cannot see that since 1992 she has been a
good role model for the young. Often her mane of hair has been a mere schtick.
Her solo dancing in the Stravinsky ballets was wretched, flicking lightly
at steps that require a rigor she lost long ago.
- What I feel in it is his bravery in forecasting his own decline as
a writer, I thank him for the precision he cares to have in his chosen work
of seeing and naming even that.
- The dejection Kistler would have to feel, reading that "the light
still falls beautifully on the planes of her face" and "her sweetness
of manner made its old impression" but "she never danced with
the same attack again." Only the best one has done matters and all
the doing since then has been deluded waste. It's the harsh fact of a life
Reading through Fading 12 marveling at how crazy I am in attachement
even when it's going well, I don't have latitude. I'm in cautious trust
for a day and then something happens and I fly into panic, it's remarkable
CBC National images of a storm in Newfoundland, thick brown streams rampaging,
"an old man swept out to sea" Martin writes.
I have been drivenly working through the Fading volumes since
2007. Couldn't stop for the garden work this week.
Ivory sunrise on the St Paul's façade this morning. Since I've
been back the mornings have been closed, and now this one is opening as
a winter morning, winter opal. Two crows lighting on the seed bundles of
the palm, what are they finding to eat - now another. The air over the harbour
is showing milky. Grey-blue shadow on the white face of the law building
at the bus stop on 4th, where sunlight is showing the freshest pink tint.
Such compounding of time, I'm in 2010 working with 2008 which itself
is working with 1963-1968.
What I'm noticing in general is that I expect time not to have lulls,
but there always are lulls even in the journal where I'm picking moments.
On the roof, sun about to rise due east over the cathedral, moon high
and white in the west. Hot cup of tea, one crow barking from the highest
point of the cathedral roof. Fan palms on Maple tall enough to have caught
sun. Twitter increasing.
Santa Ana so hot oven gusts have come in the west window.
What do I want in the next time. Lyrical work, lyrical achievement, wise
felt presence. Influence. Intention.
Come to a time in the day when there should be people and there are none.
Then I scrounge for TV online. The craving sensation. What it's like, heart,
forehead, indistinct - things I do, check email, taste in my mouth, used
to be read all day, sleep.
On Wednesday Tom sent me by Tunefan a link to a Guy Clark song called
To live is to fly, country ache, lyrics I didn't know how to take. Next
day an email, subject line, "Should have paused at 'send' / I don't
want you to worry if it will happen again." Yesterday I reply, subject
line "Wasn't worried but wondered whether / you were having a bad day
too." Tonight, from him, same subject line, "too."
When he does something graceful like that I wonder why I don't just love
this man and have faith in him and stay with him and have a life instead
of this suspension nowhere.
- Won't say I love you babe / Won't say I need
you babe /
- But I'm gonna get you babe / I won't do you
- Everything is not enough / Nothing is too
much to bear
- You're soft as glass / And I'm a gentle man
- We got the sky to talk about / And the world
to lie upon
What he's given me in our years - Springsteen, Lovatt singing It's
a simple song, a night the mockingbird sang through all the hours, a
night of the hawk moths in the honeysuckle, moments of total broken-hearted
I say, shouldn't I? It says no. Because it's done? Yes.
Biked around my circuit this morning, locked up at the zoo entrance and
walked through into the hidden place, which is complicated, miscellaneous,
a lot of kinds of shabby plants, fake rock walls, here a tight dark pen
with some depressed bird, here a wire room with some bare poles laid at
random and a little mammal asleep on a platform. I kept trying to see landmarks
outside the walls, it seemed too large an expanse to fit where it is.
I was heading for the elephants, a long way. There they are standing
unmoving up against concrete towers simulating trees. They aren't doing
anything, have nothing to do all day. Further on a large man pulling nice-looking
heads of romaine apart and throwing them into the enclosure where after
a while one large female 46 years old he says picks them up leaf by leaf
off the ground.
It's another desperate day. I went to the zoo in desperation.
Of all the animals I saw only the pigs seemed to be doing anything. Some
of the tropical creatures in those tight small wire pens had bar heaters
on. The one honest place I found, more honest, was a narrow staircase up
through a densely planted tight stream-slot. There was no one, and nowhere,
else that could be seen. What was honest about it was the stone construction
of its retaining walls. It was left from a much earlier design. The fern
Slave animals, "our animal ambassadors" the brochure calls
them. Our sacrificial animals, whose captivity exists to make stupid people
perhaps somewhat less dangerous to the whole animal kingdom. The fifty year
old female elephant he called Cookie, "Cookie, come! Or not,"
rocking like an autistic child, swaying without moving her feet.
The small animals in those grim little wire pens have really no function,
no one looks at them, why are they there, so the zoo can put them on a species
- When I bend to open the cupboard a perfume of passionfruit.
- It's raining again.
- 8 doves standing around on the walls though the food bowl was full
Why do I need to list things I do in a day - because I don't talk to
anyone - because there's a tension until I do.
- Thursday morning, a staring blank.
- So desperate for company last night that I called Mary.
- Ashamed of being desperate.
Two big packets of letters to Tom, still in their envelopes - unfolded
a few - they're slender, slight, graceful. And my heart reading them is
a solid block of darkness - what is the darkness called - sorrow - but why
- because I loved as if I had someone to love - I loved alone.
The masses of paper in the journal feel like that to me - pathetic, desolate,
and I keep making more.
Through DR1 to DR3-3 before them the worry about being female, afterward
again with Jam. So much worry about what I am.
This is a different worry. It's more direct, it's worry about whether
this crushing isolation will ever end. - Funny that I didn't feel it this
way until now, it's almost a year later. It's faintly suicidal, sore heart
and a dim suggestion.
- There I lay down and tried to feel back into it, and saw a scene from
Brothers and sisters that I saw earlier today, Rebecca with her mother,
who is brain damaged and doesn't recognize her. That's where I sighed and
tears came, my mother no longer knows me.
incomparably rich material about the ambiguity
We write because we're restless ... taking myself
into the labyrinth without a map.
- Le Carré at 79 on Wachtel
Asked Louie why loneliness didn't come until now - she said it took that
long for relief to wear off. Yes. That's what happened to him too. And the
fact, now I'm realizing, that autumn was when we'd return to each other
all these years.
- Tell me about being alone from now on? slow growth, of balance, in love woman's, exclusion
- Will you tell me what balance is like decision
to be happy in conflict with power struggle
- Will people find me pathetic YES
- I will seem so much lamer no
- I will always be depressed no
- Get used to living without love woman
- Because I've outgrown her no
- Because she's died
- Because I got old
- Some people have her when they're old
- But I don't
- Getting used to not being pretty YES
- Getting used to not having romance YES
- I hate that
- You're saying decide to be happy in it
- ? balance
- Balance is happiness in anything
- You mean something like meditative presence
- Can I still do that
Your relationship to her is going to be built
on two things. She has to trust you. And only when she trusts you will she
respect you. And only when she trusts you and respects you will she really
love you. And only when she loves you will she truly honor you. Be trustworthy
in the smallest things, the tiniest details. Because if you ever plant in
the mind of your partner that you may not be trustworthy, then suspicion
dominates the relationship.
- Someone online, a minister
Wilhelm Kempff playing Beethoven sonatas - I've collected as many as
I can find onto my piano playlist - shabby-haired poker-faced old man with
his mouth a downturned line, his hands far away at the ends of his arms
Then I have time with nothing I can do and transcribe some Tom letters
and it's exhausting - what do I know - I don't feel the love, I feel the
waste - I was working so hard and it was useless - there's no connection
in them - sometimes I'm more anxious and sometimes more balanced but either
way there's no connection, only trying.
Bocelli with Terfel singing the Pearl Fishers' duet - a moment when they're
both singing full blast and he suddenly turns to Terfel for an instant,
sings at him, then turns quickly away again as if correcting himself. Near
the end of the song he reaches his arm to hold Terfel's shoulder. Terfel
is awkward, doesn't know how to respond. These moments make us imagine what
it is like to be a blind body everyone can see, so that he always seems
to be singing his vulnerability, where his partner in the duet is singing
protected by eyes. Bocelli as if inside himself.
In Dames rocket 4 when I cut my hair I plunge into abjection.
Everything I am vanishes when I'm with people who don't see me, isn't that
remarkable? It's the node in the time, letting go of my hair, seductive
self. It was dangerous, the seductive self gave me well-being. It was connected
to early love, I have energy when people find me glamorous. The abject self
happened irrevocably. Stunned with strange people. Blanked. I wanted to
let that blanked self speak. It did. So it was brave, it was correct, and
it was unfinished.
Angela Hewitt on DVD lecturing on how to play Bach. She's a master of
something difficult, and she presents herself in a way that makes me wince
at every moment. Red mouth, face paint that doesn't cover the wear under
her eyes, high heels and black stockings, her slick red mouth moving oddly
when she speaks, her t's much too pronounced. Professional deformation
trying to look like what she is not at all - she is grotesque at the same
time as being wonderful in what she does best. Couldn't she show herself
as what she is now, a worn professional with lifelong sensitive discipline
that has cost her all her natural ease. No makeup, comfortable clothes,
grey hair and wonky passion, hasn't she earned that?
Bought the Vogue Hommes issue featuring older men because I wanted
images of how I could look as an old master of something.
Working from the separate acid page in DR5, April 1977, must have been
written later but close enough to have the rhythm. I was halfway down and
began to read aloud, was in its free speed, really in it, a delighted self.
Laughing. Now wondering whether I could use remembering that state to find
decisions that would organize me to live there.
A good Sunday. There was sun after weeks and it was mild sweet sun. I
was riding from Whole Foods to take my Balboa Park loop from the north and
went to stare at the house covered ground to eaves with succulents. Took
off my sunglasses and they stayed off. Rode the streets closest to the canyon
and took the steps down. It was so quiet. There were a few birds jumping
on the ground. Smell of mud, grass bent where water had recently been. A
path, a slope, three Cleveland sage shrubs, an oak tree, eucalyptus leaves
under the tire.
And then I didn't climb the asphalt slope past the bridge, but took the
bridle path I'd never tried and came up a long switchback that emerged at
the lawn bowling court, where I sat on a bench reading the Times
magazine women's empowerment issue.
And then went home to my couch in the 3 o'clock sun, window wide open,
And then I found Greg - began to - note in the Brockville Recorder
and Times that he volunteers in IT at the Augusta Township Public Library.
Looking at the map reading old Ontario names, Smith Falls, Napanee, Belleville,
Trenton, Perth, Picton, Cornwall, names Ban Righ 3 girls came from, and
then later the accreting sense of them as Upper Canada landscape.
Accreting sense of them as Upper Canada landscape doesn't at all say
what I had in my head, which was unsayable - what I felt standing on campus
eighteen years old in the fall of 1963, the golden light among thick-trunked trees
and old stone buildings. Solidity. And then later the rocky farms and in
town the poorer streets with their decrepit hovels whose floors slope. The
east Ontario feel. The smell of Cooke's oiled floor and its high ceiling.
Presence of the 1700s. Greg still living amid all of that. Thinking of it
I marvel somehow, but at what. It's very obscure, it's wondering at people
living at home in that richness - something like that, as if the air in
the west is thin and that thinness is normal to me so that rich air seems
It's raining again today.
- A dream with something about the slant of numbers.
- | \ / | \ | / | \ |
- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
My new friend Herman Melville. I'm listening to Moby Dick in bed.
Last night disk 4 of 20. Glad it's a long book. Ishmael a perfect narrator,
thoughtful, friendly and curious in the way I know. He studies Queequeg
from bed, fascinated and repelled, and by morning finds himself embraced
by his strong arm checkered like the counterpane. A flexible young man,
and Melville only ten years older the overmind who sets together self and
unconscious body joined for a journey to come. It's not perfectly read,
the reader is not as sensitive in rhythm as he should be, but it's vividly
particular in New England about 1840.
A sense of unspeakable security is in me at
this moment on account of your understanding the book. I have written a
wicked book, and feel spotless as a lamb. Ineffable sociabilities are in
me. I would sit down and dine with you and all the gods in old Rome's Pantheon.
It is a strange feeling - no hopefulness is in it, no despair. Content -
that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I
speak now of my profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling.
To Hawthorne a few days after publication, probably 17 Nov 1851. He was
The warm, kind air tonight after dark. Out on the bike because I hadn't
been earlier. It's exercise I want - that's new, did I ever want exercise
before. Stretching is a chore but the bike isn't, I love the uphill effort
and the free sailing both.
Ahab - "This lovely light, it lights not me."
I'm worried about the election - looking at last night's Grey's Anatomy,
an ad for Boxer by Obama, pang of anguish, the stupid are resurging.
A nice moment in a dream. I'm inside a ground floor
window and see a tall nice-looking man with snow on his hair passing the
corner. The woman with him catches my eye and we smile at each other. Something
earlier about looking up and across to an attic window lit gold-red, the
only window lit, this in an old part of town like Gastown, narrow streets
near the harbour.
Called Intergate again about what's wrong with web access. Long conversation,
nothing worked etc. Slept. Was getting frantic, needing to do something,
lonely. Nothing relevant to do. Went to the laundromat, glared at little
children, on the edge of crying. Now I'm ftp-downloading, it is,
pub_html, hours of it, on linksys wireless which happened to be there -
Hallowe'en night, four years since Tom moved into Georgia St, 15 years
since he and I saw the ewe of god outside her fence and I stood joyful on
the hillside in the dark while he smoked beside the Virgin.
Checked whether it wd be alright to phone him. How about next Sunday
he said, changed his mind, how about now. I took the bike. Sat on his walkway
and weeded the pots.
A little white china cat he's using as a doorstop, that has in marker
on its base, Mac 1907 baby cat. She was born 1905. The ghost who
turned my car lights off as we were driving back that
night. Yes Mac I did look after your boy. You did right to catch me for
him and now you're saying, Okay dear, it's alright to go. The photo I made
of him with his mother in the back seat behind him.
- I did your work YES
- You think he's okay now? YES
"I'm respectable" he said.
- He's okay now YES
- And you are saying it's okay to go YES
Opening the visual work drawer, right away excited but halted. I don't
know what it's for or where to enter it. It has to begin technically? With
something made, and then many things tried? I want it to take me immediately
into a zone of recognized eminence of a different kind. I want it to use
my large store of beautiful materials, I don't want to die and have them
trashed without being realized. I want an essence in visual/sound creation
like I found in theory. I want it to be authoritative, not recessive the
way I have been. I want to move out with it the way Gianfranco does, in
love and trust rapidly. I want working on it to create stable presence in
me. I want it to be mind and world firmly and freely united. I want it recognized
in art contexts without conforming to art topics. I want to be able to defend
it, speak from it, with recognizable grounded mastery. I want it to defend
early love and best abstract intuition in people. Something about lit edges,
using the brain knowledgably, finding and building capabilities of the body
in relation to the universe. Competence and flair, flare. Slightness of
means, that elegance. Cleanness. The sort of moment that has happened with
Louie, when attention catches, like the jeep gearing down: this is intelligent,
it's worth focus. A sensation of grip. The bit of writing Emilee felt it
in, a jump in register, electrifying, something speaking through.
Like the caustic gearing down in Trapline.
At more than four billion years old, it stretches
a third of the way across the history of the universe, a third of the way
back to the Big Bang itself. Many of the stars you can see on a clear winter's
night are younger than the planet beneath your feet.
For almost 90 percent of its history the planet
has been inhabited and shaped by life. The biological mechanisms that first
operated in the dawn of life animate the creatures of the Earth to this
day, forming an unbroken chain at least 3.8 billion years long. Life has
watched continents crash together and tear themselves apart; skies glowing
like bright coals; tropical seas frozen into stillness: it has endured.
An unending spate of pure luminous energy pours
from the Sun in all directions. Eight minutes downstream at the speed of
light, part of this extraordinary flux crashes down on the Earth in a 170,000-trillion-watt
torrent. Most is absorbed; this is the energy that drives the winds, makes
the waves and currents flow, heats the rocks and warms the sky. A very small
fraction of this energy is caught, not by rock and wind and water, but by
life. It is this sunlight, endlessly refreshed, that flows through your
coffee, your veins.
The Earth is open to the sky. Energy from elsewhere
floods through it shot through with the light of a continuous creation.
Oliver Morton NY Times "Not-so-lonely planet"
One looks a gypsy, grown old in wickedness and
Our work after all is our true Soul.
To please the folk of few books is one's great
Why do I write all this? I suppose that I may
learn at last to keep to my own in that thing which is to life what style
is to letters: moral radiance, a personal quality of universal meaning in
action and in thought.
RF Foster 1997 WB Yeats: a life
Brahms still and again, all day and now at night, Grimaud moving like
a natural thing, like the shadow of a leafy branch in wind, against the
orchestra. I don't get enough of maybe half a dozen moments in the concerto,
and then these hysterical male crescendos I hate, what was that, the priests
and armament bankers having to be flattered, it's a provincialism. Brahms
when he wrote this heavenly sideways leafy scumble was just starting, early
Listening to Kempe on my piano playlist, isn't he the best, so limber
and clear, fond, is it - round, somehow.
Long letter from G about ethics of W & d.
Beautiful bright days with luminous dusks, sliver of blue-silver water
under incandescent orange.
There was fog at the window last night, bottom edge of the moon a glow
under the top edge of the window. I always lie down gladly, my nice dear
bed, hoping to have beautiful thoughts, but I never do have beautiful thoughts
or images. I think I'll go to fantasies but even that hardly happens. I
just lie there. Sometimes a while when various parts ache. I've learned
to feel them attentively and then they clear, as if there's a job the body
has to do clearing itself when it is shutting down.
This morning slightly hazy sun. Winter weather. It's 8:30, quiet except
for street noise and the dim digesting grumble of the fridge in the closet.
Tea in bed before a student day. I've cleaned up to the end of London.
Was gripped for a lovely week.
The notion of voice is very complex ... there's
not a voice, there are voices, and which
voice comes forward is very contingent on the kinds of resonance that voice
finds, whether it can in fact be heard and understood; and in the absence
of resonance voice tends to go into silence, it goes into the body ....
When a voice is traumatized it goes out of relationship and into silence
. When one person experiences his or her voice as ineffective, as overwhelmed,
there's a tendency to take on the voice of the more powerful person, that
is the voice of the aggressor, and to come to hear it as one's own voice
... underneath that is a voice that is carrying the truth . You can't argue
your way out of dissociation ... the only way is through association ...
a brilliant but costly way ... psychological logic of an act ... a third
term ... this behavior has a rationale ... it's a wonderful moment of bringing
Both Bridie and Karyn, I read their packets and felt I had nothing to
say to them, felt it was useless to say anything to them. Then a couple
of days later wrote easily and with some little key. How does that work?
I come in jibbing at their wrongness, loathing it, not wanting to touch
it, and then maybe just a day later begin at the top and work through it
one paragraph after the other, with something like friendly hope, that later
may be confirmed. With Katie I didn't need time, is it initially being stopped
by feeling they can't understand, and then something adjusts, like journal
work, that makes me not feel their not understanding?
Lying in the dark remembering a dream, which is gone now, and then morose
about the journal project, that it's trivial (compared to Yeats' enterprise)
to show the life of someone who has come only this far, and then that Being
about was something large, and then sad wondering at how the men at
my defense didn't see what I'd done, how I sat at the margins of my own
celebration dinner - how I'm getting what seems exaggerated praise for my
shabby films and none for that deep radical frame - how because of that
blindness I continue uncertain at the same time as I am certain - child's
valiant aloneness on and on - and in the years with Tom - wanting to read
him the journal so he would know the valor it took to be with him - and
he hearing only that I was insulting him.
Friday 19 November
Getting toward the end of the thick George Yeats book, which was described
as dull in the NYT (and isn't) probably because it is interested in women's
things. The biographer picks detail out of letters that I would pick too,
children's conversation, houses and gardens, peoples' appearance, weather,
clothes, moods, furniture. I skip the politics and anything about the Abbey
Theatre. I'm reading it not for the mystical-magical, ignore the poems,
but for the company, and in this one the sense of how a philosophical woman
lived then as if she was vowed to be a helper. The advantages of a great
man's slipstream, a size of life he gave her, and the talents needed.
Ann Saddlemyer 2002 Becoming George: the life of Mrs
WB Yeats Oxford
This end of my life, watching failure, so different from the Raw forming
years when I never doubted my brain. I can be stopped at a light and see
a young person walking and feel, they're still in the midst of it, where
their body is undoubted natural easy self; I was that. At the same time,
because I was wearing the black turtle neck with the chalcedony earrings
today, with jeans and the green sneakers, and my hair was smooth and shiny,
and clean off the forehead now, I felt young and distinguishedly pretty,
and drove fast when I could between the lights.
What to think of his vast armature of theory and crank opinion. What
matters is his ear. He could judge by eye but he didn't at all write by
eye. He could devise tight little cognitive dances. Does the philosophy
matter at all? It gave him standing, it mattered practically. His face at
the end was a credit to him, a good whole person carried through from childhood.
He was remarkably responsible, in detail with his family and friends and
then also with his people the Anglo-Irish and the poets. He promoted and
defended hugely, and some of his crank opinion was in the service of them.
Was he right about eugenics, lower orders breeding too much? I watch
Grey's anatomy, Private practice, Brothers and sisters,
even Gossip girl, to see perfect bodies. I need to see them. The
standard of acting is very high, the standard of directing is very high,
standards taken for granted as industry norm. By that I mean the perfect
bodies are skilled bodies too, and live in an elite circumstance that is
not of aristocratic lineage but of wide miscegenation, economic scrum.
The even larger responsibility of wanting to show as a noble life. He
did that for me. When I was in my twenties I had his picture up. [the Sergeant 1908]
Insisting on sex in his seventies. Young women he didn't lie to his wife
Further more he eats a whole herring without
a dignified natural house for intellectual people
The gale tears down the winding staircase of
the Tower so that when I go out of my room my hair is rushed inside out.
It seems to me that I have found what I wanted.
When I try to put all that into a phrase I say "Man can embody the
truth but he cannot find it." I must embody it in the completion of
- 1939 I think, a letter. Foster II. The arch-poet
Looking at The Pound era again thinking of a skinny Indo-Chinese
girl from Hong Kong on scholarship in Edmonton Alberta poring over a catalogue
of Anglo-American literary scraps, educating herself to be a man of the
early twentieth century. Sitting for years with this so-foreign material
not able to do what Kenner had done, off her rocker, but coming to something
of a form for her own displacement. Something she could show.
A binding, a having-to-do-with, that joins in
likeness, in difference and in modulation all the poem's materials, through
which interactive well the syntactic movement flows, abandoning nothing:
that is the deepest, the most persistent Provencal intuition.
I copied that in 1980 and what more do I know now. The motz el son
section is the one I remember (motz y sons). The way I understood
language in Being about, as a standing network being accumulated.
- A blown husk that is finished
- but the light sings eternal
- a pale flare over marshes
- where salt hay whispers to tide's change
such transitions from diction to diction
devices learned from James
a mode of thought habitual with him: the steady
generosity of response to things happening
its pauses, its run of sounds, its tautly paced
disclosure running through seven overlapping words
setting like beside almost like, to delineate
losses and gains, new delicacies, lost intensities
- And the vine stocks lie untended, new leaves
come to the shoots.
- North wind nips on the bough, and seas in heart
- Toss up chill crests
- And the vine stocks lie untended
- And many things are set abroad and brought to
- Of thee, Attis, unfruitful
What was he responding to when he read Greek?
To rhythms and dictions.
an aesthetic of glimpses
a change in characteristic sensibility ... sense
a renaissance of attention
the crystal body of air
There are subject-rhymes ... sensibilities may
rhyme ... culture rhymes ... a visual rhyme
The perception of the intellect is given by
a word, that of the emotions in the cadence.
certain passionate simplicities
That was the quality so many minds in the previous
century had toiled after, relating and sorting out languages to disengage
whole poems existing as systems of linguistic
The force that produced verbal integrities lay
potent in the absorption of minds with perceived realities. Minds so absorbed
write with pith and concision. Such qualities, engendered by intercourse
with a subject, persist in the writing even when we do not know what its
subject was. Idiosyncrasy of language derives from attention. Kenner 166
a style energized by perception
Natural sciences formed on minute attention
produced in the 19th century a new order of descriptive exactness, obligated
by the fact that there was no accurate way to reproduce a picture. 167
the poetic energy was discernible in the unstated
connections between them
rethink the nature of an English poem maximizing
three criteria at once ... the vers-libre principle, that the single line
is the unit of composition; that a poem may build its effects out of things
it sets before the mind's eye by naming them; and the lyrical principle,
that words or names, being ordered in time, are bound together and recalled
into each other's presence by recurrent sounds.
held together from within by so many filaments,
syntactic, sonoric, imagistic, that any change will be change for the worse
The way Pound fits the network vision I came to, prepared me to see it,
and the way both of us had that intuition from being with physical nature.
The way his body stands in the photo.
Kenner's vortex doesn't quite get it, it's what I describe as writing
from a standing net. The 'meaning' is there before (but being modified by,
as they come) the words. Translate from that, is what he meant when he said
don't bother with the words, translate the meaning.
"What matters in art" like "water when it spurts up through
very bright sand and sets it in swift motion."
Also an evolutionary vision, form mutating. And a sentic vision,
"the artist's business to find her own virtú," meaning
an energetic tone then present in the work to be transmitted.
A hundred years ago in art and science and we're still working out of
it. Network neuroscience and computers are. All the workings-through in
particular there still is to do and against still-strong resistance.
My pay came in with a big refund, and the streets were bright and quiet.
Cold. I went to Denny's with the Times for breakfast, steak, and
then was there on the esplanade in silent light off quiet water. It had
warmed as I was eating. I walked. Carefully. Then parked next to Seaport
Village and went along the seawall feeling something unnameable in the wide
space above the glazed-off water. I felt it without grasping it, like a
faint ecstasy, not mine, wide crystalline quiet invisibly intense? Was walking
there feeling I don't go anywhere because I think I won't settle into enjoying
it without Tom, I'll feel restless and unconnected, nothing will happen.
And it was like that but still it was a remarkable morning.
Greg tonight writing to say he'd google-earthed La Glace.
Hither, & thither, on high, glided the snow-white
wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were th gentle thoughts of the feminine
air; but to & fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed
mighty Leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled,
murderous thinkings of the masculine sea. Moby
Had an appointment with Thy to ask about the atlas being offside. She
said it's to the right and the one below to the left. She pulled on my head
so my neck would stretch, which felt good somehow. She was exclaiming quietly
as she did it, and afterward said it was because when she began she could
only feel the pulse on the left side but then afterward it came on strong
on the right.
When the session was finished she was telling me I should walk and I
was saying why I don't like to, it feels so heavy. But then I kept going
past my usual reserve, I was watching myself tell, watching tears and the
pressure to hold them back. I said when I was younger I limped but didn't
feel myself limp, but now I feel it, and I see my shadow limping and I don't
like it. She said I shouldn't talk to myself like that and I said but I
love beauty. She didn't understand that it's a loss worth grieving and that
I was needing to do it. I didn't completely let myself; it was escaping
form me more than I had consented to. And then I blurted that I love to
look at her, "You're so right." Is that abject? Is it more
abject to show humiliation than to hide it? I don't think so though to her
it will have seemed so. We like each other, we work well together, but she
is young and only middling smart and she didn't know what to do with my
sadness. I let her off the hook and changed the subject, but I am understanding
that a semiconscious grief presses in me more than I know.
- Do you want to talk about that balance,
judgment, lack of a lover
- I've judged myself unacceptable YES
- That's the sadness YES
- I don't find myself desireable
- Which pulls me down YES
- There isn't anything I can do about that
- Will you lead me liberate yourself, from
betrayal, by completing (3p)
- Another sentence to explain (3p) process,
losses, of power, and aggression
- Full action solves it
- The judgment is of desirability
- But the true loss is of action YES
- Social action
- It's true I'm undesirable but it doesn't matter
- Do you think I am desirable
- Will you say in what sense process, grounded,
- A sane companion
- It's about being a companion rather than a statue
- Okay YES
Insofar as the writer's work is exact "it
maintains the precision and clarity of thought ... the health of thought
outside literary circles."
It is one sinuous suspended sentence, feeling
its way and never fumbling. Its gestures raise anticipatory tensions, its
economy dislodges nothing.
Such a poem fulfills a syntactic undertaking,
purely in a verbal field
Each phrase reaches forward
We are drawn past unit after unit of attention
by the promise of ... a waiting for the structure initiated by ... to declare
carried through by essentially narrative devices
to answer tastes a long time forming and still
Saturday morning. I've almost finished Dames rocket but I haven't
come to a good account of its - what shd I call it - formal work? Visual
intuiton? I was going through looking for the psychological work and power
struggle but skipping the 'art' as mistaken or not mine. But I was sensitive
in visual ideas then in ways I am not now. For instance something about
transparent form that Pound has too. "As glass seen under water,"
"the waves taking form as crystal," "the crystal body."
I think Fading stops at Nov 2009 and the new section is called
- There it is, it's named, it's linked, and here is its pretty index
page, the ambiguous koi, is it swimming or is it hovering, in or over a
gleam of surrounding world. I'm some way in, finishing vol 4, which means
Fading is firmly done. Since I say so. I'm starting it at the lotus
just before London, July 2009.
That Pound's Seven Lakes canto is his lyric "still point at the
heart of the work" and that living in the lake house I used to go to
the Seven Lakes Motel to eat lunch.