|london volume 6 part 1 - 1973 july-september||work & days: a lifetime journal project|
[notebook from 4 days in Bristol at a Women's Liberation conference in Bristol, mid-July]
The two fireweeds leaning out of the darkness from a broken second floor window.
Paddington station. Thrill of its aisles, light, rows of blue trolleys.
Morning light at 7.00. Evening light at 7.00. We stop in a field of rosemary. Willowherb. Distant towers. Low clouds, moving two ways, very low, granular and stringing out wind patterned.
Feeling false with everyone.
Presences, troubled, untroubled, lucky, determined. (Mary Stott)
Lee Comer's beautiful child, a long-legged blond girl in a red shift, curly blond hair, Luke's age plus two months.
The white building at the top of Edgeware Road drawn with a black line at the top.
Impatience and dislike of the Women's Press girl, the Ethiopia girl, others, feeling their ugliness and distortion as mine or vice versa. Mari nice with her hair cut. And brown.
She says she finds it really difficult to get them to organize because they're all ripping off loads of money and they don't want to draw attention to themselves.
About women in a dress factory.
Top floor circles of women talking, smoking, the one next to me is laughing a lot.
Examination of conscience.
Find everything so suspect - what Colin was saying about every gesture and tone of voice needing revision - sad weight of that when you're tired and down.
I found myself touching him; he didn't touch me.
Fashionable women in faded dungarees - hair cut expensively - sleek pageboy.
Difference in faces when they are animated by -
Initial hostility to the strange and warped/formed/aged look of faces - they seem to soften when someone speaks or acts and loses her statuesque quality. I begin so hostile always.
Stories about the sad difficulties of trying to be new woman.
[travel notebook from 10-day work party at the Sufi Khankah Abadan Adad in Dockenfield near Farnham in Surrey]
Hitchhiker - short and strong, short curly hair, strolls back. "Where are you going?" "Toward London." "What about joining forces?" Look dubious. "The chaps are very conservative, don't pick up single girls." "They do, actually," comes out crisp. "You aren't standing in a good place." He is standing in a slightly better position. Beginning to feel annoyed. "They're thinking about the roundabout and won't see you." Don't say anything - just beginning to realize I'm annoyed. Turns back, annoyed as well. "Don't let me influence you" - I hadn't - "but I don't think you'll have any luck there."
Standing just in the swing of the roundabout, across the tarmac there is a half-circular bank of high grass and daisies, white and yellow. Two long-haired boys sit up in their sleeping bags, eat, smile; then roll their belongings, stand up and depart together to the edge of the road further up. A mower comes around the bend, light flashing. It sweeps down the grass and the daisies, in a decreasing spiral. The smell of cut grass comes across the tarmac.
Clipping south locked in the back of the microbus, on the road slicing through a hillside, a bank flashes by, jade green, poppies, daisies, yarrow: on the window a glaze, an enamel in ecstatic motion.
Asking the lobster fisherman to leave me in what I believe to be Dockenfield, I stepped into a pelt of large raindrops and walked south around a bend, a coil of water below, heavy shake of warm rain on my hair and pack, I step quick down and around tunneling under wet warm scented trees, warm smells rising from the roadside, it's wilderness, it's coming into a fresh oldfashioned county. I'm looking for a homestead's manor house.
On the first evening: thirty people stand together in front of the house, half of them blindfolded. The young boy - I thought, what a beautiful boy, what a young boy - with a long neck and crest of hair like an elegant bird with pimples - chose me. I pull the bandage tight round his eyes, see his hair flatten vulnerably under it. Grasp his right hand with my left, and hold it up on my arm, courtly dance, so the length of my arm can steer him like a wagon tongue. The ground, the steep bit of bank, paths, hedges, become care and tenderness. He's breathing very fast as if frightened, I feel how young he is, I'm so careful of him, I'm so glad to be careful of him. We run forward on the road, I feel my awkwardness. He's bold and light and never stumbles. I take his hand to feel the gate. We stride though grass and I ferry him quickly to the front, I'm listening to everyone's feet as we pass them.
At the top of the slope we stop and stand silent for a long time, facing across the countryside, I hear dogs. Then in careful excited silence I undo his bandage, smile into his eyes, give him the bandage and step in front of him to offer my eyes.
I'm led running down the slope, I rock on uneven ground and can hear others run past, he's being careful of me; I hear dogs and then ahead a rush and stumble, heavy breathing, lowing: a herd of cows runs by, flanks almost next to me, confusion. The boy keeps my hand steady, I squeeze his to show that I'm smiling, the pleasure of this rush of cow spirits whose smell is strong as the wheeze of their breath. We begin again, he takes my other hand to bring me up a slope, then tugging me sideways pulls me under the scratch of a branch into complete black: another kind of black. I feel he is blind as well. It's slippery underfoot, mud sucking. I blunder into branches. There's a confused melee, he seems to keep me aside and wait while everyone else goes through a narrow passage, then he takes my other hand and bends, pushes, me sideways through. Another slope - he raises my arm so it points the angle of the slope - he tries to point me over a ditch - I discover it's a ditch when I splash in.
When we stop he turns me half around and we stand in silence. He unties my bandage - the same tact - and I see that it's dark and we're on the hill below the house, a group of dark people standing all facing the same direction looking over the dropping countryside to a full orange moon. Like a tribe of new people.
Building the barn.
Thought I must get myself up early enough to get into the barn building crew - second name down. When we've put on wellingtons and clump through the mud there are about eight men and another girl who's being patronized: "Whatever drove you to brick laying?" "Who knows I might need to build a barn sometime." She's a bold wench with a strong and erotic mouth. "Do you want to come down here and lay some?" He's in the car pit. "I'm not making an advance or anything." But he is, can't help it. But it's the lean tough curly man with a star - a tie pin - in his ear who, when I offer to fill in as he lays, says "Right, why don't you lay, and I'll fill" and takes an aloof patience with me, not leaning, making tactful suggestions in Cockney, reminding me of the dimensions I've forgotten to square. There's the awesome plumb line used to put up the string that makes sure the wall is straight - and the level - neatly lays it diagonally across the horizontal, along the vertical - I'm dazzled to think how this block I'm laying is near perfectly square to everything on earth - an exact up and down, an exact horizontal which is everywhere equidistant to the earth's centre! And it floats on the mortar mud, at the exact height of the brick next to it, so that eventually the maze of walls will get to an equal level top under the roof.
To arrange this brick so miraculously and poetically requires little tricks easily learned - tap it in one corner with the handle of the trowel - a handy motion that rings out - tilt and stuff mortar into the lower edge, levering it up - wriggle
and leave it to them - but I watch carefully and when there's a question of logic and geometry - ah - I know the answer - the problem is using tools - I can't trust myself with the level? Oh surely. Meanwhile all the heavies, relative heavies, on the site draw diagrams, make suggestions and decide when to quit for the day.
Next day I have the string in my hands and am working out the scheme for compensating - I even get my hands on the plumb bob eventually and able to trust myself there begin to think really I could build a barn on my own, why not. Brown-eyed Neal, something babyish in his eyes, who began by leaping to lift my mortar bucket for me - until I found myself curt with him - ended asking advice. Authority. It comes easy. Eight bricks, my responsibility. Yesterday I thought about responsibility. Today it seemed possible to be responsible. Flirtation with it.
Hands hurt when mortar grits in cuts on my fingertips, but the gloves make my hands blind so I bear it; experts use their trowels, don't touch the mortar, but at this stage it feels right to pat mortar into the skimpy places by hand.
The level is ranged on the finished brick to my right - water and a brush, the pail of mortar slightly behind, what a lovely pivot is developing here, such an exact right motion! And the balance of mortar on my small trowel. Hey that's beautiful says Harold from the pit - there's my row of eight.
This evening the blind woman, Malik and Angela played a trio sonata for piano, flute and clarinet. She knew it but couldn't read it, they'd never played it before. They plunged in, stopping to think and sing a few bars, go back to the beginning. The struggle of the beat, struggle to place notes made me intensely aware of the process of the music, the thought in it - and the two of them standing erect, jogging, tapping slightly to mark their time, both with a slight and fascinating quiver at the haunch that had to do with their effort to control breath - Angela in a long figured lilac dress flowing from her rib cage close over her waist and alert hip, and then wide, her blond hair corrugated down thick and healthy. She was a spirited Russian princess in a candle-lit drawing room. Malik in jeans and a work sweater, the same elegant shudder at the hip. Hafisa played from memory, would stop and say "Ja, my sister and I, when we would play this one, we would play desperado, when sometimes we were angry."
She played the piano with her eyes shivering, sometimes smiling a little around her buck teeth when she liked the music. Her time was perfect and she knew all three parts - "I've never played the piano part before. When I played with my sister I would play the flute." I found my face squeezing shut into tears - was proud of them but embarrassed to be, because I was wanting that black-eyed presence across the room to notice.
And then in the dining room on the blue carpet square the bearded Dutchman sang American songs while another, while reading a book, did a dipsy descant and I found myself wriggling into it until I was descanting so free and open that I had to dance with my arms - and then when the tall boy with straight hair and a sackcloth shirt presented me a daisy head from the salad (one of John's! and someone else was wearing one) and hugged me and said "That was so good!" I hugged him back and said "That was so good!" - Everyone's gifts, solid stupefied faces opening into gifts. The crewcut man taking my neck into his hands and massaging it hard when I rubbed a sore spot before the meeting yesterday.
Harold's pigeon house with drawings and plans. His tight body in fine-textured blue sweater and shirt.
Then Sunday afternoon, after playing volleyball hard, [was] feeble and nauseated, retired into my mummy bag on three plants laid down at the edge of the lawn just above the vegetable patch. Slept, was impersonally woken by a woman passing, for dinner. Sat wrapped, looking. Tod brought me food, Elias and Christina confided, chuckled over Hannah. Mershid's kids ran and roared. Mershid has important secret conversations in one corner after another. I'm oppressed - or something. Eyes squeeze tears out again. I'm thinking about men and women, the aristocratic society of large men, tall men, these patriarchal men who are built like oak trees and stand, in Harold's photographs of barn building - arms over each other's shoulders, feet holding down spades - and who on the volleyball pitch leap into the air to spike the ball hard over the net, looking after nearly everything that comes over, snatching balls out of the air before they get to me, jackknifing with the force of their push, like no other form of creatures on the earth. Women ineffectually too slow, too late, too timid, ball falls between their hands and knees. Power in conference with their men, but a thin lack of authority in their faces. Except Tara, who's here on her own, body roars gracious energy.
True sympathies, taking your time to make contact; integrity; city life; saying no; being afraid to seem alone; the situation where you speak to make a contact, and what you say is not important to either of you, and then you feel false.
Taking responsibility for a conversation.
Hank's pink cheeks, and barred teeth, yellow hair.
The German boy with long hair, last night in the meeting - Harold leaning his face into Amina's braceleted foot - next to me - I took responsibility for myself and leaned my shins against his back - felt his breathing push him against me, and when I matched my breath to his, the reciprocal push that was as exquisite as making love, was thrill and tenderness.
Tiny false moments: turning Sterling's smile into grimace by my own flash of resentment when he smiled at Nicklaus. Smiling at --- too covertly, so I suspected he wasn't ready, when he sat on the stairs after the meeting. Falseness has nothing to do with my own bad faith - only an unreadiness, like fumbling the volleyball.
Sitting on the lawn as it darkens, I'm in line with the tension of Mershid and Elias having secrets in the garden, Hafisa singing with Tabula in the orchard, shouts from the volleyball court, Harold talking on the terrace, a flute in the house. Through the fogged windows a beautiful light - it was a frozen moment, but it couldn't have been a photograph - the light between dark and colour.
My heliotropism toward a few men - little jealousies I see on others' faces. Here they say: you get to know people better and better, and then they are mirrors for yourself.
Exactitude of attractions and repulsions.
Conversations that veer into idiot banality, the compulsion to continue them.
Omar - fourteen year old American loudmouth kid, blond kid with wide pale eyes shaded by thick pale lashes, fine thin features, organizes everyone, brags about his seven real concerts, wearing a neck support like a royal ruff - I think of Luke, who'll be a loudmouth kid but won't have a father who's Mershid of the Western Sufi Order, beautiful pale man who seems to grow into power - nevermind who he is, I don't believe - but here he's absolute monarch and Omar is princeling, Luke never will be, my obstreperous plebian - layabout Roy: but layabout Roy will he ever get his kingdom, and me too, so Luke can be stout-hearted prince and grow up in custom and ceremony. Painfully remember how so much that's broken in me comes not from Father but from the contempt he wore in La Glace: don't know why they despised Evil Epp: the fate he broke himself trying not to inherit from his father: who was a prince and never broke himself.
I evoke John with affection, but I dream about Roy or Jud, sometimes both. When I dream about Roy I don't like to wake because the day feels destroyed already.
Omar giggling in the kitchen: "I'm marrow crazy!" Turning the corps into gleeful fellow idiots. What authority he has. How I resent him, for Luke and myself.
Hank is a kind of Prince Valiant as well because he's beautiful and silly.
Never misses a marrow: there are three flying now.
The story of the Dervish dance - the orthodox old Muslim Jelalah din Rumi. Little village, danger of beheading, the sacrilege with which he performed.
"To be in every moment of life fearlessly, unconditionally."
The shameful history of women: "There were no women allowed." The Beloved: "and yet he has never seen her, because she is veiled." Her face. Dreams, suffers to see it. How sickening - poetry.
What Mershid says about being all things to all people: when I was lying in my sleeping bag he came toward and I thought ah! I've made myself important. But he said "Are you feverish?" "I don't think so." "Are you cold?" "I was, yes." And went away.
Now it's Wednesday. I'm sad since beginning to think about staying here. Look around and find no one to talk to. Mershid's mediocrity when he has a guru-discourse. But last night when he taught us foot massage he was funny and not stupid.
The way I try to have appropriate thoughts.
Talat's face massage - the stroke along the neck when she pulled me little by little back to her solid bosom - this morning my face was ugly and not my own - I remembered how I could not look at her grinning face and when I did her eyes shone obscurely so I thought of a witch - this morning I thought she had destroyed my face.
Seeing the caterpillar green hard like a green seed, sitting its front segment up and begging - realized about metamorphosis - cell by cell a creature changing into another kind of creature.
I could be a long legged angel.
Read fact of actually - momentarily - incorporating atoms from other people - living with R we shared a lot of substance.
Why do we need the authority of religion to give ourselves this chance.
Candles set about the house at night.
Not a single chair
Against the rules: smoking, drugs, dullness, egotism, lack of creativity.
Five in a link ball game - I found myself as the maverick and ran with the ball, got pulled down and struck out - real creation.
Walking down the road passing silent walkers stomping their heads into the sand-shapes of stars very clear.
Elias gathered his generals and after silence two dim naked men broke from the bushes and plowed into water with the decelerating rush of huge ducks lighting.
Tara plowing out holding her head back - black with silver earrings.
Pritta shedding clothes neatly.
My skirt and shirt coming off in one motion. The impulse to shout - pounding the water with a propeller of fists - Sue's little plump shoulders - "Who's you?" feeling tall and broad shouldered.
I'm in such need of a body for myself - so men's bodies hurt - Harold quicksilver man's straight shoulders and triangular back - the fine tight skin on men's chests - girls' long things, Angela's waist. Why don't I have one of my own.
All this exercise in childhood, Werner, Elias and Kalyan the daddies, the young silly mothers - builders, volleyball, last night's softball game, but I'm rushing in where I could only watch helpless and shy.
[sketch of beautiful white tent called Mistral]
Story of tattoo coming from inside.
Story of / seventeen / somebody changing their name.
Educated myself so eagerly in the culture that would be no use to me, ie Reader's Digest past.
Elizabeth Clarke - intensive research in the past of that place - notes and then go back to remember - Canada Council grant - if I'd published other things - and photographs - she's like Karen Blixen.
In this new world culture everyone takes a new world name.
An article on Isak Dinesen.
Epp - names - immigrants' names.
Need to buy the Mistral.
Story around Mother's dream about the red duck.
End of July
Waterlow Park, a slope above the duck pond where two small girls are flashing pretty legs and bums, rolling downhill. Nearly time to get Luke from school. We're going to meet Roy at Highgate Cemetery and go to the commune (it's called Random Association) for supper.
Thank you for news of Konrads and Epps. Luke would have been a little monster: he bashes kids and grins with delight when they howl. I have difficulty keeping from grinning back. But how charming he was to John and Lillian; so his reputation among those cousins and uncles he'll never meet is safe. Lillian hasn't got everything exactly right. 1. I'm not mostly involved with women. 2. I am in some ways very close to my past, all the time.
On Saturday Luke and I are going for a month to a valley in Wales for a women and children's camp.
I've just come back from my holiday on my own: a 10-day Sufi work camp on a holy hill (ancient temple site) in luxurious Surrey. It was an intensive community of maybe sixty people, twenty of whom always live there as a 'training centre,' enclosed in semi-monastic disciplines for learning and being healthy. 6 a.m. - someone comes with a gong to wake you. 6-8:30 9 (silent) breakfast, exercises on the lawn, making music in the meditation room. 8:30-12 work. 12-1 tea and music, volleyball. 1-4:30 work 4:30-8:30 supper (silent), music, massages, conversation, people sitting alone looking over the forests downhill. 8:30 meeting: readings, massage lessons, gestalt games and experiments, lectures on Sufi ideas (and Zen, etc) of how to live in the spirit. Early silent going to bed. 2 a.m. someone comes with a gong and a candle to wake everyone - silently go into the meditation room where one candle is set among flowers to do a 20-minute breathing meditation, then back to bed.
Atmosphere of mindfulness and grace: while we worked we laughed a lot, stopped a lot.
Film of Abdul's eye
Do chestnut tree yoga in synch with vastly amplified wind sounds. Have mic in different part of tree adjacent. Check out chestnut trees. Platform for tripod.
I'd like to object very strongly to the tone of the news item you broadcast about the Women's Liberation Movement this morning in the usual trivializing journalistic manner, referring to Gina Lollabrigida as saying "Women who burn their bras - they must be mad." Betrays a News of the World ignorance. Serious grass roots political movement.
[August in travel notebook from the Women's Camp at Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire and then Penelope's cottage, Ffos Moscal]
Luke with a pair of chopsticks in half a minute turns them into candles (blows them out), pieces of cake, toothpicks, a train, two trains side by side.
When I'm invisible and my jokes are ignored, as here, I feel Father - thought it's only when failing that I feel like either of them - or those feelings I make failings of, because they are like my parents.
I have loved many women, at least I suppose I have. They occasionally write and tell me so, and that they miss my love. I do not miss theirs, I only love the love I give. I appreciate it - it is mine; the love that others give is never our own, or only for a little while. Yet at times I have wanted it and not found it, and most of all when it was present. The Woman Who Lives With Me, Natalie Clifford Barney
This Cloud: Joy Dandelion Cloud. [letters I'm reading in Penelope's house]
my Prince Valiant archetype
the woman's and gay aspects of the spiritual revolution
trips, meditation, DL, astrology, past lives
Taking Knowledge is four meditation techniques.
The security of a diffuse, constantly moving but secure culture with language of its own: and her own raving constant high.
My own struggles and furies so inarticulated because I'm not generous with them.
Generous: Greek gen to become, generous well-born.
Her tombody face so sure of itself.
Must be full moon or nearly, soft warm air. Going to the corner field I notice the moon is orange and very bright. Find a spot nearly in the centre of the tilted rectangle, pitch myself on a slope balanced on my spine and the ends of my knees, steady tripod, breath, feel cool air under the thin skin of my face, think how the supple-backed mountain opposite is like the mountain beyond Grandpa Epp's house, single high spine behind which was - what I never discovered. The sky pale grey blue and tented back to star points very faint and few: a malevolent triangle of bright stars directly in front, Blake's ghost of a flea. O trees you are the earth's slow explosion. Mushroom clouds in invisibly slow motion outward, solid eruptions of pasture land. These simplicities of dream country: a high pasture field, short grass, sloping from corner to corner and walled by primitive thatches of live hawthorn and dead twigs - the simple massive mountain - black curls of leaf - black stands of nettle - a graveled, light, road - the mist that fuses it all into a single twilight colour except for the orange moon and chipped bits of star. Peewits' sharp call. Crunching of animals eating, creaking of animals breathing. Tractor's growl. I pray to find a place for Luke, to be less lumpy and greedy, to find a good name and not be ashamed to take it, for Roy to find something, for John to become less ugly at the core; thank for Roy's rare smile and my own noisy splendour and Luke's courage.
Reflection on front window: the room in its orange-lit detail, wallpaper and rafters, hooks, white ceiling boards - marvelously blooming through the ceiling, dark leafy branches and the blue grey sky with its paler moon intersected by a branch, and then the glassy dirty surface of the window itself - in life it's impossible to hold it to a single plane - in a picture, there it is - focus.
Also prayed for a fast and to have good dreams again, for clarity and energy - yes I'm glad for what there is - sweating in the heat of a packing box fire to produce a miraculous omelette that was precisely right when folded in four - delighted with Luke's moment of invention when he took the little circus monkey out of his book and held it in his two cupped hands - looking at the history book and finding beyond kings and warriors the picture he liked most, or was most fascinated by, 'broken' Japanese warriors whose heads lay bleeding alone on the field - he insisted on knowing where the rest of them was - I said it had ridden off on the horse.
The hedgehog: we walked uphill on the main road, found a hedgehog back uppermost like a collapsed balloon of stickles. Looked at it and spoke to it: Poor little hedgehog we are sorry a car hit you. Thought to move it to the side of the road, lifted it awkwardly by two spines and tumbled it over the fence - barbed wire, then chicken wire - among blackberry and pine thicket on the high roadside bank. It did not fall fast enough, I didn't like to throw it, so it hung upside down in the wire: little tender hands with long kidskin fingers, a distorted grin and a crooked kidskin nose, entrails squashed out and a few bones pulled out with only scraps of red meat remaining. We walked on, Luke said "Poor hedgehog very tired, have a rest," I said yes. Couldn't leave it there, so turned back and gathered a few flowers, Luke too but he lost them. On the roadside he found pebbles and gave them to me - we found the hedgehog again, unpried it - hard to touch it, I could see flies' eggs on its opened belly - laid it nicely on the grass and put the flowers and the pebbles beside it. Said "Dear hedgehog we hope you liked your life in this pine thicket, we are sorry you died," and hurried away home.
Luke has talked about the hedgehog, the car that CRASHED it, every day since. I wonder if it was too hard for him but really I believe that he can take even the most truthful poetry of death. He's made the connection already I think, because I'm always telling him not to run onto the road or else - "Hedgehog is so tired, he's havin' a rest."
When I write by candlelight, a flutter and a quick sizzle, the moth puts itself out in hot wax and the flame, bent, extinguishes.
Another night, a spidery legged creature sizzled out and lay beautifully on the wax. Another suddenly dived into the flame and spoiled the pattern.
By candlelight, little of the room is shined onto the window glass and Rousseau's light and dark of night blue - transparent and opaque comes almost next to it.
Cattle crying even so late.
Stillness of plants.
Moths and flies knocking themselves against the window frame, frantic rattle.
Milky opal sky, one hard spike of star.
The black alcove of the hearth. Tomorrow my first ritual is finding wood and lighting the fire. Luke will come smiling into my room wanting to kiss and snuggle.
The smallness and looseness of the bones in his cool hand when I hold it to help him on prickery paths.
Wicked smile when he's teasing me.
Solemn nodding, eyes blinking, when he's inventing a serious conversation - makes it look strenuous.
Did-dun it, is-un it, Ellie. Ellie, watch me Ellie.
I'm going to tell my daddy off you. My daddy said I could have it. My friends said I could have it.
I want my daddy, I want Roy to come here.
I want some-fing to EAT.
Ellie, talk to me, Ellie.
I want you to sing somefing, about the boat come home, about the lady.
I sing him Dance to your Daddy, Ride a Cock Horse, Sing Qua Wanna, Down by the Station, Cock-a-doodle-do.
When he goes to bed I tell him a story, always the same one, that swings round the valley and always comes back to the little boy sitting on a window ledge above the lightning-felled apple tree, and the lady with him telling him a story about and sometimes swoops across to the hill and back again, and maybe again. I try to say O Universe with him. He says Yeah like a Pentecostal.
Little boy and his mother. "Roy's my mother." "Who's Roy's mother?" "Jud." "Who's my mother?" "Roy is your mother." "Am I your mother too?" "Yes you are my mother too."
One evening we went across to the field opposite our lane, sunshine after rain, late afternoon, radiant wet green grass full of sparkle. We looked at it.
Another grey evening, same field, we crossed over the gate and tramped in our boots down the slope. I was waving my arms. "What a lovely field!" "Yeah!" Luke shouted. "What lovely grass!" "Yeah!" "What lovely hedges!" "Yeah!" "What a lovely valley and what a lovely mountain!" "YEAH!" "What a lovely Luke!" "YEAH!" "What a lovely me!" "Yeah!" "What a lovely fox running there or is it a rabbit!" "Yeah!" "Yeah!" "Yeah!" "YEAH!" "YEAH!" At the bottom, "What a lovely little stream!" "Yeah!" "What lovely pools in the roots!" He was wading in them in his red boots and tights, yellow mac.
Today in the sun, on the yard, he wore nothing but the red boots, thus, he watched the farmer separate cattle, hanging on the gate. "The farm', he said 'Good boy,' he said, to the cows, I heard he say 'Good boy,' Ellie." [from Penelope's cottage at Ffos Moscal: cottage door] [kitchen table 1] [kitchen table 2 ]
Luke's noisy footsteps going upstairs alone to bed, I listen to him jump onto the landing, hesitate at the door, push it, creaking open, go in, sing a little, come downstairs again. "I want to kiss Ruckshanna."
Campsite. Wakes at night, I come into the tent crooning, he's sitting up and feels for me as I feel for him, puts little cool arms alongside my head and lies down when I suggest, continues to sob under his breath. I hold him and tell him I love him better than anybody, stroke his head and his forearm when he seems to begin to cry again. Remember how close I am to him, how he's the best realest person in my life.
The tent when the sun shines, like being inside a lantern or a pumpkin, you can see the seams.
Mothers are the scum of the earth, carrying potties, seizing their children in rage, pinching, slapping them, cursing, shrieking, trying to shake off the creatures that cling with their mouths shaped in hideous piteous wails.
Cloud: necessity for somebody to communicate with "on the highest level" in order to get on.
Mostly I'm between lives, too shy to come to those I admire, too contemptuous for those I don't.
Before I had Luke, when I was single.
[notebook from the Experimental Film Festival Sept 3-16]
Provincialisms - remember not to talk.
Could warm an audience with almost silence.
Ken Jacobs - stumbling. [description of his talk introducing his film]
My recurring superstition that somebodies will recognize me by my face. Floods of sad daydreams about meetings.
Kubelka "I think of myself as a craftsman." "To be one's own judge." "To do things as well as you can." Filmmakers - "We don't give ourselves a name. Other films are industrial films and our films are films." "With every film I lost myself and was branded as an idiot and so I bought this suit."
A scientist, "I see myself as a part of mankind - I care for an enlargement of understanding of what we are applied art it is the same if you sell toothpaste or if you sell politics."
"When you work for more light, you also work for mankind."
"You were bought by them when you were born."
Organic film and industrial film.
The Beatles are accessible and Arnolf Reiner is not because nobody knows the language. Languages = exposure. "As long as anyone works eight hours in a steel factory it does not matter to whom it belongs."
"You must own it, never work for a producer and take money from any source you can find it, have always your film to take it with you, distribute it."
During Barry Gerson: his films v short, 100' attached to special motor so you don't have to change reel - slight movements around a color-charged small area - goes on and on inarticulate and stiffly held up in his tight clothes, very butch, big belt, chain bracelet, corn-fed, deliberate - talking heavily about mystery, "something unknown, something I can come to."
Light swaying eye - my chestnut tree yoga.
Contact with these films so delicate that their position, introduction etc is crucial.
How to introduce a film so that when the lights come on everybody's there.
When it happens it's a real high like what happens when you're making it - the warm-up, stillness and centredness, ecstating.
Make a film of the sun hopping over trees or -
Thinking about using my eyes here as weapon and tool.
The effect of snow whirling in at you.
Some kind of series made of rubbish.
Structure is very loose - ie the thing isn't structured - what there happens to be is the structure. Which has to do with education - propaganda but not with aesthetics - ie feeling for forms which move, ie manipulate oneself - to be moved is labour as much as to be forced to have a thought. Lead one through certain pathways - manipulation irrelevant question.
Respond with rebellion, refusal beyond that habituation captured by color of some ? quality.
Ask Tony how they're trained.
Suspect everyone cause I suspect myself.
Everyone unspontaneous and rigid, men's bodies mostly strung tight, women look like slaves, men too, but some beautiful faces, mostly male, with delicate hard-worn intelligence, ready smiles. Suspect women of trying to capture a trendy man, sad.
Home on the tube disgusted with people.
Manipulation - can tell it's there by the relief when it stops.
Illusion of displacement.
These moments when someone looks at you and you turn as if automatically and find yourself looking directly into the eyes that are looking at you.
Last night in the last train hand held up to the window, face hidden, staring at the black boy thinking how beautiful and farouche the way he turns his eyes - think, after a long time, I've caught him, he doesn't know I'm here, then flash, he looks directly into my eyes, it's a ringing click like billiard balls, then away; I feel it was my thought and not my look that caught him. And after that I was ashamed of my admiration and looked furtively.
They are trying to bring the situation alive - the unconscious collusions of audienceship and addresseeship. Annette Michelson who made sure everybody knew who she was and then lectured, gesturing with glasses - why couldn't I listen to her - middle-aged woman, or her sense of being a middle-aged woman making her heavy.
O all the traps.
Awareness of closedness, always shutting out.
The girl who's Pat O'Neil and Beverly.
Kubelka - you can only mobilize a lot of energy to do what you really want. Politics, "In ten years it will all be gone." "Make it only there, where you have feelings."
People who make patient loving films, you feel you can trust.
Ask Tammo about kiln?
Silence of the West Coast films.
I'm not interested in dynamics by itself but in the moment of feeling it, being lifted by it, in the world, in my life.
It is extravagant and wasteful to tell the truth when it doesn't matter. Self indulgent.
Now impatient with pretty pictures because they aren't held long enough.
The horizon line that joins film to film. He uses color bits, but what about a bar line.
The excitement of the process, "ramifications that pleased me very much," he tumbles into sharing it with us, eagerness and energy. "I wanted a process that would liberate me," process that freed him - every day to get into that experience totally living in the present. In the year he was editing it, "I was lost in thought, in the year before my eyes were always around."
[pages of notes taken in the dark at La région centrale]
I need to research that single factor of attention, concentration.
You have to compel people's attention to an extent, even if only by your reputation.
Do a house dream film.
What are your dreams like, does making films change them. Themes?
Development of how you remember dreams. Have you got a system for notating.
Have you systematically recorded for - two years.
Image language - keys of what's strong.
The fact that dreammaker just exists inside copiously and without inhibition.
Keys to what images are mysterious - language - but exhaust it?
Vanderbeek 'dream state'
Environment - transition.
Newsreel of dreams - Vietnam war images - surrounded by layers of images - continuing work
Dome theatre - all night 8 hours of images - cinedreams
Transition - he thanks his dreams.
System to try to do a lot of images simultaneously.
Groping toward recognizable image languages.
Are there but transient.
Relevance of our own personal dreams.
Cinematic language vs visual language
Brakhage The Art of Seeing with One's Own Eyes
Rimmer - presents himself as manly badman: jeans, heavy blue shirt, black satin waistcoat, boots - clothes hang on him body vaguely lean. Silver bracelet. Hair parted in the middle and shiny, waves, he's like a pop star but networks of lines around his eyes, forehead, long sharp nose, sharp and deep brow, not a mobile face, he has a slow stiff smile, speaks to you with a look of friendly indiscrimination, brown cowboy boots, brown belt. Not tall but seems tall; pale blue eyes without shadows - pupil dilated? Pale ring of light. The wound above his eyebrow that is like a caste mark. Danced stiffly, only got a little more energy later. The look of calm slightly painful presence, he's straight out of the movies. Annette M wearing my look as she looked at him, I'm ashamed that my preoccupation must be so common for him. Sheer physical mystery - didn't want to speak to him, only to sit still next to him and have him sit still next to me, I closed my hand over his thumb for an instant and that was right - in spite of sensing his vacuity and bluntness - he doesn't live in that area of physical compulsion, I can't imagine him having feelings of intimacy with anyone, why I couldn't imagine him married, he's a spook and a cipher. Alas! I'm sad and refuse to believe that his face 1. lies 2. doesn't see itself reflected in mine as I see mine in his. We could slot side by side in profile like a royal couple on a stamp, miniature and fixed in contemplation of the other, without look or touch - as I wanted to be when I came to sit on the floor next to his chair last night. Allowing myself to look at the hand with cigarette laid on his knee. How betrayed when he got up to dance. He's the man I want to be - same old sorrow. He's not seduced but only because he's dead. Fantasy someone deep intransigent private - same old fantasy.
Kathy's [Katrin Zaugg] shiny eyes and smooth face, she holds firm in herself, swings to meet people evenly and without coyness and confusion, lights her eyes and asks to play, I'm without condescension now - wanted that to be our last confession and she said "Yes I think that is so." Her eyes are like lamps that simply swing and fix you - she won't be confused, doesn't allow herself to babble - I feel myself fall into my talk, come out ashamed to have been lost but not always by what I've found myself saying. She makes me remember my ambitions. There she is holding. Taller - in jeans and loose shirt, thin hair, madonna face. Is never seduced, simply questions. "It is not with any less love" she says. "I know that." Makes me feel how I evade, slip, am pushed, and RATTLED.
She is a solid continuous shape slightly articulated, no discontinuities or imbalances, walks with a straight glance, straight back.
Schroeder film - the dream occurrences
[notes on Schroeder and Paul Sharrits]
My film I made in the field in Wales had that movement.
Like the yoga of chestnut tree.
Mike Snow Wavelength and what's the corridor one?
[notes on Hotel Monterrey]
Gathered together - sprung.
The frames are mainly tight - when they go on and on they begin to let you go into privacy - you've been there a long time before anything happens, you've been paying your dues - why does it ignite them? That corridor that's mysteriously sprung with infinity. Times of waiting. A tact about time. Beautiful thing for everyday use. Like a mantra. Could go underground into it for comfort.
When I began to clock them - then the elevator doors - begin to enter the necessary state - the lights -
Chantal Akerman - Belgium
Disbelief at the beginning, that shots are so long, why doesn't she - but what? Assumed it was a male director.
Tact after that hideous American film that made even his baby hideous [Andrew Noren], radiated disgust - from there into that clean world.
Pure spirit centring in, waiting and waiting and then beginning to flood and then going outside.
"I don't like fields and such " but doesn't remember dreams, childhood.
The rings of doors but strung on so tight a movement so breath-held a stillness, it was an event like an illumination, waiting for grace and receiving it so that outside is transformed.
It is not like dancing, more like skating or gliding.
Vertu of stillness, arrete of being sprung tight. Dynamics and suggestion.
Long static shots like some of mine, doorways, fire hoses, corridors, rooms, lifts, foyers - boring me but making me full of ideas of going to film the Peace River Country. Daylight film inside. All the accidents of light facets and.
Earlier - reactions to passengers finding a camera pointing at them when the lift door opens.
Made me think of lots of hotels. King Edward Hotel in Edmonton, that little hotel in Grande Prairie [the Park].
Like my obsessions in dreams
Pale yellows and oranges, 2 minutes through
In one shot an elevator door which opens and closes letting in more and less light - for 6 minutes
Painterly - tiny changes of composition.
Finding a position of balance - like finding your spot - abstract picture with secret connections to - comings and goings that are almost not there - the old ladies at the beginning.
Drama of the lift buttons, green, red, doors opening.
Emptiness of corridors, her first tracking shot.
Wings of light on the wall and out the window lovely penetration - then pulls out again - doors are dark spines that press in from the side.
Change of light - again composed like Mike Snow.
Again at dawn light - lovely yellow and blue reflections on the wall. Out the window a different world.
Magic of hotels and hospitals.
The window that extends itself magically across the wall.
And onto the floor and onto the floor onto the wall.
This corridor is ecstatic!
The window open.
When the corridor goes I'm sad.
A still very much like mine of windows and grating, opens sideways to flat dawn light and quiet.
STRONG sensibility, my favorite world of High Speed Ektachrome?
With dawn we go outside, pale blues, yellows, silvers, opaque sky, dark towers with pointed roofs. Tilts up into sky and comes down in a different place, telephotoed in, can see light running on the water.
More windows, one has a light, white shades
Plays on absolute stillness with tiny movement, austere as she can be, the pans are smooth and full of tension, light held breath.
Steam faster than pan
A tangle of buildings
Cars around corner, one has lights like blinking gold eyes. Drama of intersections far below, stopping and starting.
Ends with grey and a flash.
The shyness of people, potency of the instrument - tensions of doors closing in, perspective.
She says time and "I am an inside person."