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,"
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
Two boxes yesterday with my audio equipment: headphones, recorder, mic,
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
- 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
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
- 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
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
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
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.
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
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.
The show in Montreal billed as Erotics of attention: films of Ellie
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. 
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
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
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.
The winter shabbiness of people here, dark random layers, slushy boots.
The broad St Lawrence white with an internal river, blue. Pale ivory
light on graceless farmhouses. Flat country all the way to the mountains
"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.
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
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
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
This time Jerry answered. "Jesus Ellie." His slow voice
the same, deliberate.
"I wondered whether you'd have dinner with me." "I'd love
"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
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
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  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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
I can go days without thinking of Tom. When I do it's still a pocket
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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.