Volume 22 of in america: 2010-2011 december-may  work & days: a lifetime journal project  

















Parts 1 and 2 a garden project, reading for a possible lecture on light, working through the central Up north section of this project. Christmas in Borrego Springs. Part 3 the Erotics of attention show in Montreal. Part 4 CFMDC screening at Film Forum in LA, stay at the Biltmore.

Notes: light metaphysics, Kenner The Pound era, Schubert Litanei auf das Fest aller Seelen, audio technology, Milo Wolff, HV Morton A traveler in southern Italy, Goldberg American Veda, Renault The king must die, Lee Krasner Primeval resurgence, Pollock Number 1, Richard Kerr Plein air, Thompson Mind in life, Gordimer Life times: stories 1952-2007, Sarah Bakewell speaking to Eleanor Wachtel about Montaigne, Ellen Meloy The anthropology of turquoise, AS Byatt The children's book, Heath Ledger, Brokeback mountain.

Mentioned: Tom Fendler, Luke, Walter Webber, Ed Epp, Mary Epp, Peter Dyck, Daichi Saito, Malena Szlam, Jody Golick, Mirielle Nitaslawska, Roseanna Maule, Jerry Reznick, Adam Hyman, David Mann, Jim Mann, Greg Morrison.

San Diego Museum of Natural History, Borrego Springs, Hacienda del Sol, Carlee's Bar, Glorietta Canyon, the labyrinth at St Barnabas Episcopalian, Clearbrook Elementary School, La Glace School, Grande Prairie Public Library, Walter Anderson's Nursery, Bread & Cie, Gulf Truck Stop near Ashland Virginia, San Diego International Airport, Newark airport, CinemaSpace in the Segal Centre Montreal, Redpath Museum, Boulevard St-Laurent at Rue Saint-Viateur, Kingston General Hospital, Two Roses and El Roberto's taco shop in Barrio Logan, room 772 in the Millennium Biltmore in LA, Pershing Square, the Red Line, Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas, MOCA, Union Station, Metropolitan Water Board Building, Anza Borrego State Park Campground, Torres Desert Nursery, Balboa Park.

Niagara Chorus flash mob, Lucia Popp, The lover with Jane March and Tony Leung, Eleanor Wachtel, Anna Lawrence Pietroni Ruby's spoon, Renee Flemming, John Heron, Obama, Clinton, Kofi Annan, Richard Holbrooke's funeral, Nabokov Speak memory, Gass Omensetter's luck, Krishnamurti, McCarthy The road, Double Negative Collective, Claire Danes and AJ Langer in My so-called life, Annie Proulx Fine just the way it is, Bones, The mentalist, Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, Eileen Atkins in Upstairs downstairs.

 7 Dec 2010

"Bishop Grosseteste's deduction of the whole universe from light." "When it has reached the extreme of its rarefaction it is that of which things are made."

the radiant world where one thought cuts through another with a clean edge, a world of moving energies

magnetisms that take form, that are seen, or that border the visible, the matter of Dante's Paradiso, the glass under water, the form that seems a form seen in a mirror, these realities perceptible to the sense, interacting

the tensile light

irresponsible peddlers of the ineffable 454

Illumine the root of the process ... the bones of things, the materials, are implicit and prepared in us, abundant and inseparable from us ... (Pound 1945)

interested, that is, beyond philology, in how the bard breathed ... by rhythmic gesture ... as the structure of sound is built up, prolonged, modulated ... so far as possible breathing as it breathed, intoning as it intoned

The process has traversed in half a page the history of English versification from Chaucer to 1945, decasyllabic becoming pentameter, pentameter encountering Imagist resistance, and metamorphosing into the idiosyncratically stressed line that carries Pound's hallmark.

He had less working time left than he knew. Released 1958, 1960 "My head just doesn't WORK," d. 1970.


Stable incubation period of three or so billion years for life to develop.


5:04 Sunday night. A Santa Ana, western sky through the window stained its winter apricot, tall white candle lit next to it, and spotlight on gorgeous Padmasambhava. - Who I discover in Wiki is a Nyingma guy.

5:16 it's dark on land and the apricot has deepened at the horizon, fades up through yellow to pale and then darker turquoise to dull navy. I have the door open, a cup with cream waiting on the cooling hotplate as the tea steeps. Very soon I'll go do an eval in this lovely winter room - now a lovely winter room. Have brought the begonia in from its work day in the sun and it is looking exuberant in its dark gloss and new pink.


There is a stream but consciousness is not it, c is like a chip riding on it.


Raining today, palm fronds flailing as they do, thick silver daylight. Airplanes taking off to the east, overhead. I've booked room 21 at the Hacienda del Sol for the 23rd to the 25th.

Beginning to work on Up north. Bit scared of it.


Toward eight in the morning. It's pouring. Drops all over the north window. Tuesday.

Something about the loud dark scumbling rumble overhead, over air full of water. It makes me feel submerged as if I'm at the bottom of the ocean and a ship is passing over me.

These rain days also are like the intercalated days, blacked out of the calendar, in parentheses, enclosed.

23 Borrego Springs

A bit before the San Felipe pass, the light I wanted, invisible high frequencies reverberating off the mountains, a solid hit of them. Then the way there's just a bit of hairpin climb before the air opens wide, wide, and the road lopes down at ease all the miles to the valley floor with its tiny buildings and green blots of orange groves.

25th Glorietta Canyon

One crow, one little warbly thing, something very faintly tinny. The crow keeps saying the same thing from different places. Three times the same word. Sometimes the near zoom of a fly. A very faint texture that is maybe many other flies at a lot of distances. Now something else, little needles of a whistling bird. Now the crow far away barking continuously.

The desert is damp today. Barrel cactus in its fur of pink spines. A few flowers on the chuparosa, an occasional ocotillo blooming. There's a hawk in hunting circles, its shadow waggling over rocks below. Another higher up. Creosote the darkest thing except for shadows in rock crevices.

It's a place simple in its facts and very complicated in its forms.

Sunday 26

I fell asleep early and woke at 4. Later when I saw the sky red I rushed out and took the bike across the mall parking lot to see the east which was a broad and high mess of marachino pink and orange. Decided to ride looking at the mountain instead, because it was faintly subtly luminously rose-lit so its folds and slabs and scales and dabs were all alive all over. Rode northwest and then north for miles along its flank, tire rattle on the rough surface of the asphalt. Fresh chill. Sunday early, Boxing Day, no cars.

Then after breakfast discovering I couldn't book for another night and packing suddenly and on the road getting more and more desolate. What was that.

Last night I went out not much before dark and headed back across to the row of churches. St Barnabas Episcopalian is the beautiful one, adobe walls and silver smoke trees. I was circling around through its empty parking lot and saw a little opening among palms. There on a little floor enclosed by a berm and a plastered wall, with adobe benches, was a labyrinth laid out in white pebbles. It was the loveliest human-made thing I'd seen in Borrego.

I had been as if longing to be able to go to church, longing for church not to be what it is, not false, not foolish, but instead what it could be when I was a child and we sang together, not the belief but the belonging. So I sat on the bench and talked to Joyce aloud, I said things I've felt but wasn't at that moment feeling, but the moment when I did crack into something real was when I begged to know, if I am alone this way because I did something wrong, what was it? Tell me what I can do to make it right.

And then I was alright, but coming through the tight winding passes after Santa Ysabel this late morning I was in anguish feeling a pull of death on the road, not a strong pull, but one I was having to talk to.

At the labyrinth I said to life, you trashed Frank, you trashed Janeen, you trashed Ed, you trashed Joyce, you trashed Mary, you are trashing me.

Today in the Jeep labouring to bring myself home again I was saying for 15 years I gave my girl heart to a man who didn't want me and now I'm ugly and there won't be anyone else who does, and it will just be more bleak years.

Do you call this being depressed     no
Do you have a word for it     the Work
It's necessary to feel because it's true  
Is there more I should be doing     NO


Tom's North Park notes - vivid and loving - we were on the couch with the laptop, he reading over my shoulder. It was just a list but there were colors and birds and my name and the word 'home,' and I felt what I'd given him, what I don't now have myself, and the liveness of feeling he still has and I don't, and some gratitude and missing me, as if it was a letter of the kind I always hoped for - the kind I understood. There was some of what I don't like too, flashy, name-dropping, encrusted phrase-making, but more simple-hearted being between. It was our New Years visit. There was sun on the walkway. We untangled the mandarin, which had thrived in the rain, and the stemmy cassia. We were familiar and told our news. He liked that I was wearing the green silk pants tucked into the UGGs with the black turtleneck.


First vol of Up north. I've been through once, got the images placed mostly, shy off the density, at the same time feeling there is work in it, to be found in it, deciding what's worth using, what I couldn't do then, when I was holding dilation to too much because I didn't know what to notice, flou, so much undecided, and the flux making me an artist at the same time as it was disabling me as an artist. Matrix of bewilderment, is that what it takes. Now in a firmer time, shying away from the bewilderment, can I tell what was worth something, or just lay a track between the facts and a willed story.


To work with N1 I'm having to make a full excerpt, and liking to. It's slow but has let me find places that were out of order and better spots for photo links and a couple of cross-time links. It makes me consider the stoned pondering, and the notes, that I've skipped impatiently. They tell me the technology I was using to get the open moments I did find, which are why I still want to be with that person in that place, that autumn. If I clean it up a little the writing isn't bad. I mean I'll be able to read the edited excerpt with pleasure - should have it as a mirror page probably.

Yesterday found a web book by an Englishman who writes about the kinds of dilation I was sometimes finding. He's elaborating a two-world hypothesis about them, though more honorably than many, saying what's conjecture or ambiguous. He's one of those having to posit subtle other worlds because he has such a debased view of this one. None of what I was experiencing up north was other-worldly though it was often mysterious. It was this world loved, and imagining powers courted by emotional-intellectual risk and effort. What Logan said about making breathing a gorgeous enterprise, enriching the world not escaping from it.

I assumed then and still that art needs effort like religious effort, in that both are about being fit to meet something well. That claim larger than it seems, because 'meeting well' means quite esoteric sorts of attention and presence.


Two inches a year, the same as a human fingernail - fault creep.

1st January 2011

Finished going through N1, adding a few links, moving photos sometimes, using the excerpt edit to evaluate everything. It's long intensive work - this morning from 7:30 to 12:30 just on a bit more than half of N1-5. Toward the end of that month the solid writing - ie prose not fragment notes - got better. That crystalline January like a room I still want to inhabit. What I liked and kept this time - Helmer and Bernice, sometimes the bachelors, oh the days and nights, a few of the reading notes. Love and concrete adventure and indications of the mental work I did to get presence, a few. I'm thinking about how easily it cleans up now, but how I didn't have cleaning-up judgment then. Was setting up methods that wdn't have old forms of it, but also didn't have it, couldn't see what was wrong with it. I don't keep most of the attachment pain about Jam, though I notice how strong it was and that it's the same as I felt in Borrego.


Walter Webber at Nordhagen's New Years party next to me on the floor, or probably I was on the floor and he on a chair. He was in his 70s then probably. I was wearing a black pullover and when I'd warmed up, took it off. Walter noticed how quickly I did it. I've often thought of what it meant that he noticed that - it was intelligence noticing intelligence, and so I've thought of who he must have been, living as a cowboy without education through the pioneer years.

I have never since then thought about the work I thought I was doing there - coming up with a film - I never did understand how to do that - I worked in the ways I knew and muddled along but what I eventually made left out a huge amount of what I worked on - [the film] Notes in origin was a little something thrown off out of a huge matrix that hasn't been finally brought through. - Something was, an understanding of the draw of prenatal recognition was. Did it take all that to write what will we know? Maybe. I could never have written it earlier. Did the reading and thinking, the notes, make the photos possible - something, I'll think about it more.


Am labouring with the edit version of N2-1, two days so far and it's not done. It's the month I was working on oilrigs, staying internal in the midst of the most external of adventures. I edit out a lot of the self-observation and yet its idiosyncracy when it's edited gives the writing whatever charm it has. Now wd I be as enchantable by what I saw on the road? Steeped in marvel and sometimes pain. Having to go overboard to find the good things I did find, I'm noticing that about deep art, it makes mistakes, it doesn't necessarily have good judgment. Cull after. But confusion frightened me, frightens me, unless it's brief. I was enduring confusion with a lot of valor.


At the science museum a little video of a young roundworm next to one of an old roundworm, the young sleek and frisky, the old lumpy and almost motionless.

Two boxes yesterday with my audio equipment: headphones, recorder, mic, mic stand.


Paradisal marveling - I mean a certain state of enmarveled pleasure in the world's richness, for instance in reading a dictionary, or reading certain books about plants or light. What's it like, joy, but as if a bit stunned? "So much is given to be found."

Fluctuations are typical of a neural system that has sustained damage

Fusiform face area active also in birders and car experts


Do you understand light  
Our language is wrong  
Do you think you can explain it to me  
Light is a condition of space  
Does light travel     no
Is there really space  
But something propagates through space  

Forming potential.

Re-forming potential  
Is this important  
Light doesn't really exist as a substance  
We think of it as a substance  
Is there something you want to say     graduate, from love woman's withdrawal and exclusion
Deal with that first?  
The little intrusion about Tom  
Can't I just go on with light     no

I run into Paul Churchland at a conference or some large meeting. We're going to find seats but are stopped in a little side corridor. My shirt is off. He's running his hands over my skin. I'm nervously feeing he's after my right breast. He rubs his hand up and down over it. I say someone's going to see us and put my shirt back on. He goes to sit near the front and I head toward the back. Am sitting with a group of younger women students, some of whom I know. He comes and sits on my right. I try to introduce him to the women around us. One of them wonders what's going on. I say it's that someone famous has sat down with us and ripples are spreading outward.

This morning a little yen for the early time with Tom, when I used to fall asleep in his arms in his room - what I am feeling when I say that is his arms as they were then, his strong arms, his beautiful solid bulge of bicep. Then I am angry that he didn't take care of himself for me. - That's obviously father stuff, is there any more to know about it?

And Paul is the philosopher, so is there more I should see about the dream     YES
What I'm withdrawn from is child's longing  
I'm just supposed to feel it  
That the philosopher has child's longing  
And that distorts     no
Longing is part of light  
Reaching     YES
Light is a reaching condition of space  
Reaching doesn't arrive, it's a tension-toward  
Light is a tense condition of space     YES
A tensed condition     YES
Tension moves     YES
Binds the sky together     YES
Does all space co-operate in making 'light'  
Are you saying nothing travels  
Will you lead me  
'Light' is the simultaneous influence of everything on everything  
Local-I being about star-there  
Our sun is an extended locality  
Quanta means stepped effect  
Like digitization  
The quantization depends on the receiver  
You're saying tension propagates  
A tensed condition propagates  
But no substance propagates  
But is there a medium for the propagation of tension  
The substanceless medium  
'Energy' is tension  

Is 'energy' always about destabilizing structure?

Structure is stable tension     YES
Destabilizing a structure of tensions  
Bodies need destabilizing to hold complex structure  
Always maintained with work  
A body can never rest     YES
Its complex structure has a will to maintain itself  
And that will is the substructure of DNA  
In concert with surroundings  
Is trying to see it at this level correct  
Can I do more today     no

I don't understand light, I've opened it too deep, can't understand it without re-understanding the whole of physics.

What do I know in experience. I often feel it as love. It is what reveals space. Space is experienced expansion as well as something assumed when not experienced. Free motion in space given by light is pleasure. Good light gives place as love. For instance if I turned off one of these three lamps the room would be less comforting.

It isn't experienced as minute vibration, it is experienced as a standing condition on surfaces. In its theory we're far from experience. And yet shadows say it is thrown from a source.

What do the wave structure people say, exactly.

When spherical standing waves influence each other's frequency, one gaining and the other losing <'exchange energy'> <'energy seems to be transported'> the exchange appears to travel with the speed of the in-waves of the receiving resonance, which is c.


Go to N2-4 and there am with Luke and Ed and Mary and Judie and Helmer while we were all still young enough to be together, not knowing we were not going to go on together. I crashed then looking ahead to losing Jam and now that isn't the loss I care about. I care about what was my own, and she was not.


Monday morning, a day like summer. There were doves standing in their dish waiting for their morning gift.


I've come from the jobsite where they've poured a fine concrete curb. This morning bought a small dark magnolia and the giant strelitzia. Saw a michelia doltsopa in large white flower that will go between the windows. - Still thinking about the planting.

Almost finished the N2 edit. Have to say something about why I was writing that way. Wanted to transcribe the way memory came to me, and wanted to note interiority, what the little silent voice was saying while things happen. Does it work for me, as my own reader. Often not, but sometimes it does give me what it was like monitoring, monitoring, uncertain of so much. Not knowing what little thing would be decisive or a clue.

Jam and I worked on the assumption that we were in telepathic contact, not only with each other, and likely we were, but the uncertainty would make us foolish, worries about influence. We were so unstable in our moods, and tweaked each other brutally on the assumption that any secret would close our contact. Those are factual questions I could decide now, but then everything stayed in suspension, I was in constant suspension. In the midst of it, though, so tender in affection and humiliation.

Was the close monitoring necessary to connect something? Was it brain damage I couldn't help? I think of it as intentional and a method, but was it self-harm? Has the time's work succeeded enough so I can decide it was worth something? A matrix in which new things could form out of chaotic flux.

I was constantly going for broke, looking for essence, willing to ask. Jam and I in that effort so strained and crushed, and yet she went along with it amazingly. We connected in spite of such a degree of personal strain, it seems heroic and hysterical.


The planting is almost done, two days changing the shape of Scott's back yard so it will have classical magic.

The mulch loose black and hot, laid thick on planted beds. The clean curb just the right width.


Saturday morning. I sneaked into Scott's back yard to see how it looks finished. It's exquisite. Exquisite, exquisite. I wasn't sure about the strawberry trees but their brightness in the corners is the perfect finish. The stepping stones look just right with the gravel and curb around them. The curb forced the right reshape to the lawn. The giant strelitzia makes best use of the peaked wall. It was one of my deft easy mammoth acts of talent. I like that Scott says "your vision" because it is vision.


Sunday evening, terrace of the Upstart Crow.

N5 will be long, 6 parts and maybe the best.

I'm seeing the constant quite global work of noting and refining notes, going through choosing again and often again. It's a kind of work I've seen no one do and I was doing it knowing not much about what it was for, but with refining and finding certainty always. Making myself a world much wider than I was being given anywhere, so beautiful and boundless.


Jeans fitting so nice. I feel happy when they are loose at the waist.

Wonderful spring days. Street pears white in the park, a little nest in a bare palo verde, not high overhead. Hummingbird tail sticking out.

These days I never want to cook - want to go to Whole Foods and spend $10 on a pile of bright clean salad that somehow lasts me till bedtime.

Luke this morning wrote "4th day at the British, love it. And who knew there wd be SO many great looking brainy women." My plot to have excellent grandchildren.


Wednesday morning, have just finished going through N5, which is the coming-through volume, after a summer alone in the lake house. Mended, more than mended, humming. A beautiful time with Ed and Mary, balanced, and in the complex uncertainties of work. Except for money I was living perfectly - the beautiful house, the beautiful world and weather, yoga, good dreaming, the right kind of contacts simple and loved, wonderful books, more emotional independence, an art network but at enough distance. Physics lit up by poetics: maximized sight and maximized sound.


Scott and I standing on his new bluestone platform this morning looking down at the path. I say "If it weren't for drunk ladies in high heels we wdn't need the stepping stones." Scott says "If it weren't for them life would not be worth living," touching my shoulder quickly to say don't hold it against me.

This day steady coverage of the uprising in Egypt.

4 February

Load all of Up north though there's more detail throughout. Reading those months I keep being surprised in love for Ed and Mary, their company, the quality of the time we had together then. I feel nothing of that for those I was so anxious about then - it is as though the crazed exogamy of young adulthood has evaporated and I simply want to be with my own people - isn't it odd. - Which isn't to say that I want Mary phoning me. I want them then, when they were part of my country and I could decide to fly up the road to see them and then go home to my own self there. And Helmer and even Bernice are part of the feeling though they are not family, because they claimed me. There's an ache of something like regret that I can't thank them.

I found a paperback copy of The road at the Episcopal goodwill on 5th and am rereading it. I'm feeling that it's related to what I said above - the man's situation like anyone's traveling on with death certain though not yet, in company with a child to be kept alive through ordeals, in a world that can't be restored.

Saturday 5th

The show in Montreal billed as Erotics of attention: films of Ellie Epp.


Haven't said I've been reading HV Morton A traveler in southern Italy a little every day. It's 1969 and it seems earlier, as if he's an Englishman of the 1940s, which I suppose is his era - 1892-1979.

It always gives me a twinge to see a young man yielding to intemperance of any kind. One is apt to associate this time of life with resolve . Youth has so much to spare! Youth can afford to be virtuous. With such stores of life looming ahead it should be a period of ideas, of self-restraint, and self-discipline, of earnestness of purpose. The divine Plato lays it down that youngsters should not touch wine at all, since it is not right to heap fire on fire. He adds that older men like ourselves may indulge therein as an ally against the austerity of their years - agreeing, therefore, with Theophrastus who likewise recommended it for the "natural moroseness" of age. -Quoting somebody else, Norman Douglas.

It's ideal travel writing of an old-fashioned kind. He invents so curious and informed and everywhere welcome a traveler that it's agreeable to be him. I notice he likes women to be no older than about 20 and particularly likes little girls, but I don't hold it against him because he's so interested in general, has hundreds of historical persons and places standing in his head as he moves in a landscape, and gets into authoritative conversation with natives on their most local of topics. He's reminding me of a moment I can't exactly place. Early evening or late afternoon, was it in Greece, when I was hitchhiking and stopped briefly at a country café? that had an outlook toward the south. There was an older man - was he a British South African, and did he offer me a lemonade or a glass of wine? - who talked to me with that kind of human interest. [1966]

SAN 11th Feb 2011

I've made it to the gate, it's 6:30, boarding in 40 min. While I was in the winding entrails of the security line dawn came, Santa Ana orange and blue behind palms. Now it's tinted ivory over Mission Hills. Decaff latté, tall.

There's sunrise horizontal on the far wall. Look how it makes the building come alive with shadows and reflections, radiant patches. The space is sorted into directions.

I'm in a row with 9 people, all of them but me are poking at an electronic thing - 6 phones, 2 laptops, 1 ipad.


Newark, gate 103, 5 in the aft. Already the Québequois. That supple little man with moccasin boots and a big Mediterranean nose and two beautiful sons who have what will become his same arrogant nose. This bear grandpa with rumpled topcoat and fur hat.

As we were descending over small snowy fields there was pale yellow light making a marvel of the bare hardwoods. The long shadows were like thin combed hair lying all in the same direction over hills and into gullies. At certain angles the trees' crowns were lit up pale orange in puffs floating above the combed strands. Strong subtle depth. Another thing was that the fenceline trees were casting shadows that were perfect cut-out images of themselves. Where they were evergreen, solid dark blue triangles. So it was white, dark blue, pale orange, all in pale golden light, all subtle and clear. In amid it, roads with houses on stems, small towns. A quirky landscape very carved and up and down and beautifully skinned.


And then I talked all the way to Montreal, with a Portuguese aerospace engineer who was interested the way engineers can be, in how anything works, even for instance Catholic religion in the countryside, the changed gender balance in Lisbon. What happens to roof tiles when it rains for three months - they get soft, so you can't walk on them.

And then beautiful Malena with her Inca nose and Jewish mouth, and trim beautiful Daichi in his black hat, and both being nice to me and taking me to dinner.


Simple and sophisticated people meet in a delicious unselfconsciousness . The light from a paraffin lamp fell in a yellow pool on the table, which was still littered with the broken bread of supper; and in this pool the big, brown hands of the labourer moved, teasing the coarse tobacco for his pipe; his wife's brown hands moved above her sewing.

Their eyes sought mine continually as they told me with smiles the little, untroubled drama of their lives.


Where am I, snow flurries, clumping carefully along with my green trekker's pole. In an artistic café waiting for frittata. Lot of people with hoods and scarves. Boulevard St-Laurent and Rue Saint-Viateur. Dirty snow ground up into damp grit. Dirty truck with icycles on its chin and brown slush on the running board. 55 bus Boul St-Laurent, lots of hyphens in this town. Real fur on most of the hoods. Two hoods pasted up against each other hugging. They break apart smiling.


I liked seeing the wide white square at McGill, dim late afternoon, a dim silver light, old facades on three sides, bodies in dark clothes walking, one red hat. I liked seeing it from the high second floor of the old museum, warm. Three high-ceilinged floors with old cabinets, small town collections of Greek coins, half a dozen, minerals, a bit of a painted Egyptian coffin - two eyes - a stuffed wolf, a passenger pigeon, a snow owl. On the landing a lioness eye to eye with me. A prehistoric Irish elk skull with an enormous spread of antler.


Lying awake this night realizing the hard moments of this trip, the fragilities I don't quite feel when they happen, or feel without mention to myself. Uncertainties.


The winter shabbiness of people here, dark random layers, slushy boots.

16 Plainfield

The broad St Lawrence white with an internal river, blue. Pale ivory light on graceless farmhouses. Flat country all the way to the mountains in Vermont.


"Legendary Canadian filmmaker, writer and philosopher Ellie Epp" - that's on a blog by another Concordia prof.

I feel I can't talk about anything at this res until I've left it.

This maybe: at grad Deidre thanked Goldberg and Lise for their precise contributions and then said "Ellie saw me. She was interested in me." She stood straight in her pretty dress, tall boots, black lace stockings, goth rings, and said "At our first meeting Ellie challenged me to address my chemical dependency." - That was true, but has anyone ever thanked me for the framework I give them. Deidre got it, she used it, I gave her the redescriptions that kept her racing along at dozens of critical moments. She was looking for the right thing and I gave it to her - I could give it to her because I built it. But she doesn't imagine the making of it.


Looked for something to read at the airport, bought The king must die. First read it in a body cast in Kingston General, remember only the lines I copied then. Noticing that Le Guin learned her rhythm from Renault.

There was a soul within my soul, free of the madness, which stood apart and whispered.

1 March

Crazy intoxicated with spring. Don't want to work inside.


Yesterday too, after the sun goes down I can work.


I'm 66. Lay in bed half an hour before I remembered. David's fond light voice on the phone. We laugh. I love his laugh. I play with him to hear it more.

Then Mary phones, horrible Mary grumbling and lamenting.

Graham didn't understand that in real life his creation would feel guilt and self-loathing, a sense of being driven, the knowledge that he would not or could not remain committed. His life an attempt to ignore the inner voice that told him otherwise each time he convinced himself he would follow through.

"Finish strong, kid," I hear my father say.

I think of all he did to make a home and all I have not done. "An entire past comes to dwell in a new house."


I took my clothes to the laundromat and then zoomed to Tom's on a mission. Rehearsed on the way. I was going to demand that he tell me about the times he's cheated on me. I knew he would be asleep because he'd had a job that began at midnight. Was lingering with the plants at his door. Maybe he wasn't there, maybe there was a woman with him. Knocked. Heard a movement. He came to the door and opened the priest window. He was glad to see me. I said "Your letter pissed me off. 'Happy birthday. I have some things to do. I was thinking to get you something but I didn't so here's an url.'" He leapt to put his arms around me. "I had a tight heart. My feelings were hurt." "I meant well." "I know you did."

He said he had a check he could cash and would take me to breakfast. Was standing by his closet consulting on what to wear. "It's your birthday so you can choose. Do you like this one?" "Not a gingham shirt, wear the teeshirt." "But it's brown, you hate brown." "That's a good brown, it's good with black." "Should I wear these shoes?" "No wear the black ones."

We went to the laundromat and sat in the jeep while the clothes went round in the drier. I told him all about my pension considerations. He was interested. Had his eye on the drier from across the parking lot. When I'd packed up the laundry bag put out his hand to carry it.

Where should we go. Let's go somewhere we've never been. Let's go to the barrio. Straight up Park. Drove around and found the main street in Barrio Logan. A tattoo parlor and barber shop called Two Roses with a beautiful black buffalo head. El Roberto's taco shop where we sat on a turquoise vinyl banquette facing the same way, looking at bad orange paint and eating pollo asado. Then drove south through Chula Vista to Palm Avenue and the beach in National City, where we lay on the sand with our heads on yellow stones for pillows, the sky most of the time misted over, small waves, continuous background crashing. Ran out of things to say.

The best moment was in the jeep after I'd told about pension details and he was describing having seen True grit. He was talking from his writer's mind, his best energized smart sophisticated rapid well-knit American sentences pouring forth. I basked.


On the bike to Whole Foods just before dark, a springy joy at being in air.


This time Jerry answered. "Jesus Ellie." His slow voice the same, deliberate.

"I wondered whether you'd have dinner with me." "I'd love to."

"Be prepared, I'm way old, I'm 66." "I'm 65." "Isn't it odd." "It is odd."


I am at a window overlooking Pershing Square, it's a big square surrounded by highrises. My room has an east window onto Olive Street and badly grouted marble in the bathroom. Such a good bed, white, no dirty bedspread. Big window across from the tub.

I fell crossing Pershing Square pulling the small green bag. In the lobby I fell again in front of 50 people waiting in line. Am I used to it now? I'm strangely not much minding, though it is hard on my wrists. It's probably my new UGGs, I'll try to remember for the rest of the weekend. The first time, when I'd just come up off the Red Line and was crossing to the big brown pile of bricks I had been told was the Biltmore, I was thanking myself for how well I was walking when it happened. Smash. People sitting under blue umbrellas called Are you alright? I looked at a friendly Middle Eastern man with wife in a headscarf and said "I'm embarrassed" although I wasn't, apart from the moment of getting up and having to deal with people looking concerned. Nevermind, people, it's just something I do. J'y suis habituée. I'm buoyant today, just being in this hotel and about to have some kind of evening with someone who knew me when I was 20.


The lobby smells like lilies. There are naked women with two tails and wings instead of arms. A coffered ceiling. People dressed for parties. In the elevator a man in a tux with a red rose on his lapel. A dark bar at the far end of the lobby, very dark. Plaster cherubs at the ceiling. Unimpressive people checking in but an air of glamour in spite of them. The sort of hubbub there is in high-ceilinged public spaces. Wall painting behind the desk as if a conservatory, with banana trees, palms, orchids, parrots, and Diana on a fountain lifting the bow to


- the sky.

There a still-tall bearded man in a dark blue cashmere jacket. His brother googled him and found him with me drawing on the steps of the Piazza di Spagna. That was maybe a year ago. I asked, Did you hate me? No I loved you. But reading my journal felt voyeuristic, because it's a journal.

Early afternoon mild in this lovely room, which isn't lovely in its dull yellow walls or gilt-framed fake painting of Venice or paired cream-painted cupboards but is lovely in its broad high windows and the just distant enough sounds of traffic. I worked for this room, refused two that were above fans. - And its wide white bed and the openness of space above the square, with a few pigeons coasting between ledges. At night the shutters threw crossing lines of soft light on the ceiling. The traffic came up blurred velvety grey, a somehow blissful wash.

It's 1:30. I need to be at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas at 7.


MOCA - here's the one I like best and what do I like about it. Cream, black, a pinkish reddish brown. It's organically principled somehow. Structures behind structures. It's complex. It has a foreground and corners. The corners have different feeling - in fact the left and right sides do. The shapes on the left are more whole, uninterfered. On the right some scribbles over, a head with a seaweed crown. It has the sort of skill Gordon Smith has - of marks and multiplicity.

I like the Pollock too but it seems easier to do. Black, pale blue, cream, a bit of mustard. Strings and splats, it works. But hers is full of places to go. I've rushed past most of what's here, there's nothing to see, even the sacred Rothkos. - It's full of places to go and they're all in different styles. No elements are elementary. There's a bottom to top shift in scale that is like landscape, but it's not obvious. The bottom third has roots down, longer black streaks. The play of formed against loose is right, slightly figurative to gesture.

[Lee Krasner Primeval resurgence, Jackson Pollock Number 1]


A young black man giving a drum concert on overturned plastic buckets outside the Hollywood/Highland station as I came up out of the Red Line.


Union Station courtyard, Monday morning. It's a mission courtyart with birds in the hibiscus hedges. Above it to the southwest is a building I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been sitting here, some pale concrete civic building, not sure what era, 60s? Subtle and perfect in its detail. I'd like to memorize it. Has Deco memory but it's brought forward into this grid in two shades of cream with some grey detail, stepped recessing around the windows. Sophisticated. It has rectitude. Correct relations of scale. [Metropolitan Water Board 1998]

Coming into LA Saturday I couldn't see much but this morning the warehouses and works yards and trailer parks were interesting, I had artist's eyes again.


The screening. David's film seemed oldfashioned, early [Migration 1969], junky even, though I liked the bird repeating through the film beating steadily along. Richard's Plein air [1991] mostly wonderful, woven streaks with sometimes a brief catch of a visible thing, a couple of times the visible things there too long. A quiet repeating beat as of a wheel turning? Then Notes in origin on a large screen, shots not as long as they can be. I felt I was holding my breath, it was so silent, the audience didn't stir. Frames so strong and chalky-bright, loving. What I saw in the program was the way Brakhage in David's early piece had been brought forward in Richard's film and even more in Daichi's. Mine is not in that lineage.

I didn't answer well, I feel - don't think accurately enough when I have to answer fast.


I dreamed I was singing with my father. We sang one verse and I liked hearing the voices stepping together at their intervals so much we did it again twice. The sensation of hearing my own voice being made instant by instant, sometimes sharper and higher than I expected, his coming darker and evener steady underneath it.

- The voice I could monitor and the voice that was just there keeping it effortless company, is that the way to say it. Thinking of teaching Tiffany to listen before she talks or writes.

But when I woke I was in the state I think of as soul, and longing for that state. I wanted to use the world 'spiritual' for what I was concerned with - I was remembering what it is like to quake in the solar, quake with realness. I have been teaching without it and spoke at Film Forum without it, complacently, and am ashamed on account of that absence.


A grey wind today


I was in the Laundromat one day last week, was sitting in the small U of chairs waiting for my clothes to dry. Someone had parked his eagle-faced old black mother at the head of the U. I was reading, not noticing, until she suddenly coughed, a loud sharp bark. I leapt out of my chair and stood away from her by my drier. I know what can come of a stranger's cough. But it was too late, that dim old creature had infected me with this misery.


The verges have iceplant in jewel colors. The canyon slopes are blazing yellow. It was windy which seemed to have the effect of polishing the day. I was arisen from sick bed and restored to the open, so the blazing of flowers everywhere was my blaze of recovery.

1st April

It's a beautiful morning, a perfect morning. Richard's sycamore is in full leaf standing with the 4th Avenue palms in yellow light from the east. The sky is deep and pale, it's 7:30, quiet.

It's Friday. I have just one more letter, which I will whip off this morning, and then I'll have 9 or 10 days. Should I go to Borrego maybe? With my sound equipment?


Need real life not reading - the thought of newspapers sickens me. Laundry this morning, all my germy bedding and pyjamas. Window wide open, door open, hot bright day blowing through the room.

Even coming in past Richard's fence, looking at wood and vines I was longing for a life outside, things to do outside.

Hacienda del Sol 4 April

I'm here frail. Driving was completely placid, I'm so dialed back I hardly felt the effort of packing or the freeway - just drove fast and fearlessly and then after Santa Ysabel slow and unexcitedly. I hardly want to eat. Left coughing behind in my moldy house. The jeep's heat dried my lungs it seemed.


Doves continuous. I'm next to a little olive. Ants in the sand, yellow in the palo verde like large pollen clots. A slight acerbic scent. A maid's red car appears with radio playing, drives to a shaded spot in the back. Quiet cactus holding light in its furry spines. Creosote. It's rabbitland but they're waiting till later. Am I ready to eat? Steak. Two white-haired lesbians coming from a duplex. They have the look of ministers. Steak sandwich. The creosote smell is a medicine.


Kendell's - "I just want some steak and some toast." "Side of steak, how do you want it?" "Well done." "What kind of toast?" "Do you have rye?"


This morning I started with the headphones, then the mic, then went for a 9v battery for the mic, then went for steak and toast, then came back and sat blissed out with the Maranz in my hands.


Ugh it's not worth ordering tea in restaurants. Cold and weak.

Should I pitch a tent and stall till Sunday to miss the rain in SD.


Campground, Torres Desert Nursery. Happy.

[Opposite page audio note and sketchy transcription of first recordings]


Friday morning. Mike with a yellow stepladder cutting up the brushy palo verde that split in a gust yesterday and fell into the party patio.

An ocotillo in full orange bloom against the milky blue of a mountain behind it.

When I was driving from Glorietta Canyon I was creeping down the slightly inclined white dust road in 4 wheel drive, lowest gear. Noticed on the first N-S leg that the driver's side pan was wonderful, arrays of creosote, agave, rabbitbush, that other small yellow bush, flowing against anchored mountain.


I'm bitter this morning though it's a good morning. A jack rabbit came nibbling flowers. Its ears were translucent red. It moved like a kangaroo, timorously, jacked up in the rear. I was watching from my bed in the jeep.

I miss someone to talk to. I miss talk and feel incapable of it. I hear kids' voices at the washhouse and remember Judy and me on camping trips. Our voices will have run confidently like that, ownselves lively every minute.

- I wandered into the scrub with the Maranz in its bowl. There was almost silence but it squealed to say the card was full. So then I just lay there with the hot sand under my back, silence all around, and that was perfect.

One last steak at Kendall's. I'll begin to go home but don't want to.

Tuesday 12th

At the close of the breeding season certain birds, such as male ducks, become covered with dull or colorless feathers. Zoologists call this phase eclipse plumage. 170

Ellen Meloy 2002 The anthropology of turquoise Vintage

What I've been asking myself as I read Meloy is whether nature writing has to hype to be saleable. She exaggerates in Dillard's manner and tells cute stories about herself that make her seem loveably feminine as well as strong and capable. She also has many exact moments and she has boned up on many things worth understanding; I've read the whole book and am sorry to finish it. But I've kept a watchful distance, I haven't given over to admiration the way I can with Lopez, who is cleaner. She chooses quotations I don't like, that have the quality I don't like in her, of fanciful décor. "A lot of life is like that. A lot of life is just a matter of learning to like blue." "I thought I would never survive my own imagination."

What is it about cornflakes with half a packet of peanuts in whole milk, it's about the only thing I want to eat.


AS Byatt 2009 The children's book Knopf

This book full of draw on account of the settings and the children. It's almost 700 pages and I could happily read it end to end. It's full of fantasy that interests me not at all, Olive's fairytales and the art described, "capering grotesques," but she describes her characters physically, and she has Victorian England backing her, its established cultural wealth. She tells what people wear and what they eat. The book has strongly the arc of lives whole and round, young parents with young children, and then splintering and disordering, wearing out, shredding. When I opened the back sleeve I gasped to see the complacent pig face she has now earned. She's 74.


How to be an old lady - Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey and Eileen Atkins in Upstairs downstairs, imperious, vulnerable, wise and reckless, very touchingly present.


I was in Balboa Park this morning - mid-morning, I guess - and saw a film again by the lotus. The concrete tank and the water are clean, the water lilies just beginning to grow. There happened to be something going on just where I dropped my bike in the SE corner, water shapes sometimes boiling into existence off the concrete edge, maybe inflow from a source I couldn't see, maybe some thermodynamic effect of water in that corner. It was very cosmological, sudden boilings from a shadow edge, drawn in gold and black on a grainy tea-colored floor. Tiny dimple whirlpools on the surface were throwing perfect slowly traveling black circles with rotating gold outlines. There were changes in rate of motion, in scale, in form. I was imagining seeing bits of it slowed, bits of sound like it, bits of language, a lyric. By the lotus. Maybe a carp and its shadow come through.

Sitting watching I was feeling the shift into soul time that can come with art attention, the way I am given or gather magic confluences in time - is that the way to say it? Being at liberty in the fine spring morning and stopping just at the place on the bank's edge where that cosmos creation diagram was in progress.

I was just at one end of it and it sometimes boiled/bloomed out of the side of my head's shadow, thought influence sailing slowly away. - Oh the possibility of making.

Something close to the viewer's dim thought, intimate, a voice that is almost one's own.

Does shift into soul time always come after an ordeal, and was this illness that.

I haven't said it's also a brain dynamic diagram.


Heath Ledger in Brokeback mountain charismatic manliness.


Carried the movie into the night, lay awake remembering it. Sex, love, between men moves me more, why, because it seems more real. As if men aren't enough themselves with women. The two men riding together, or punching each other out. Innis's true-hearted sudden violence, Jack's yearning looks. The scene where Innis goes to see Jack's folks after he dies, the weathered bare house, the two old people with pale, pellucide eyes. Innis going upstairs to Jack's room, propping open the window. The kind of room Al Morrison had, a cot, a rug, a desk, a box to sit on by the window. Two bloody shirts on a hanger, one embracing the other. It's Frank and Marvin, it's Tom and Lou, maybe; Tom certainly. It's the way I loved Tom when I loved without despairing for myself, seeing him overwhelmed in his story, wanting the story, grieving for him.

I can go days without thinking of Tom. When I do it's still a pocket of sorrow.


Sean yesterday - I love to look at him - he takes good care of himself - he's kept a young man's beautiful flat chest - and I love being with him, I come into his back yard and he hears the gate and steps onto the porch and we're instant friends in relation to the garden. I have the naturalness with him that I have with smart people. We were deciding what the garden needs now. I asked him about the flu and he offered to listen to my lungs so I was in the kitchen taking deep breaths with his stethoscope on my back. That was lovely somehow, a friend's easy favor.


I pull up the gmail page with sick longing, nearly always disappointed, but today there was an instant like a small burst of light in my chest. Greg at the end of a letter said:

I have now read your journal entries from the period just after your long stay in the hospital. You saw your home life with new eyes when you came home, and the tone is radically different ... you felt yourself being dragged down; you felt like a frump, after all those exciting interactions and the sense of new possibilities with people you had met. I found these entries sad and quite touching. I liked where you listed all the names you could remember of your friends at the hospital, memorializing them. I carefully read each name and description.


Scott's gravel garden this aft, and then weeds in the edge beds. I came home with roses and a couple of pomegranate flowers, happy all evening because I was with plants. The salvia apiana putting up long flower stalks, indescribable, behind the fountain. The athanasia with huge yellow flower heads catching light on its silver stems, the toyon bright at the gate. The pineapple sage in new growth from the base. I took the stakes off the palo verde, which didn't die. The African sumac needs to be thinned. I shaped and weeded and smelled the sages, saw the back light over the fence filling the slot, picking out the gentry. Then the back, where the green white and silver, grass wood and stone make a remarkable peace. Scott said, I go back there and can't believe I have something like this.

1st May

May Day morning, Sunday morning quiet and brilliant. One dove circumspect at its dish, one house finch, nervous. The sycamore barely stirring.


Britain does a wedding the day before May Eve, the US does a bloodbath on May Day. Luke on Facebook sneering at the wedding, Louie too. I don't agree. It's archetypal, it's deeper than politics, it's celebrated by the masses as hope for what the pageant shows, though embedded in hideous ideological text, a young woman standing with a young man both promising loyalty and care. What it is in the tarot, the Lovers, whose free and conscious union brings an overmind. So I stare at Kate in her perfect dress, historically perfect, and feel her as my own love woman. Ritualistically she did well, her public self stately advancing, lower half very covered, but covered by the heavy inverted trumpet of a white flower, followed by her own love woman in a white dress that shows every curve walking in a crowd of children, holding the hands of two little girls. There was stupid commentary about Pippa stealing the show because she was wearing white, but in fact the color symbolism was correct to a ritual function better understood than usual. The groom solemn with his mischievous shadow beside him. And then the two of them flying home to their cottage with no servants.

In herself she is nothing special, she smiled blankly through the event, and he did not, she starved herself to be willowy in her dress, she spoke in a small voice, she wore a lot of makeup. She knew herself to be scrutinized for suitability at every moment. Her position has glamour without power. She could not object to the patriarchal dominance engineered into her event, she cannot have philosophical thoughts. She will be holed up in their cottage with nothing to do while he goes to work. All that too.


Saturday morning, sea fog grey these mornings.

I went to SH5 1-3 tonight because I didn't want to go back to packets and wanted to see what Jim might have seen. There's not enough Sexsmith in it, it's egotistical. Every once in a while half a line that jumps forward.

I'm sure she never slides glances at mirrors when she passes them. Sometimes she gives one a good hard stare for five minutes or so, but none of this girly covert admiration.

Mr D is thin too, but his ears are too nice. For all that, though, he's a beautiful man. Particularly because he's so ugly. Seriously!

It felt different from the high school parties we used to have - no, I'm different. I felt like a middle-twenties aunt having a good time with the kids. I felt wonderfully free - how? The freedom from want.

lighted windows (two ketchup bottles and a tea kettle silhouetted against the light in Knobby Clark's shanty); fluid red streaks of neon far down the street beside the hotel.

I thought as I crossed the gravel road to my street, "I would like to do this forever - work during the day at some busy, important place, and then come home at night to a street roofed over with these giant trees, and peopled by friends.


Alice Munro found on a high school lit site:

She wrote that she would hate to think she had gone after Ladner because he was rude and testy and slightly savage, with the splotch on the side of his face that shone like metal in the sunlight coming through the trees. She would hate to think so, because wasn't that the way in all the dreary romances - some brute gets the woman tingling and then it's goodbye to Mr. Fine-and-Decent?

No, she wrote, but what she did think - and she knew that this was very regressive and bad form - what she did think was that some women, women like herself, might be always on the lookout for an insanity that could contain them. For what was living with a man if it wasn't living inside his insanity? A man could have a very ordinary, a very unremarkable, insanity, such as his devotion to a ball team. But that might not be enough, not big enough - and an insanity that was not big enough simply made a woman mean and discontented.

Fr Vandals

Why did I laugh hugely at that. The thought of Roy and Tom containing me was so startlingly true. But what exactly does it mean.

Second question, what is it about the way she wrote it. Read aloud, why is the piece of my own I was looking at last night - the Europe intro and 3 stories about Jerry - so much more stilted? What makes it so lively a voice - and classical too, it sounds like masterful literature. A lot of dashes and a lot of dancing. It's very loose but lands on the dot. There's billowing in it: "a very ordinary, a very unremarkable," and "might not be enough, might not be big enough." Movement of thought, like in VW.


Bought the 8 core tower this morning after I zipped to Paradise Hills to buy bootleg CS5 from a man with a baby on his lap.


The nasturtiums in the glass are in different places when I wake.

Here's my 8 core machine, is it a good idea.
Mac Pro 3, OS 10.6.7, speed 2.8 GHz, 64-bit multicore, memory 8 GB, terabyte RAM.


It is set up - hidden behind the far end of the desk, where it just fits - cords bundled and tied. I pressed the button and it roared BINGG.


Can I do something about the way days are desperate - I'm desperate for email, desperate for something in my mouth, desperate to look at beautiful, feeling people on TV.


At midnight I was animating photos on FCP on the Mac Pro. Yesterday morning - Saturday - I thought to phone the UCSD bookstore - they had it for $300 - I rushed up I5 and bought it. While it installed for hours Greg and I were writing back and forth about our two years in Kingston. I was reading RF6 and 7, and he was finding 179 Division and 40 E Clergy on Streetview.

There's a moment when I'm starting to get involved with Peter where I say "So Tuesday - it has occurred to me for the first time that I might make the journal work, or rather that I might make it work for myself - disciplined work that I do against myself but for something." July 1968 after finals.

Then after I buy the Nikon, "It was very clear how I should live. I had three points! 'The first is that I have to be honest and only say what's true. The second is that I have to work only out of love of the world, and the two aren't necessarily compatible. And the third is that I have to stay alive somehow and really look for alternatives but especially I have to stay alive.'"

"I do think of the future, vaguely, as pictures that celebrate the spectacle, as children who are not rooted in a single place but can move with me, as no husband but lovers I can return to, still in some way as an ability to work on the edge of myself where I can feel the edge and be afraid or joyous."


I stopped at Tom's after the farmer's market. Sunday morning. Mockingbird on his wire, yellow hibiscus blazing at his door, which was tight shut as if he were away or asleep. He was dozing but glad to see me. I sat beside him on the couch marveling to notice that I fancied him. For one thing, he has whittled down his pot. For another he wasn't in his shut down male work mode, he looked like the freckled Irish boy. For another he lets me talk now, before he begins. And there he still is with what can easily warm my puss, his beautiful uncompromising nose and his tight perfect big hands. And also the sense I can't bear, whenever I do fancy him, that he doesn't fancy me back. That sad pride has been under so much of my pulling back.