Weds March 23
8:41 am Jetlag woozy after return flight from Heathrow last night. Virgin airlines. Attendant sounded like Adele, had her figure and hair style too. Cornish pilsner at the Bridge restaurant in the airport. Taste treat.
Hi We had an extra (free) day tacked onto our return trip this time. Missed the connecting flight in Barcelona due to the French air strike on Sunday, so when we got to London BritAir put us up at the trusty old heathrow sheraton and sent us home yesterday on a Virgin Airways flight.
How many years before it gets used does an aircraft have to be ordered and built?
I watched two movies inflight---Danish Girl and The Big Short. Now that I've seen that my financial skills have upgraded significantly and I can opine on how our economy is doing. Not as well as we had planned.
Virgin cut this brand new plane into almost thirds. A big fancy new First Class with all the reclining/sleeping pods and comfort toys including even a stand-up, perch bar (three stools and tons of booze) with vegas lighting. Probably seat-beds for 30. Middle third of the plane is roomy seating, maybe 50-60 seats.
Back third, steerage, maybe 150. My numbers might be off but the important note will be ok.
Steerage full of usual mixed groups of students, families, retirees like us, ordinary level business travelers. This is a Tuesday out of London to Boston. Much bigger groups had just gone to Newark and New York before us (on Virgin). Average age of Steerage, 42? Income levels--wide variation.
Mid-cabin roomier seating looked to me (glancing through the curtain going to the john---why the heck do they bother with these curtains? reminder of the theatricality of it all??) Virtually empty seats, maybe 15 people for the 50 seat space.
First class bells and whistle pods, almost full, all 30 and average age of passenger---maybe 28. Ok, maybe 34. But you see---the new millennial kids with lots of IT/Silicon cash to spend. Mid-cabin, still in the doldrums and average age closer to 55.
All of this took on poignance as I remembered the Big Short movie after I watched it, understood about 85% and looked up the rest on wikipedia.
As a movie I thought it was a pretty good movie-cartoon review of events. The Jewish guy played by the comedian Steve Carrell, explained to me Bernie Sanders campaign. The guy was no longer Jewish in a religious sense, but he was a prophet/whistle-blower/angst-ridden brainy guy who sees that the system is rigged and doomed and needs radical correction.
The real guy, wikipedia says, after he proved wall street was totally wrong and eventually made massive profit for himself and his hedge fund has been on a campaign since to ban forever for-profit universities. The absolute ethical prophet who tilts at windmills.
What's up down in DC? I thought of Peg this morning in the sense that I wondered how on earth she traveled as much as she did and then how as soon as I'm back in my own kitchen the first comfort food I looked for after a bowl of cereal and milk was peanut butter on some crackers. She must have had a short menu of such items for each time she got back to the States.
The sense too the first few hours that those euro countries (except England) are these little toy-countries, everything about them just a little too small, too fragile, too much like playing at everything rather than being real. Not enough heft and scale, from our Trumpeanly American point of view and feel.
News this morning that Jeb wants the party to rally behind Cruz. Oh dear god it can and will get much worse. Everyone needs to re-watch The Big Short. A movie designed to give us all the momentarily feeling of---well, that was fun, a lot of good it will have done any of us.
jetlagging in NH
Va’s note to Nancy
Dear Nancy and Bob,
Of course we would LOVE to come and join you in PV. Just let us know when and for how long. It sounds wonderful and will be "perfecto" with you both there.
Bob is a little bored with Jávea and our kids really can't be with us for more than a few weeks at a time. So far we seem to have worked out that they will come to us in August and we will see what happens for other times. This time we lucked into an apt in Sitges, but who knows what next year will bring.
More and more, I am convinced that the time is now to do whatever we want; there is no tomorrow at this stage.
Sorry to be so gushy and sentimental. It must be jet lag. And tomorrow I hope to get the 4 staples out of my head that they put in after I tripped and fell against a wall in Jávea.
Luckily it happened the day before we went out to lunch with the Allcocks, the English couple whose house we rented during our first trip to Jávea 2 yrs ago. We felt like we hit it off with Alan and Vi. We only wish they had been home three days ago when we could have visited them instead of spending the night in the musty old hotel while we were stranded in London. At least we couldn't beat the price. Our English friend says the airlines are now required by law to put up passengers who miss connections due to problems with flights. We missed our connection due to the air controller strike in Paris which led the French to prohibit any flight over their territory. At least we weren't in Brussels.
Where will this all end? Cécile told us that she has had to do emergency drills with her pre-school kids because her school has been named as a target!
I need to get to some serious binge watching to catch up with "General Hospital". I got hooked on it when I was home with baby David and have been a guilty slave ever since.
We just finished the finale of Downton and are anxious to see what the new season of Jane the Virgin looks like. We didn't have good wifi in Jávea so we were forced to watch things on our laptop in the bars on the beach. There are worse things.
Bob is delighted that he has not gained a single pound even after a steady diet of tapas and beer. I skipped the beer, but have still not dared to get on the scale. Maybe tomorrow...
More later. We loved the video . Send more of your time this year. Can't wait to try out the malecón and glad to hear there are elevators.
un fuerte abrazo a los dos.
Dear Kenn, This is our last full day in Javea. We decided not to try to see the Sagrada Familia this time, especially so close to Holy Week-probably extra crowded. Yesterday was probably the highlight of this part of our trip. We had lunch with Alan Allcock and his wife Vi from the UK. They are the couple whose villa we rented when we were here 2 yrs ago. We had a wonderful time swapping travel tales- he has been all over-Africa, the Middle East and India, but not South America, as an engineer. She is lovely and was involved in his company as an accountant we think. They have 2 sons who live and work in London and 2 beautiful granddaughters about the same ages as yours I think. It was a gorgeous day-clear and sunny and we ate on the rooftop restaurant of a little hotel overlooking the port. So, so nice. It almost made up for the day before when I tripped and cut the back of my head on a brick wall. The Red Cross was very impressive, came right away and got me into the ER very quickly. I expected to get stitches; instead they stapled my cut together-makes combing my hair a little hard and probably a little weird from behind(or weirder than usual!). I thought I was to get the staples out yesterday, but now it looks like I will have to wait until we get home.
This am. I am thinking that it is probably good that this didn't happen in India so maybe the co. did have a good reason to send us back early.
I love being here , but I think Bob is a little bored since he has now walked all over. It was also not as interesting or fun as last time when we had non-stop visitors.
Wish we could put it all together-sun, seashore,walking places ;friends and kids and skip winter in NH.
Another project for another time-now need to have breakfast-yogurt, cereal and my favorite-"palmeras" a pastry "leaf"(called elephant ears other places) made of butter, sugar, a little bit of flour -this time Bob has found whole wheat-what a guy!!!
Friday evening almost 6. We had a very quick but fun face visit with the family in Paris. They’re a bit sick today, the kids. Snow this morning and rain later, snow mostly gone on the ground now but in mid-day it looked snowy outside and I sort of liked it. Stay-home, nesty kind of day.
super long talk with Rich and Barb last night. He’s for Trump, hates Obama with barely concealed passion. Must represent majority of Southerners in his socio-professional class. They didn’t go on the Paul Gaugin cruise after all because Libby and Kyle had some complications with the birth of the baby. All’s well now. B&R are planning a month-long trip now to Australia with Odysseys.
note to Phil
Probably the longest chat by phone last night I've ever had with my brother, pretty much confirms all of your points here. As I knew, we would agree on these. Bookish people I guess always have the trap, when pondering real events, of calling for total conceptual changes, Sanders campaign etc.
Christ might be the origin of the victimology but then you recall the old testament and realize it is the basic genius of the whole first book ever collected together by the Jews themselves---oy vey what the lord did to us when he brought us to this promised land, from slavery in egypt to this barren hell-hole, thanks a lot Moses, et al. Which is to say it's built right into us from the start, DNA onward.
Boy does my brother hate Obama! Haven't talked to anyone for a while he does so much, he could barely contain himself and we kept the conversation floating on down the river from topic to topic as my way of trying to keep him from a heart attack or something. Freshly retired and nothing to do. They canceled their cruise to Tahiti because one of their sons and wife were having trouble with a newborn. I think they are glad they did. Going to Australia for a month in September. Seems like he is looking to Trump for real salvation from the weak-bellied DC elites who have gotten us into all this mess.
oh dear. things don't change too much at all. So now I'm trying to disengage a bit more---hey, trump, clinton, yea, we've survived worse, just don't get your hopes up too much. Is it cynical or old testament realism? The jews have never figured out the difference so how can we poor goyem?
Couldn't dare tell Va this, but after three weeks in paradise (as your dad said) I kinda like this morning's fresh blanket of warmish, wet snow and all is white again and rainy before sun melts it again for sunday. We were up at 3 this morning and I'm reminding myself that in addition to jet lag I've got to wean Va away from regular coffee and back onto decaf!
Hope you find an easter egg somewhere by sunday evening. & total happiness of course too.
J. P. Jones
12:05 PM (5 hours ago)
I'm sure that my brother, were he alive today, would get along with Rich very, very well.....P
Talked with Anne too. Mark, her youngest, 29, has announced he’s setting off to Thailand and Australia, to bum around for a while. She reminded me that she and Meme were in Javea with us for the “calima” the big gust of red dust that blew up from Morocco. We had a small version of that this time. “Calima” is the name of a restaurant on the playa. We ate there twice.
Monday March 28 Second day of a cold, sinus and chest and torso but not much of a runny nose. Fever seems to have broken last night.
We went to Church Landing with Don and Sarah. Ate too much junky food, starting off with waffles! Hope Va doesn’t get this cold. Today is rainy. I napped after we got up. Trying to do tea and toast all day. Don and Sarah were interesting and gave us a much fuller picture of the Mazurs than we had ever had. Tormented souls, each with enough money somehow, trusts, to keep them secure but no way for them to get real help with their madnesses. Kathy Park was the one who wanted us all to get together for this dinner and then she backed out. A pattern apparently to her whole way of doing things. She and the Mazurs met when they rented on Highland street twenty? years ago. Don and Sarah seem to be doing fine. Had a great stroke of luck with the Chronicle TV show visit. Busiest December for sales ever.
Rainy day, ready for second nap while willow watches GH.
second nap thought unecessary turned out to be a welcome event.
I keep trying to remind myself that before the invasion of the screens, I used to read for hours (and hours) at a time.
Breakthrough this morning---just make the year’s journal one continuous text from the outset. Not much to say anymore, no need to discriminate the months, especially since you’re going to pile it all together into a “book” ms after the year ends. Dreams, still, of returning to pen on paper. Has it been twenty years now since that took place? My whole life I wrote on paper, until I was fifty, and then the computer took over and my brain withered.
Repairman greasing the dryer, might work a while longer even though it is 7-10 years old. “Roper” is the brand he suggests, which is “basic Whirlpool” under a different label.
A little bit of gossip from campus and I am drawn right back into wondering about details of the soap. Provost is out, good idea, she’s been in power too long as indicated by how Kate Harrington mentioned last fall “unless you are “FOJ.” Friend of Julie’s. The guy who was replacing Hage is going. I assume Hage found him wanting. And Mark Fischler is “up” as his replacement, Hage I suppose again. Terry Downs says the agent in power, the privy councilor most privy is a guy named Tasker, seems he is Hobart’s avatar, i.e. the financial overseer. So silly to even repeat any of this. Our little hometown drama of power and placement.
My cold seems in another stage. Or was it even a flu bug? This morning I need to rest after breakfast and it was that intestinal bug sort of thing I have been prone to for a while. For years. Now I’m feeling somewhat better but so glad we didn’t attempt swimming yet. Paula is cleaning and she seems especially clunky today, so much clunky noise. Might be hangover from last night’s concert in Concord---“Dancing in the Streets.” Motown. We didn’t realize that until we got there. It was fine, lots of remembered hits. Too loud. All the soft modulations that groups like The Temptations were so good at were missing, gone to digital, gone to over-produced, high volume show style. I wondered too if since they know the audience is hard of hearing, over 60, they don’t just blast it out.
6pm more bm’s that bug that got me just ---well, was going to say--“ripped through me” but actually it took it’s good old time and meandered through, taking it’s time, causing irritation as much as possible---as today--four or five times. Aren’t you glad I noted all of this down?
Ok, from now on. Only sentiments and observations that require posting.
Today is the final day of March.
April 2 Saturday
Sleepless night with the chest cough. Dinner at La Jimador with Rosa DeCamp’s group. Too much food and then a granola dessert when we got home. Acid reflux helped the cough. Cold snap coming. Have to re-close the basement window.
from Nicholas’s Golgonooza site---he’s talking about a novel called “Fire on the Mountain”
“It is a beautifully told, bleak novel, that is a commentary on Thomas Traherne's observation than we are not loved either in sufficient measure or in the right manner. Each of us is a burning invitation to be approached in a deeper, more sensitive, more abiding manner; and, when we are not a compromising, disfiguring loneliness is the result, that wraps us inside ourselves, careering through life but never tasting it or immersing ourselves, but always observers whose actions fail to convince, even in their most dramatic moments.
Anita Desai's gift, for this is her novel, is to make this terrible loneliness/isolation, embedded in superficially unattractive characters, deeply memorable and seen with a compassionate eye. This seeing is doubly apparent as you catch yourself recoiling and being reeled back into the arch of sympathy.”
Still nursing, living with, this cough/cold. Over-tea-ed I think now. Strangely re-configured day, now almost 7pm but feels like it is 4 or 5. Getting used to the longer days. Also very disrupted sleep last night. Trying to not eat too close to bed time tonight.
Sunday almost 1pm
Bath this morning. Felt good but we both agreed wasn’t quite hot enough. Good night’s sleep and I guess the Mucinex gets some credit. Now feeling tired again though after all the morning chores, watering plants, cleaning litter, plus this and that.
Oh--woke up with a david sedaris sort of voice suggesting this:
Daddy thought I was queer. Mama knew I was guilty. Of what she was never sure, but her list of sins possible was long. We were the happy Catholic family of the 1950s you see in the photos. We were trying to be. We were equally divided. Daddy and Dan and April on one side, me and Momma on the other. Dan excelled at all sports, every sport, the best sports and even, like Daddy, at golf. April charmed everyone, princess, star, Daddy’s favorite who bounced on his knee when she was three.
I was in the middle. I made a basket at the wrong basket in a game in the eighth grade. I liked crafts at camp. Mama took me to concerts and art shows at the library. Dad read a lot in the evenings and I learned to like reading a lot too, but it never seemed to make much difference.
My weekend obsession has been to quietly but grumblingly to take to task the bank of NH. It bought up our local bank, the transition happens in a month. We’ve begun to get sleek notices about how great it will all be. No mention so far of how online banking will segue. I have sent one email but the response was generic and so I need to sharpen my query. I have sent another with that in mind. I will also phone their solution center tomorrow, just because. Just to be a pill. That old guy.
Darlene at Wally’s a few moments ago.
Monday April 4 The days blur. Teensy snow flakes falling outside, a nearly invisible sheer scrim in front of the scene outside. Also the blur of napping all the time. Just napped, sort of, this morning. Going to Mid-State to see a nurse practitioner to see if this cold/cough needs any boost to clear itself on out.
We’re browsing in Facebook to pass the morning.
note to Jeff Herrick
Now I'm the one to apologize for the delay in responding. Va is fine and was fine on the India trip. We assume they got worried about us and didn't want any liability risks from their legalistic point of view. And with the group tours they have to balance the needs and demands of so many different types, even in a small group of 20. Well, you know how it is to keep a class attentive and well-paced and happy. Or not!
Glad you had a good trip to Jaipur. Yes, culture shock for us too although at first glance in Delhi we said, oh, mexico city prepared us well for this, and sao paolo and bolivia---i.e. severe poverty we saw in south america. Still, it takes some steeling of the heart and soul to keep going. Agra was indeed noticeably less comfy than Delhi, in the streets. The hotel was fine. The 5-star bubble keeps itself intact throughout the world, for better and worse.
We liked India, really. And we regretted not getting south because we wanted to see Hindu India and there's not so much of that left in the north since the Mughals roughed it up a bit. Our guide was pretty intense about that, he a Hindu with a rather undisguised dislike of Muslims. Or maybe I should say Pakistanis. Both I guess. Very complex worlds there. India impossibly so.
Whether we will try another trip isn't clear yet, back to India. If so it would be on our own, hiring drivers etc. Now Va is talking about driving some of the Road to Santiago.
We later went to Spain for three weeks, one near Barcelona where we met up with Dave and his family, then two weeks further down the coast in Javea where we were two years ago. Sunny almost the whole time but a bit chilly and super windy at times.
Hope you've been enjoying the cherry blossom season.
Ken H was joking about the Pickwick Papers reading group.
Glad to assume you survived the rigors of another wild Carnival season in Cooperstown. The balls, the masques, the banquets.
I think I sent your our Taj Mahal portrait with note about how the trip became a Flash Five-Day surprise rather than the twenty days we had paid for. But with the refund we rested a while here and then set off to Spain at the end of February for three weeks. We met up with Dave and his family at a beach condo in Barcelona for a week. Emma now 5, Eliot a bouncing 2. They continue to Frenchify our lives with their laughter. They gave each other the giggles any time they said "ma puce," "my flea," with an ornery look. Lots of fun. Sunny too and warm enough to stroll the promenade in light winter puffy coats. Later on we were down the coast in Javea for two weeks where we had been two years ago. We did lots of walking but it was not as warm, bit too windy and chilly this time around. Still, lots of sun every day & that is a boost.
They will all come over this August again.
Otherwise things are quiet and smooth here. Bookish. Virginia sent out a scholarly paper a few weeks ago. Her author's key book celebrates the 100th anniversary of its publication. "The Marvelous Lamp" in translation. A very 1916esque spiritualist meditation book by a young Spaniard at the start of his career.
Your ponderings, musings, sparks and bons mots---is your young assistant taking these down and collecting them, I hope?
The Crier column ended---your March 17 note there. But still, I gather, an opening for another way to put something in there every so often as the spirit moves. Maybe.
Does Parky affect your reading, looking at text on screens and pages? I have been reading some of the recent nobel laureate, in trans, Patrick Modiano, a Frenchman. Trying to further comprehend the mental world my grandchildren are growing up within. They are bilingual, rich backgrounds. Modiano I do enjoy. He's our generation as much as he's French. I think.
TV? was glad to put Downton A to rest. Enjoying Grantchester now.
blessings back at you, dear friend,
Tues 5 April
passport renewals filled out. Mail Thurs. Tomorrow we go to the Gardner for our grand lunch with the distinguished psu ex-pats.
REally cold today, windy. One walking session at Wally’s while I went to the dump. Good long nap. Cough weaker with each cough. How does a cough go fully away? If it ever does.
Weds night 6 April Perfect lunch at the G. Nasturtiums splendid.
This passage in Mann moved me to tears a few weeks ago and I’ve only now gotten around to copying it out. Well, “tears” of course exaggerates, and means just that I said to myself, wow, here is another of those notions that I wish I had heard forty years ago. And I thought, wow, maybe I’ll build my little novel around this thought alone.
Felix is talking about how he loved wandering the city and looking at all of the windows of the shops.
“The gift of seeing had been granted me and it was my be-all and end-all at this time--an instructive gift, to be sure, when material things, the enticing, educational aspects of this world, are its object. But how much more profoundly does the gift of perception engage one’s feelings! Perception, that visual feasting on the human spectacle as it unfolds in the fashionable districts of a great city--whither I went by preference--how very different from the attraction of inanimate objects must be the pull it exerts on the longings and curiosity of a passionately ambitious youth!
Confessions of Felix Krull 79
“O scenes of the beautiful world! Never have you presented yourselves to more appreciative eyes. . . . . But perhaps it is in some measure permissible, in the description of one’s own life, to follow not the laws of art but the dictates of one’s heart.” 79
“Dreamer and idler! I hear the reader addressing me. Where are your adventures? Do you propose to entertain me throughout your whole book with such fine-spun quiddities, the so-called experiences of your covetous idleness?” 81
Indeed, I do. From early adolescence onward, this was my life and has been for all these years. Any other kinds of adventures I might think I’ve had would seem upon re-telling to be puny and paltry indeed to any reader experienced in literary force and power. My life as an idle dreamer is all we can look forward to if we continue into these sentences. I learned to wander in our nation’s capitol, after my apprenticeship in the small city in the Appalacian mountains where I grew up. My aunt and uncle worked for the government in Washington and to relieve my mother of her toil with the family for a short spell, they had me to visit for some weeks at a time in their bungalow nestled among lawns and trees in a cool suburb of the federal city. Each morning we three would drive into the heart of the Federal Triangle. Uncle Ed and Aunt Martha would go to their respective offices and I would be free to walk around the city. I was too stay within the monumental area of the government sites and offices and I knew I could show up at my aunt’s office for a snack or a rest, but most days I could find a sandwich on my own at a lunch wagon and wander the museums and galleries of the government as I wished. I spent hours and hours in the Smithsonian, in the Mellon Art Gallery, in the Corcoran, the Freer, the Archives, the Library of Congress and many of the offices and agencies around the center of town. The old Smithsonian housed galleries and galleries of specimens in glass jars, old pelts and skins, natural history relics, bones, pottery, vast collections of materials from around the nation and the world. Old fashioned by today’s standards, glass cases, more like archaeological and anthropological storage chambers and chests than real exhibits. I never grew tired of wandering the city and no one ever bothered me. I climbed the Washington monument more than once, rode the elevators, explored the memorials and statues along the Mall.
I would go up a few blocks into the retails boulevards of M street
and Dupont Circle, Wisconsin Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House and the Executive Office building. My eyes feasted on the churches, the architectural details of the neo-classical federal buildings, the sumptuous details of the large department store displays, Woodward & Lothrop, others whose names I now forget. I could see the ranges of poverty along the neighborhoods not that far from the capitol area. Poor Negro families crowded together, stranded amid the wealth not yards away from their run-down brick rowhouses. The city sweltered in the summer heat and humidity and the poor would sleep outside on the sidewalks and streets in front of their buildings to find some air, any hope of a breeze or relief. We would see them in the
early evening as we drove from the steaming stone federal monuments out into the tree-lined avenues and parkways of the suburbs.
Feelings about all that I saw, all that I explored, led me on through the years that followed. I understood little of this at the time. Like any adolescent I thought this explosion and expansion of feelings that placed me at the center of creation was God’s way of choosing me for a special life. The Catholic education we were formed by guaranteed this. Eight years with the nuns in their white wimples and veils, heavy fabrices, pins stuck in their voluminous sleeves, woven belts, mysterious places under their bibs. Then four years with the brothers, much simpler robes and celluloid collars but still the mystery of their lives of dedication and prayer. Is this what my interior solitude of feeling was really about? Did my sense of loneliness mean a religious vocation was what the talk over the years about faith and prayer was leading toward? Somewhere in the early years of high school we all began dating, going to kissing parties, dances at the school gymnasium, learning how to dance close without being too close. From eighth grade onward girls, church, prayer, sexuality, friendship, belonging, being alone, reading, studying, working after school in Dad’s store, figuring out why my older brother was so mean to me, walking all over town, across town to see someone, learning to drive and deliver groceries in the store truck, it all brought me into realms never imagined and little comprehended. Certain books took on immense power to amplify for me what I felt or thought I felt. Uncanny resonances sprang up, I learned so many new ideas, new possibilities. Growing up, as everyone does, as everyone experiences, always seems wholly new and without precedent to the young man doing it.
“The shepherds and fishermen, two days before, had prophesisied snow, and I had been secretly longing for it (‘the Pontic shore . . .’) but that freezing razor-clarity which had seemed to presage snow relaxed into milder sunshine, wandering cumulus and light intermittent rain as gentle as the quality of mercy. There was something consoling about this soft unfolding landscape, the low hovering glint of the sierras, and the sea ruffling under the wind. Sunlight and rain alternated, and often the two of them together in that union, propitious to rainbows, which is known in some places as a fox’s wedding. Occasionally the scene would dissolve in vapour. The desertion of this winter world held a seldom-failing ravishment, a stilling of the nerves and a smoothing-out of the mind. If my head were a small sun, and my glance its ray, how many miles would it have to travel through the veils that the sky suspended, before throwing more than the most unconvincing of watery shadows? Winter serenity, the peace of hibernation had descended, when ideas and inspiration fall with the quietness of dew.
Leigh Fermor The Broken Road 250
April 9 Saturday
Feelings are difficult to write about, to capture let alone convey. This explains what happened to my ambitions to be a writer. Did I ever have those ambitions? I can’t recall now. But it explains what happened to my wanderings. I loved driving all over town by myself and before that riding my bike in the same way. Later I loved delivering groceries in the store truck. I got to know the town and constructed my own inner map of the ways to get from one spot to another, to find the right alley that would be a shortcut to Mrs Rosenbaum’s house where I would go round to the back and climb the three stories on the back stairs, open the kitchen door, empty the grocery basket onto the countertop, glance around the huge wooden paneled kitchen with a giant stove, long work counters, doors that led into the great house beyond. It was one of the grand old houses on the best street, Washington Street. It was not attractive or at the time I had no idea in what style it had been modeled. Mr Pritchard’s house down the street was much more clear: Southern nobility announced by the tall white columns holding up the Greek portico, plantation grandeur right in our town. Mrs Rosenbaums’ house was red brick, five stories when you looked at the back, three stories in the front, with a huge folded slate roof enveloping the mass. Later I realized it was German or northern European, meant to look that way, the house of a noble burgermeister. That was when I began taking an interest in all the styles of houses on the great street. In the library one day I found something entirely different and almost shocking. Photo books of houses in Chicago called “Prairie School” houses by a man named Frank Lloyd Wright. I was entranced by his drawings and the photographs of houses that looked grand in ways unlike anything we could find in our town. There was one exception. A wealthy lawyer and his wife, devoted tennis players is all my parents ever said about them to distinguish them as different from all the other wealthy people in town who played golf and sipped cocktails around the country club pool. The lawyer had built a new house recently, tucked back from a sharp curve at the top of the street of great houses and unlike all of them this house was low, horizontal, overhanging rooflines, flat-roofed, lean and spare looking with no clear decoration. Here was a house that resembled ones built by Frank Lloyd Wright even though it was not one of his. I wanted to see more of it but my parents were not close friends with these tennis players and I never did.
The inner life of feelings consumed my attention in the early years of high school. I read book after book looking for anyone who understood this about how to understand the gift of seeing and its relation to feeling. I could never have put it that way then, of course. It was, and always has been, an interior weather mirroring the changeable weather elements of the sky and landscape. I should have been given books on German Romanticism, I suppose. Only later in college and university did I learn how many writers had explored all of these themes in their works. But by then my vocation to the religious life had intervened and changed everything, for a long time. The pressures of being a good Catholic student, a good Catholic son and member of the church, an altar boy almost daily, a student with high grades and the right penchant for bookish learning all swirled round me and I brought them into some recognizable pattern my teachers and by extension later, my parents, would call “having a vocation.” I gave over more time to prayer, to private visits to church, to trying to be worthy of such a possible calling without becoming proud of it or haughty even in secret. Byt the time we were juniors we had to begin talking about where to apply to college. Dan had gone off to Notre Dame but my parents quietly made it clear that would not be an option for me. Money was never stated as the reason but I guess I realized it was. Dan was going on to become a doctor or a dentist and that would be costly even if he joined the air force or marines to pay for it. My teachers wanted me to go to their college in Philadelphia, La Salle. I visited it during football season with some other students. It was only an easy step to suggest quietly to one of my favorite teachers that maybe I felt called to join their way of life. From then on a whole machinery of selection, encouragement, realization took over and within a few weeks after high school graduation in June I was with a group of new aspirants to the life of religious teaching vocation in a huge, hot old brick building the order of French brothers had built between Washington and Baltimore around 1880. I spent one year there in formation. Temporary vows and then two years in Philadelphia doing the first two years of university. After those two years I left and gave up the whole idea, transferring from La Salle to the University of Maryland, a huge campus also built between Baltimore and Washington but much more appealing and comfortable in style.
After the confined and confining life of the monastic community, the university felt like a dizzying outward opening into nearly unlimited possibilities. Thousands of students, men and women. I had been to school with only men for seven years solid and I relished meeting these women my age with a hunger and thirst I had not realized I had. I dated several at a time, getting over my amazement quickly that in the three years out of commission the style of dancing had gone from jitterbug with hands held tightly together to a new and much looser form of dancing to rock without hold hands at all. The first night I saw this in a Georgetown night spot I felt like a visiting alien. It felt terribly awkward to try it too. I felt everyone was looking at me in the dark, closely packed club as I awkwardly tried to find how my body could move to the music without the set forms of steps and patterns.
It must have been then, too, that I began to write a journal. I thought I had a vocation from God, a special relationship with God, but through trial and error I realized I wanted to write in a journal. I began to fill notebooks and I enjoyed greatly the time I devoted to this, time in the previous three years given over to both group and private prayer. I didn’t stop praying or going to Church, not at first. Gradually these changes took place but without nearly as much attention or self-consciousness as I would have given them a few years before. The Vietnam war became a large topic of attention for all of us and everyone my age became increasingly aware of the Draft. What was my deferment and could I keep it to keep from being drafted into the war? This anxiety quickly took over most of the arena I had given to things churchy and spiritual. Staying in school was the primary ticket for people like me and my friends. We applied to grad schools. Our local draft boards sent letters about our rank and deferments. Peace protests increased, anti-war protests. I remember walking between classes at Maryland, a long distance it could be on that huge, rolling campus, and I saw people standing in front of the massive library building. They were lined up next to each other in a straight line, space for about two people between each one. They were silently looking at us as we walked quickly by. It was noon. I asked another student what was going on. A silent protest, he said. Maybe Quakers, pacifists, but no someone else said, a group against the war, no religious afiliations necessary.
10 April Sunday
We visited Meredith Bay Colony Club. Gouté after at Mt Alto where G McCool filled us in on campus gossip and confusion surrounding the new prez and what’s going on with money crisis, real or not real.
Leaving the religious life after three years involved a bit of drama. Mid-November, a year after Kennedy had been shot, loomed dark and drear. One day I heard Brother Thomas had been taken to a mental hospital. Next day I found a pile of day-old donuts in the kitchen, it was a Saturday, we were all out on chores and erands. I stuffed myself with a good number and then behaved strangely the rest of the day. Got depressed. Next morning Brother Superior called me in and said get dressed in street clothes. His driver took us in the black car across the suburbs, past horse country, white fences, vast lawns, to a red brick building that looked like a small version of Monticello. Federalist. Talk with the doctor, waiting for the doctor to talk with the Superior in the other room. Doctor said I would stay a few days to rest. I felt relieved, surprised, scared, worried I might have shock treatment like we all had supposed Brother Thomas was going to get. An hour or so later when someone took me further into the building, I was amazed that it had a wonderful domed hall, just like the national gallelry of art, even black marble floor, dark green pilasters rising up to support the dome, glass eye at the top. Beyond in the next hall a grand staircase curved up along the left wall. I laughed to myself as I looked at a few of the people who were now visible, seated at different places. “How on earth do they expect me to get better by putting me in here with all these crazy people?” I wondered. It was a mild event by today’s standards, a week to ten days in there, different medications to boost me up and give me a lower floor of feeling to keep me from sinking too low. A nervous breakdown was the term used eventually. Today we might call it an anxiety attack, a panic attack, a setback. Twenty years later I laughed again when I was driving through the same city and heard an ad on the radio for this very hospital, Eugenia Memorial. Now thanks to advanced medications and advanced techniques you could take care of your stress and nervous disorders on the weekends without interrupting your work and family schedules. Have your collapse in a mild and manageable manner, on the weekends, at Eugenia. It was still depressing enough. The windows had strong grills and screens. Everything had been painted in one shade of dull light forest green. Everything was coated with a haze of heavy cigarrette smoke gathered over years of closed-up air. Both staff and patients smoked. I enjoyed making pot-holders as my craft during those sessions. A lot of resting on the iron cot in a room with three other patients. Little talking with others. Brisk chats with the doctors every so often. The haze of boredom, sleep, routine, medications. No one from the religious community came to see me. In a short time I was back there and no one talked about my time away and life went on as before. I kept up the medications. One day a week I would take one of the vans and drive a short way through the suburbs to see the doctor in his office.
Monday April 11 morning
Visiting Colony Bay threw a cloud over us. Today’s weather doesn’t help. Gloomy and snowy and rainy. We looked at the same to model apartments we had seen before, one two-bedroom, corner windows in almost three directions, one one-bedroom, lower level, darker light, only one big window but with a door out onto a small patio. Best point was talking about using the place short-term for “respite care.” Otherwise it makes us want to stay here forever. If we didn’t know the Heusers and know a little about their plans, would we even have thought about this place or put our name on the list? Probably not.
Dave posted that his album is getting some air play on one of FIP’s channels. Great news.
email from Phil and my reply
When I talked to him on the phone, he hadn't yet finished Talese's article but found it "really interesting." I think that was the voyeur in him responding. Just the idea of spying on others turned him on, I'm guessing. I don't think he had reached the section about the murder yet. This morning, the Wash Post has an article about Talese that asks if T was ethical in not reporting on the murder. In the end, the Post seemed to accept T's point that the Aurora police have nothing in their files to say that there was a murder at Foos' motel.
As far as porn goes, Miller maintained that the guys who were incapable of fucking a woman after a life of internet porn would have been incapable with or without porn. Maybe so. He also says that porn and sex permits him to release tension. So, in a way, he divorces sex from anything other than a way to relax.
He is one of a kind.
New subject - in a way:
A former reporter from the Providence Journal (now a mystery writer named Bruce deSilva, whose most recent novel about cynical old Providence I just finished) just wrote an article in the Wash Post about how, in the 1970s, a woman called him to report a priest who had just molested her son. DeSilva went to the woman's home and discovered that several of the young boy's friends had also been molested by this priest. D took the story to his editor who told D that he would be fired if he pursued the story. At the time RI was the most Catholic state in the union. So D, who had a wife and two kids to support, dropped the story but has always felt guilty about it. According to his article in the Post, at least 60 priests and one nun plus the bishop were later found to have abused kids.
Which got me wondering: did you run into any "abusers" when you were "in training"?
Slate also has an article questioning Talese's ethics. Might be the same piece. Also after raising the question and trying to take Talese to task, it can't really decide if there is an issue there. But the younger reporter/columnist found the whole thing distasteful and shocking. Figured Talese just wanted the project, the money, the whatever thrill he got out of it. Does journalism make cynics of us all after a lifetime of it?
Miller. This morning I'm thinking, you know he would never agree to this long, wide view of it, but from a "religious studies" point of view (lots of such scholars are atheists too) he is a true devotee of "temple prostitutes". Does that phrase first reach us through the Hebrew old testament where the prophets rails against the pagans and Babylonians for their temple prostitutes? Also the Romans? I always wondered exactly how that worked. But even without that model, Miller is a devoted believer and follower and from the wide perspective his sex life is a sacred, religious devotion. Burke would/could make it out that way. Burke has a huge list of what he called "god terms" that show that whether you use the word "god" overtly there is always some ultimate word/value that functions for any rhetoric or discourse as the god-term for that completely enclosed rhetorical capsule.
Nope, never ran into any tales of abuse in my three years in training. After the fact I had my ears pitched of course to see if any such news filtered back. In the training they were very severe in prohibiting "particular friendships." I had no idea what they were really talking about with that code phrase and never asked. Nose to the grindstone at all times. Later I figured it out of course because guys would not show up for breakfast, having been sent home at night for some unforgiveable infraction of the rules. Never knew what those were but again gossip finally filled in the dotted lines and it was likely that someone had given a blow job or requested one or simply been caught hanging out too closely with someone, "away from the herd" as it was. It was a public life, like prison I gather, where you never had any private time and we had no rooms of our own, all dormitory, military style. If you lasted until your junior year in college, then you moved from the big mansion across the estate to new housing for upper level students, juniors and seniors, where each person had a private room. I really looked forward to that but never got there.
In hindsight I wondered about lots of things, wondered how many signals I might have been missing or refusing to taken in. Not so much about abuse from older guys to younger but just gayness in general. The most suspicious was the district superior who had meals in our big house but in a private library with his private secretary and the two of them lived in what had been the butler's house on the estate. A neat little Tudor bungalow some distance from the mansion. I always thought later, "come on, they had to be a gay couple who could use their power, he was the top dog in the regional administration, to have a private life away from the community at large. The community lived over on the college campus; we were the scholasticate, four years of college students, on the estate a twenty minute drive from campus. I also got suspicious about this superior because he like to play tennis and he chose one of our classmates who was good at tennis to play a game with him every few days, every week, when I was in town. But again that is how "community life" shaped your view of everything----anyone who did something out of the ordinary became suspect. I could see how easily the Salem witch trials could have happened.
From what I gathered the abuse throughout the church (on the east coast, northeast) took place a generation or half a generation after us. I left in 65, lots of guys left then and over the next few years. Also it seems to have been mainly parish priests rather than the religious orders like the brothers.
Someone recently was just explaining the culture that produced it in the sense that the immigrant family structure (in RI it would have been Portuguese) had a distinct practice of grooming, schooling one of the young boys in a large traditional family of children "for the church." They would keep the boy from meeting girls as much as possible, encourage him to be the altar boy, take an interest in church etc and then push him into the priesthood as kind of an offering and badge of family honor and a way of getting the family on good terms with the church, much in the way in earlier ages you arranged marriages of the choice daughters to insure family treaties. It may be that some of this is in the recent movie "Spotlight"---you saw that, didn't you? Was it there? I haven't seen it.
The three years I did in the training were really much more like military and jail than I could have imagined before I went in. No talking, orders, rules, routines, practices, infringements, every moment filled, work, prayer, sleep, eat. There were times off and daily periods for sports and relaxation and social talk but really the group mentality is what was being "formed" and fostered above all.
Also over the years after I've been back in touch with a few guys from then, no one has ever brought up any tales related to the priest abuse cases and there have never been any public cases. Made me feel on the whole very lucky to have escaped exposure to any of it. Along with, for that period in our lives, not having been drafted into the Vietnam war. Such happy days those were.
Finished Leigh Fermor’s third volume, his walk across Europe at the age of 18-20. He finished in Mt Athos. Most astonishing trip. Trying to imagine our young acquaintance from the French Rendevous group here, Brendan Hart, doing something like that. He could and in his own ways is doing so. But walking that distance. I suppose it is comparable roughly to walking the Appalachian trail. That is listed as 2200 miles. Fermor’s walk roughly 1620 miles.
12 April Tuesday night
We forgot the Rendevous this evening. Met and signed up Angie Smith. She will take Va to the pool and do walking. Starts next Weds. Reminded us both of Patsy. They’ve been friends for thirty years. British, came over when she was twenty-six, American soldier, went first to Minot, ND. Last her second husband to melanoma five years ago.
Day off tomorrow. Va goes to PEO. First day off in quite a while, six weeks? Plenty of relaxation and no cooking in Spain. Don’t know what to do with it. Scott M piped up with an email request for coffee so we’ll meet at 4. Where to go? What to do? before that. Who to be?
Modiano’s Occupation Trilogy. So astonishing. Reminds me of Bernhard in the ways he obssessively repeats things and thereby builds slowly the most beautiful and most sad and haunting effects.
Wednesday night 13 April
Sunny today. Warmer down in Concord. Loaner car from Subaru. Went to India Palace on S. Willow after a stop at Barnes & Noble and lo to find it closed for good. Wonder if it is still in Nashua. Headed up to Taj India on Elm and sorry later I didn’t get there. Fell into Consuelo’s instead and didn’t enjoy the fish burrito. Dessert at the Crust and Crumb and didn’t enjoy that either. Nice to walk main street in the sun. Scott called around 11, I was in the car and bluetooth worked like a charm. We’re meeting at 11 tomorrow. Willow had a good Peo meeting. We even walked the ridge before going out to Wally’s. Dave made his Goal and was on Fip again next to Lake Street Dive. He said his whole household did a side pony. What is that??
Monday April 18
He answered of course that the question was quite an existential one. But also the name of the new album by Lake Street Dive and so we bought it. Like the song, like the album.
No swimming this morning, maintenance week at the Spring. Might have the pool ready for Wednesday when Angie has her first day with us. Now what shall we do today? Already walked at the field house to try that black fence. Doesn’t work because the earth is too lumpy and Va’s left foot and leg use that side as we follow the fence and it is just too wobbly.
Tuesday April 19
Let the record show: about 3:11 today I got clear on tomorrow’s day off. Hungarian resto in Manchvegas and wandering the sleazy sidewalks of our largest city much better notion than what was imagined by the golem within for Newport and Claremont and the river valley ‘burbs. Whew. How dumb those golem creatures can be. Golems? Golemoi?
Sunny day, little cooler. We met with Dorcas Gordon our new lawyer in Laconia in the Bowman street school building, dating from 1800s. ? Exact year can’t be found easily enough.
Clarity seeped into my thoughts somewhere between the law office and walking at Lowes in Gilford. What swayed the vote is the topic that always sways the vote once I let myself hear the argument again. On the day off, the key is Always to do it solo. There it is. So hard to keep it clear.
The day off is a mental construct anyway. What is imagined in advance is a feature of the anxiety of what-to-do with the day off. And the search for that once the day begins is the enjoyment that unfolds rather than the realization of the planned and imagined events. Just as with any travel, all travel. “Micro Travels in An Imaginary Hinterland.”
Jim Sisk has published his detective novel, Phil has posted a review of it and wonders if I will read it. Sisk lists on one website that he graduated from LaSalle College in 1966. Had no idea he had gone there and since he was an English major I wonder why I have no memory of even knowing he was there same time I was there? Not that it matters a whit. I guess if I’m going to get on with “my novel” I had better get on with it. No interest in doing a detective novel even though when I watch Grantchester I wish I could have written it.
Thursday morning 21 April
Day off went pretty well yesterday. Hungarian pastry shop for lunch turns out to be super and a place we should have gone to years ago. Great sauerkraut pork goulash and superb sour cherry soup and chocolate raspberry pastry. Mostly you can tell by the quality of the geezers who are there, the office workers lunching out front and most of all the heavy conversation going on between two state politicians at the table next to where I sat. Bright young guy and older pol giving him advice on starting up his campaign. The young guy looked so eager and keen and had such a great, deep speaking voice that I thought, ok, here’s the next governor of the state in about ten more years. Turns out I was right, am right. Another politician came in briefly, he in red bow tie and dark blue blazer, very dapper, very polished, clearly a power in the legislature. The kid stood up to be introduced and I caught his name, Dan something and I think I got the last name correct. When I got home I looked him up and wow, as the one guy said, 12th generation in the state, dairy farming family down in Peterborough (Our Town) and a stellar story already behind him---Dan is now late 30s, got involved in politics in high school with the walking campaign of Granny D against big money, went to Yale and Oxford, married a black South African political activist, they now live in NH and he is now making his first run for office---the seat on the Executive Council for the 5th Congressional District. He’s already raised 50k. I guess the vote comes next fall in line for the presidential election, not sure about state campaigns. Or maybe it comes in two years. Anyway, I’m going to see Dan in the political limelight. He already has a nickname---“Democracy Dan” and a website on how to clean up politics in this country and get it out of big money. He was executive director of Open Democracy until last month and one of the “40 Under Forty” honored by the Union Leader and Citizens Bank last year. Trying to keep young people in the state. Hmmm. Once again, glad I’m not “in politics” or even a lawyer.
Dan says on his website that he’s an Idealist and you can see how consciously he presents himself as such. It’s clear in his facial expressions and sheer presence. Politicians as a tribe I don’t “get.” I remember having Joe McQuaid in class years ago, or did he just speak to a class, anyway he was young and clearly being groomed and hand-picked by Nacky Loeb to take over the newspaper and to be the heir apparent to her husband’s (nasty) legacy and to the Republican party fifedom then in big power in the state and the country. Family itself as a political entity, a power in its own right, as the basis of power. I suppose the Sitter family was the closest thing to that we knew of and in a very minor key. Who else in my experience had any sense of that in Cumberland? The merchant families of Baltimore street, but I knew little of nothing of how far back or forward their influence extended. Power meant the huge companies, the railroads, B&O and C&O, the coal mines, the Celanese. And in the landscape of the town, the churches.
We might get to see the Market Basket movie this evening but we have to be there half an hour before the showing to get a ticket, it seems. Will check on that after lunch with Pat and Ted. Ken and Carole are back but not available. Bert I called and he was apologetic but tied up in something unforeseen. Some chaos.
Manchester felt good yesterday and I can imagine doing my Copenhagen Intensive visits there for a good while.
Wednesday early evening Day off. Va worked on her Pasajero paper all day. I drove to Manchester, to Bedford, to wallow in the new Whole Foods. Has a walking path all around the property, two little waterfalls. Tavern inside commemorating John Goffe who built the first waterwheels to power his work. Have to read more about it on next visit. Bigger than the Nashua store but same layout. Packed with people at mid-day. Ate a bit, shopped, brought home some scones to let Va test them. High approval. Not quit a 10 to match Au Bon Pain but closer than any other scone has reached.
Sunny all day and warmer but still chilly. Email from Dave about ordering a onesie for new baby Kahli MacDonald in Philly. Ordered newborn and six months. They will have the cover of Dave’s new record.
Late Thursday afternoon. April 28 Va to book group soon. Lovely day showing her the delights of Whole Foods and its walking trail. 7000 steps. Getting ready to try all the natural suggestions for gastroE. Kimchi, sauerkraut, licorice, ginger,
Sunday May 1st Wow We made it through the cruelest month and yet today is even more cruel. Rainy and cold and wet, even damp all the way through. Short walk in Wally’s. Willow pretty down in the morning because the PEO event had a harsh vibe when we showed up and they demanded to see evidence she was a member and had to be endorsed by someone who knew her. Earlier we had a nice lunch with Greg and Gerri. They had never been to Panera. We got to asking Gerri how they had met. Shortly after in walks a couple she had not seen in years and years because when she and her husband divorced this couple dropped her at once. I forgot my book so had a beer in the bar and read some of Bernhard on the shirtysleeves website. We had gouté at Starbucks and I had a short talk with the young tall blond guy at the register. Hayden. He had done three years of college in Austin at a Catholic college there but he’s not catholic and is from Damrascotta. Worked with oyster fishermen there and recently had to have some surgery, hanging out in Portland, working Starbucks. After the college stint, he took a year or semester abroad in Morocco and decided not to continue in journalism. Urged him to look up Ray’s Dobrá tea shop, to read Billy Budd, and to . . . what was the third thing?? We drove back and stopped at Lago for dinner. Noisy but the lake looked good and the pork loin and potatoes were good.
long note from Phil and a longer reply from me. I really do wonder where he got the stereotype that German culture is all about death and shit?? See if he can really say. I imagine somehow that it was something his father and family or mother might have said when he was young.
Bernhard continues to strike me as almost typically Germanic in outlook: "Alles is sheiss!" "I am shit. You are shit. Everyone and everything is shit." This outlook is so common in Germany, and I wonder if it got started before the bloodbaths of WWI. Certainly it was prevalent between the two wars, and after WWII. One can almost understand why Germans would feel that way after 1945.
I always make this observation about his Germaness and you never say whether you agree or disagree, whether you like that about his writing or dislike it. I assume, however, that since you continue to read his work, you like it.
Bernhard's preoccupation with himself reminds me of a guy who did a play on Broadway in the 1990s or early 2000s that was nothing but him sitting at a desk giving a long monologue about himself. Later, one of his monologues was on public TV and perhaps even a film was made. I can't remember his name. It is assumed that he committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island ferry (echoes of Hart Crane) but his body has never been found.
Knausgard is also someone who is preoccupied with himself. I know you like his work, but I've never read it and have a prejudice against solipsism, even if it admits that "I am shit."
Bernhard insists he is opposed to "story." Yet he obviously has written stories. I wonder what he means when he says he stops any attempt at "story." You know him better than I do. Any ideas?
PS. A water pipe sprung a leak and so Peg and I are spending last night, today, and tomrrow at a local Marriott Courtyard. On Monday we're hoping a plumber can fix the pipe. It's in the open and easily accessible. Indeed both Peg and I tried to fix it with special kinds of wrapping that Peg found mentioned on the internet. Let me tell you: no wrapping can contain water at 100 psi.
Condolences on the broken pipe. One of the household things I dread the most. Twenty years ago one of our pipes froze and burst and water poured down the living room wall. Not sure I knew then how to even shut off the whole house. Must have though. Hope you can get a plumber to show up let alone fix it. Here it is always dicey. Even one you think is loyal to you may or may not show up when he says. In the summer they all make so much more working for the summer people on the lakes it is almost impossible. Good luck.
I guess I never comment about your take on the death & shittiness of Germanic lit and culture because I've not know just where that comes from. I guess I've not read enough in their lit to have that feel. Brecht I guess. And a little of Mann but I never thought it was in there. Goethe's Faust?? I just haven't read much in German lit. No Gunter Grass, Peter Handke. Not many German movies either. So where does it show up, did it show up, so strongly for you that you have this sense of it?? Heidegger? Hegel? Holderlein? (never read him) Can't think of others. Now the Gruenewald altar piece, that is a fucking ugly piece of highly revered for some reason work.
May well be that I'm a solipsist and don't know it. Might be why any notions of writing a novel never get very far because I know that any reader would be bored by my self-absorbed dreaminess even more than I am. Can't think of that monologuist who drowned in the Hudson, but I know who you're talking about. Taylor something? Never listened to many of his pieces. David Sedaris I've gotten pretty tired of.
Somehow Knausgaard doesn't read that way for me. Maybe I give some writers a pass on this question and for reasons I don't understand. Bernhard I don't take seriously, I mean I laugh with him and the ways I think he's playing and playing with the layers of irony, the kalaidsescope of ironies he sets into motion. (Same I think for the tv series we're deeply into, The Americans, about Russian spies who live in DC).
I just got a small book of newly translated stories by Bernhard. translator James Reidel says in the jacket blurb "Underpinning all these variously comic, tragic and bitingly satiric excursions is Bernhard's abiding interest in, and deep knowledge of, the philosophy of doubt." Not sure who he means here but a quick google search indicates Descartes and the bid daddy of the notion. Reidel goes on--- "Bernhard can seem off putting because he suffes no fools and offers no hand to assist the unwary reader. . . . a writer with powerful comic gifts, penetrating insight into the failings and delusions of modern life, and an unstinting desire to tell the whole, unvarnished unwelcome truth."
Of course he does tell stories so what I suppose he means is something like, actually Virginia Woolf had her own versions of saying the same thing, meaning, oh the way X tells stories (Toni Morrison? Michael Connelly?) is just lame and been-done, worn-out. We need to tell stories in some new ways that don't follow the old, iron ails of genre demands, audience demands, etc. You yourself have complained that you can't get readers to allow you to write a good detective novel where what we are left with are ambiguities and doubts rather than sure and certain absolutes of clear good and bad, reward and punishment. ?
But even as I try to make the connection I can tell that it won't really work. Have to fall back on Latin once again: de gustibus . . .
why am I not writing now, then? skimmed a story Salvatore had in Harper’s last fall. Overwrought opening, ending. Interview on wesleyan site says he says he spent a year on it.
Portland day took a lot of energy of a strange sort by both of us. Shilla was very happy to see us. Wish she had aknowledge Va from the podium or something. Oh well.
passage from Bernhard
light-hearted author, I’m no storyteller, I basically loathe stories. I am a story-destroyer, I am the epitome of a story-destroyer. In my work, whenever any sort of portent of a story appears, or I see any sort of suspicion of a story surfacing from behind a massif of prose, I shoot it down. It’s the same way with sentences, I practically revel in nipping in the bud sentences that even possibly might come to term. On the other hand…
I had read those 3 stories before on shirtysleeves site. There are some newer ones. Started Goethe dies. When I write again, if I do write, it will be to write not like SS or TBernhard. I’m a solipsist. I wonder if by that Phil means what would better be called a narcissist?
Reading a little bit of Knausgaard, a little of Modiano, a little of Bernhard. A fugue or sonata of voices, a way to play with the playfulness of narrative authorities, a way to play these voices as though they wished to fit in with, be in harmony with, mine.
You're asking good questions that I'm having trouble answering. Where did I get my impression of "being German." Well, I can assure you that it doesn't come from reading German philosophers. I've lived my life wondering what the fuck Heidegger wrote - and have read almost nothing by him. But I do know that this idea did NOT appear in any form of German art or thought prior to WWI as far as I know. No way, in addition, would someone like Thomas Mann think along those lines.
So where did I get this impression. From some reading but I can't name the authors or works at the moment. I will have to think. But my feeling is that I've encountered it widely. I also vaguely remember listening to people expressing such feelings. In fact, I remember the first time. It was in Vienna, not Germany. It was in a restaurant. As usual, I was travelling alone and had my nose stuck in a book. This older man castigated my for reading in a Viennese cafe. I put my book down and talked to him. He had been a German soldier on the eastern front in WWII. He had been captured by the Soviets and held in a Russian prison/concentration camp until 1955. He was one of the few Germans who survived and returned. He was also getting drunker and drunker. At one point he started laughing insanely and declaring "alles ist kaput. alles ist scheiss" over and over again. That sticks out in my mind, but I'm sure I've read it and heard it many times since then. From ordinary germans and from various "artists."
I sent off queries to Andrei and Nicholas. I could also ask Annie but somehow I don’t dare do that!
I'm writing you both because you can each give me your take on this question. My old friend in DC always says that he dislikes German writers usually because German culture in general is obsessed with death and cynicism. Here is part of his exchange earlier today ---
"Bernhard continues to strike me as almost typically Germanic in outlook: "Alles is sheiss!" "I am shit. You are shit. Everyone and everything is shit." This outlook is so common in Germany, and I wonder if it got started before the bloodbaths of WWI. Certainly it was prevalent between the two wars, and after WWII. One can almost understand why Germans would feel that way after 1945.
I protested this and asked him where he got this idea and which writers hold it, espouse it or convey it, whether German writers or writers who opine on German culture and character.
Part of his reply is
"So where did I get this impression. From some reading but I can't name the authors or works at the moment. I will have to think. But my feeling is that I've encountered it widely. I also vaguely remember listening to people expressing such feelings. In fact, I remember the first time. It was in Vienna, not Germany. It was in a restaurant. As usual, I was travelling alone and had my nose stuck in a book. This older man castigated my for reading in a Viennese cafe. I put my book down and talked to him. He had been a German soldier on the eastern front in WWII. He had been captured by the Soviets and held in a Russian prison/concentration camp until 1955. He was one of the few Germans who survived and returned. He was also getting drunker and drunker. At one point he started laughing insanely and declaring "alles ist kaput. alles ist scheiss" over and over again. That sticks out in my mind, but I'm sure I've read it and heard it many times since then. From ordinary germans and from various "artists."
My question to you is whether you have found that this is a commonly held belief about the nature and tenor of German thought, culture, character?? Do you hear this opinion, these opinions, voiced by various Europeans, others?
But I will send it also to Dick Mertens and Cliff.
Nietzsche. It all has to be laid at his doorstep. And Schoepenhauer.
Monday May 2
Kafka too. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. I wrote that somewhere else today and now can’t find it. May have been tail-end of note to Phil.
We saw Fowler the orthopedist and he sold us a new commercial heel cuff. Foot Funnel.
Cats had us up all night doing some light mousekeeping. At one point I did see Latte with the mouse in her teeth. Kept her out of the room.
Fourth day in a row of solid rain and gray. I am trying not to note such things. Late in the afternoon Inspector Gronquist spoke to me where I was reading in the lobby of the Nyhaven. He had another man with him. This is Detective Bergen, he said. This man looked like he was in his late forties. Some experience but not yet enough. Short-cropped brown hair, tall, an expressionon his face of startled alertness. I could not tell if he is Danish or Swedish or from somewhere else. He will be handling this from now on, said Gronquist. This? I asked. That body you happened to see a few weeks ago being carried out. I didn’t know it was a “this” I had anything more to do with. He smiled tightly and turned to go. Bergen will fill you in, perhaps you can help him. I nodded to Bergen and he sat in the big chair to my left. He opened a case and took out some papers, shuffling them in a way that made me wonder if he was looking for a way to open his topic to me in the most favorable way. He was, it turned out. Gronquist suggested, we wondered, oh, I’m now in charge of this incident. Gronquist passed it to me. We wondered if you could offer some suggestions? I told Gronquist weeks ago I had no interest in being involved in such things, I said. Yes, but it turns out to be out of the ordinary. Even for Copenhagen? Yes, even for Copenhagen. It was a welcome distraction on this dark gray late afternoon. Bergen said the body was not that of a Brazilian diplomat afterall but that of a powerful Brazilian family who of course wanted every detail to be guarded as much as possible. Drugs, sex, money, the usual items? Jewels? No, he nodded steadily, none of the above. This is why we thought, Gronquist thought, you might think of something. For you? Well, for us, perhaps, perhaps with us. How long had he been here? It seems he had been traveling for a few months, Europe mainly, in and out of Denmark and Sweden during that time, a few days at a time. How old was he? Forties. You’re age? Yes, probably, my age. Fashionably dressed of course, good looking, not married, but not involved so far as anyone has found out. Right, Bergen said. I took my Arne Jacobsen spoon out of my pocket. Do you recognize this? No, Bergen said. This will seem too easy to me, but for you it might be a surprise then. Seems so. Was your Brazilian entangled in Design counterintelligence? Computers, software, that sort of thing? Begen asked, looking a bit skeptical. No, no, I said, look at this spoon, see how it angles, the shallow bowl turned to the left of the shaft? Design as in Danish design for houses, furniture, dinnerware, crystal, cutlery, this spoon and others in its set. Bergen tried to stifle a smile. My parents talked about such things but I confess I don’t know about it. Would this Brazilian have been killed because of something like this? No, not exactly. Since the rise of Scandinavian design as a “world power” as it were in the mid 1950s, Copenhagen, Oslo, these cities have become scenes of intense competition and a good deal of secrecy in the whole gobal world of high design. Tremendous fear of new ideas being stolen, knocked-off, leaked, traded. But the magazines are full of these things, photos, glossy spreads, ads, Bergen objected. Yes, but as with all such worlds, what you see there is what has been secured, managed, branded they call it, made public. But behind all of that stage-setting, power and its discontents make for more intrigue than any magazine browser could ever guess. Much like the Paris fashion world. The Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow etc worlds. But how could we try to find out if this Brazilian fellow was involved in such things? I don’t have much to offer you, Mr Bergen, and I had made clear to Inspector Gronquist that I wanted to offer you people nothing at all for your work. He looked disappointed and went quiet for a few minutes, looking back through a sheaf of papers on his lap.
Tuesday May 3
Too much anger and disappointment this morning about Angie Smith not showing up only to find late this afternoon that we had not gotten her email last week saying she didn’t want to do it for four hours rather than six. Somehow we never saw the email which I think she sent at the end of and afterwards to the email canceling because of the rain and snow a week ago. Just a total confusion of info failure. At the same time she didn’t want to discuss the change---I suppose when we cut from six to four hours she didn’t want to lose the difference in money. Possibly she used that as the excuse to get out of what she wanted to get out of anyway. Va felt that six hours would be too much even though she wanted to do the swim and the walk and the lunch but after that, roughly four hours, what would they do for the remaining two?
We had a good swim and a walk. Lunc here. Cool and rainy, overcast day.
Watched a youtube video to set up the Seagate backup again. Seems ok now. Red Vivos appeared today. 45, wee shorter than 46s but great color and summer mesh look so will keep ‘em. Shoe collection rising at warp speed in spite of dietary intentions. Yikes. Day off tomorrow? partial, perhaps. Dishwasher has crashed, need repair visit. consumer opinions will say we told you so. may or may not need new dishwasher but if and when buy the friggin’ lowes protection plan because it is the only way to get a repair visitor to visit. Closer and closer to bank swap day, Sunday. Tension and excitement mounting.
5 May looking up passages about Howard Garnder’s 8 intelligences. How did I miss this?
Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
May 5, 2014 by Jesamine
intrapersonal intelligenceIntrapersonal intelligence is one of the seven categories of intelligence in the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The conventional, biased – and soon to be obsolete – definition, of intelligence is based on an aptitude in a very specific set of skills, in particular, verbal fluency, computational and mathematical proficiency, and logical/analytical ability. Measurement of only these particular skills was standardized into the highly popular Intelligence Test, something which was used to predict a person’s future educational achievement, job performance, and income potential. A theory of multiple intelligences is a theory which helps us learn the art of whole brain thinking, something which maximizes our brain’s full potential.
Carl Jung was one of the first psychologists to recognize and write extensively about the limitations of an “intelligence” measurement which focused only on the above-mentioned skill-set, a skill-set he would have attributed to the thinking type. In his book Psychological Types, he outlined three other types, namely, feeling, sensation, and intuitive types. In more recent times, a new theory of intelligence came to light through the writing and work of the world renowned developmental psychologist, Howard Earl Gardner. In his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner, formally recognizing the limitations rigidly defining intelligence, defines it with a much broader stroke. Intelligence is
the human ability to solve problems or to make something that is valued in one or more cultures. As long as we can find a culture that values an ability to solve a problem or create a product in a particular way, then I would strongly consider whether that ability should be considered an intelligence.
After studying many effective and distinctly different personality types across cultures, Gardner finally delineated eight different types of intelligence. Before we explore the depths of the intrapersonal type, let’s briefly look at the other types. In order to become more whole, it is important for us to develop as many of these intelligences as possible.
Multiple Intelligence Categories
The ability to express oneself with such clarity that others can comprehend and relate to them. William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln are two examples.
Logical and Mathematical Intelligence
The ability for working with numbers, logical concepts, and abstract analysis. These are the physicists, computer programmers, and mathematicians, such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. If we want to increase our aptitude in this area, it is important that we learn to develop critical thinking skills.
Those with visual intelligence have an ability to see and represent the world using concepts such as shape, color, and form. Those with spatial intelligence understand the effects of manipulating the spatial dimension, such as a chess player who can see 10 moves ahead or a person who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in two minutes. Visual artists of all kinds are also in this category. To develop this skill, we can take a course in drawing.
These people have highly developed motor skills, such as dancers, athletes, sculptors, or even surgeons. If you want to develop this aspect of yourself, do something sexy and fun with your partner like learning how to salsa dance!
Someone with this kind of intelligence has the capacity to think and feel in terms of sound and rhythm. You can develop an ear for music by learning some basic music theory. You will never hear music the same again.
A person with this intelligence has a keen ability to relate to others as individuals. People in this category are teachers and counselors, or someone like Oprah Winfrey. To develop this skill, you have to know how to communicate effectively.
People in this category have an ability to perceive and classify the intricate patterns in the world around them. Scientists, botanists, and biologists would fall into this realm of intelligence. To see more deeply into the intricate world of nature, you can take an online biology course.
Intrapersonal intelligence reflects a person’s innate ability to understand his or her inner world, a world from which many people are entirely disconnected. The core characteristics of a person with a highly developed intrapersonal intelligence are affective awareness, ethical awareness, self-regulation, and metacognition.
Affective awareness is the knowledge of your feelings, attitudes, and outlook. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an affect is
the conscious subjective aspect of an emotion considered apart from bodily changes; also: a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion.
An affect is the psychic derivative of an emotion. It is how you experience an emotion as it emerges, or violently thrusts itself, into your awareness. Think of someone who gets angry about something and then flies off the handle and acts on that emotion without even thinking about it. This person may reflect on that later, asking himself, “Why did I get so upset?” If so, he has the potential to develop affective awareness. If that person does not reflect, he may stay angry, finding all kinds of ways to justify his reaction.
A person with intrapersonal intelligence would react differently to the experience of anger. In the best case scenario, he would first experience anger as an emotion and before acting, would internally notice, “I am feeling anger.” This nano-second of awareness is just enough time to keep that person from responding to the situation with anger. How does a person with intrapersonal intelligence do this? The answer is through a natural tendency toward introspection, and activities which promote self-reflection.
Introspection is the deliberate act of looking inward in order to gain insight into the nature of one’s own thoughts or feelings. An introspective person wants to understand why he or she thinks, feel,s or acts in a certain way, not as a means of justification, but rather as a means to better understand what might be working “behind the scenes”. If he or she uncovers jealousy or envy, then that will further be explored. Where does the jealousy come from? Why am I envious? If fear is discovered, then he or she will want to go to the roots of that fear in order to find out where it started. A person who has explored his or her inner depths in such a way develops an entirely different level of ethical awareness, one that goes far beyond the simplicity of a conventional ethical system.
Self-regulation and Metacognition
Two other core characteristics which emerge out of this tendency toward introspection are self-regulation and metacognition. Behaviorally speaking, self-regulation underlies our ability to act in our long-term best interest, not in an egotistical way, but rather in a way that is consistent with our deepest values. Again, we obtain knowledge of those values only through self-reflection. When we violate our deepest values, we experience guilt, shame, and anxiety, our natural, ethical barometers.
Emotionally speaking, self-regulation is related to our ability to calm ourselves down in a heated moment, so that we do not act in the passion of an overwhelming emotion. This does not mean that we suppress emotions, but rather that we can experience them without identifying ourselves with them, a skill which requires a subtle, but potent shift in awareness. Self-regulation is the ability to say, “I know that I am angry” instead of unconsciously identifying with the anger.
Along with the capacity for emotional regulation, comes a high level of emotional awareness. Emotional awareness allows a person to authentically express and communicate feelings to others in a way that is not as highly charged as someone who is emotionally unaware or unregulated.
Through introspection, one also gains an awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses. This kind of awareness allows a person to make more appropriate choices in their lives. He or she can act on the opportunities for which they are best suited. An awareness of limitations keeps a person from trying to do something for which they are not compatible. In addition, awareness of one’s limitations can show a person where he or she possibly needs to develop.
Metacognition is another unique capability of intrapersonal intelligence. According to the dictionary, metacognition is what “enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” In the learning process, it is an awareness of how you think and what strategies you are using to approach a task. According to a research review by Susan Imel (ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 2002), metacognitive skills are divided into two types:
self-assessment (the ability to assess one’s own cognition) and self-management (the ability to manage one’s further cognitive development) (Rivers 2001).
How to Stimulate Intrapersonal Intelligence
If you have recognized a particular weakness in this area of intelligence, there are things you can do to stimulate intrapersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence is ultimately about having a high level of self-awareness. In order to attain self-awareness, you have to be able to self-reflect – that is – to look at and understand why you do what you do, think what you think, and feel what you feel.
Journaling is a highly effective method for self-reflection. Learning to journal effectively will help increase your self-awareness. You can use the old-fashion method of writing it down or you can use a voice recorder. If you do use a voice recorder, it is best if you take some time daily to transcribe your recordings into a journal or onto your computer. In your journal, you simply write about whatever you are feeling. If you see something that affects you, whether it is a mother and child on the street or a couple in an intense argument, note how you are feeling about that. If someone says or does something that upsets you, write that down. This forces you to become aware of how you are internally affected by the world around you.
The more you journal, the more you start to see patterns in your behavior. For example, do you become overly upset when someone disagrees with you? How do you feel when someone compliments you? Note especially those times when you feel strong emotions, such as love, fear, anger, or anxiety. Once you have noticed patterns, you can start to reflect on those patterns. When do you first remember feeling that way? Can you make a connection between a previous experience and how you feel today?
Another, scientifically-proven, way to increase self-awareness is through meditation. Through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), contemplative neuroscience has been able to show a relationship between meditation and increased grey matter in all areas in our brain that are associated with higher thinking and enhanced levels of awareness, in particular: the frontal cortex, which is associated with executive decision-making; the left hippocampus, associated with learning and emotion regulation; and the temporal-parietal junction, which is related to perspective-taking and compassion.
Simply establishing a practice of daily meditation can increase your intrapersonal intelligence, meaning that it is setting up your brain to make you more aware, to be more reflective, to make better-informed decisions, and to be able to see with a much broader perspective. Now, when you add to those effects of meditation, conscious self-reflection, you will start to take leaps and bounds in enhancing your intrapersonal intelligence. Through your enhanced executive decision-making ability and self-reflection, you will be more naturally inclined to consider your strengths and weaknesses in every big decision. With better emotional awareness and regulation, you will not act on heated emotions, but instead, step back and notice your mood. If you have ever acted rashly due to uncontrolled emotions, then you already know the benefits of learning to regulate them.
The theory of multiple intelligences does not have to compartmentalize us in the one area where we show competency, but rather a theory of multiple intelligences can open the door for us to develop other areas of our brain, and thus, give us opportunities to experience our lives in new and exciting ways.
this is a blog on a site called udemy.com from 2014 not sure who Jessamine is.
another Oprah Winfrey! yikes
Intrapersonal Intelligence. Aping Vision / STS/ Photodisc/ Getty Images
By Melissa Kelly
Secondary Education Expert
Updated November 24, 2014.
Intrapersonal Intelligence Definition:
Interpersonal intelligence is one of Howard Gardner's Nine Multiple Intelligences. It involves how skillful an individual is in understanding themselves. Individuals who excel in this intelligence typically are introspective and can use this knowledge to solve personal probelms. Psychologists, writers, and poets are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high intrapersonal intelligence.
Individuals Who Typically Have High Intrapersonal Intelligence:
Following are examples of individuals who typically have high intrapersonal intelligence:
Famous People Who Have High Intrapersonal Intelligence:
Traits of Those Who Have High Intrapersonal Intelligence:
Spends Time Alone
Likes to Work Independently
Likes to Write in a Journal
HOWARD GARDNER’S THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES Page | 9
Learning style and preferences
— one’s own needs for and reaction to change, ability to deal with change in the workplace
— one’s relationship to others and the world
— personal cognizance
— personal objectivity
— the capability to understand oneself
—one who is self- aware and involved in the process of changing personal thoughts, beliefs, and behavior in relation to their situation
—other people, their purpose and aims
Tasks, activities and assessments
— consider and decide one’s own aims and personal changes required to achieve them (not necessarily reveal this to others)
— consider and decide one’s own position in relation to the Emotional Intelligence Model
Multiple Intelligences, Take the Test
People with intrapersonal intelligence are adept at looking inward and figuring out their own feelings, motivations and goals. They are introspective and seek understanding. They are intuitive and typically introverted. They learn best independently.
Prefers working alone
Often thinks of self-employment
Spends time thinking and reflecting
Likes learning about self
7 May 2016 Saturday morning
I actually feel a bit sorry for exeter and the principal. They are under the sort of attack that every
private school must really dread these days. How many former students might come forward and
claim x, y or z twenty years after the fact? The lawyer's fees could bankrupt a lesser place although I guess
all institutions now have sweeping insurance policies to handle such events.
We're watching the AMC channel mini-series The Nighty Manager taken from a LeCarré novel and it is
Really Good. That plus The Americans and we are steeped in conspiracy drama, FBI and MI6 drama
enough to keep us quiet in any nursing home.
Swam and logged more pedometer steps yesterday than in the past six months for one day so we try to
"stay active" "as we age."
Already getting emails from the political bloggers indicating that we all know that Hilary has got it and the next real chance for anything is the congressional fight in two years. But Donald could also be poised to defeat
Hilary after four years, although that might give him and his thugs way too much credit.
LeCarré could use it in a novel though. I tried to reply to your email about Exeter on the same email
chain and Google got allj quirky on me and I thought---oh oh Exeter has all the snoops on their emails
so of course everything will be examind going in and going out even the cut and pasted stuff, forwarded
Must be a Huge File on U! 😓 don't you hate these things? yet as with all the rest of this new junk junking
up our lives one has next to no resistance.
Va has us going to a party of Spanish people this afternoon. I'm supposed to wear black pants, a white shirt and a red cummberbund so I look like a hidalgo from Seville. I think I have some clean khakis and a blue shirt so maybe I'll look more vagely Raj than Andalu.
Sunday night May 8
Dinner with H & T today in Newport
Monday May 9
Willow super high this morning. Woke up with another breakthrough on her Luces article. Feria at R’s very strange. Food terrible, except for the jamon Serrano and the ensaladilla rusa. We were both surprised, shocked even! Fun to see the young girls attempting the sevillanas and R calling them out like square dancing.
passage on Spurious this morning, so much for Handke, don’t have to read any of him or any more of him, based on this letter he wrote in 1986. As much as I love architecture I would never have said that description of locales is the most important thing. Seems very strange even to say that. Consider Modiano’s moods. Pessoa, Marías, Proust, etc. Handke would rule lots of writers out it seems.
“I am suddenly seeing the rudiments of description, of enthusiastic description of locales and spaces, which for me is of course the most important thing in literature. “ He’s trying to praise Bernhard a bit.
I cherish what Thomas Bernhard does, but in my view it isn’t literature.
Ah yes, Thomas Bernhard, the room-clearer of Austrian literature. “His suggestive power consists in his ability to exploit and assemble prejudices. It affects me like an article from Der Spiegel. I often think he is our best Spiegel correspondent in Austria. Because the things he writes don’t tackle problems of narrative or form at all, they seem to me to be having an almost detrimental effect on art. I found his last few books to be almost criminal in their shoddiness. Apart from his suggestive power, which of course is unique to him and always extremely effective, there was nothing there. But in his new book, Extinction, I am suddenly seeing the rudiments of description, of enthusiastic description of locales and spaces, which for me is of course the most important thing in literature. Otherwise it is of course difficult not think of this drama about the lord of a castle as [Ludwig Ganghofer’s 1895 novel] Castle Hubertus, only with a negative spin. But I was cheered and relieved by those descriptions of the orangery or of the kitchen, because I was able to enjoy a feeling of parity. Of course I wish I could approve of him; I have indeed revered him for 25 years as a kind of secular Austrian saint.
Handke on Bernhard, from an article in 1986 (letter 501 here)
Monday evening Cold today and now windy. Bright bright sun.
Weds 11 Super bright and Warmer Spring day. Hooray. day off to and PEO day.
Reality check in Newport and bag drop. Winding drive down to Concord. Saw lanky Scott Denoncourt walking past Pitchfork, mid-back long pony tail. Walking in a wonderful loosy-goosy style that suggested he had just come out of yoga and tai chi or such but no, seems that’s just the way he walks. We had lunch at the vital grasses place, big salad which he always has there. Great talk about how he sees things from the ripe old age of 45! Can’t believe it. Maybe he’s same age/generation as Ray Marcotte. Scott was married for thirteen years. Divorce amicable about five years ago. Now involved with Maura from Kentucky, ten years younger, starting to work as a therapist, probably move up here. Met via Cupid.com. He met up with about twenty women via internet sites before meeting her and deciding they could really click. Here is the new Close Reading and Explicationne de texte---reading the info to tell if it is legit, honest, promising, resonant enough to risk the first real get-together. Scott writes internal Compliance and Reporting documents for the Community Loan Fund in Concord. Gave me a “favorite professor of all time” post on Facebook. Six of his co-workers live in a commune, dating way back, five women and one man. Old hippies, he says. Scott bought an 1820 house in Strafford, works on it. Main enjoyment is freestyle bike riding, something he’s been doing since he was on campus here, started it back in high school after seeing some magazines that it was indeed a “thing” he could keep doing. There are meets and get-togethers, regional, national, world. One up in Quebec coming up or last year, forget exactly. He doesn’t have a tv, doesn’t read at all, or not much. Has taken up hunting in past few years, deer. Eats low to no carbs, not veggie but likes this big salad lunch. Feta cheese and garbanzos mixed in with the leaves. Huge bowl but chopped up a bit so looked smaller when served. Still, largest salad I’ve had for months. Told him he had to go starchivore. Won’t vote at all in the election. Not worth it. Likes what Bernie is trying to do.
Super lovely day. We should watch more of Night Manager and now I am reading the book to see how it reads. Some dialogue is exactly the same.
12 Thurs night Ready to taper off Prilosec few days early. Googled and sure enough one side-effect is water-retention and bloating and weight gain. Could tell that two or three days ago. Found good articles saying don’t take this stuff. Does not solve the problem, makes matter worse. Have to keep looking up about natural solutions---exept of course cutting back on caffeine!!!
First day of walking at the Docks. Got up to 80.
Sunday Cold again, snow even up in the mountains. We could see it blowing when we came out of Wally’s around 4:30.
Trying hard to like Night Manager as a book. It feels like masterpiece theater stuff cobbled and re-cobbled into a 70s style thriller. Le Carré had his day.
Looked up printing prices and I think I will go ahead with Andy St Martin’s idea since I see the price ranges might not be that bad. Of course he could charge a mark-up, so will wait and see.
here’s his longest message on it. In a later message he is worried about me not printing or sharing it in any way.
Hi- I just presumed that the piece might possibly be too large for most spaces, and seeing how you are in NH,(and now I see perhaps Paris),I jumped ahead to the scale issue, and some possible alternatives if you really want it.
What i suggested is not how i am typically working these days. Most all of what folks buy from me is original. I paint on birch faced plywood which is glued to a stretcher, sealed etc./or on paper. But this painting which we are talking about is 5'square heavy and would be a bitch to just drive across town.
It has been professionally photographed digitally and i have the files. Here in Austin there is a place called Holland Photo who print on canvas photographically. YES, it could be shipped unstretched I believe. Furthermore i believe the size could be determined by need. I have never done this but would like to try and could oversee quality and find out their price to determine mine. As you can see this is a little bit outside the sale parameters
due to the nature of the printing and stuff. I would want to get a price on the printing before i gave you a price for the piece. And that would be determined by the scale you wanted,.....the piece is square though.
I will attach a jpg that you may use for reasons of showing to your son ,et al. But i am not authorizing permission for you to print it or use it in any other manner., except for speculation. the jpg i send is copywritten to andystmartin 2016, no unauthorized reproduction.
let me know if you want me to proceed with investigating an estimate for printing and sale and shipping to you.
512 658 4467 is my cell.
Weds May 18 Va’s Birthday
Yesterday with Elizabeth Ang was a bang-up success. Today we’re off to Laconia for hair and first signing our new wills and testaments at the office where Dorcas works. And then?? no suggestions have been made yet.
My day off was good. Tried Campo in Manch and sure enough it is the sister-place to Republic. Better though. Less crowded and better interior colors. Good food, wine. Cafe Pavone was the original place started by the couple that owns these two newer bistros. Passed on the Sicilian potato pizza which I had at Lago and was a total disasters. These “chefs” subscribe to the same professional magazine, but they may or may not realize the product with the same success.
from Phil about the novel. I could give up on it all together. Getting tired of it. Much better as a tv movie. Shorter and sweeter with decent acting roles for the stars. Relegate it now to paragraph a morning status.
note from Phil
Many years ago I read "The NIght Manager." As I recall, it was his first book after the end of the cold war, and there is no doubt that LeCarre's stories were much better when it was England vs East Germany or the Soviets. In my opinion, he has never been much good since then. One or two of his post cold war books have been turned into movies, and I've seen one of those and thought it sucked as badly as the novel, which was about drug companies using Africans to test new drugs - in other words, a crappy, politically correct banal idea.
As for ghost writers, I can't remember NM well enough to say. Researchers? He may have some, although I get the sense that he travels to some place then writes about it, sort of modelling himself on Graham Greene, although Greene usually spent much longer periods of time and got to know the places better (viz Mexico, for one). Also Greene always had his odd and obsessive religious hangups lurking somewhere in the story, which is one way to keep stories from being simply prosaic, with no real meanng beyond being just a fucking story.
A ghostwriter website? Maybe. But I think most celebrities are upfront about "written with ...." and if a genuine "writer" is using a ghost he is probably paying the ghost quite handsomely to keep his or her mouth firmly shut about the deal, with severe financial penalties if the story got out. So how would the website get any info that wasn't already in the public domain?
BTW we have just been flooded with daily rain for over two weeks. It's really getting monotonous.
no ideas. A novel of only beginnings. Everything trails off into nothing further, nothing connects, goes nowhere. How the heck did Beckett do it?
25 May Wednesday 5pm
Phone call from Kenny L about 4pm just as I woke from my nap. We were at the docks by 8:30 am to escape the heat of the day. Luckily it is arriving now and didn’t get up to 85 as promised. Maybe south of Tilton.
Point of amazement for the day during Kenny’s phone call. Just back from a week in NY for the annual CBS and parent companies’ annual meeting. Always held in the auditorium of MOMA. Station directors saw hundreds of pitches for new shows, they buy and sell at this meeting. Almost every presentation riffed on “Hamilton” in one way or another, borrowed, quoted, styled. He wondered how and why such a show gets to be so important. In the biz they have no worries about the future of the major networks. TV is now called Content. Content delivered now on multiple platforms. I asked if in the week in NY he had seen a Broadway show. He thought there were few of interest and had no idea that this has been the biggest year for Broadway in decades, that one site lists 117 theatrical events available tonight in NYC and that this season there were 39 new shows. Point of amazement: how insular these operations are from each other, the world. Yeah, annual meeting, bring the network managers to town and have them buy new shows and renew old shows for their regional networks. Take them out for a night or two in the city itself? Make sure they see a new show that is not “Hamilton.” Make sure they see the new Oculus train station at ground zero? Show them the new skyline of the city, now spiked with skinny skyscraper condos for trillionnaires? Nah. Give ‘em some steaks and drinks in the hotel and maybe a lap dance around the corner.
The day off was yesterday. The morning was strange. Heavy rain clouds may have reduced the oxygen available (?) and set the mood for the drive west. When I got to Newport I dropped the Gazelle mailing box into the blue box in front of the post office, changed my mind, took a walk along main street, it was starting to rain a bit, and then headed up to Hanover. I felt shakier and shakier and pulled into the Panera lot. By then I was convinced something was wrong with the front right wheel of the car, especially on the highway and I got very panicked about what might happen. I had lunch there to calm down, read some of the novel. Later I wondered if I was even having some kind of flash-back about Virginia’s event, being in that landscape, in that weather, that time of year, she was in a coma with the terrible head helmet in the hospital in Windsor and it took everything I had to go visit every day or every other day. Must have been in a deep shock zone of some sort at the time without even knowing it or knowing what to do about it. Talking with Anne on Sunday about Greg’s case of viral encephalitis may have prompted worry about major health trauma. Last night Anne told me Greg is better and prognosis is completely good. Still, some convergence of anxiety flared yesterday. This morning coming back from the docks I decided to rent a car at Enterprise for tomorrow and it felt like such a relief.
Naked bodies causes all sorts of things, because our society never taught us to face them. It’s actually the other way around, most people don’t know how to react to nudity… we only consider nudity valid when we’re taking a shower, with a closed door, where no one can see us. Or when we’re going to have sex, usually at night, with the lights off. We talk about embarassing situations and say “I feel like I’m naked”, like there was nothing worse in the whole world. Starting from the story of Adam and Eve they have been teaching us that we have to be ashamed of our body, that we have to hide it.
A lot of these limits have been challenged by technology in recent years. And that’s great! The world is now a place where people are freer to express, live and get to know themselves, and that includes their body and their sexuality. Never before has humanity had so many different ways of doing it and transmitting these expressions, to one person or to a billion at a time. Also, there has never been so much openness to diversity, and many different global influences and ways to thinking.
But, when did we jump from that to thinking that we can just publish private photos or personal information that belongs to other people? At what point did we decide to take advantage and judge everyone for what they do, where they go, what they practice or how they look? Why do we think that life is over if someone sees us naked or openly excersising our sexuality? Let’s not pretend we’re always consequential, everyone has enjoyed a “leaked” naked photo of someone else, even if it is from a famous artist, and by accident. But it is time to stop having this massive obsession for controlling people’s bodies, for imposing what they can or can’t do.
The human body is beautiful. It would be great if most people weren’t ashamed by their own body, both for themselves as well as when they’re with other poeple, and that they would feel free to do with it what they wanted. It would also be great if no one felt that stubborn urge to humiliate, expose and judge the bodies of other people in order to control them. The human body is there to enjoy, value and admire, everything with consent and complete freedom.
Very broadly tantra is a means to enlightenment through identity with tantric deities. It is sometimes also called “deity-yoga.” These deities are not “believed in” as external spirits to be worshiped. Rather, they are archetypes representing the tantric practitioner’s own deepest nature.
Sexual rites were historically practiced by a minority of sects. It may have emerged from early Hindu Tantra as a means of catalyzing biochemical transformations in the body to facilitate heightened states of awareness. These constitute an offering to Tantric deities.
The sex rituals were large and elaborate, often involving anywhere from ten to fifty celebrants. It was an indulgent event, and not just in a sexual way. Celebrants often smoked cannabis, drank alcohol, and enjoyed a huge feast.
Tantric ideas and practices spread from India to Tibet, Nepal, China, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.Tibetan Buddhism and some forms of Hinduism show the strongest Tantric influence, as do the postural yoga movement and most forms of American New Age spirituality.
photo by Rick Ricardo
Life is too good. Ken fixed up our Apple TV. Irving is refunding us nearly 2000 we overpaid. Ed Samson is hard at work in the garden. Ryan from Stone Creations reassured me that the fissure will not expand into a huge gap. Now we have sunshine and sweet air.
Today is Thursday. Holding on to where we are and what is going on. Fifty years since Art and Karen married, since Phil and his friends graduated from Oberlin and Brown.
Started Nocilla Dream, the great new Spanish writer, Fernández Mallo, and sure enough Nocilla is Spanish name or slang for nutella. How did I know that? The book is going to be less than I was hoping for, maybe. Very skeptical because the guy is a physicist, described as “a qualified physicist” in the flyleaf notes. Who says that? His focus is on art and science. Hmm, ok. He “adapted” many pieces from the New York Times to flesh out the book. Ok. Hmm. And then he cites other sources more carefully. He calls the whole book, trilogy, “docu-fiction.” The fiction part is the “personal fiction” we refer to as “the imagination.” Again, hmm.
we’ll see. Wouldn’t it be better just to steal the stuff here and there and see if anyone cares?
Piece on plagarism in the current Bookforum but it doesn’t convince me that such theft is as terrible as it claims. Maybe it is a review of a book on Clark Rockefeller. Sure at that level, at any level, the con damages everyone involved. But Mallo’s book and others like it somehow soften all of that. “It’s only a book” and he “signals” his theivery in interesting ways. He “adapted” many articles from the New York Times and that is ok but what of the writers for the Times, both named and anonymous?
Peg sent Va an article on stem-cell research that has her very excited and I hope not too much so. How could we get her into a research project like the one described? Is it still an impossible distance down the road? Or is it indeed possible in the next five years? No way to know.
Nocilla feels like the author was watching Breaking Bad before and after he started writing it. Not sure if the timeline overlaps would support that. But where did this Spanish writer get into the American West in this way? And why? So far I am not as intrigued by it all as it wants me to be. Even though I’m happy to see Copenhagen show up and the micronation of Christiana be explained. In my quick visit to Copenhagen, I missed Christiana altogether, did not even know about it. But I was not there for hippie Copenhagen.
I would tire of Copenhagen, even with the three hotels to try to distract me. I would want to leave after a while. I knew this when I went there. This is my pattern with everything. Is this why Claudia left? But it was about her, about us, not about me. But it was nothing about us at all. It was something else altogether. Something I can’t imagine. Something I move beyond, as is my pattern, as I try to make be my pattern, something beyond me in the first place, so why even try to move beyond “it.” Allow it to be beyond, out of any grasp. Wait. Something will arrive, cross paths, interject, show up.
Sunday June 5
Recital in Gilford this afternoon. Va practicing right now, 11 am. Great night’s sleep. Outlander has lost my interest once more, almost altogether. Battle coming up. Read the interview with Enrique in Bomb. Va reading the book in Spanish. Hypo-thermia has been here on the bed all summer. Back to Modiano now that Bernhard’s Goethe finished. Could read it again. Like it especially the one about the parents taking the son hiking in the alps for peace and quiet.
June 7 Tuesday night
Now 72. Va and Elizabeth had a good time, Eliz brought me a red velvet cake later. I ate lunch at N’Awlins in Manchester. Pretty good actually. Small ice cream cone. Walked about four miles too. Wow. That’s not very much, Concord and M. Peeked into the catholic church in Concord for the first time ever. ! White gothic altar with angels in the side towers, wooden construction, not as old as but reminiscent of St Pete’s in Cumberland. Might be as old but probably not.
Mallo has this great line at the frontispiece of his book: “To write is to attempt to know what we would write if we were to write.” Marguerite Duras, Writing. Could quibble with “to know.” “attempt to feel what we would write if we were to write.” Trouble is no one would accept “to feel” in relation with “to write.” But we could try it.
To write is to try to feel what we would write if we were to write.”
Lots of nice birthday greetings on facebook and a few in emails. Nice long note from Kirsten. Davey sent me a $75 Amazon gift card ! ! ! Could buy some German potato and peanut butter candy if it shows up anywhere. Had a hankering for it the other morning when I walked into the kitche. Very weird, very Proustian I guess.
I love to hear what friends are reading and to-read. Modiano: I copyedited a short story of his for a Grove/Atlantic anthology a few months ago. It was very mysterious. Proust: yes, on my list! esp. since I loved Lydia Davis's translation of Madame Bovary (or maybe I just loved Madame Bovary, since Davis's was the only version I've read). Knausgaard: I read the first volume and admired it but for some reason don't feel compelled to read the rest. Marias: on my list to read something by him. Bernhard: I'm one of the adorers, though I've only read The Loser (twice, the first time, I think, at your recommendation) and Wittgenstein's Nephew. I've been in the midst of Correction for a couple of years now. Need to finish it and start another. I got his memoir when we were in Chicago the other month.
But for now I'm reading Emma, just to follow Karamazov with "something completely different," in Monty Python fashion. I was never mad for Austen but now I appreciate. And I feel less pull lately to read all that's new (though tempted by Claudia Rankine and a novel of Michael Cunningham's I saw on display in our hotel at Yale), more desire to slip into past centuries. Except I think I might read some Neil Postman soon.
Yale was fun, esp. the museums, and we got to have tea in the obnoxiously exclusive but fun to visit Elizabethan Club. Those students are way too spoiled! It was also alumni weekend, so there were lots of elderly men in loud blue and white striped jackets holding forth on every corner.
Not a page of Aquinas yet! We did attend a service at the Thomas More chapel at Yale, so I spent a Catholic hour--a beautiful place, yet too perfect. The choir and psalmist sounded like they'd just stepped off Broadway.
I hear David and his adorable (I've only seen pictures!) French-speaking children are coming in August--hoping to see!
June 10 Friday
Sunny and warmer than yesterday’s super chill. We did our blood testing first and then headed to Polly’s for comfort on a cold and damp day. From there to lunch here and then on to Concord after a nap where we ate popcorn while watching the lame british movie from an Austen “novella.” Unfinished I bet. I dozed through that too. Dinner at Thai Orchid. Tonight we go see Billy Elliot in Manch.
Nice ecstasy passage at the end of Jacqueline’s tale in Modiano’s Café.
“I allowed myself to succumb to an intense feeling of intoxication that neither alcohol nor snow had ever given me. I climbed the slope as far as the Château des Brouillards. I had made up my mind never to see the bunch at the Canter again. Later I revisited the same intoxication every time I broke off all ties with someone. I was never really myself when I wasn’t running away. My only happy memories are memories of flight and escape. But life always regained the upper hand. asked me to meet them up there . . . and it would be a new beginning . . . . waiting for a sign . . . . wide-open sky . . . .feeling of lightness that can sometimes come to you in a dream . . . . Intoxication? Ecstasy? Rapture? . . . road was familiar to me . . . . I felt as if I had walked it before. . . . . I would throw myself into the void. What happiness it would be to float through the air and finally know the feeling of weightlessness I had been searching for my whole life. I can still remember that morning with such clarity, that street and that sky at its end.” 77
I was never really myself when I wasn’t running away or running towards, hovering, really, in the middle between people or places, neither of which would ever work out as one had hoped.
Saturday late afternoon June 11
Monday June 13
Waiting for Lowe’s dishwasher install team, actually from Peters or Peterson’s of Nashua? between 11 and 2, now 12:45. Nice Face visit with the kids. Eliot spat at the crêche today when he didn’t want to take off his coat. Emma made this wonderful drawing of Tick Tock the crocodile, with a mouth that opens, 3-D and two blue eyes, ready to eat you up. Cécile’s not happy with her school.
The idea took hold on a visit to Cleveland for one of thos professional conventions some years ago. The meetings lost my interest quickly, and for refuge I went out for a walk around the central part of the city. I found a coffee shop and sat over a cup and read, but the activity of the café was still more revved than tranquil. I walked half a block down the street and walked into a large hotel, saw some seating at the far end of the lobby. I sat and read for over an hour. The buzz of people coming and going was at a perfect distance. Close enough to give me distractive rest from the rigors of reading every now and then and far enough away to keep me from eavesdropping on conversations I didn’t want to hear. Why had I never realized this? Hotel lobbies became my target destinations from then on when I wanted a day off. Far more restful than any other public places I could think of or had already explored.
two messages from Andy
Glad to hear back from you so soon. I agree with you on the canvas format for many of the same reasons, and some others
more esoteric and peripheral. I am in the middle of my work day, and will fill you in on those tonight or tomorrow.
In the middle of a job and need to finish, but mucho gracias , and will talk soon(write), but yes i would like to do the
canvas as well.
best wishes Andy
yes i think the printed canvas is best for all reasons listed, particularly the "what the hell do we do with it now"
syndrome that the Giclee represents. I paid my photographer one time with a piece on paper that he loved and it had its childhood on the dining room table of their house , until it moved to his workspace, where it now sits unframed.
And quite frankly the framing industry is an arm of the Mafia. Although the mafia is scared of them too.
I dont know how well you knowMarcel Duchamps works, but he came up for more than one reason in this process.
As i told you the original painting is called MARCEL WENT SWIMMING AT DEEP EDDY BUT IT GOT TOO COLD.
Its a riff on acouple things but primarily a reference to Duchamp thrown onto a Joan Mitchell title (George went swimming at BarnesHole but it got...). The painting has a gear like set up in it ,mine that is, and the mechanism reminds me of Duchamp.
But also Duchamp made reproductions in miniature of his ready-mades etc. and boxed them together.(the GreenBox,)
Little 3d versions and little postcard size things of his paintings, boxed them altogether and tried to mass market them,
dragged them to industrial fairs and such, So a mini painting of Marcel went, makes alot of sense,as well as being practical,
lets do the canvae???Confirm please. bestwishes Andy
Friday 17 3:39 pm
I got the test print of the painting to see what it would look like at 24x24 and it looks great so I went ahead and ordered itat that size. The canvas takes out any hint of the "digital" and the painting has a slightly soft focus feel to some of it so it works in its favor.
Let me know what to do with second 265 i recieved .
Cheers , Andy
Now Monday after a Big Saturday: memorial for Henry Vittum at the Methodist church on Fairgrounds Road, said hello to Mary Lou, Joe M fled halfway through the service but he was in blazer and tie! Surprisingly Va had us leave when our row was signaled to go to communion. Mid-day at the Rogers Street block party. Smaller. At 3:30 Heusers picked us up to meet Art, Karen, Gloria and Keith at the Mt Washington for dinner. Beautiful weather. Still today clear and sunny, bit too dry for the garden and lawn.
Neither of us slept well last night, though. Going to be hot today. Up to 91.
Bob Feeny stopped by yesterday around 3. Delightful visit. He got baptized yesterday at the CC church. Turns out it is much more difficult to get ordained in the midwest conference(s). So he’ll come back here for that in a few more years. He’ll do parish work internship in the fall. Wants to read more in the prophets. Took OT Hebrew this year, probably NT Greek next year. Working for res life on campus, now taking the train from Lakeview. Hyde Park feels too scary to them I think. Sarah a bit more, plus her job is in or near LakeView and her friends. He can read on the train ride. He loved reading Tillich. His advisor says he is a theologian more than an ethicist or a social activist or any of the other “modes.” Not sure what they call them.
Finished Modiano’s Café, which I almost feel I could re-read at once. So beautiful.
Sunday 26 June
Jessica visiting, approves of the new sofabed. Nice photos of Cawley with beard and dog, “Murci.” He’s created an App and is trying to get funding for it and tech partners to produce it.
Glorious weather continues. High to 85+ in the afternoon and down again to sweet sleeping weather at nights.
Bert put in the third heat pump in our room on Friday. Perfect job. Thursday Britain’s Referendum decided to leave the EU. Consternation worldwide.
Have never seen Nicholas so upset---on Facebook that is---I could tell by his posts and replies how troubled and dismayed he is and the rest of the 48.5% who lost. Alan Allcock among them. And Rupert. Are these the three Brits we know.
Tuesday 28 June
Back to or circling around the notion that the whole thing should be seen as the era of False Starts. Could even use Brexit as a world instance of event that seems to shake and signal new beginning in the old style historical sense of change but will play out as yet another false start, like the Great Super-Depression-Recession of 2008. Massive and unprecedented we were told in the initial wave of panic and yet things are back to normal, whatever normal used to be or is now. Things are not of course back to anything and huge changes did happen but at so many different and varied layers and ways the ordinary person cannot really sense of see or get any sort of handle on. WWII still our benchmark because huge, short-term upheaval, clear evil, battlelines drawn, victory declared. After that we have this string of false starts.
No fiction captures the sense of this, the undending unfolding of unpromising big deals that almost instantly peter out. If in the tech world a “generartion” has gotten shorter and shorter, in ordinary life the same thing is happening at a slower pace but a recognizable pace. Hence the networks and media try to keep everything ratched up to a fever pitch. The whole Brexit vote could be the “peasant” revolting by saying you know enough with the feverishness of all these false starts. Back to slow muddle, please. Ok, not “back” but forward to nothing much special. Lowered expectations all around and not just for the working poor.
"That Saturday in June, so close to summer vacation season, it was very warm at around two in the afternoon. I was alone in Paris, with the prospect of a long, idle day ahead of me. I decided to go to the other address on the doctor's card, in the Seine-et-Marne region. . . . I took the metro to the Gare de Lyon, then bought a ticket for Fossombrone at the window for the communter trains. I had to change at Melun. The compartment I entered was empty, and I was practically giddy at the thought of having found a purpose to my day. "Afterimage" 38 Patrick Modiano
Weds June 29
We did Concord today for lunch and walking. Wally’s there now seemed ok. Heavy rain in the middle of the night. Lunch yesterday with Ryan D. Picked him up in Lincoln and we drove up to Littleton and had a good lunch at Bailiwick’s, the tavern upstairs in the big building that has been there for years. He loved treating the experienced waitress with proper respect and affection. He likes waiting tables, gives him the social encounter he enjoys. He talked about realizing more than he ever had how he’s more of an introverrt that he’d thought. Had never given it much thought. Remember he had that terrible car accident a year or so ago and the miraculous recovery, in Concord Hospital. Mabye it was the summer before last? Or was it even last summer, late? We saw him in February this year. Loves Barcelona still. The Italian girl is in the picture but his true love is British and there is a Catalan in play as well. His picture of bliss is having drinks with two of them on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city one beautiful sunny evening. His proposal has been approved. The Catalan young woman professor gave him superb advice on how to cut it into manageable pieces and publish a string of papers at conferences. He ordered us the famous Hendrick’s gin and tonic with cucumber slices not lemon. Is Hendrick’s made with cucumbers? I just knew enough to know it is trendy these days. But later in the day, even into the evening, I felt weird and I wonder if gin is not for me. Or even liquor. Had calamari, stuffed artichoke hearts and a small flatbread we shared. Even so it seemed too much. “Meet the delightfully curious Hendrick’s Gin. Life is too glorious not to experience its peculiar flavour, infused with rose & cucumber in our Scottish distillery.” Rose even ! Scottish.
Ed’s comment on July 2
Hi, I was fascinated by your "story", and of course the narrator. Perhaps illegitimately ( or playfully even) I found myself the speaker's experience in the context of a meditation. So here goes: I found this character in pain...and with a plan to expunge this pain...which involves an unbinding, an unravelling of all "story"...a skating across a clear pond. And in this way attaining detachment (peace). And of course more stories are always on the rise, but they can be "noticed", "played with" and thus deprived of power. But I think this ultimately won't work (the relief of pain). And this is because the "foundational story" remains...that of the "poor fellow", always seeking, always trying to outrun the Devil...the "hero" desperate for escape. The narrator in his desire to dissolve is extremely self-coscious...the ultimate paradox.
I think you have created a really provocative piece. It so skillfully provided me the opportunity to think and to explore where I am in this "moving around the city". So thanks. And I'll bet that everyone you're showed it to has come up with something different. That's how it should be. See you Tuesday. Hello Virginia. Ed
quite astute, really, about the unending search. The “in pain” part surprised me and for a while I didn’t know what to make of that. Not practiced at writing fiction is how I’ve phrased it now. Moi.
After a day or so and after re-reading Ed’s comments, I can feel how it does liberate one a bit to throw the piece out there, hear some response and reconsider your own attachment to it and let it go and be what it is, fully-formed or not, successful or not. Finished? I want to add one detail about the police detective’s reaction and then I want to have my narrator find a book with a random passage about hotels and synchronicity and after that he will move on to Milan. That will end the piece.
Next? a third-person meditation that merges Cliff and Nicholas into one traveling gigolo or something like it. He had learned to be picked-up by women of a certain age and temperament in the grand garden lobby of the Palace Hotel years ago. And now that he traveled often for the Foundation, he had his trips have stop-overs in Madrid as often as possible. This was the center of his erotic life, his sexual activity, what he thought of as his Tantric way.
small psychic event
image of the anthrooolgies store
yesterday shows up on facebook
todsy a memory frim seven years ago
or War and Peace when the injured Andre Volkonsky happens to find himself in a surgeon’s tent next to his greatest enemy Anatole Kuragin, and thinks ‘this man is somehow closely and painfully connected to me’. Perhaps that’s one of the reason we love novels – because they give us that sense of an aesthetic pattern to life. Milan Kundera talks about this in the Unbearable Lightness of Being:
Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. It is wrong then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences, but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.
Right. Synchronicity is a flash moment where you’re glimpsing a hidden structure or web of connections. But these can also be little hints that, yes, I am caught in a novel. That can be reassuring or disturbing, depending if you like the novel or not.
You clearly have a real sense of the power of books and reading. Reading a book can be like a seance, connecting you to the dead. It can be a portal into another dimension. Your books give a sense of reading as something potentially dangerous.
I hope so. That’s the intention for sure.
---------that’s from an interview with Jeff Kripal
Dear Jeffrey Kripal
I've been waiting forty years to find your work, which I did a few days ago. I've been reading your interviews online.
First book will be Roads of Excess which arrived today.
I'm twenty years your senior. MA and PhD at Chicago, '69 & '78.
Dissertation (English) on Kenneth Burke's The Rhetoric of Religion.
Catholic childhood in West Virginia, three years in the monastery,
two stints in the mental hospital, compulsive overeating, light
therapy but not much. Spiritual/erotic confusions, glories, etc etc More of all that later perhaps.
For now Thank you for doing this work and Thank God for your
gift of it to us all.
all best wishes,
here are his email responses to my email
What a lovely e-mail. It wettened my eyes. This is why one writes, of course, to make connections to other human beings.
I hope ROADS is what you are expecting. I suspect it will be, but please do not hesitate to let me know your thoughts, doubts, criticisms, suggestions. I am actually writing a memoir/reader now that tries to tie all of the books together, and it is deep readers who always see the important things that I don’t.
If there is anything I can send you in terms of the essays (mostly all listed on the website), just let me know. I have some of them in pdf.
Jeffrey J. Kripal
J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion
Department of Religion MS 15
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
I forgot to add. The natural thing to read after ROADS is THE SERPENT’S GIFT, particularly chapter 1 on “The Apocryphon of the Beloved." After that, partly because of the assaults on my person and work from the Hindu Right, partly because of some significant life events, my work begins to morph toward a concentration on the human potential movement in California, religion and the counterculture, anomalous phenomena and the semiotics and intellectual history of the latter, although I never really take my eye off the erotic. Those first three books (KALI’S CHILD, ROADS, THE SERPENT’S GIFT), though, are all in the zone you hint at below.
Thanks for your replies. Especially the tip to look next at Serpent's Gift. I had ordered some of the others but not that one. Put in an order today.
I do love Roads so far, but I'll read a bit more before offering some comments. You write so well and it is a joy to read, if for no other reason than that. I'm sure I started with Underhill early in college on my own to try to figure out what was happening, had happened, in psychic states, dreams, etc. So it seems perfect that you start with her work. Your autobiographical inter-chapter is terrific. Secret Talk. No doubt many have already told you that you're bringing this kind of investigation Forward, into the academic field, may be your greatest contribution, the most courageous and fruitful.
Last year this time I was cramming to get up to speed to sit on a phd oral exam at boston university, the one time in my life I've done anything at the graduate level. I was the guest "Bataille expert" for the dissertation by one of my former students who got his doctorate in the cross-discipline program set up by John Silber. My student, Scott, was the last such doctorate granted---he has two divinity degrees and did this thesis in anthro-sociiology-philosophy. (The university closed down the program.) "Transcendent Trangressions: Exploring the Limits of Edgework" was his topic and title. He wanted to include a series of personal chapters much like your Secret Talk pieces, but his diss director (Anthro) was reluctant to encourage it. He was days away from driving off into retirement.
Secrecy and its discontents. I'll send you a short tale or meditation I just wrote a few months ago to show you where I'm trying to work this out a bit. Liked your detail about Vatican council, October 1962. I was five months into the first year, Novitiate. We learned to chant Gregorian chant that summer and year. The council was so important that the Director permitted refectory reading to be Letters from Rome in the New Yorker in addition to usual selections from chestnuts from 19th-20th C- French spirituality. LaSallian Christian Brothers, which I refer to in shorthand as "monastery." I had read Merton and wanted to be a real monk, the Brothers had taught four years of high school, so they were the logical move in that direction.
thanks again, more soon,
Oops Postscript---as Aside I had meant to include, esp since Serpent's looks toward gnostic material. I studied lit crit at Chicago and my wife, Virginia, studied Spanish Lit and did a dissertation and since a lifetime of scholarship on a now classic gnostic text in Spanish Literature, celebrating 100 years since it appeared in Madrid: The Marvelous Lamp, translation by Robert Lima, should be available still. Author is Spain's greatest 20thC writer (Joyce/Pound/Yeats/Pessoa/Beckett roughly) Ramon María del Valle-Inclán. Still unknown in the English-speaking world because impossible to translate. V-I subsumed esoteric-gnostic-Theosophic work into his aesthetic. So I have been living with my own Presbytrian-gnostic partner for a while now (47 years).
Va read Hotel Courier earlier this afternoon and likes it. Whew. So far everyone likes it. She can see I’m under Modiano’s influence.
Again, thank you.
The “Secret Talk” sections were attractive and controversial when I first wrote them. One of the readers of the ms. for the press basically said, “Great book, but please take out all of the autobiographical stuff—it’s inappropriate,” to which my editor replied (to me): “No way. That’s the whole point of the book.”
I wrote an essay on Bataille and his influence on my thought, if you are interested. It’s called “The Traumatic Secret.” KALI’S CHILD is filled with material on transgression, too. I trained under Bernard McGinn at Chicago, the historian of Christian mysticism, and he all had us read EROTISM. One of my friends wrote her dissertation on Bataille and mysticism there, too. We swam in his thought, which is a really weird swim.
I look forward to reading the attachment, but, alas, my computer will not open it.
I taught at a PC USA liberal arts college for nine years, but I could find no gnostics there :)
Thanks for your comment. I've only begun to let myself write pieces like this. Not knowing just what "like this" means, now or as I keep going with them.
I'm sorry I don't know the page number for the Kundera quote. I got it from a website, maybe even one of
your interviews. Even forget which one now--about the mystical humanities? Bataille indeed a weird swim. I tried over and over but I can't really get him to chime with me or me with him enough.
"Authors of the Impossible" will get here by Monday. Read about ten pages on the amazon site and See what you mean and know I'm going to love that book as well. Yes, absolutely. I will read it next perhaps before Serpent's.
Meanwhile I mark every page as I read Roads. Such excitement and pleasure in reading. Would love to comment on five or ten things each page. EVERYTHING, PREFERABLY ALL AT ONCE. Good slogan for mystical fire, mystical reading, as you practice it so brilliantly.
It was the title of a review the friend and poet of Kenneth Burke gave to a review of one of Burke's book's. I'd love to persuade you
to look at the second chapter/essay in Burke's little, late book, The Rhetoric of Religion. I think you would enjoy how intensely he reads.
He also loved and used Freud quite a bit from the 1930s onward, as "everyone" in lit crit did in those days. Those generations understood well that Freud's claim to fame was not in science at all but in literary interpretation, analysis as the reading of the soul.
page 97 in Roads. the word "maps" replace that with "dramas" or "symbolic dramas" and you would be closer to Burke's insistences. 302 symbolic worlds = symbolic dramas.
But nothing to make an issue of. I especially marked up pages 203-205. I wanted to title my dissertation "the labyrinth of language" but Wayne Booth looked askance at that.
I'm so glad you have said that you are working on a larger autobiographical account that traces the arc of all of the books so far. I like the authobiographical sections a lot, but they needed, in this earlier book, the anchor or dialogue with the master mystics you wanted to study. Especially loving learning about Massignon, who I've never heard of. Cavafy, Pessoa, in terms of generations perhaps. Would you agree that your arc went from either/or through multiple visions to both/and? Dreams, visions, symbols, take us into fuller and fuller interconnectednesses. e.g page 304 & 256.
I especially especially love how you add in dated update comments on yourself, as if from your journals. Love that. The whole process i process, the drama constantly unfolding, the fire releasing more.
What appeals most from page to page, line to line, is the way your sensibility, mind, soul works with the details of the material, be it
insights or words or struggles. "Ears to hear." The resonances of comprehensions.
warmth and gratitude,
Tuesday July 12 lunch with Eric and Dawson today
15 July (attack in Nice yesterday)
Notes toward the next email to Jeff Kripal
Tuesday evening I finished his wonderful book, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom. Next morning I finished a book of short stories by the Mexican writer, Alvaro Enrigue, Hypothermia. The next to the last sentence in that book has this lovely line. “We sat over our coffee and brandy until very late, rendered every moment more civilized by the work that our excesses perform on the soft, pulpy flesh of our sad human lives.”
About a week ago I had noted that Kripal mentions the date of his birth in his book, and I recalled that in that summer and fall of 1962, our class of novices in the monastery were learning to sing Gregorian chant, the last class to do so because the Vatican Council II had begun that summer in Rome. Yesterday I received an email from my Japanese friend who lives near Osaka.
Fwd: 15th July 2016 Saint of the Day, and Tozo Haraguchi.
Tozo Haraguchi used to sing Kirie-eleison beautifully.
which, I taught him. He was 19 years old and I was 9 years old.
He was my uncle, and stayed for a short time with my family
in Nagoya in 1945. He was a nice man. He went to Kamakura,
and walked into the ocean there with his pocket filled with a lot
of stones, and died in the sea on October 25th of that year. He left
his notebookat the beach which was published soon afterwards
and became the best-seller in Japan. He was very good at French.
I wish his writings“二十歳のエチュード”could be translated in French,
some day. My sister, Sumiko found this book at Harvard University Library
about 30 years ago.
Friday afternoon, 5:12 finished Nocilla Dream. Ehh. Not fascinated, no interest in looking at the other ones. Works as a physicist. 49, Galician, born in A Coruña says Wiki. Won’t even look up a review. Well, maybe someday. Not today.
Still remembering last night’s stunning concert at the festival. Finally we are back to the Tom Nee sort of programming. Hope his widow is still here.
hour or so later and I’m reading about the physicist responsible for Jung coming up with the idea of Synchronicity. So Of Course I will look up some reviews of Mallo because Of Course what he does in Nocilla chimes right in with all that Kripal is discussing in Authors of the Impossible.
Germán Sierra’s review “In a book with so many characters, invented and imported from other fictions and from reality, the true protagonist is order—thus art.”
So Kripal will find that Burke’s book studies not the paranormal but terms for Order.
Andrew Gallix on Independent.co.uk
“The horizon, here, is an event; a vanishing point, reminiscent of one of the characters’ de Chirico-style paintings, rather than the magnet that fuels narrative drive. No longer manifest, destiny can only be glimpsed obliquely, as illustrated by the haunting, Fitzgeraldian image of “the last casino glimmering on the horizon in the rearview mirror”. This retrospective vision soon infects the reading process itself.”
Monday July 18 Kids are arriving now 5:48pm Hannah is going to text me when they get to her place.
Reading Bernardo Kastrup also now, thanks to Nicholas and Kripal.
8:38 Hannah texted they are safe and sound.
19 Tuesday Ate at Holy Grail in Laconia. Cooler and wonderful breezes. Va just home with Elizabeth. at 5pm.
Started Van Dusen’s book on Beauty yesterday. He helps me see how as brilliant as Kripal is, he may lack a bit of interiority as Van Dusen discusses it. Kripal has his visions of Kali and attendant dreams of Hindu gods and goddesses to expand his childhood high plains Catholicism, but he is more mind than feeling, and so more rigid initially with his either/or-ness. Especially with regard to the erotic history of Catholicism. He had not seen enough of the side altars in western cathedrals and churches or understood the lives of the saints in western christendom whereby the ostensible masculine message gets expanded into and re-softened by the steely feminine. i.e. (metaphor straining here) whereby the public structures of the church may look homoerotic and patriarchist, and they were, are, but within that, for centuries, lived a much different fluidity of consciousness.
Saturday evening 22 July
Two days of sleuthing about the passports may have been of my own making. Simplest answer is I mistakenly ordered only the cards. Fancier answer is I ordered and paid for both cards and books and secret agents in the system changed my paper check into an EFT for only the cards, sent them, and took the old passports and sold them on the black market. Then, to boot, the new passports were also sold black market and/or intercepted by someone else and sold, never made it here. Re-sent applications today. Six weeks from now or shorter time.
Annette’s summer art group show at Drerup this afternoon. Alma Grande and crew. Including Darlene, who does love purple and I like that about her. Last day off coming up Tuesday and already I’m anxious about where to go and how to spend it. Felt like the last one this week was a bust more or less. Big fish lunch at Holy Grail. Maybe I should have gone to Hanover and walked under the giant trees around campus. Almost an “end of summer” feel to it. First of August. End of this week the Portland Opera trip and Colin’s wedding. Then the KIDS. They must be at the shore now---super hot weather down there. Here today but not quite as bad as feared. And a breeze.
At the reception in Drerup I talked Manny into voting for Trump, using crazy talk for the heck of it. He liked it. But I doubt he will go through with it. Four or eight years of Hillary will also be crazy enough.
Tuesday night 26 July
More sweet evening air. Lovely day up in Littleton. Not too warm or muggy, even nice breezes at times. Read most of Van Dusen’s book. He’s great company. Bringing me back to the center more than any writer I’ve read in a good while. The feeling of the center, the center of the feeling.
Sunday evening July 31
Oh dear, memory. Found the passports on the shelf next to the desk. All that ranting about stolen passports. Clair and Colin’s wedding yesterday at the air field. Beautiful, sunny, high breezes. Perfect. Getting the bedroom ready for the kids to arrive. Maybe tomorrow night late? Maybe Tuesday. Straightening the desk made me find the passports. Have not yet found the $100 Common Man gift card.
The event of the summer has been reading Wilson Van Dusen. He has swung me back to where I belong. He writes so directly and unassumingly about his interior life, the inner mysticism he lives in and relishes and takes as the supreme center of experience, he reminds me of all that matters most. He brings me home to where I most want to be, where I have been most who I have been, want to be, hunger to be, find myself most to be. Lost within, centered within, as he puts it, the One. Which is perfect. I have needed and wanted this reminder most of all. I will start quoting his passages soon enough. I began with Kripal, at a mention from Nicholas. And I thought Kripal was super exciting and it. But Nicholas also mentioned Van Dusen and when I finally turned to his much smaller book on Beauty, Wonder and the Mystical Mind, that, that was it. So much more resonant and centering than Kripal’s work.
I wonder if I can write like Van Dusen, as he invites mystics to write? Not sure I should try to. I wonder now though if Hotel Courier might be a step in that direction. Could it be read as mystical? Could it be read as hinting at it?
Afraid, in fact, of what x will think or y will notice, if I do. Should that stop me? Should I stay silent anyway? Do Quaker mystics urge one to write about prayerful experiences? Wonder if Jim would allow that taken all together he essays for the Crier could be read for their mystical undercurrents by those who would know how to see the hints and inklings? Might see what he would say about that question. Also ask Nicholas.
“It is as though having touched the universal they can recognize others who have also done so. . . . It is not appropriate to rank them as to which is the greater mystic, for they are in no contest with each other. Rather we can say, “This one touches me and that one doesn’t,” which describes our own uniqueness. It is characteristic of mystics that they speak from experience rather than from speculation and past authority. . . . Are mystics rare? Not really.” VanDusen The Country of Spirit 25.
“Some will think it must be a life of constant highs to be a mystic. Not so. Much of the time I grumble at my fate and God kicks me. It is sometimes that way with lovers. But it is a respite to wander among Swedenborg’s words, touched here and there, and shot through with a wonderful light.”
They’re coming to get us. It’s going to be more than just a party. Dave says they will pull in around 1 am if all goes well. Dinner in Middletown about now I guess. 6:15pm And we are ready.
the closing pages of Kripal’s book on gnosticism, The Serpent’s Gift, are perfect. He gets great help from Harold Bloom and all that he says chimes well with Van Dusen.
2 Aug 2:13 pm Kids preparing lunch before nap time. I did my one thing: went to the dump. Silvery, cool day. They got in around 3 am, nice to hear the kids laughing as they arrived. They had a good drive and day, dinner in Middletown with some heavy traffic. Today is catch-up, relax down day.
posted an email worry about Van Dusen. Is it always the case that I draw back from a new enthusiasm like this?
Wonder, worry now, that Van D might be too cereberal, a T in mystic's clothing. A mystic, yes, and keen on Swedenborg because he sees mirrored there his own intellectual slantings as a thinker. Experience is feeling first looking for expression in various ways. So feeling turned into thought and artistic expression etc.
Also have I not always wondered if Buddhism ultimately is the religious tradition that appeals most to Ts. Merging with the divine either in Orthodoxy or Buddhism is the ultimate T embrace of One.
But why could it not be the other way around? Fs would pump for a mysticism of feeling and an ultimate experience of Love. The embrace in the All would be the warmest and most deeply, fully felt of any emotion, the emotion-beyond-feeling, the embrace of full heart-ecstasy. Heart feeling, heart warmth at the ultimate. What tradition emphasizes that most? Hinduism? Quakerism?
John of the Cross of course. Maybe I just miss the poetic fire of more literary writers after a cleansing clarity like Van D. Not drawn to Swedenborg so far and as Van D starts to explicate him it feels “just like” all other theological explications.
Breezy beautiful memorable Sunday 7 August
Hung out and played kickball in the garden this morning, fountain burbling, Dave playing songs, kids singing. Lunch on the porch at the Bistro. Long, lazy naps. Gorgeous light and air and breezes all day. More school type dreams for me last night. Enjoyable. Must be recycling them now without the prep-anxiety layered in. Kids are going to Kristen and Jon’s for dinner tonight. We can finish the Julie Delpy movie that Cécile feels is right on in every detail. Chris Rock plays Dave as the American lover & dad. “Two Days in New York.” Willow’s shoulder seems to be mending-fading. Have made a point to not try to sit in the front of Dave’s rental van. That seems to be a big pull up and back on the hand and arm.
11 August Thursday Super hot and muggy. At Last! Just Lovin’ It.
Kids coming home tonight. Willow waiting for massage therapist to show up in ten minutes. Her shoulder muscle and a cold are bugging her again. 12:18pm
21 August Sunday evening almost 6pm
Premonition this morning. Early. 6:30 or so? Half-asleep-awake. Image of Eliot out in the street in front of the house by himself. Sense of danger and rush as I tried to go out to save him from possible traffic, image of car sweeping around the corner, need to shout to someone to grab him, pull him away.
Few hours later after we had all risen and were gathering for breakfast at the table, Dave and Cécile mentioned that we had missed the morning drama. Then they signaled to me they would tell us later because it was someting they didn’t want to talk about in front of the kids. Virginia arrived at the table then, lots of talking about breakfast, Eliot, Emma, drawings. Usual. Finally somehow I asked what had been the drama and Davd and Cécile looked at each other and then said Eliot got out and Latte got out. Latte got out and Dave went out to find her. Found her over by the fountain and then coaxed her to get close enough so he could grab her behind the cedars, next to the house. First she hissed at him in defensive warning. He brought her in. But then it turns out that the real drama had not been Latte but Eliot. Cécile left him playing calmly in the living room and went to the bathroom for a quick pee. When she came back he was not there and something felt strange and she wasn’t sure why but she went out into the garage and then could see him all the way down the driveway and out in the middle of the street, carrying a bag, plastic or paper, with his do-do bleu in it. Ready, apparently, to go on his journey. She asked him to show her the bag and he walked back up the drive to her.
Wonderful send-off later in the day. First I drove Cécile out to Marshall’s so she could correct a $30. error in yesterday’s purchase, in her favor. Dave had said to let it go but she felt scammed or mistakenly cheated and wanted to correct it. She talked about her standard worries about money, their basic differences in spending approaches, how much she admires Mickey’s wife because she is so frugal and saves so much. She attributes that to the fact that she is Catholic and, Revelation, it turns out Meme and Pepe are Catholic, were very devout years ago. When she was a child with them they would go to church. She asked about the wafer they would eat from the priest. Meme once told her, if your mother would let you be baptized then you could share in the communion also.
We met at Tanger. They bought some more shoes, Dave found a coat he likes at Eddie Bauer. Dual layer, the inner shiny nylon tube coat that we wore last year and an outer rain layer that zips on and off. Not as stylish, C thought, as the one she bought in Conway, but it will do.
The three ladies had their nails done at the Royal Spa and all three were thrilled. First time C had indulged in such a thing and she loved it and said to me as an aside---forget the budget worries, this is worth spending for. (I paid for this treat, happy to do so). Emma delighted to have eight different colors on her fingernails and to have toe nails the same color as mama and Bella.
Willow and I said on the way home that we don’t write enough about these expriences that are so precious and fleeting. It’s tiring. We had lunch at Uno’s. Hugs and kisses and they set off for two nights and fine dining at Mickey Ireland’s in Mansfield, MA. They fly home late Wednesday night.
23 Aug Tues night
Terrible news from Phil today about Peg’s collapse.
“Well, welcome back to plain old life. Glad to have you back. I'm afraid I have some sad news. Peg has been hospitalized most of the time you have been roading. She has a serious lung ailment and has had a surgical biopsy done. We will get final diagnosis on Wednesday, but Peg now is on oxygen nearly all the time and likely will for the rest of her life. A lung transplant at some point in the future is possible. We will know more in a while. Meanwhile we are cleaning up her house and making way for oxygen machinery. And this has shown us how differently we see and talk about things. I think she babbles on about minor details and get frustrated and even angry, which doesn't help. She gets frustrated when I don't do something right away.
We are re-entering ordinary life. Walked at Docks after lunch. Irving furnace guy showed up around 11. Bought some wine last night at our new liquor outlet store. Staff totally helpless when we asked about Uruguayan wines (as advertised on the radio).
Van Dusen’s prose feels so warm, makes me feel at home, back to a place I used to know better than of late. I imagine writing by hand again just to see how it feels. How often have I written that in the past twenty years---since the take-over by the computers?
Phil’s news to-date:
We are learning what we will have to live with. And I have explained to Peg that (1) I'm too old to do all the physical things that will be necessary to clean up this house and get rid of so much stuff. (2) that I don't want to get in the middle of things so that I'm kind of a hapless messenger boy. She has a plan for fixing the house and I don't want to be caught in between contractors and her. Her father was a builder and she knows a lot about how to replace the floor in her kitchen and the floor and walls of the upstairs bathroom. I know next to nothing about all that and want to be left out of it. Mainly because I hate dealing with such things, especially when I'm a total dunce about it all. Peg has agreed and is doing her best to keep me out of things where I'm just the go-between or the household donkey. (Being the donkey is exhausting at the age of 72. Being the go-between is frustrating and exasperating because I"m just not equipped for such tasks - and never have been. In particular women live in a world of tiny details and virtually no big picture. I live in a world of big pictures and don't do well at all with tiny details.)
Peg is doing things and buying things that she thinks will enable her to be more self-sufficient and relatively independent. Maybe some of these things will work. But when she does rather minimal things, even when she is sucking down oxygen, she starts to gasp for air and has to sit down. She really is quite limited in what she can do. And doctors say that she will never get better. Treatment will simply slowi down the decline. If I haven't said before, her diagnosis is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Look it up. It's pretty grim. However, she will take a new drug that supposedly slows the decline. However it has lots of side effects like diarrhea and nausea. And the full price of the drug is about $16,000 a month! Fortunately, Medicare and her insurance will pick up most, but not all, of that cost. She has to pay $2,900 this month, but that's in the Medicare Part D "donut hole." Most of her out-of-pocket payments will be about $450 a month.
Meanwhile, I completed the copyright application and sent the two copies of my books off to the Library of Congress. That's the good news. The bad news: my friend in France bought the book and reports that he has found a half dozen or so typos in the first half of the book. Groan!!!! I went over the story and over the over the story and yet those little fuckers are still there somewhere. I just hope they are not too distracting to readers.
One odd thing: We now have an oxygen concentrator in the house, set up in the bedroom. It runs all night and gives off a sound as if it's breathing. At first it was difficult to sleep with it on. Now I'm barely aware of it and easily fall asleep. We have ten oxygen bottles in the house for when Peg has to go somehwere in the car. Each week, the empty bottles are replaced with full ones by a company associated with Johns Hopkins hospital.
I suggest that you fly in to SFO on the 6th (arriving as early as you can so we have the day to play) and then take BART at the airport in to the Donatello. (You can always take an Uber from the BART station if you don't want to drag bags & walk to the hotel)
McDs will take Cal Train to the city, take an Uber to the hotel, and meet you there.
You should check SF MOMA, Fine Arts Museums deYoung & Legion of Honor, and Asian Museum to see if there is something you would really like to see. The remodeled and newly built SF MOMA has only been open since July so you might just like to see the building if not the art as I love it.
We can spend as much of the day as we have in SF on that Friday, all day on Saturday, and then, late day, take Cal Train down to SJ and your stay at Casa McD.
Sunday: How about Brunch on the patio and then Cinema Club (which I KNOW you don't want to miss)
Monday & Tuesday--We can go to the new Anderson (free!) museum on the Stanford Campus to see their modern art collection, dine, talk, see a movie, etc...
Wednesday: You can either fly from SJC or take the train up to SFO
poem Edie Kressy used on the Plymouth death announcement
Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift upliftng rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there; I did not die.
Wilson Van Dusen’s poem at the end of The Country of Spirit reminds me of Burke’s work. I think he would like it too. VanD mentions once that his dinner guest one night is Alan Watts.
The Psalm of What Is by Wilson Van Dusen
I was going to copy it out but that has not happened yet. Today I made up a clever tweet "People may say I can't run for president well but no one can ever say I didn't run." #Trump #FlorenceFosterJenkins
Guess that is not much help to anyone. Yesterday I stopped into the town headquarters for the Democrats and could smell that bloodlust familiar from my visit to Grant Park hours before the police-hippie rioting in 1968. This bloodlust has familiar faint background music for those who have ears to hear these things: hot damn, there’s going to be a fight, a big fight, we’re ready, we’re getting ready, we’re going to demolish those bastards, we’re going to smash them.” Etc Pretty much the old songs, Danes invading Wessex and battling the Saxons. Etc Woman in charge of the office is a young Australian up from Sidney. She must be 25, feisty, tough, ready. She got the job by applying to the national campaign headquarters. They said they needed her most in a battleground state, NH being one. The second in command a young poly sci grad from Austin.Both young and girded for the big fight. And maybe a post in the new administration? Why not!
Eight days ago Nicholas answered my prompt on Kripal with this passage:
“Yes, early Kripal is right, still earnest after his academic spurs and holding too many things together at once. It is noticeably restful when he is in the biographical parts - the subjects come alive in their historical intellectual personal complexities - before we plunge back into the thickets of not fully digested theory. Second person recently to misread Sells I think too - whose Mystical Languages of Unsaying is truly elegant.”
Thursday today the 15th Second day in Portland in a row on Tuesday for lunch with Christopher Brooks, now 35 and a focused lawyer. Thinner and a girl friend, Lena? or Jena?, who has just moved in after working in Boston. 32. Chris now boxes for exercise. His reason so interesting. One of his friends hangs out with super models in NYC and they all now box. His friend is also very good looking and urged Chris to try it. He did and loves it. Boxing club in Portland. Chris has been in wedding “hell.” Way too many weddings in the last few years. As a lawyer he can officiate too and has done that a few times. Nice lunch outside, beautiful day just as today is. Today Va and I walked at the docks before she tried her first bout of volunteering at the Main Street Democratic office. She sat at the greeting table.
Sunday evening Sept 18
Great walking yesterday on the Manchester pedestrain bridge, which it seems goes all the way to Goffstown. Might explore that on Tuesday. Dinner at Campo. Not as great as Gypsy Cafe. Earlier the Tarbin gardens in West Franklin. Chat with Richard, Cream Tea his mother fixes.
Van Dusen still resonates, Source, more perfectly than any spiritual writer I’ve read in a long time. Feels so right to be back to that reading, have been away from it for too long. He is an American original, reminds me a bit of Burke, something self-taught about him. Can see why he settled into his life-long study of Swedenborg once he found him, but I respond less to that part of his writing than to the ways he talks about his own experiences with meditation and mystical or contemplative consciousness. I like his emphasis on feeling and he seems to write more directly about it and more convincingly than any writer I’ve read for a long, long time. Since Pessoa. Pessoa never takes his accounts over into the sense of divine experience but it certainly is there implicitly. Could Google “was Pessoa a mystic” and see what comes up. Van Dusen has such a direct, genuine warmth to his discussions. Also I grow distant when he talks about his former patients and yet it is helpful also because I could see myself having gone into work of such sort rather than teaching, maybe, but also he talks about them in ways I would talk about students and what teaching was like, and not like. What being with them was like, keeping company with them in a vaguely teaching mode. In the later years.
For some reason, when he invokes the metaphor of spiritual athletes I demur a bit. “The saints were like spiritual athletes who could keep, safeguard and use a vision.” 117 Well, know what you’re trying to say there in context and yet don’t find this as helpful and even desirable a way of putting it. How would I put it? For one thing, each time I see the Olympics I question all over again whether athletes are as special as we want to make them out to be. As with all sorts of extraordinary achievements in every field, the achievers really can’t help it in many, most, every way. That is what they are compelled to do and to be. In that sense why not seem them as the polar opposites and yet similarly posessed people as the patients in the mental wards? Don’t we too easily decided that one group is unfortunate and the other group fortunate? Why not gold medals for mental illness achievements? Those sort of exist when we find a great artist who has created while being mentally ill or assumed to have been so.
Swedenborg it seems needed to have the hierarchy of being as a necessary structure with which to understand order. As so many thinkers do. Why not suggest that in all such thinkers what we see is the need of the human mind for such order rather than insight into the nature of cosmic order? Is that not what Deleuze and the others have recently been doing? Instead of great hierarchical chains of being, rhizomes. ?
I will look to Lachman’s book Revolutionaries of the Soul to give me an overview on Swedenborg to balance alongside Van Dusen’s devotion.
Only on page 25 in Lachman and already news about Swedenborg’s ideas and practices on sex which, so far, Van Dusen has not mentioned. Also---and here I think of my doubts about “spiritual athletes.” Swedenborg had a “burning desire for fame.” Ha. Alas, the essay is too short but points us to Lachman’s whole book on Swedenborg published in 2012.
Third day in Portland in three weeks. Nice to walk around mainly the East Bay area. Lots of new buildings. Great meal at Eventide Oyster Company. Coffee at Coffee By Design. Maybe this completes my Portland jag. Somewhere else next week. Enjoy the drive because so much of the road is lined with trees on both sides. Winding and full of event. Listened to the new Dawes album and noted especially in relation to current reading in Van Dusen et al the song called “As if by design.”
I should post all of Schaumann’s poems online, on Chromenos.
“Here is my ideal--to be wise enough to be able to help others in the deepest spiritual matters. In return I would only want to live quietly in a setting conducive to spiritual reflection. Knowing this ideal, I can choose those things that aid its realization.” Van Dusen Source 127
Am I here yet? I would like to be. Feel close to it and heading that way.
sent this to myself a few weeks ago and have no idea who is being quoted in this interview but I think it is dear Bernhard--
“light-hearted author, I’m no storyteller, I basically loathe stories. I am a story-destroyer, I am the epitome of a story-destroyer. In my work, whenever any sort of portent of a story appears, or I see any sort of suspicion of a story surfacing from behind a massif of prose, I shoot it down. It’s the same way with sentences, I practically revel in nipping in the bud sentences that even possibly might come to term. On the other hand…”
Phoned Spotty Dog Bookstore and Bar in Hudson, NY today to buy Max’s chapbook. Sarah Beckley talked to me and remembered taking a course with me in 2003, Fall it must have been. She transfered in from Northeastern after two years there, Philosophy major. Friend of Eric ____ she could not remember his name nor could I but she said he was obsessed with me. Told her about Va’s event in 2003 and she had heard nothing about it. See if she sends any messages on facebook to continue the linking. And who is Eric?
Eric Johnson? yes that’s who. Says Sarah is trouble with a capital T. Date his friend Rob Bradley for a few years. Years ago now.
Tuesday Sept 27 Ben DiZiglio at Riverwalk Cafe this morning. His dog Alex, big lab-fox hound saved from South Carolina via some saving dogs network through Manchester. Lunch later in Concord at Barley House. Coffee at Starbucks. Snacks from Crust and Crumb.
posting about clusters on fb the terminology as regards psu’s curricular turbulence
“To be a little more precise, each living being is in fact a distinctive cluster--not just a chain--of mostly internally associated thoughts, feelings and sensations imagined by mind-at-large. The biological body is what this cluster looks like from the perspective of other clusters.”
. . .
“‘And are you also an amnesic cluster of mind-at-large, just like other people? ‘
‘No, I am not an amnesic cluster, I am the rest of mind-at-large, as partly actualized and perceived by your ego.’ “
from Bernardo Kastrup, More Than Allegory, 170-171
5 October Wednesday 12:10pm
Read the last few pages of Van Dusen’s Returning to the Source. Wonderful book, such a Godsend. Reminded me of everything I have wanted to be reminded of from over all the seventy-two years of my life, our life.
Yesterday drove to Rutland. Trees glorious everywhere. Tomorrow we go to Stowe to see Anne and Basile.
9 October Sunday evening
Rich’s birthday, he’s 76 today.
Been so long since we’ve written much of anything. Rainy Sunday of Columbus weekend. Reading Van Dusen. Can hardly know where to begin to talk about his books. He is reminding me of everything central, crucial, essential about my whole life. Should I try to write about my mystical experiences? Or has Van Dusen written enough about all of us for a while. I like him so much more than Merton. Although I haven’t given Merton much of a look in so many years. Van Dusen could have shown Lax’s biographer how to write his book and make it so much better than it is now.
Fantasy of going back over the book and making a random collage of best lines, weaving them with Pessoa lines. To what purpose? And of posting a line a day on twitter maybe even creating a Van Dusen page there. ?
Finally visited Giorno, nice sunny day. Ok but not great. What was I thinking? My thoughts are not a good guide to anything. The days off have been off the mark, have they not? Stay home, read, take a walk. Let’s try that.
Sunday Oct 16
Va couldn't climb the stairs last night so we slept in the den. There again tonight. Mind racing about getting a shower bench for downstairs and/or putting a stair climber back in. See how she feels in the morning. Watch tv all day. new Aussie soap drama that Anne suggested when we were in Stowe. I did get a walk in this morning. Tomorrow we will go to Mid-Point and maybe for an xray to see if a rib is broken. Or if any internal bleeding we can't see. Glad she rested all day today. Got Sam Ebner to mow the grass and leaves. Went to Hannaford and saw a few people. Grocery shopping replaces churchgoing.
Monday Short face visit with the kids today. Emma proud of her new tutu. Eliot said “je suis nu” because he was about to get a bath with Papa. Cécile fixing dinner. Dave would go off far away to give a tres lesson. Autolib.
Thursday Oct 20 Trip to Portland, Windham, to pick up the Abq key from Barb and Ed. Maybe we surprised them--Ed thought my email was about Saturday. Went to lunch at a local kitchen store lunch place they like up the road in Raymond. Deli like the Holderness store. This time last year we did an overnight and talk was about going to India to see Kenna.
Tuesday night Va was in Speare, came home yesterday after lunch. Guess we got home about 2pm. Bureaucracy of the hospital moves slowly. Young woman doctor, hospitaler for this week, from Georgia, the country. Young PT therapist from New Delhi, husband, American, getting his doctor’s assistant degree at SNHU.
Elizabeth took Va to the ER on Tuesday after their swim because she got worried that Va seemed a bit out of it, confused and a little unresponsive. Tuesday night Va was in Speare, came home yesterday after lunch. Guess we got home about 2pm. Bureaucracy of the hospital moves slowly. Best guess the doctor says is a “cererbral vascular accident” and not a “transient ischemic attack/event.” Seems herself now, maybe a new micro-level loss of immediate memory.
trans ischemic attack
cerebral vascular accident
Hi I just can't think of a thing to say about your situation with Peg. that would do you any good, except the "my heart goes out to you" sort of thing, which demonstrates 87% of the time how much language gets in the fucking way rather than helps anyone. The rational mind tries to come up with all sorts of helpful suggestions. Try this, try that, why the heck didn't you do x, look into y, or get the help of z. All of which is designed, thanks rationality, to make you look dumber and Moi smarter. There is the factor that you may not be clear headed because you are inside the impossible situation and we outside are not and are therefore crystal-clear headed. But we know how delusionaly that gambit can be as well.
Best tag I've come up with is "After 70, denial becomes a greater and greater comfort than almost anything else." That and, as a friend joked in the supermarket the other day when someone asked him how he's doing (he is so crippled with something that he's now one of those guys who walks almost doubled-over) "SAG!" with a big smile. Still Above Ground. Maybe I should make it "delusion and denial are the great comforts aging offers us."
Here we've had two mini-crises over the past two weeks. Just the day before we drove to
Stowe Va fell against the back of the toilet when she got up in the middle of the night. Few
days later her side and back began to feel sore. No sign of a bruise, though. Week later
still bothered her so we wondered if a rib got cracked or bruised. Few days later it felt
worse. Finally went in for an xray.
Next day her caregiver for the day I take off, Elizabeth, took Va to the ER on Tuesday after their swim because she got worried that Va seemed a bit out of it, confused and a little unresponsive. Tuesday night Va was in Speare, came home yesterday after lunch. Guess we got home about 2pm. Bureaucracy of the hospital moves slowly. Best guess the doctor says is a “cererbral vascular accident” and not a “transient ischemic attack/event.” Seems herself now, maybe a new micro-level loss of immediate memory.
Xray showed no sign of break or anything else. Pain seems gone now. Doctors prefer acetominafin to ibuprofen. At least here at our local hospital that's what they say. My diagnosis is that Va took too much Advil for the rib pain and that got her a bit disoriented and nauseous.
Mysteries of the human body and mind-body loopings.
Sunday evening Oct 23 Finished Lachman’s book (2008/9) on Swedenborg. Extremely helpful and even exciting, especially for the way he concludes the book by connecting Swendenborg to more contemporary mystics, even to the traditions of mysticism which came after Swedenborg. He acknowledges the achievement of Van Dusen and others in giving Swedenborg’s works the close reading they deserve and then opens up the discussion to connect Swedenborg to more easily understood writers of the 20th Century, from William James to Ouspensky, Steiner a bit, Rilke, Henri Corbin, and Robert Avens.
Read Givner’s account of the relationship between Herbert Schaumann and Katherine Anne Porter (1982, 1991). Looked up the collection of letters in the University of Maryland library page and wrote to ask if they might be seen online or in photocopy. Why? Correspondences. Such a powerful term and it takes me back to many things, from Burke to lots of readings from years ago. Coming back to mysticism feels like getting to the center once more. The fifteen years of painting were part of that search, another way to be open to influx. Meditation not meditation.
Monday Oct 23 Swam this morning. Va snoozed all day, drive to Target and Panera. Too much anti-histamine. Read more about Schaumann in the earlier biography of Porter but not much and Porter really curses him after he comes to visit her in Hollywood. Did he adore her as a successful writer and was he hoping she would help him out? Was he a Romantic who loved being in love with anyone, lots of people? Neither biographer speculates on any of this. Such a minor person and event in the life. Got a reply from the UMd library. Should I pay for some photocopies? Could. For what reason? To hear his prose in letter form? Given my current readings, it would be ok to say I am communing with the dead. Using reading to engage in a mystical search. Remembering a far-gone, fleeting encounter, full of light on a warm afternoon just before I graduated from college and went out to Chicago for graduate school. A moment of giving and receiving, receiving and giving, remembered gratefully, comprehended not really at all. Misunderstood by anyone I try to tell it to, except now perhaps Van Dusen, Lachman, Kripal, students of the impossible, the esoteric, the inner dimensions in which we feel connections to other worlds. Moments in which we glimpse the infinite unity of things. Should I not start tweeting and fbk-ing these catch phrases so as to share the essences of these books. Maybe I can try to craft an essay about Schaumann, about the misunderstandings surrounding any encounter between two people. I suppose his “romance” with the older Porter could be a template here. He might well have been in awe of her, in love with her, as a figure in his own private spiritual mythology. If so, she was too dense to comprehend it. Don’t we all have many such encounters, one way or another. Loves at odds with each other, mis understandings more profound and more haunting than any understandings. 98% of literature dramatizes all of this and not the bliss of union.
I’ve been obsessing about tomorrow’s day off. Last week I had planned to spend the day reading somewhere, roaming the starbucks around Concord and ManchV. Didn’t make it. Phone call about Va’s crisis caught me right at lunch in Concord. Now I’m skittish about whether to go far tomorrow. What if something happens again? If Elizabeth panics. All the more reason to reclaim the day off and go far and take a break from fearing for the call. Fearing whatever rather than trusting the One, all one, all love.
On Writer’s Almanac tonight on NPR, Keillor quotes Denise Levertov--In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.”
the full passage is better “I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer.”
Her relationship with William Carlos Williams was exactly what Schaumann was looking for with Porter---I would hazard to guess. Especially since I heard it on the radio just this evening, after writing what I did earlier. As Keillor reports it---in 1951 Levertov wrote Williams a fan letter. She was about 27, he was 68. Exchange of letters for a while, then she went to visit him. She would visit a few times a year. Lunch with W & Flossie and then a few hours reading poetry chatting. “Williams became Levertov’s mentor, and they exchanged letters until his death in 1962.” Eleven years. Mentor, lover, spiritual guide.
23 Another day in Portland. Beautiful light, clouds, sky, trees along the way. Decided it is a two-hour live motion picture feature film. Would make a great one. Eye loves to notice details at every moment. Lovely driving, the rolling and twisting road a pleasure to the body, even with some back crunch. Ate the famed duckfat fries, Belgian Fries, as they call them. Best dish was the Brussel Sprouts grilled with confit and cheese. Tasty and great with the Octoberfest beer. Should have stopped there. Terrible Cuban mole panino. Walked around a bit. Bought potato donuts, bought a ginger one for the beautiful young woman who was the hostess at Duckfat. She really was incredibly beautiful in just the quiet way I like. Hair pulled back into a sort of crown of tendrils, loosely. Shapely body, young maybe 23-25. Lean but not zumba-lean. Soft and naturally as she is, no workout muscles, just youth in bloom. Silver haired woman on my left told her friend as they finished their lunch about a weekend, a special inn, they paid $600. for the room. She also knew a moviemaker or a moveimaker-to-be. That sort of crowd, mostly young, 30-somethings.
27 Pedicure for Va today. saw Lynn in starbucks as I had foretold myself and we had this fast, expansive chat about things esoteric--or something. Told her about Swedenborg, she chimed in about some arcane book she had just found and passed on to an old guy she visits to chat with. we may get together for a longer talk.
30 October Yesterday 29th I read about Swedenborg writing something on the 29th of October in 1736 (in Van Dusen).
Brunch with Ken and Carole at La Vista at the big new condo hotel in Lincoln. All in good spirits and delighted that the food was so good. Ken wants to go to Portland with me, we have it on the calendar for the 22nd.
Rupert likes my Hotel Courier and says send it out, so I am looking around where to do so. Start with Failbetter online mag.
Surprise conversation with a young political campaigner, Justin Roshak, who came to the door around 5:30 pm. I had him come in and talk with us both. Not exactly clear what his outfit is up to. Funded by a CA billionaire who is trying to seed Bernie Sanders’ work into new action channels. And yet Justin did not know that Bernie spoke at Plymouth today. Willow and Elizabeth got to see him, front row seats. Big enthusiastic crowd. I lunched at Chipotle Bedford and read in Starbucks in Concord. Also walked the long trail a bit, that road we take into town. Nice day all around. Actually bought books at Gibson’s, breaking all my own rules. Pork for lunch too.
note to Phil
Your comments about your discoveries while in the hypnogogic state (falling asleep and
waking) seem like classic fodder for "interview with the author" and "where do you get
your ideas" and such. we need to find somewhere we can publish them, some online
lit mag of some sort.
Your wounds from your fall are healing more slowly than you had thought? My guess since I had one bloody wound from a few weeks back---slammed my shin right into the sharp corner of
the open door of our dishwasher in the kitchen. Took a while to get it to stop bleeding,
wondered if I should go get it stitched but decided to put something on it, bandage and wait and see. Is healing but still twinges and is very black-red and looks worse than it is. And taking such a long time!
Did I ever mention Professor Schaumann? Took one course with him at UMd in Contemporary poetry, my senior year. Delightful course because one could zone out in class while he read poems to us. Maybe a few papers were required but senior year I welcomes the time to relax and do nothing. Turns out he knew Edith Hamilton, literary crowd in DC. Also Katherine Anne Porter and probably others.
He asked me one day late in the semester if I would come for a short visit to his house in College Park. I said sure. I'm sure I had never said a word in class. I guessed he was German, slight accents, but thought nothing of it. One bright Friday afternoon at 3 I knocked on his door at 7222 Rossburg Drive. He showed me in, had me sit on the small sofa with a coffee table in front. Room seemed spare, wooden floor. Offered me a glass of lemonade. Then explained he wanted to read me a story, if that would be ok? I nodded sure. He then sat off to my left and slightly behind the sofa. I looked out the windows and around. As he read I tuned out and lost track of trying to listen to the story, sort of a warm afternoon doze.
When he was finished I turned and must have said thank you and got up and left. He handed me a slim book as I left. A book of poems, privately published in DC with line drawings. 1961 Two or three in German with English version on the opposite page. Three passages from Homer, dedicated to EH, translated from the Greek I supposed into English.
I regret most not having written down then or later what story it was he read! Duh. I've always "remembered" or decided that it was something by Thomas Mann. Not at all sure why I thought that, think that. Maybe it was a story he had written? Don't know.
I still have the book and take a look at it every so often. Looked him up a few times and found he had published one other book five years earlier, 1956. Much larger art book format, line drawings by the same artist and an Introduction by Edith Hamilton. Passage about Odysseus and Calypso. Hamilton's Intro is what we would call today a blurb---two artful paragraphs praising Schaumann's work: "It banishes dulness. There is not a trace of the dreary flatness associated with translations, which is a betrayal of Homer so drastic, it nullifies every other claim to success."
Found out UMD library has a box of his letters, so I went online and am going to see them in PDF form soon. Another of my "archival visits" with a writer.
Am curious to see how he responds to this.
here is his Interview meditation on his work--
When I'm working on a novel, some of my best ideas come in the early morning when I'm lying in bed only half-awake. Usually I suddenly understand some scene or character much more clearly than I had before.
Something similar happened to me this morning.
I spent last night composing my notes on Graham Greene's short stories. This morning, lying in bed, something about all those stories hit me. The subject in all of them was failure. In one way or another, the central characters always are after some goal - and they ultimately fail in a most demoralizing way. This fixation on failure is not very explicit in his early stories but it's always there, and Greene makes it quite explicit in his later stories, especially when Americans are somehow involved. Indeed, one could say that the reason Greene disliked Americans so much is that they seemed to him to live in a bubble, without any experience or sense of deeply felt failure. Their optimism and belief that "all will be well" must truly have annoyed Greene because it sure as hell annoys all of the narrators in the stories in which Americans appear.
This constant under-current about failure may have been clear to critics for years. For all I know the London Times Literary Supplement reviewers have mentioned it over and over for the past 70 years. But I've never read the TLS, and, while I was aware of the role of failure in some of his writing, I wasn't aware of how all-pervasive it is, how it appears in everything he writes (or at least everything of his that I've read).
Which then made me realize that I am truly an American writer. All my stories are about success. However, in my stories, the success is always, always deeply flawed. That bitch success always demands a nasty price.
In "Damaged Lives" the central character is successful in business and he successfully escapes prison, but he has committed a serious crime and he knows it. He also knows that he and his wife have been damaged by everything that has happened. Like Walt Whitman, Tim and Libby contain the damage, but it is still there.
In "Long After the War" the central character gets justice for his friend who died in Vietnam, but he loses his daughter, his business, and his marriage in the effort. When it comes to Vietnam who ever really wins, even long after the war?
In "A Sense of Loss" the detective solves two murders, one current, one about 20 years old, but he's aware that an earlier chief of police in his town may have corruptly failed to prosecute the earlier case - and now the detective and the current chief fail to follow up that possibility because they can't see "how it would do anyone any good." And since the earlier murder, the town has gone downhill and now is deeply in the "rust bowl."
"Convictions" is an example of justice being possibly achieved, but maybe completely and tragically mistaken. Maybe the African American lawyer was a serial killer who deserved to be shot, but maybe not. Maybe the white detective made a terrible mistake.
Finally, the American in "A Witness in Tunis" successfully testifies at a trial and gets away to France but only after he kills an Arab and destroys the career of a woman who is working at the embassy and leaves a little police driver in a terrible situation.
So maybe all of my stories are American in that they are about success. And maybe they are also American in that the success is always flawed and bought at a severe price.
I wouldn't expect anyone other than me to figure this underlying theme out because I'm the only one who thinks about all my works. And I have to admit that this idea didn't come to me until this morning. Which has been true of all my novels. I write the basic story, then think, think, think, until one morning, while lying in bed, "what this story is really about" comes to me. In some of the works, it took years for all that to work its way out.
Yesterday Nov 2 Va went to Larson’s for the EEG test. We did that about two years ago? Same young woman who likes riding motorcycles. Larson has a new haircut, beard even bigger and fuller, comb-over still there but much diminished and the rest almost shaved off completely. Looks better, really, even sort of hip by today’s fashions. He said he thought Va looks better than ever and that this last event was nothing even though it was good to go to the hospital and take the cautious route.
On the way to Concord I stopped here to drop off a package for UPS and learned that poor Mark has died that morning. Talked with Barbara T about it, she was in shock, her business next door.
We’ve been drinking “golden milk” each evening to encourage good sleeping, a recipe Va found on Facebook. Basically a sort of Indian coconut-tumeric chai, heated. I made some last night that was too strong. All day yesterday and this morning I’ve had the urge to fast so am doing so today. Is it a seasonal thing? In November do we want to eat less, hibernate more? Brad Pilon had a tweet on twitter and that reminded me of what he urges.
Phil explains his use of the Whitman quotation---I must say that phrase is famous and I had never thought of using it in the way Phil does---“contain” as a defensive stance, against, it seems exploding from within.
“I included the quote from Whitman's Leaves of Grass at the start of "Damaged Lives." "It's usually quoted as "I am large. I contain multitudes." I included just the latter because my story was going to be about people who weren't the childlike victims of events that today's psychology insists people are, but, rather, were adults who could contain many disturbing thoughts and experiences within themselves. Tim and Libby weren't children. If they occasionally suffered PTSD, it didn't overwhelm them. They contained it.”
Whitman’s sense I thought was expansive. He turns it into a contractive sense of meaning. Containing the damage, limiting the effects. Hmmm
No response to my Schaumann anecdote. Maybe I had told it to him before?
Maybe also I read Edmund White’s novel before. I suspect so but cannot recall for sure. Bugs me. Few more pages in and I think not.
Sped through the letters between Porter and Schaumann. She certainly led him on, or they both deluded themselves and each other, perhaps because the war had just ended and everyone was wounded and needy and confused. Not many of his letters. He was only thirty-five. Affair with an older woman, a famous writer now out in Hollywood. Starstruck and in denial. She was sympathetic to a young soldier with ambitions to write. The letter-writing itself was the vehicle of romance.
Friday am Phil explains what I didn’t know about K A Porter---that she was a tough, hard-drinking broad. Guess it does make the tale all the more sad.
his reply this morning---
My big scabs are slowly healing yet last week got VERY itchy. I tried several kinds of lotion but found that aloe vera was the only one that really relieved the itch.
Professor Schaumann sounds like a very sad, lonely man even if he knew Hamilton and K. A. Porter. The latter, according to what I know, was a tough, hard-drinking broad. Not exactly the kind to render some lonely guy some emotional support. I also think he considered you a smart, sensitive kid and was looking for some positive feedback from you. Did you really just say "thank you" and walk out? On the other hand, I admit it must have felt more than a little uncomfortable. Was the guy gay? Married or single?
This story comes across as rather sad.
The inner experience of that whole tale is, I guess, what I don’t want to try to explain to anyone, try to tell. I experienced it as another sort of illumination, an immersion in a bright warm glow of comforting light and a dropping down into it, into its bottomless depths, much like the experience of the yoga lesson had been in Ammendale. Linked to my time in the hospital, linked to my whole spiritual autobiography as I suppose we would have to phrase it were it to be spun out as a more full narrative.
While swimming---Schaumann’s relationship with Porter fits perfectly as patterns go with our own Hans and Mary M. He must have been about 45 when he had a flirtatious romance with her, even lived with her for a while, until, Va says, she asked him if he really preferred men. She might have been 5-7 or more years older? So younger gay man romances older, tougher woman, a complete Jungian archetype counter-transfer going on, I suppose. The anima in the gay man responding to the animus in the tough, hard-drinking older woman. Son-mother, but moreso, romancing knight to the unavailable queen. Courtly love. And as the letters show, the delusion and then disillusionment for each.
Sunday Nov 6 Nicaragua club ladies came and planted the bulbs. Starting to clear up. Maybe if I write non-stop for three days, Hillary will vanquish Lump. Maybe if I fast. Maybe if I praise the surge in Latino women voters.
“It has often seemed to me in England that the purest enjoyment of architecture was to be had among the ruins of great buildings.”—H. James
from Levi Stahl on twitter
“The mind makes something out of nothing or turns something into nothing. It adds to and subtracts from the sum of things. What it find harder is to refrain from doing so. “ Paul Valery, Analects
Over my crush on Van Dusen. Like most his late book, Returning to the Source because in there he is relaxed, warm, embracing all and everything and urging us to enjoy the mystical or contemplative life without worry about special techniques or special devotions or this or that practice. It’s all good, all natural, and all leads to the same One. Yet you can see how he and Swedenborg fit perfectly as exemplars of Jung’s or Myers-Briggs’ INTJ. Clear demarcatiions and strict hierarchical structures. Feeling gets its place but as the origin of Thought and Thought is superior and dominant. Amazing how clearly they demonstrate the theory.
So we’re still looking for a VanDusen of the opposite type. Blake, of course, for the P and perhaps for FP. But I’d like to find a contemporary or 20th C FP version of Van Dusen. His work was a great reminder to me and woke me back up a bit. Gary Lachman’s work is still the most vibrant and interesting I’ve got in tow now. Kripal has faded as well although I must still look at the closing pages of Impossible.
Sent Gary Lachman my three dumb questions. Wonder if he will reply at all and how.
Something strange about Kripal’s conclusions after all of his investigations into the paranormal, the roads of excess, the experiences of religion reported by the various writers he studies. He decides hermeneutics, interpretation of texts, of narrative, is the key figure for the nature of the cosmos and our place in it. “writing can become a paranormal practice.” “An author of the impossible is someone who knows that the Human is Two and One.” 270
Ok, yes. But isn’t this making of writing and reading something akin to the oversimplifications of any thinker---and can’t any human activity become a paranormal practice? Why privilege writing?
“I sat at a sidewalk table of one of the cafés facing the Charléty stadium. I constructed all the hypotheses concerning Philippe de Pacheco, whose face I didn’t even know. I took notes. Without fully realizing it, I began writing my first book. It was neither a vocation nor a particular gift that pushed me to write, but quite simply the enigma posed by a man I had no chance of finding again, and by all those questions that would never have an answer. . . . A girl was walking under the leaves of the treese along Boulevard Jourdan. Her blond bangs, cheekbones, and green dress were the only note of freshness on that early August afternoon. Why bother chasing ghosts and trying to solve insoluble mysteries, when life was there in all its simplicity, beneath the sun?” --Patrick Modiano, Suspended Sentences 180
Sunday Nov 13
Ken and Carole served us brunch at Folly’s Pancake Parlor this morning. They didn’t take to our proposal of a river cruise in France or of patching together a trip. Now Ken has shifted from the pricey Parisian apartment to a more affordable rental in Montreal for a year. Have to remember that K is the flighty one and Carole watches the budget.
They saw Roger T in the bank a few days ago withdrawing large amount of cash. Said he would stop by to see all of us but of course that didn’t happen.
Gary Lachman gave me excellent answers to my query---have to be sure to copy that out here ---
he wrote on Nov 8
“Hi Robert, many thanks for the comment. I’m not savvy with Myer-Briggs, so I can’t help you here. On Beauty, try Plotinus and Kathleen Raine, especially her essay “The Use of Beauty” collected in Defending Ancient Springs, and really throughout her work. Yeats I’d say was another, especially in poems like “Sailing to Byzantium.” As for falling in love, well you already have Plato. Robert Johnson wrote quite a bit about it from a Jungian perspective. De Rougemont’s Love in the Western World is a classic. Henry Corbin’s writing on Ibn ‘Arabi, William Anderson’s on Dante (Dante the Maker)? Sorry I can’s suggest more. Cheers, Gary
Monday Nov 14
More normal feel. Ignore new admin news, remember bushie’s bozos, all things change.
Big, special moon tonight. Gorgeous day today. We finally walked most of Concord’s main street, new main street, in the September-like weather. high 60s felt like 70s. Willow got over 8k steps.
Virginia at the piano this evening. Rain outside. Day off in town today. Drove to Holderness to mail the boxers to Cécile for Eliot. Headed toward Meredith then remembered the post office in H.
Jay K at Chase, says Ethan may have one course on campus. Ladd R working for Jay too. I guess. He was walking out of the office as I went in. Lunch with Lynn. History of Rob’s entrepreneural life started early when at age ten he washed out old clay flower pots and organized his friends with wagons to take them around Newton and sell them. She was off at three for the annual awards tea, curious to see how many years they would list her as having taught there. Facebook revealed that today is Jay’s birthday. He says his book is doing well.
Reading Dumitriu and getting sucked in. Also reading Lewinter and finding him delightfully strange.
Thursday Nov 17 Unusually warm. Clear. No preoccupations. No news. Nothing pending or imminent. Where is the anxiety we know and love so well? Looked into fearing fear and found it felt pretty attractive when there is nothing else to fear. Fearing Facebook feels good. Twitter manages our anxiousness better than any other “social” media sites.
Watched The Crown last night. Faith in Order perfected as far as possible. Moreso than in the Constitution or the White House or the system? Probably not, after all. Look at Spain. Look at many of the houses of royal succession. Not many have been as lucky---if it is luck---as England.
Harvard Pilgrim’s prescription coverage plan---if my researches are reliable--is $.50 cheaper than what we have. Is that what people mean when they complain about Obamacare? We will see. “New” government in DC won’t change much in our lives. We assume. How can we know?
Long now for the comforts of fiction. Even considering writing a bit more. Only five weeks until our next journey.
Typed up Schaumann’s letter, his last to KAP. Might type the only other one in the file. Why? Mystical reasons, I guess. Memory. Honor. Voyeurism? Empathy? Some reason can’t imagine.
now on 110 in Incognito and in love with it and Sebastian. So helpful to stay in this book and away from Screenlandia as much as possible. Not easy to do. Habits and anxious nerves have gotten so accustomed to being fed by the screens.
I read a book like this and feel at one with the narrator. His sensitivity and insight are mine. I too knew this sort of awakening into inner life. Thousands so, millions, all who read the work and identify and love it. It is not that we are called to become a writer and write like Dumitriu. It is that his gift speaks for us and reminds us of who we had been and want to become and that is not anything special so muc as it is to be wholly human.
“All the bedroom curtains were of coarse, orange-coloured linen, lighting up the rooms like the inside of an oven. But to me that light, like the inside of a flower, was astonishingly shadowed not only to my eyes, for we apprehend light and the world in general with our whole being, but to all of me. 104
“The string of events which encompass us at the level of our daily existence, like events in the world of physics, obey a law of inertia, seeming to become more compelling or more weighty when through a heightened awareness we rise above their level; and then we have to arm ourselves with patience and wait for the sequence to end.” 105
was surprised I have to say abut Phil’s comment
“It's hard for me to come to some understanding of politics. I have a lot of friends who are freaking out over this election. For example, they treat what the possible de-funding of Planned Parenthood as the equivalent of WWIII. And if some Moslem gets turned back at our border, they expect every American to hang his and her head in shame. Of course, that's overreaction. What "right," for example does any foreigner have to come to the country? None. What "right" does any woman have to an abortion. None. (These friends would howl if they heard me say that that a green card and an abortion aren't rights.) Yet, I concede that politics will determine some significant part of this world. I really am at a loss to understand.” P
For someone who lives, has lived his whole life, in DC, this is something of an achievement.
Sunday 20 Nov
Text from Revelations from Petie today.
Text from Randy late last night---a four-page letter I sent to him in 1994. More a set of my journal entries re-framed in part as a letter to him. The anecdote about Schaumann was one key passage. Perhaps the key passage, since I repeated it again in an email to Phil last week. And I’ve been looking at Schaumann’s letters and even typing one up from the handwritten original that I now have in photo pdf form on my desktop. Also Inchausti is in the ’94 letter and he has been back in touch this week, comments about the election and now we might try to get together when we are in Pasadena in a few weeks. Strange days as strange as ever. Yesterday we headed to the MFA and ended up in Norwood having lunch with Rick Kline and Elizabeth his girlfriend in the church. They seem as fine and cute as any other couple in love. Great Thai restaurant, Thai Boo. Then we walked around Whole Foods at the newish Legacy Place mall, designed maybe ten years ago, or less, in the Kentlands style.
Here is Randy’s message via Messenger---posted Sat 19 at 2pm
Bob Garlitz, I found this in a forgotten box. It opens up a window to another time. It seems like a new lead in an open case full of evidence, but no conviction. Thank you for whatever that connection was. You said a lot of things I never understood (and didn't really need to I guess) but it was a truly powerful series of interactions. I wonder why we never continued to dialog, but looking back it felt like I did what you needed me to do then — "permission." xoR
Inchausti: we stopped corresponding about five or six years ago. Just got some emails from him last week, chats about the election. we might have a lunch around new years when we go out to pasadena. Have only seen him once, years ago, otherwise all letters and emails.
Schaumann seems to be the ghost here. Just told that anecdote to my oldest friend from high school last week. Six weeks or so ago I contacted the Univ of Maryland libraries and found out they have a box of letters between Schaumann and Katherine Anne Porter. Magic of the internet I now have that box in pdf form and was actually typing up one of the handwritten letters last week. Why, am not sure.
Hoyt: saw him on the lawn in front of Silver two summers ago, gather he still does the Mindflight program every summer. ?
Randy--thanks I guess for a strange retro message. Surprise. Strange days all around these days. But yes we should have a chat sometime in the next year, no? we go out west just before xmas and get back about Jan 10. we can look for a day of clear roads and have a lunch midway. Tuesdays generally my "days off," but we can flex that. Or wait until the summer. oxb
Chat Conversation End
Type a message...
Just finished watching Durrells of Corfu, season finale. The story of the mother, Louise, makes the third of a pattern observed this fall. As the Wiki summary of the episode puts it “The family's concerns over Sven's true intentions are brought to light when Louisa realises that Sven's romantic feelings for her are merely a ruse to hide his homosexuality.” Same pattern as Schaumann and Katherine Anne Porter, and Mary and Hans. 3 instances in a row over the last three weeks, six weeks? And what else to say? That they all belong to the way the world was back then---back in the 1940s to the late 50s, mid-60s.
Never heard of Durrell’s first novel, published when he was 19! 19? Bit like Modiano there. Wow. And then in a short while he and Henry Miller got in touch, Miller slightly older, established, born in 1891 [!] and Durell in 1912.
Durrell chanced upon a copy of Tropic of Cancer and fell heavily under its influence and then, after the friendship struck, as lifelong friend with Miller.
Best quotation from Incognito for the day: “We grasp the world by tokens, assembling the substance in our spirit, the intricacy of structure and related forms.” 152
Sounds just like a line from Van Dusen and/or Swedenborg. ! Does it apply to the three relationships between gay men and older women above? Perhaps. Pretty uncanny though---especially the older women element in the pattern.
Is “tokens” also to be translated as “symbols.” Most likely so. “symbol----symbol, token, badge”
Recent news that Tindr dating app now lists more than 37 gender identities---
“ Rad says team members regrouped and took their time figuring out a solution, working with influencers from GLAAD as well as their own transgender users. The result is an additional 37 gender options, including Transgender Female, Transsexual Male, Agender, Genderqueer and the option to write in your own term. Users are given the option to display their gender identities on their profiles.
The additional genders include options such as gender fluid, androgynous, pangender, non-binary, gender questioning, transgender and transsexual. But if users can't find their preferred option, they can type in the gender title they wish to be identified as. .............
According to Rad, Tinder will continue to evolve this update, because "gender is a complex conversation--it's an ongoing dialogue.”
The document Randy sent is a photo-pdf. Guess now I could type up my own copy of that letter. I seem to have been writing to both Inchausti and Booth---maybe the first saying hello after I had read Inchausti’s first book about Brother Blake. ?
Haunted by the ghost of Herbert Schaumann. Put this into a tale of sorts? The tale after Hotel Courier?
»I've never met a person I couldn't call a beauty« ~Andy Warhol
Yesterday I escorted Ken for his first visit to Portland. 56 years they’ve lived here and never had gone there. Lunched at Tandem. Walked around a few blocks. Bright sunshine, cold breeze. Walked around the Old Port area. Tea at Dobrá, chat with Ray and Ellen, who both looked a bit harried. Ray applied for a library job but didn’t get it. Wonder if the tea shop is wearing them down a bit? Ken and I walked a bit more, over toward the port and the parking garage. He was intrigued to find a room at the Hilton would be only $135. a night on Dec 14. Hope he takes Carole over for a visit. I think the whole trip convinced him they could enjoy going there.
25 November Friday
Dinner at the Inn yesterday. I had duck and it was terrific. Va had the turkey. Dusting of snow, all perfect. Just lucked out----found the small Peruvian creche for Louise Kiger in just under ten minutes. Only had to move two summer fans and fewer than five boxes. Changed the harvest wreath to the christmas wreath on the front door. Such a strong seasonal deja vu about all of this. Digging into the attic for decorations, lining up things to send off as gifts, getting ready for a trip. Dark nights, snowy days. Super foggy today, muggy low pressure over the area. Va watching a hallmark movie. I’m about to try Blue Moon Cappucino Oak Stout---what a strange idea.
Rainy, icy Tuesday. A day home, sort of “off.” Eliz called early to cancel because of icy roads. Might work on Friday. Phil has impassioned email about the dismantling of medicare by the new trumpists---tea party budget cutter in charge. Crazy at every turn. Ideologues and goons and nut jobs. Our T guy is the star of it all---attention and drama. Child psycho. Today reading Dumitriu is not so consoling or interesting even. Sebastian is becoming a full-blown communist after the war and we know that can’t work out very well.
I am getting very tired of people in the media and on the internet "analyzing" (i.e., rehashing) the election. Who cares what these people think caused Hillary to lose?! I think our entire focus should now be on what that egocentric idiot with the orange hair may or may not do. (I admit it's tough to tell since he contradicts himself constantly and lives in some weird bubble.)
I say this, in part, out of worry about Medicare. During the campaign, Trump said he "wouldn't touch" Medicare, but this past week I read a report that there was discussion in Trump tower of limiting the total expenditure by Medicare on individual patients. That sounds a lot like ordinary, individual insurance policies for younger people. The latter kind of policies usually have a lifetime cap of around $3 million or so, and I'm guessing Trump might think that's a good idea: in other words, Medicare might put a lifetime cap of, say, $3 million on an elderly individual. For many, perhaps most, people this might be sufficient, but, for example, my girlfriend, Peg's, terminal lung disease requires a very expensive German drug to slow the disease. The side effects of that drug are terrible; so is the cost: $16,000 a month. Currently, Medicare pays the bulk of that, except when she hits the "donut hole" in part D. Therefore, as you can guess, a lifetime cap of about $3 million might be reached very quickly, especially if one adds in the cost of hospitalizations and, in her case, a possible lung transplant somewhere down the road.
Apparently the people in Trump tower have also been talking of turning Medicare into a Medicaid-like program in which states would be given a block grant for each year to cover the anticipated costs to be incurred by that state's elderly. I suspect that the effect on people would be similar to the cap on individuals. Okay for some. Terrible for others.
For these and similar reasons, I urge that we all keep our eyes focused on what Bozo-the-Orange-Clown and his retinue of smaller clowns are proposing/doing and forget about the election and all the opinions about the Clintons, both pro and con. Anyone with an interest in Medicare should be vigilant and, if necessary, as active as possible in resisting such efforts to "trim" the costs of Medicare. Lifetime caps and block grants are really dangerous.
they’re situation much more dire in the long-run, maybe short-run, than ours. $16k a month for the medicine and not yet even into the donut hole---yikes.
Weds night Manny had a mild stroke two or three days ago. Heusers say theu went to see him. Fidel died on 25th, Friday, news hit us on Sat 26th, was Manny’s stroke on Sunday?
Narrator in Incognito sickened by trying to be a good Communist. None too soon as far as experiencing the book goes. All the party behavior in some ways more excruciating than descriptions of the war and survival. Whole book reminds me of Ellison’s Invisible Man. Why? Title even hints at it. On purpose?? Individual man trying to survive within the machines of society.
He looks up Sabine and they get married. A bit abrupt and reveals how the novel is what Sacks would call a Fable. At the service of the message or ideas being put forth, worked-out. Nicholas likes it for that reason, then, that it displays a coherent plan on which Sebastian’s spiritual vocation becomes unfolded. Good timing to be reading it as we see Cuba now in the light of post-Castro and even post-Obama. How will the indoctrinated generations make the transition to a post-socialist world. BBC tv had a short piece on Denmark as a model for the world of socialist safety net society. But it also talked about a certain kind of patient satisfaction with things being built into Danish genes. “Happiness” gets ticked on surveys but the reporter/historian, British, repeated a few times that it was less elation and more acceptance, maybe even resignation, to the way things are. Contentment. But even that will not satisfy the hero of Dumitriu’s novel because he is a hero in what is after all a sort of old-style fable-fiction. Easy to see how “period” it would seem to be to most au courant literati. How far from the glitz of trendy philosophizing as with Iyer and the Blanchot gang. All the more reason I should catch up on my Josivipici novels as soon as I can. Meanwhile Modiano I like so much. A new Javier Marías to take on the trip but I don’t quite look to him for the salvation that I used to imagine I found in his convoluted sentences. Admiration for Margaret Jull Costa still quite high. I am a devotee of her translations perhaps even more than of the writers she translates. Perfect for a believer in conspiracy theories. Higher fictions.
Dumitriu does announce his turn clearly: this is not the first time he has used this phrase but I noticed it again just now: “I would not let myself see the face of God gazing at me through the portents of death. ‘The thing is to be manly and stoical.’” 319-320 and adds “no more than a shallow evasion, an illusion for which I was soon to pay.” Perhaps this then is where the novel goes on forward into a greatness I’ve not yet seen. By 347 he is defining Hell as he is experiencing it, in precisely the terms Swedenborg uses. Same themes, too, about design. And then love and forgiveness and through those to “Not me--Thou. Thou alone.” 354 Swedenborg, Van Dusen, John of the Cross, etc etc etc “I pervaded the world in merging myself with it.”
the next passage on 354 which I now call “The Passage on Adoration” does indeed make this one of the finest novels of the 20th or any century.
“And love is the act of worship. I was crushed with fear, shattered with pity, rent with the grace and innocence of this universe which which I was plunged, of which I was made, and which had grown its flower in my heart, that quivering, immobile flame, inexhaustible and always spreading.”
“But it is He who prays within us and answers the prayer which is His gift.”
“It was not an ejaculation, for the more love welled up within me the more I had to give, and I was not emptied but fuller than before.”
“One can grovel . . . . It was then that I learnt that the semblance of personal dignity is a matter of no great importance. One can lose it utterly and still sturvive. One can grovel to one’s tortureres, screaming for mercy and sniveling like a child. It is not our self that does these things. Our true self has withdrawn in mortal affliciton to the innermost receses of our being. And in this final withdrawal there is a strange dignity that cannot be lost. Torture and degradation are a misguided tactic because they teach the victim to discover this dignity. “ 350
Home before Eliz & Va today, Friday. got my 6000 steps, mainly walking Concord’s main street. Read more Dimitriu in Starbucks.
Saturday Saw Jess today at her house. Delivered the drying rack. We had lunch at Salt Hill earlier. She did not have her phone with her, was out walking the two dogs. Seemed happy to be surprised and to have the rack. Cawley still in Brooklyn at his friend’s, doing interview and searches.
Barb emailed that her mother died Weds night, Nov 30. Memorial not unto end of this month, day after we depart ABQ.
Va’s ankle seems ok. Glad we drove to Hanover and back today, she slept and we gave the ankle a rest.
Sunday night Dec 4 Va had us go to the concert at Silver, Dan Perkins’ student groups. Exceptional as always. Especially the Rachmaninoff piece reinterpreting the ligurgical hymns. Could listen to those every day. We didn’t make it to see Manny. Gave John and Heidi fuller info than they had heard about what happened to him. Guess we will go tomorrow.
Missing Dumitriu’s novel all day. I was trying too hard to give it too clever a twist is supposing that the narrator of the frame sections, “Attendant Circumstances,” was Sebastian himself. No, an anonymous narrator who has found himself to be “a torchbearer of the saints” the messenger who brings Sebastian’s story out to the West. He himself has been changed by the process and sees what Sebastian has found about the power to love the world, to love all of creation and the creator. There is no irony, then, or if there is it is the opposite of Conrad’s narrator who returns with the tale of Kurtz. Nicholas points out well in his Golgonooza review that Dumitriu shows us that what gives us the ultimate freedom to love is not another group definition of belief or faith or membership, not Party, not nation, not church but attitude.
The correspondence of vision between Dumitriu and Van Dusen seems quite remarkable. Was it formed as part of the Age---post war thinkers and artists who saw how to begin again, how to cut to the essence of our lives. 1962-1964, first in France and then in England. Narrator talks about the coming of a new Dark Age. Exactly what Lukacs told us in history class at La Salle in 1963. I suppose everyone from eastern Europe of his generation saw the Soviet Union as having engulfed their world in precisely those terms and images. And today we can wonder if things have not gotten indeed darker than we would have imagined fifty years ago when we were college students.
“Values have to be broken down until we come to the solid rock that underlies them, the point of Archimedes, the thing in all our hearts which is God and love. It has to be shouted aloud, for there are no values, there is only one value from which all others spring, and it is in ourselves, the living, active human heart, striving and offering itself. So long as that is so, we may call the universe by the name of God. So long as it is so, we shall know that God exists; for He is the love in our hearts, He is we who love and He is the world that we love.” 402
“What matters is not what others do, but what we do ourselves.” 415
“the voice and manner of the speaker are what count, not whathe says.” 422
“Do you believe in God?’ asked Leopold . . . “I believe in nothing that a scientist can’t believe in. It’s not a question of faith, or an intellectual problem. It’s a way of feeling and acting.”
“I said that those who love rightly always know what to do; that sacred love shapes our inward bearing like a flame in a wax mould, which melts it and gives it a new form.” 423
‘but we knew that we existed for one another, that we did not forget each other, and that we loved each other as we loved all things around us.” 426
“I don’t propose to at all. [organise this action] Any kind of organisation would involve us in the machinery of determinism, a dialectic outside the individuality of each of us. Do you want yet another Party? Or another Church?” 424
“I was a messenger at that time--it was before I became a storekeeper--“ 441
“yet always at the heart of everything; for the centre of the world is in the heart of all those who find in it the heart of God. The universe is dense, filled and intimate, and I am at its centre, in the love of God, and on the ladder of God’s love, which rises even beyond ecstasy. . . . I am at the centre of God’s suffering, the heart of pain.” . . . . And in closer contacts my discovery spread slowly but constantly from one person to another, in that dense and secret undergrowth which is wholly composed of personal events.” 427
“but added to all this was the fact of our secret participation in God. Everything was discreet: no one could guess. The thing that floats in the air, living and multiform in the recesses of men’s consciousness, is beyond the reach of propaganda and publicity, of police forces and political parties. This is the domain of the new secrecy, the new intimacy, the only one that is truly alive.” 442
“I should have remembered that our highest duty and supreme opportunity is not to preach but to sanctify ourselves.” 454
“What is difficult is to love the world as it is now . . . . to love and pardon them, for they are one of the faces of God, terrifying and sad.” 454
“The unexpected is a gift of God.” [Bro Dermot---God is surprise.]
“Not that I may resign myself and passively accept it: for if I love the world as it is, I am already changing it: a first fragment of the world has been changed, and that is my own heart.” “I will compel God by acquiescing in His will.” If You will, Lord. Only if You wish it to be so. If You do not with it to be so, I will bless you. I am yours. “
Found Dumitriu on a search on Amazon---book of quotations on prayer---
Petru Dumitriu, in the chapter The Sacrament of Presence admits, "My own humble experience is not that of ecstacy. I do not levitate, I am not somewhere else, nor outside myself, not with God-nothing of that. Just a poor brute suddenly stopping halfway down the stairs, or slowly taking off his glasses. But those two or three minutes in the life of a man, are the reason why I shall not have lived in vain." And finally, Julian of Norwich ".....I was filled with an everlasting security that supported me completely, and I was without fear. This feeling was so blessed that I experienced nothing but peace and rest, and there was nothing on earth that could have disturbed me." No 'thou shalt's in those entries. Thank you Lorraine Kisly for this rich collection crammed with Ordinary Graces.
Monday 5 Dec We headed off after early lunch to visit Manny in Concord but the highway was not as cleared as I’d hoped and the fine snow still falling so we got off at Ashland and are glad now to be back into the cozy house. Maybe not more than three inches all told, but roads are going to get even slipperier, temps below freezing even now.
Returned iphone was in the front door as of saturday and so I put the chip back into it and shipped it off to buyback---see if a check for $280 does arrive in a week or so. Better price than gazelle.
Weds Dec 7
Visited Manny right after he finished lunch, about 12:15. Loli was there. Here’s her tale that solves our theft of Davi’d piggy bank cold case.
So Loli and I were going down the list of Plymouth stuff we could think of and she asked me where we lived---she had never been quit clear on that. She's about 50, maybe 52? I said, well, next to the Christian Science church and basically cattycorner from what used to be the old Buckland Flowers shop.
Oh, Richie Flowe
rs grew up there, and we became best buds in an odd way in late grade school. He was lonely and so I "liked" him and we became misfits together.
I said, oh he must have been the kid who broke into our house one time. Climbed in through the sun
porch window, even went up to David's room and unscrewed the metal piggy bank and took all the coins in it.
Yes, she cried, he would do that. He was a very bad boy and always getting into trouble and always doing dumb things just like that---just to do them. After I went off to college and do a career he would stay in touch, send little notes, follow me more than I kept in touch with him. Did you go to my last concert in Plymouth at the Monkey? Did you know why I dedicated one song to a big photo, the guy in the photo was Richie Flowers. I had had a concert in Plymouth a few years before that and the night before he telephoned me and I didn't take his call. I didn't give it a thought until a few months iater I heard that he had died suddenly the next night. He had some condition, strange illness, or maybe diabetes, that had required he have a leg amputated. I didn't know any of this. But after he died his mother contacted me and sent me a framed
photo collage in memory of his life. I felt so bad.
The next concert in town I brought the photo with me and sang a song in his memory with the photo on stage. I did not know then that his mother was in the crowd that night. She met me afterwards and we talked about Richie and her memories of him. He was about 50-52 when he died.
Crazy, huh! I'll ask Loli if I got the story straight. I may have messed up some details.
Chris Dawe asked for link on linkedIn. Listening to Dawes has had me wondering about him.
Never read James Varieties of Religious Experience because I had had too much exposure one way and another to the history of the lives of the saints.
Browsing in the guide to France reminded me of this. So many beautiful Romanesque sculptures on church capitals. Windows.
Nice note from Dawe, short exchange of info. Phil sent a query about saving face in France. We had a short chat with the kids. They are starting the holidays early to go skiing before going to Le Chezet. Florian had his baby Dec 1, Lana. Forget his girl friend’s name.
I have a question which I wish you would forward to Cecile and maybe also David about France and, more particularly, the southern region of France.
A guy who was in the Peace Corps with me in Tunisia moved to France about 35 years ago. Until quite recently he lived in a tiny village - Saint Guiraud - which is about 25 kilometers northwest of Montpelier. Unfortunately, he had terrible next-door neighbors who seemed, even to me, to be sociopaths. Eventually they forced him to move to a small town in the Aveyron region, which he likes a lot. However, recently he emailed me the following:
How many times have I told you over the years that here (especially in SG -Mediterranean midi, much much less in the Aveyron midi) gaining and especially not losing face is the number one cultural imperative.
He's right. He has repeated this endlessly, and is absolutely adamant about that "saving face" dominates life to an extreme degree. Which has me wondering if it's really true that "saving face" is so damn important in (a) France and (b) especially important in that part of France. Frankly, I suspect that he exaggerates this issue because of his own rather neurotic fear of committing what he terms "cultural embarrassment." (He speaks fluent French, but admits that people still spot a slight "foreign accent" when he is speaking French.) On the other hand, he has lived for many years in France while I have spent less than 6 months in France over my entire lifetime. Yet in those six months, I found the French to be pretty normal. If they were interested in saving face it was no more than I or anyone else would be.
So, if you don't mind, can you forward this question to C & D. Also, I would be interested to find out from Va if she thinks "saving face" is the "number one cultural imperative in any part of Spain."
PS. Did you finish Henry Green's novel? If so what's your reaction?
sent this query to Donald but he will be too lazy to reply.
in fact no one has “replied” except me and Va and we have no clue what Phil really is after here, a long contentious friendship with his fellow in France.
News from Annie that Méme is in a care home and Pépe home alone now. Family sounds like it is juggling who can be there when. Our kids are going skiing early.
I should copy Chris Dawe’s initial message. First time I’ve used LinkedIn to any helpful purpose.
On Wednesday, Chris Dawe said the following:
Has been many, many years. Hope you are well and prospering.
- Chris Dawe
Chris Dawe is now a connection.
On Wednesday, Robert Garlitz said the following:
spooky. what date did you send this invite---or is it just the algorithms speaking?? I've been thinking of you over past few weeks/months. Wondering how you are. Ahh--I know---I've become a devout fan of the band Dawes in the last year or less. You look great, seems you're doing well. Have a good holiday season. Bob G
Yesterday, Chris Dawe said the following:
That is spooky. I don't what it was yesterday but I was thinking about college and I just decided to type your name in and boom. Blessed social media. Hope all is well with you. After several years away from it, I have been writing again the last year. I no longer aspire to write the great American novel but really enjoy writing as a meditative and personally rewarding activity. Fell into a career in consulting about 20 years ago that is fast paced and exhausting and writing is now my little getaway. Steve Chinosi and I are still great friends and we're raising our families a few towns from each other. Do you still live up North or have you found warmer confines? Chris
Yesterday, Robert Garlitz said the following:
Yes we're still in Plymouth. Forced to go to Paris where our son, French wife & two children live---Emma 5 and Eliot almost 3. How did Ch get his house to be a non-tax foundation? what ages are your kids? are you 40?
At 8:12 AM, Chris Dawe said the following:
I wish I was 40. Just turned a robust 47. Has been 25 years since I graduated....yikes. My kids are now 17, 15 and 12. Time is flying by. Not sure if Steve pulled that trick, though he is always up to something. Paris is not so bad a place to visit if one must travel
Read last night the last story in Lewinter’s History of Love in Solitude, blown away by the last one of the three, all very short and patient or tranquil. Nameless. I will re-read it some more, it is so brilliant and radiant. Maybe I will copy each phrase on twitter after the new year. It feels like one of those stories I have been looking for for years. And not “why didn’t I write that?” but oh thank goodness I’ve found that someone has written it. Critics will call it a tale of a distant flirtation and yet with a slight change here or there it is also a tale of a vision, a revelation, yes, in Dumitriu’s sense, or Van Vusen’s, even, maybe, Swedenborg’s.
In Marías’s novel the narrator reminds us that we never know who will be remembered nor why. Hearing from Chris Dawe reminds me of this. I was going to tell him but now I think I’d better not, that it is especially nice to hear from him because I never thought I would and because I tried to get more of a response from in in my favor but he never seemed to show it. Still waters run deep. His buddy, still now, and from back in those days, Chinosi, I have heard from over the years, but then he is Italian heritage and more extroverted. But Dawe was very quiet and withdrawn. Seems he has had a very good job as some sort of consultant--analyst? Three children, 17, 15 and 12. He’s now 47 so that means I turned 47 two or three weeks after his graduation from Plymouth. That he pushed a button on LinkedIn and was surprised that I popped up and then we exchanged a few lines, is one of those mysteries of our memories. We think of lots of persons in quick passing throughout a day. What any of those memories mean rarely gets revealed.
But now I am more curious that Chris might say something of what his writing for escape is like. Like everyone’s most likely, a journal of self-therapy, a safer place within which to find one’s thoughts and feelings.
Saturday 10th starting the countdown for the trip, fly a week from tomorrow.
“I believe that modesty and tact led him to cover up his natural generosity (and which, contrary to what happens nowadays, one should never boast about), as well as his extreme sensitivity, which he thought was hidden away, and of which he was probably embarrassed and which, with undeniable skill and talent, but little conviction, he would sometimes try to disguise by being brusque or sarcastic; it was as if he were suddenly aware of how he should behave and had to press a button to set that behaviour in motion, as if he decided to act, but only after an almost imperceptible pause; as if any intemperate or impertinent outbursts always required a minimum of willpower -- a little play-acting, a little fabrication.” Marías Thus 56
Brusqueness or sarcasm as attempt to disguise sensitive embarassment-no disguise for embarassed sensitivity, extreme sensivity, of which he is embarassed.
we clarified the calendar for the trip. Soon we count down. Note reply from Adrian Nathan West who had the ony short review comment I could find about Lewinter.
Thanks so much for writing. The Lewinter books really are quite something, particularly as in a superficial way I would have thought I wouldn’t care for them, tapestries and old LPs and the lotus position not really being my thing. I can’t begin to tell you how slowly my influence in the publishing world is growing, but I see that the Dumitriu’s available cheap in French, so I will order a copy and when I to go to the US in the spring I’ll mention it to some people. The problem is a minuscule number of publishers do reprints –– this is stupid, but such is life.
Best wishes to you, and thanks for the recommendation. I keep telling myself I’ll try and learn Romanian "next year," but I never do.
Is it Romanian or Rumanian? the latter I think. Ordered his first novel, which looks intriguing. Aesthetics of Degradation. He’s in Spain it seems, not France. Asked him where.
Phil just asked us all to contribute to Wikipedia. Surprised. Woke up all nervous about money because a mailer arrived from UNH/TIAA about changes to their annuity rules. Called and the consultant on the phone explained that it is about giving clients who want it more flexibility to change around investments as they see fit. Ooops, no thanks on that for us.
short email exchange with Adrian Nathan West. He married a woman from Pontevedra and they live in Pamplona. Dying to know, now, where he grew up and went to university. Some need to “place” him in some familiar ways rather than allow him to be who he is now and pay attention to his work as a translator and writer. His first novel sounds strange indeed and so I ordered it on the kindle with a thought to reading it on the trip. Airplane kindle and all. Found him because he posted a short but good review comment somewhere on Lewinter’s Solitude.
Just read chapter 1 of his book. Deleted it from the Kindle. He’s read Bataille---of course--and many other with it writers. He knows well what he’s up to, and yet. Maybe after I read a bit more of the reviews, maybe after I read some of his translations. The narrator might be total invention and setting his childhood in Alabama and using the n- word right off the bat might be historically and contextually called for, still. The voice did not convince me. The voice was too dangerously treading a tightrope. Maybe I will look at it in six months and have different reactions. Cannot help hearing too the voice of the interviews I scanned today with West. In all the samplings there seems a degree of pretentiousness possibly at work that makes me suspect and wary. Is it the voice of the confidently assured and called, or of the striving aspirant to higher echelon literary insiderness and coterie credentializing?
Sunday Guests of Elizabeth for the Pemi Choral concert. Smaller audience and much smaller chorus. Soothing concert. Afterwards we went to Mt Alto for coffee. Elizabeth’s friend Gary most interesting. Independent research scientist and mountaineer who has lived near Rumney rocks for twenty years. Climbed on every continent. Does heat research in geology I think. A volcano might be the major cause of the heating up in Antarctica in addition to climate change. Vegetarian and fitness freak. Elizabeth made a point of hi vegetarianism---wonder why? Formerly a physicist or a physics major--University of Bridgeport then Columbia for his doctorate. Diane was there for the concert, red curly hair. Assume they are a couple but she had to go somewhere so we didn’t talk with her.
Monday Dec 12 Nice visit with the kids. Emma in her tutu just back from dance class. A short video of her there.
Dec 15 Thurs
Canceled lunch with Ed today. Great trip yesterday and lunch with Greg but felt all achy later in the day from the driving. Last night we changed our trip from Sunday to Tuesday. Feel relieved about that. Freezing winds and snow coming on Saturday. Might cancel the dinner that night at the Inn. Hope so. When it is snowy and icy there I just don’t enjoy it as much as I want to. Still feeling my cold, though, and caved and took a daytime alka fly mixture.
Saturday 17 Dec
a mantra for you !
sven birkerts @svenbirkerts Dec 13
I keep repeating, a mantra, Simone Weil's short aphorism: "Contradiction is the lever of transcendence.”
Marías has his narrator repeat that old saw about people who write diaries: “I’m sure he wrote a very long entry in his diary that night (like many unhappy, lonely people, he kept a diary) in which, as well as setting down the little he could have understood of the English conversation, . . . .” 133
Such a tired notion is unworth of Javier M. He may be criticizing his narrator who is making fun of the character under view. But he the author may believe this too. Did I read in an interview years ago that he does not use a journal or a diary. He writes novels---somehow there is a macho tag in there too, but is that, then, also being stereotypical to say such a thing?
Lewinter would not have anyone in his stories say such a thing. Of that I’m sure.
And it was on Nicholas’s posting that he mentioned an article that led me to the website Brainpickings.org
By Maria Popova
“16 Overall Favorite Books of 2016
To look back on any period of reading with the intention of selecting one’s favorite books is a curious two-way time machine — one must scoop the memory of a past and filter it through the sieve of an indefinite future in an effort to discern which books have left a mark on one’s conscience deep enough to last a lifetime. Of the many books I read in 2016, these are the sixteen that moved me most deeply and memorably. And since I stand with Susan Sontag, who considered reading an act of rebirth, I invite you to revisit the annual favorites for 2015, 2014, and 2013.
THE LONELY CITY by Olivia Laing
“You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love,” artist Louise Bourgeois wrote in her diary at the end of a long and illustrious life as she contemplated how solitude enriches creative work. It’s a lovely sentiment, but as empowering as it may be to those willing to embrace solitude, it can be tremendously lonesome-making to those for whom loneliness has contracted the space of trust and love into a suffocating penitentiary. For if in solitude, as Wendell Berry memorably wrote, “one’s inner voices become audible [and] one responds more clearly to other lives,” in loneliness one’s inner scream becomes deafening, deadening, severing any thread of connection to other lives. “
She writes a great, long review of the book, concluding with links to other important books like it:
“The Lonely City is a layered and endlessly rewarding book, among the finest I have ever read. Complement it with Rebecca Solnit on how we find ourselves by getting lost, David Whyte on the transfiguration of aloneness, Alfred Kazin on loneliness and the immigrant experience, and Sara Maitland on how to be alone without being lonely.”
early Sunday evening Dec 18
heavy skies all day, rain and freezing rain. All packed but for morning stuff, I think. Seems manageable. So so glad we changed dates. Hope Va’s chest clears up tomorrow. Go to see the doctor? Bought a cool mister and now using that by her reading chair and later tonight for sleeping. In the house most of the past two days. Got to the dump mid-day. Slept fitfully past two nights, should sleep tonight. Enjoying Offspring the main evening events.
That and the Hallmark movies for Va. Missed seeing Ken and Carole on Friday afternoon. Was it a faux pas to not have alerted them much sooner? They probably gave it no thought and I had sort of warned Ken the evening before in my texting when I suggested the dinner at the Inn would be canceled because of snow. I was right. He must not have been looking at the weather maps quite as much as I had been. Too much tea today. Too buzzed. Not the same as coffee buzz, lighter and yet wired on a thinner wire, even a set of thinner wires, image of those chalk holders teachers used to make five lines on the blackboard at a time on which they could then write musical notes or words. Must have been mainly for musical marking. The nuns in thier black habits, drawing horizontal lines with a gizmos that held five pieces of chalk in five metal fingers.