Wednesday, January 09, 2019

July 9, 2018 to January 6, 2019

Monday  July 9

Bought tix for Nutcracker December 27 1:30 for six of us.  

Rendevous this evening.  Rosie and Brendan showed up.  Photos of Joan Baez with Rosie’s mom at the chateau.  Eric from Thetford, Dartmouth ’94, computer science, told us at the end how much he detested the Rassias method.  Willow polite and listening.  He thinks he speaks well but his spoken French is terrible---pure nerd, self-taught mainly reading.  Works for Farraday company based in Burlington.  New house in Thetford, 340,000.  Beautifully built thirty years ago and they met the previous owners.  Lucky to find something at that price.  Any price lower and the place is a “fixer-upper” in terrible shape.  Lance was there about an hour before picking his kids up at karate.  Stefan has a house in New London. He’s going to Germany for information sci conferences.  Earlier in the day, off, I strolled the mall and got the old mac wiped clean at Apple.  Then lunched at Whole Foods.  Grateful for gorgeous weather all day.  I got 7000 steps.  Rosie and Brendan excited to be starting grad studies in the fall.  B at Grenoble and R at St Etienne (I think).  They will be able to make the Cobra concert at Weirs Jazz place.  

11 July  

Gorgeous breezy afternoon once again.  Va read on the swing for about an hour.  PEO in the morning up in Wentworth.  I got the posters printed at Staples.  Tore stuff out of the tv closet, now to sift the drawers of files.  Washed towels.  Summer.   

such beautiful night air.  soft, cool, gentle, sweet.  Distant murmurs, buzzes, purrs, 

14 July  Saturday

Kids must be in Newark or environs, jet-lagging.  Or do they fly tonight and arrive tomorrow?  

Gerri remarked with great excitement at breakfast that she was amazed to see on the shelf next to her bed a book by A. H. Almaas.  Night Journey or something like that.  A friend of hers goes regularly to the retreat center, Diamond something? that Almas runs out west somewhere.  This led to talk about Nassir and then later on Rilke and others.  We brought out the catalog for the Mystical Symbolist exhibit at the Guggenheim.  Greg wants my Philokalia books if I get rid of them.  

Here it is on Facebook---six hours ago they left Orly for JFK.  

No I didn't finish it.  I was about to ask you the same a few days ago.  Friends from Portland came over on Friday and spent the night.  Amazing how nervous we got about hosting a simple visit.  All went well but at one point at dinner at a restaurant last night Gentleman from Moscow came up.  Both Va and Gerri loved it.  Greg and I looked at each other and nodded, no, we did not get very far into it and would not try again.  I did try about a week ago, and again I felt the same hackles rising against it.  

Is it stories alone that women like so much or the kind of flirty details about minor things that give the storytelling a slightly arch and naughty tone or style of being in someone's confidence, like gossip itself.  Secrets and partial secrets, and, of course, in this particular novel, all sorts of hints about
proper rules of behavior, decorum, style and class hierarchy, all of which are supposed to indicate moral integrity and superior everything.  Fussy storytelling.  

AFraid too from the outset I found his name to be just too much.  His author bio should have said Amor was named in honor of his great grandfather who arrived at Staten Island in 1853 after having fought with Garibalid for Italy's independence.  

Two “Luminous” books now.  Almaas and the one Nicholas had me buy a few weeks ago via his blogpost, the Norwegian Hauge’s “Luminous Spaces.”  A motif here.  

Checking him out on Wiki and who pops up but Claudio Naranjo--bing!  Enneagram.  Almaas born in 1944 in Kuwait.  Spiritual Psychotherapy.  

Scanning the web one quickly finds there are now two main Diamond schools of teaching and retreat centers.  Here is a paragraph from a blog comparing the two: Teachers of the Diamond Approach are very strict in what they do and do not say to students about their issues. ,”

And “"Integration of Essential Diamonds Into a Single Structure Depending on the situation, the Diamond Dimension manifests as a field in which the various aspects operate as diamonds, or it arises as one presence in which all the essential diamonds are integrated into a single structure, one operating vehicle. Instead of experiencing one diamond at a time, we experience all diamonds arranged in a particular structure, such as a chandelier, a cathedral, or some other distinctive form."

So now I’m thinking, ok, perfect to be reminded of all of this once again and why not.  Gerri reminded me a little of Carol Sheehan and all those times I spent fascinated by the variations of spiritual psychology available.  Why should Almaas not have reconfigured these things and established a practice for others to follow.  Eternal return indeed.  “UPDATE ON STUPA 3/1/2015

In the Diamond Logos the Stupa is seen as the ultimate vehicle, the one that encompasses all the others.

And I remember a few years back a beautiful image drawn by one of my teachers who showed how all the vehicles fit together in the human being as one Stupa.

The Stupa in other words, is the most grand of vehicles.

I'm not sure how that is explained to female students given that it implies the masculine is superior to the feminine, however I do wonder if it is a male centric view of the work.

It may be that given the head teacher is a man, he sees the male vehicle as the most valuable, whereas a highly evolved female may see it differently - may value the Chandelier more, for example.

It would be interesting to hear what Karen Johnson has to say about this.

On a related note, I think I've head Hamid Ali (A.H. Almaas) talk about the Vajra body in similar terms to how Faisal Muqaddam talks about the Stupa.”  

Phil this morning:  Nice to hear that I wasn't alone in being annoyed by this story that apparently all women love.   And I like your analysis.  Women are drawn to gossip-like stories and "flirty details about minor things."

I will add that women will counter that "Oh, no.  If a story tells me, for example, what someone is  wearing that will illustrate something about  that character's true, inner, secret  self."   To which I counter."No, it doesn't.   You interpret what someone wears simply to confirm your own prejudices about people and clothes.  It's another example of why women - and some men - read: only to confirm their own  dopey, completely non-objective, narrow-minded opinions.   Which, by the way, is a bullshit reason."  (Peg tells me that before I got sick I was getting "crotchety" but that I became milder and nicer while I was sick.   Now that I'm getting better she says I'm getting crotchety again.  Humph!      P )  

We ran into Jess and Cawley at Tuckerbox.  Have not seen him for twenty-two years I think.  He is off to Abu Dhabi in two weeks.  Joining his cousin out there to work in consulting on internet business training.  Cawley very shy still, quiet, forms a trinity with Greg and Gerri perhaps in being a messenger from the quiet spaces.  I know I read the introduction to Almaas’s book a few years ago.  Have to see if his name shows up on Golgonooza blog.  Or whether I came across it elsewhere.  

2010-12-21  date Dad died.  Looking up info for the Ancestry site.  Mother 
2009-01-13  Had not seen how neat Dad’s numbers are.  Mothers are too, come to notice.  

We’re taking double naps today.  Not jet-lag but visitor-lag.  Why on earth did we get soooo anxious about this visit.  We don’t know Greg and Gerri all that well and Va has not lunched with Greg as often as I have nor does she have the memories of having met in college.  Greg said he stayed in the Brothers for only four years after the five years of college.  He wanted to teach history but was assigned to teach religion and became head of that department at Calvert Hall High School.  From Canton, OH.  Older brother, David, younger sister by three years and then a much younger brother nine years later.  A Middle Child, a middle brother! for sure.  The interior life.  We heard much more about Gerri’s famiy too, this time.  Sent to private day school, in or near Albany, NY.  Sent off to camp.  Didn’t seem to have a good time of much of it.  Older brother, the Presbyterian pastor who just retired.  Gerri is the only person we know who was at Woodstock.  Has not said much about it except it was muddy and rainy.  Was she with the fellow who became her husband?  Is he now working in Portland?  I think so, lawyer?  Her daughter, Abby, is there, working for Intex?  

Reading Almaas the first thing you wonder is, how do people learn to talk this way?  He doesn’t show up on Nicholas’s site.  

Did something with Greg and Gerri never done with anyone else--brought them up to see all of our books.  Talking about books and reading is one of our main common topics.  

Did I read all of Almaas a while back?  His opening passages remind me of Bede Griffiths Golden String which Nicholas and I talked about more than once years ago.  “Thread” of experiences of consciousness as Almaas uses the term.  

Later.  End of Chapter Two.   I think this is as far as I got once before.

16 July   

Va reminded me that alkemia is an Arabic invention.  So of course Almaas from Kuwait is bringing to California all the ancient teachings from Arabian alchemical mysticism.  They also invented algebra I think, so the abstractness of Almaas’s language would be fine and from the heart of the traditions.  

17 July 
I was going to walk in the grass today to get more grounded.  It is raining.  So what now to do with the day off?  Alburritos is calling somehow because I missed it last week.  Scout the venue for Cobra.  

I’ll go from Almaas to Hauge to compare luminosities.  Mystics and mystical fellow travelers are like med students: when they study the texts they begin to experience the illnesses described.  Hauge’s luminosity will be frame within much more Western terms of personhood rather than in the abstract geometry and jewel-structure of Arabic texts.  Almaas apparently comes to use the stupa and the chandelier.  

Afternoon in Littleton.  Eating at Alburritos recalled I had been there at least once before.  Hot and muggy but the rain storms stayed south of the Notch.  
Giving up with Almaas.  Just not appealing, not interesting enough, not coherent enough and every so often he uses language like gooey, plastic tubes, limp  bag, brown syrup, which really seem in poor literary taste even got a laugh out of me at one point.  He strains to use all sorts of paradoxes, which is ok. Lots of it is fine.  
And, yes, I am beginning to miss Proust more.  

19 July  Early up and out for a walk thanks to Solo.  Took off my shoes and walked across campus on the lawn, wet with dew.  Cold morning.  46 !  Feel more grounded.  As per instructions.  

Gorgeous day once more.  Sun, air, noon light brilliant.  New Mac set up.  Colin and family here earlier to play the piano.   Clare and Will.  Fellow at the dump joking and murmuring about treasonous as the meaning of collusion.  The Forty senators too.  Those who went to Russia for the Fourth of July.  What gives?  
Wiping clean the old Mac.  Mac rules our lives.  Elegant Oversight.  

Almaas did remind me of many things.  Sitting in silence in St Mary’s, light pouring through the stained glass windows, the softly illuminated daylight darkness.  Discoverying silent prayer, silent presence.  Something entirely different from the stations of the cross, the devotions and adorations, the altar decorations and processions.  Full trappings of monastic, princely ancient traditions.  Silence inside the locker full of beef carcasses.  Hanging by their entwined ankles, sawn in half, the white-pink fat layered on the rib cages.  How much I dreamed and dreamed again, over and over, of returning to Anselm Hall, to Ammendale, to that huge brick mansion reimagined with dreams that was the seat of vocation, of union, of desire, of mystery and ulimately expulsion and exile.  Some faint resonance of that in having been sent home from India.  Even.  
Sent away, sent back, sent out from the longed-for and frustrated initiation and full identity.  

Tuesday  24 July

5pm and ladies not back from their day yet.  My day off was super-strange.  Irving supposed to clean the furnace but they called around 11:30 to cancel.  I saw Judith and talked with her earlier.  Was at a loss as what to do with myself off and on all day.  Got a nap around 2:30.  Drove to Waterville to see if I could find Lance’s building site.  No.  First off in the morning I stopped at Hundelrut to talk with Don and Sarah.  We have a dinner date for next Tuesday evening.
Ate some potato salad at Chase.  Then walked a little bit.  Drove around.  Decided to go to Walter’s Basin for a beer and a salad.  Left my cap but then someone told me in the men’s room and when I went back it was hanging on the hook outside the bar.  Actually decided not to get a cookie snack at the general store.  Beer was enough.  Last night we had dinner at Ken and Carole’s with Art and Karen and then we all went to hear Chanticleer at the Congo.  Hot and rainy and muggy past few days.  Basement still dry. Breeze outside now.  Acorns seem to be making noises on the roof.  Acorns or some other things. Last night we decided to go to Ogunquit this Saturday to see American in Paris and stay over.  Heusers saw it last week and loved it.  Long phone call with Donald yesterday afternoon.  He liked Jim’s Fable very much.  “A deeply Catholic sacramental vision.”  

Phil: “"Wow, wow, wow" destroys any regard for Rick developed in the rest of the obit.   Apparently he did do a few good things in his life that I didn't know about. P”

“Yves is not a pathological liar.  He simply regrets that, in his teens, no single passion swept aside all the others and overtook him completely.  He became neither a biologist nor a theologian, astronomer, or historian.  Yves is a writer.” 
Le Tellier, 37

5:33  here they are, fresh from the nail salon and having forgotten Elizabeth’s plants at Lowes.  

At Walters I looked up Tristan Law on Facebook and there he is, director of an arts collective in Portsmouth.  I was going to message him but there in Message was one I sent to him asking about his dad in 2011.  That saddened me and stymied me.  Leave well enough alone.  

25 July   Doctor visit for Virginia.  Her heart murmur is louder, doctor wants an ekg.  Candida on the tummy and neck rashes.  Does nystatin help eczema?  seems I had it once before for something.  

Colin and Willow on the piano this morning, 26th.  Bright idea for today---move the modem down to the den, move my computer too.  In prep for our voyage on our Rogers Yacht for the next three weeks.  Wrote a whole one page note/letter to Donald.  Did one thing for the day.  We started watching Succession last night at Nancy’s suggestion.  Superb.  One episode.  Netflix and Amazon upped their game but HBO showing it still commands the talent. 

Va’s note today to Jim---

Dear Jim, I  have been meaning to write and tell you how much I enjoyed your book about grace.  I have not been able to check whether or not you may have named the place Bernanos after Georges.  Did he have a particular take on the question of grace? I loved the part about the fake nuns.  It made me think of some friends of friends in Madrid who paid a fortune for the underwear their daughter was required to have before entering the convent.  I think it was even all hand made.  Anyway they were furious that she ended up changing her mind about becoming a nun and no one would touch the underwear. 
I also loved your use of music and its power to bring together all those wretched people where the cat boy lived.(I decided he looked like a cat because his fur was so soft and because of the cover illustration)  Were you inspired by music like that?   Or maybe your own singing had that effect.
It was all very sweet and so sad.

Thank you for writing it.  I look forward to your future books.

I enjoyed spending time with you and Anne in Cooperstown. 
It is easy to see why you are one of Bob's favorite teachers.
I hope you two  will come to Plymouth sometime  soon so we can repay some of your kind hospitality.

David doesn’t like our plan for sleeping arrangments, the changes, but I think we will give it a try anyway.  I think we will quietly forget about the Road Scholar cruise to Malta this November.  Just skeptical about whether we can do it with that sort of group.  RS types!  ??  

Monday  30 July  night

Where has gone the summer?  It is not necessary to note these things.  Kids arrive this Thursday.  Rich weekend.  Concert and dinner at the Barn last night.  Weekend in Ongunquit to see the new American in Paris.  Fantastic.  Highest quality stage experience we’ve had since Peter whatsit’s Midsummer Nights Dream in Chicago fifty years ago.  Peter Brook’s.  Or it struck as as so.  Small theater, totally fresh and new production.  Fabulous singing and dancing.  Lots of dancing.  And vehicle for Gershwin’s music different enough to be fresh from the original movie and still retain the rights to use the title and the story.  

Today email from Louise that Chuck died this morning.  Yesterday we drove through Kittery and I was thinking of them and took a photo of the Navy yard.  He had wanted to visit where he had been stationed over fifty years ago.  That was why we swapped houses.  They never made it here because Louise’s brother died that summer-fall.  But we were able to have them visit us in Javea and they did see the Fallas on their own.  

31 Tuesday  

Dinner with Sarah and Don at Walters.  We got some cookies at the General Store and a car from Jersey pulled up, five or six Kosher young Jewish guys asking where they could find a place to set up their grill to cook their meat.  Renting a house in Lincoln.  Good visit with Michael in WRJ today.  weather did not get too muggy.  Trafton came to rake the pine needles, helped me put the air conditioner in the window.  

Finding Kelly’s book on Tahiti to be pretty good so far.  Did I read some of it years ago in manuscript form??  Phil sent a message today complaining about it’s creepy qualities.  Have not felt that yet about it.  

1 August  

Va got this note from Jim---
Hi, Virginia,

Thanks so much for your kind words about A Fable of Grace—and you nailed it! I named the town in honor of Georges Bernanos and an homage to his Diary of a Country Priest. Its protagonist is a young abbe who is indifferent to his slow dying from consumption and gives all his waning energy to caring for his flock. He is unaware that his is a life of true sanctity.

 I bowed to Bernanos at the end of A Fable of Grace when Cadeau’s weeping father asks Abbe Henri if his son knew knew was a saint. The old man shakes his head and answers quietly. “The real ones never do.”

I had great fun creating the fake nuns and their ersatz order. I’m sure Bob can point out many details, albeit exaggerated, that I borrowed from our common past.  And I even pirated the name of a past Superior General of the FSC’s and stuck it on Cadeau’s dad: Athanase Emile.  The FSC  Athanase, however, was a sour old Alsatian and not like the mayor at all.

I look forward to further visits with you two, Virginia.   You are unquestionably God’s gifts to one another.



Chagrined to realize earlier today that yes, I had read Bill Kelly’s novel about his summer in Tahiti before.  Probably ten years ago when it came out in 2011.  Gaugin’s painting on the cover.  Am sure another copy was here, may still be.  I probably read just up to where I stopped this morning.  He’s had his initial sexual adventures and now has the clap, dose, and gotten a cure for it.  There you lose interest and I no doubt did ten years ago.  Now the question is do I want to read his newest novel, the one Phil just looked over in ms, about the first year at Harvard?  Hmm. well, maybe.  Having compared my life with his once, why not once more?  After all, had I been accepted, I might have gone.  Have always been sure I would not have made it, would not have liked it, but maybe reading his account will prove to me otherwise.  Sitter made it, Phil survived Brown, so, yes, I surely could have survived Harvard.  Our generation.  I would never have imagined going to Tahiti on my own at that graduation from high school point.  But then Kelly would never have imagined going into religious life.  

Ancestry. com results---Just what I had found at another time too.  English 70% ,  Europe south, specifially northern border of Italy with Switzerland, 5% Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and that’s it.  86% of the 100.  5% chance of Iberia, 3% Finland/Russia, 2% Scandinavia, 1% Jewish, 1% Eastern Europe.  

Freak hail storm yesterday in Albuquerque.  Skylight over the patio leaks badly.  Price will start at 429k.  Gets posted on Sunday.  Time to get the house ready for the Kids.  Arriving late tomorrow evening.  

Feel so disappointed by my own memory when this happens but sure enough, when I got to page 72 in Kelly’s book on Tahiti he’s gotten cured of gonorrhea and I said, fuck, I did read all of this ten years ago.  And I think it was at this point back then that I lost interest in reading on in the book and I am again ready to drop it here now too.  

Read the Epilogue and complained to Phil.  Will I stay with the rest of the book?  Almost ready to go back and finish LeTellier’s “Enough” even though I thought I would not.  

Tired from working on getting the house ready.  

8 August 

Survived first whirlwind.  Kids off to Hermit Island this afternoon, back Saturday night.  Two gigs right off the bat.  John and Kathy Elkins surprised us at the first, Alburritos.  Next night at Weirs Jazz much better evening all around.  Loving the McLane’s beach, one wonderful full day there, dinner at Docks.  

New conspiracy theory about 3600:  R & PT have a buyer or some potential buyers from the church group and want to have it properly slicked for them.  Even that the church itself might buy it! ?  We’ll see.  Open House on Sunday and then it will hit sites like Zillow.  Here, Janice is worried about Keefe’s house going up soon for $229k.  

10 August  Friday
Pat stopped late morning and we had a super visit with her.  She had such a great time in London with Kirsten.  The gardens at Sissinghurst stand as the high point.  

Final concert last night.  Had a sort of vision during the Rachmaninoff.  Eyes closed during the whole piece.  Ken said later and I agreed that we heard a few out of tune keys.  Still magnificent.  Then for an encore Lin played Gershwin’s The Man I Love.  Wonderful.  Went perfectly with the Gershwin we heard in Ogunquit too.  

Love how Dave is with the kids.  If I helped him become that way, that is fine, isn’t it? 

Sunday  12 August
Plan to go to Polly’s fell through.  Rainy day.  Just found out Return Window closed yesterday for sending back the Nutro cat food.  Maybe I’ll take it to the local pet shop to see whether they would do a swap with me.?   Dinner last night at Italian Farmhouse.  Long wait and longer wait but still a nice evening.  Took our mango-blueberry-black bean salad over to Nielson’s.  Lots of cars in the street.  Already photos of the ceremony on facebook.  Out in the woods, rode their bikes.  What do we do next, new?  Kids bathing to go to a birthday party at Erin O’Donnell’s.  We’re on our own rest of the day.  Jon Wixson doing much much better.  Back if not yet fully, significantly so, compared to a few years ago.  
Anne suggested new Agatha Christi show on Amazon, started it yesterday.  Sumputuous settings and photography.  So there’s that.  John E’s praise of Dave’s music nice to hear.  

Jim posted this wistful haiku on facebook---
when awareness fades
we'll still praise as do the trees
dreamlessly sleeping
Geeze. I totally agree. Kathy says: getting together with old friends is .. oh, shucks, I can’t quite remember what she said, but it was positive.

Kathy says: we can meet you guys for dinner sometime in WRJ/HVR or we can get over to Plymouth for lunch or something (small airport in Plymouth) or, whatever. Kathy insists we should do this before the connection fades.

Next year I think David should come to Stowe. There’s actually a Jazz festival here (only year two now, but it’s pretty good). He, and they, and , you guys could stay here at our house. I know some great musicians (Gabe Jarret, drums) (I could fill in but my reading is not that great). Really. David would like playing in the area. I mean it.

Oh, gosh, it was really really great connecting with you guys and seeing what your son has done with music.

Oh, and BTW. You message (see below) was “truncated”. Don’t know, exactly, what that means. Probably nothing.

Finally: I think David is one of the coolest musicians I’ve ever heard. I’ve played with a bunch of them, and David is one of the best.


I assume Dave would like playing in Stowe.  Wonder if John can make it happen.  Now have to ask him about Elkins WV and Elkins Park Pa.  

15 August

Jon joined us for dinner at Dox tonight.  So nice to see how he is coming along.  Fine dinner too, we were there before the 6pm crush and enjoyed it all late into dusk.  Ice cream of course.  Errands earlier including the POA forms once more for brokerage.  Hawaii cruise already booked but talking with the agent I found out how to get on an alert email list for the next cruise which starts Nov 5, 2019.  Much better timing if we can get on it.  

Friday  Aug 17  

Month from now we will go to Europe.  Bought Agnes’s Euros today.  Great omen is that I had exactly $171. in my pockets and that’s what the exchange rate said 150 euros would be.  !  

Monday  Aug 20

Crazy morning session with the Algernon Trio playing some suites in the Smoke Detector Collection.  Could hear Rick smiling down on the gathering from beyond bliss.  

“What emotions do you chase after?”  Andy Puddicombe  Brilliant  His Headspace app program is wonderful.  

22 Aug Wednesday

Storyland yesterday.  

25 August   10pm  Saturday

Urgent care stop this morning to check on the bleed at the corner of my right eye.  Nurse Hatch suggested aspirin (and pepto b--who knew?) lay off those for a while.  

Missing the kids.  They went to a block party at Mickey’s, bouncy castle and birthday for Brendan or Bridget.  

Corn on the cob this evening.  Gazpacho tomorrow.  Ice cream Demo party at The Pasture tomorrow.  

Sunday evening  26 August

Wonderful interview with Aciman on a site named 

I can hear Aciman scolding me for reading Towle, even with half an ear, listening to some of it while walking, reading other parts, skimming them.
Good ice cream party with the initiate politicians.  Nice chat with Sky Shaw and Wyeth when I handed over the $200. Dave owed Jessica for the Hermit Island trip.  Baby boy due Oct 12.  “Confessed” to Sky about dropping off the 1620 jacket at the Offcampus office back in March.  Kids fly home tomorrow.  

Charles Shafaieh meets the Proust scholar who wrote Call Me By Your Name.
Both in conversation and through his work, André Aciman upholds writing as a serious undertaking. Being careless with words almost inevitably produces what he abhors: prose that doesn’t seek to do any more than provide information.
Grasping Aciman’s attention to precise diction and a sentence’s cadence requires only reading a page of his many essays, his memoir of childhood in Alexandria, Egypt, or his fiction—including his 2007 debut novel, Call Me By Your Name, which last year was made into an Oscar-winning film.
Take this passage from Lavender, an essay which expands from a meditation on his father’s cologne to the themes of displacement, absence, desire and longing that run through Aciman’s writing: “For all I know, everything could start all over again… the life we think of each day, and the life not lived, and the life half lived, and the life we wish we’d learn to live while we still have time, and the life we want to rewrite if only we could, and the life we know remains unwritten and may never be written at all, and the life we hope others may live far better than we have…”
This refrain on groundlessness can partly be traced to past experiences. He grew up speaking French in a Sephardic Jewish family, who was pressured to leave Egypt following growing anti-Semitism after Gamal Abdel Nasser became president. In 1965, Aciman, his mother and brother moved to Rome, while his father went to Paris; they reunited and settled in New York City three years later. Now a professor of literature, Aciman didn’t publish until his late thirties, following stints as a stockbroker and working in advertising.
Aciman’s sensitivity for uncertainty and duality connects also with his initial urge, at age nine, toward verse. In his prose, he retains the adherence to the multiplicity of meaning engendered by poetry, which, as one character in Call Me By Your Name says, will “help us see double,” like wine.
Thus in his intimate chamber pieces, pleasure and pain, dismissal and longing, hatred and love are bound together in his probing of the pregnant physical spaces between his characters as well as the depths within them. He captures the bliss and terror of seduction, and in doing so—like Proust, Sterne, and other writers he admires—pushes prose to new limits.
What is the writer’s task?
Not to have the reader discover the writer but rather himself. Great writing makes you think what the author is thinking and believe that you have come up with it yourself, whereas in fact you may never have thought those things but were always vaguely aware of them. The author articulates things in such a way as to make you believe they were yours.
That merging of two consciousnesses has an erotic quality.
Erotic is a highly charged word. I prefer a fouler one: libidinous—which is at once sexual, intellectual and emotional. Writers need to open up the page to allow the reader to slip into the spaces between clauses, enmeshing you in the rhythms and cadences, so that eventually you’re seduced without even being aware of it.
One of the difficulties I have as a writer who wants to read contemporary prose is that I look at the first few sentences of a new book and become horrified. And it’s not just the prose’s flat-footedness and the reportorial manner used to get you in right away. There’s absolutely no search for deeper meaning. These writers don’t do the one thing I ask of them: enchant me. I want to be taken to that magical realm where great words, put together, will make me happy—or whatever other emotion they arouse.
In Call Me By Your Name, language, specifically the act of calling someone you feel passionately about by your name, fuses the two main characters—Elio and Oliver—in a way that bodies can never accomplish.
Skin-on-skin contact is the most amazing thing. It’s irreducible. But when someone with your name tells you that theirs is the same, and begins to discuss names with you, a bond is created. It’s a flimsy bridge, but something exists between the two of you. Using the name a couple of times, back and forth, creates an electrifying, almost arousing, traffic.
Calling each other by the other’s name displaces you entirely and makes you superconscious of yourself and the other person, and the transfer of identities becomes almost orgasmic. It might even bypass the physical connection and be more powerful. The cliché in lovemaking is that you say “I love you” even if you don’t mean it, because it makes things more rhapsodic, and at that point, we realize that the words themselves carry a resonance with which even the body can’t catch up with.

“The author articulates things in such a way as to make you believe they were yours.”

In a 1994 review of Aciman’s memoir Out of Egypt, The New York Times described him as coming from a “fractious clan of dreamers and con men.”
Elio and Oliver never tell each other “I love you.” 
I didn’t want them to! I wanted to avoid that cliché. That word—“love”—in most of my books is used in phrases like “I love fish,” “I love the sunset.” My characters never say it to each other because you want them to say something more powerful, like “I worship you.”
Do the most enchanting words ever replace the pleasures of “real life” for you?
There’s absolutely no question that literature is secondary to the experience of life. My father was a great reader, but he understood reading was an escape. When he saw me reading as a young man, he would say, “Why don’t you go out? Have fun, get laid! Just do something other than read books.” I’ve internalized that and have been very lucky in that I have a life and wonderful children for whom I will forgo having anything to do with writing.
But what about the way in which art mediates life—how films now “teach us” how to kiss, for example? 
Literature has taught me how to read, understand and relate to people. I may be entirely wrong in how I read them, but when I question people’s motives, it’s because of something I’ve picked up from novels—particularly Dostoevsky, Stendhal and Proust. They taught me that people are not who they seem to be, that they’re full of contradictions one needs to excavate, interpret and explain.
Is there anything that literature is incapable of achieving?
Art is extremely important, but it’s not the real thing. Real life is people, love, pleasure. A beautiful sunset never did it for me and I hate the countryside, but being on the Mediterranean in a nice house, having a wonderful dinner with people I love, makes me very happy. A page of literature doesn’t do anything like that; it doesn’t beat good company. Writers who believe that writing is superior to their lives offer a paradox I am unable to resolve.
Do you have any writing rituals?
None. No system. No timetable. I usually write on a computer, but I find it very freeing to be on a bus or subway with a piece of paper with something already printed. Yesterday, on the way to a party, I wrote this [he picks up a printed page covered with handwritten notes]. It’s all nonsense. It doesn’t count and isn’t serious, but it frees me to write things later that I wouldn’t have thought of, because when you’re typing on the computer, you’re thinking, you’re being “serious.” But when you’re dashing things off, you’re not editing.
In a previous interview, you said you “had to write for America, in America”—are you succeeding?
To write for America is weird because you want to maintain your own idiom, to safeguard that from the intrusion of the public and the market. People say I’m an American writer—because I’ve lived in America for 50 years—but I’m not an American writer, or a French or Italian writer. I speak and write notes in French and Italian, but I wouldn’t dare write in either—the frame of mind of a person writing in Italian is not that of an Anglo-Saxon person.
I may be a French writer who writes French novels in English that have a Mediterranean cast. I’ve learned what Americans want and what I want, and they’re not usually compatible. You have to meld the two in order for both voices—one voice and one expectation of a voice—to find a moment of compromise.

“Being on the Mediterranean in a nice house, having a wonderful dinner with people I love, makes me very happy. A page of literature doesn’t do anything like that; it doesn’t beat good company.”

Aciman’s most recent novel, Enigma Variations, tells the story of its main character through five loosely interconnected episodes.
A style, ultimately, is a compromise between what you might jot down in a diary and what the reader is expected to understand. You have to come up with a language that mirrors what you want to say and that will be understood, emotionally, by the reader. Style is a manufacturing, or compromise, of what your vision is.
Your cosmopolitan identity is connected, in certain ways, to the sense of homelessness and exile you experience. How does that foundation—or lack thereof—inflect your writing?
You don’t know where you belong partly because you can’t build roots anywhere. You also don’t want to make roots. I don’t want to belong to America; there are many things I don’t like about it. I like New York up to a certain point, but there is nowhere I like better. I like Rome and Paris, but I couldn’t exist in them beyond two weeks. Ultimately, I always long for 110th Street. In Enigma Variations, I wrote about not wanting to be on either bank of the river but in the little island in-between that doesn’t exist.
The place I live is on paper—but then I call one of my essay collections False Papers, as if to undercut whatever presumption there is that a writer can live his whole life in books. That’s why my other essay collection is called Alibis: You don’t belong anywhere, just alibis of places. I don’t belong in the 21st or 20th centuries, and I certainly don’t belong in 4th-century BC Athens. I don’t know where I stand nationally, sexually, religiously. They’re all mobile. I write about this as a plea to resolve it in one way or another, but I’m unable to. I don’t know how. I don’t know where I belong. Or who I am.
I do know that I cannot deal with people who are totally French or American—people who are fully immersed in their culture. I need people who are slightly off, slightly unhinged, interested in something else. If you’re just one thing alone, I can’t deal with you.
The Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote that a person is “a product of the historical processes to date, which has deposited in [them] an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory.” Is your writing a constant attempt to compile that inventory?
I’m very careful about this because, on one hand, the attempt to find ligatures between X, Y, and Z and create a kind of narrative around them is the compulsion to write. But you have to be distrustful of writing’s power to create this sense of order—again False Papers. Paper will automatically want to create order, symmetry, harmony and meaning. You have to distrust that about paper. There’s no order. I always end up untying what I have tied up because I don’t trust it. Paper will always try to bring you home, but I will remain rootless and eradicated forever.
Is your fiction also imbued with this archeological project and its paradoxes?
Or are you writing as a means of distancing yourself from the past? You don’t know whether you’re writing to see better or in order not to see at all—to stop seeing.
When writing about the past—as in my memoir and my fiction—you’re trying to resolve or repossess the past, to take hold of it so you can say, “Now you’re in my pages.” It’s not true though, because why am I then writing another essay about the past or about being elsewhere? I haven’t solved it yet. I don’t think I can. I keep writing because I’m still trying to come up with the right key, so I write the same book with a different plot, voice, characters.
Writing is allegedly the means of burying the past. But the next thing you know, it just comes back up. It’s like writing a book about somebody you loved very passionately. Sure enough, you wake up one morning, after you thought that book got rid of them, and you’re in love with them again. Possessing and dispossessing are the same gesture.
I’m writing an essay now that I’ve written many times before. I rewrite it because the resolutions promised by writing give me the slip each time. I’m trying to ground myself in time or place, or even on paper, and yet find that the very devices that allow me to do so are the very ones that undo what I’m attempting to do. That’s why I think I’m a pure ironist, because everything I do is already being undercut. As I’m writing a sentence, I’m already rewriting it before I’ve even finished it.
That awareness of the task’s impossibility is always there, but you’re still going to keep at it in whatever manner you can.
I’ve devoted my life to paper, and yet I’m constantly demoting and derogating it. I refuse to take it seriously, because of my father’s injunction: “Don’t keep writing all the time—go out and get laid!” If I lie in my writing, so what? If I’ve changed a few things, who is to know and who cares? There’s nothing sacred about paper. At the end of the day, one wraps fish with paper.
And holy cow, look, in the photos he’s posing in designer wear like a fashion mag.  Embedment.  So now I too can wear  “a coat by Deveaux, trousers by Dries Van Noten, and cardigan and shoes by Maison Margiela.”  Will look them up at once!  pricey for sure, but more so than 1620 workwear, that I just chatted about with Sky?  Is he Sky or Skye?  
I like everything Aciman says in the interview.  He says it all so well and so carefully.  Would I have liked to have been a writer just like Aciman?  Well, perhaps, but no, now I am more certain of that than ever before, perhaps.  Had I been would I have ever met Sky Shaw or the Wixsons, or the Dessertennes, or Cécile, or Ken and Carole, or all the rest of it?  
Yep, “Replica” sneaker in blue calfskin, $470.  

28 Aug  4pm  Dave just texted from Logan.  Norwegian flight canceled last night.  They spent today sleeping in at the motel, used the pool and are now using the food vouchers to get a bite.  Flight tonight at 9 on Aer Lingus.  Dave said when he was here the airline wasn’t really Norwegian, the planes were in Portuguese or something, but he must be mistaken.  Google says it is.  Anyway, hope they get home safely.  
I had a day off and stayed home.  Did not sleep well at all last night.  Too much tea?  too much going up and down stairs with boxes over the past two days to get yard sale stuff sorted and priced.  Willow found it very satisfying, I got too tired.  But it is done.  I dozed through a bunch of Gilmore Girls in the middle of the day to see what that old show is like.  It started in 2000 and went up to 2007.  Dave and Cécile have been watching it as their evening guilty pleasure on Netflix.  We started the brit No Offence at Anne’s suggestion and do like it.  Also got into Bletchley Circle mysteries.  That is done is such a perfect imitation of late 40s movie style in every possible detail with the addition of color (in the chromatics of the period), that it seemed stagey and off-putting at first until you get it.  
Listening to Amor Towles “Rules of Civility” on the iphone while driving and around the house.  Such a mish-mash of elements, a confection, I suppose he would say.  Too much and every so often a gaffe or two and a pretentious but nevertheless intriguing concatenation of stuff.  Still, now that I’ve heard the woman who reas it aloud on Audible I want to continue only reading.  She reads well enough and yet not as I would want to hear the voice of the text.  Even though it is a throw-away novel, I might as well go into reading it in my inner reading stage rather than hand it over to yet another talking screen.  Took two naps, two runs to the dump, lunch here on fresh salmon and ice cream, and one Headspace session.  Quiet day.  One drive out to Rumney too.  Muggy and super hot. Heavy gray air.  
Towle has Russian novels and things Russian on his brain and I can’t help but wonder about a link between his work as a New Yorker and the newest slight turn in headlines I noticed on the New Yorker app yesterday, that the “Russian Obsession” is something the Elite Democratic Party leaders have had buzzing their brains for a while.  
Katy Kontent is supposed to be a Dickensian sort of name then.  Oliver Twist.  The book feels like a Lego construction.  

29 August 
Swelter continues.  6pm
Dear Jim

Happy birthday.  Another one of those belated greetings, finer like old wine, we hope, by even just a few days.  I have your date on the big paper calendar on the downstairs desk, but since I didn't get a "ping," so twisted by these electro-screens have I become, the day wafted past.  

'Course the Parisians were still here and we were caught up still in that cyclone or whirlwind or delightful exhaustion.  For the first time we all went up north to a place called Story Land, modeled more on Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and stories like Hans Christian Andersons, and lo we enjoyed it much more than any of us had expected.  Google research revealed too that it is indeed a home-grown such amusement park for NH's kids, opened up in the White Mountains two or three years before that land of Disney's out west.  We got a ping from them early this morning that they are back home in Paris and ready for the scholastic grinds once again.  

Might go back next summer because a friend reminded me later that there is there a whole little house you visit full of cats who have been somewhat trained.  Might see that.  

Anyhoo, hope your birthday candles twinkled and blazed as they should have, celebrating all the joy you have brought to all of us who have been blessed to know you, even a bit.  

love from us up north,  

Bob and Virginia


Cécile says she has to go to work tomorrow.  That’s a shame.  Feels like decompressing from the visit is taking a week, sort of reverse jet-lag.  Heat wave might break apart over night.  

30 Aug  

Breezy and cooler today.  Lovely.  On the phone second time checking out the Bali flight itinerary.  We’ve decided on Hong Kong stopover on way over and Mumbai on the way back.  Young woman this morning very helpful with information and urged using Tokyo.  But then I did some more checking and since we’ve glimpsed Tokyo, we’ll try this other combination.  

Getting used to having more time and space now every day.  No direct message yet from Dave.  Did seat selection for the first flight to Madrid, Iberia-American flight.  Have to do the other seat selections once I’m in Spain.  Or phone long distance.  Could set up phone pricing with Verizon now.  

Oh, Roy phoned us directly from Mexico.  Trying to get info on Memo.  He discovered he had been spelling Marcy’s name incorrectly.  She wrote on facebook that she is now in San Miguel de Allende.  Her phone was stolen last week.  

Locked in the itinerary and flight plan, reservations, for the Bali trip with stopovers.  I think we got all the in-air flights down to under ten hours each with big layovers in airports to walk around in and doze as we can.  Our most strenuous trip ever?  Maybe.  Saw a couple on HGTV getting set up in La Paz.  Brought back memories.  Twenty years ago we were in Bolivia.  

wow.  That sounds so impressive even now.  La Paz looks really different in the tv shots.  

And, Anne was on the phone this morning asking me about Gladys Davalos.  A La Paz connection for the day.  

31 Aug  

Last day.  Whew where did summer go.  But still loving this chillier weather and big sense of relief to get the Bali itinerary fleshed out.  Now can agonize about the hotels and bathrooms and other such items.  hours of scouring trip advisor and sifting customer reviews and photos.  Or a simple message to each hotel.  

Found Tim Crimmins via a Tim Crimmins on Twitter.  He’s a highly successful now emeritus sociology prof at Georgia State in Atlanta.  

September 1  Saturday

Refresh at noon.  Walk at Weirs before.  Lunch at Phat mid-afternoon.  Set up the fountain without the water just to look it over.  Listening to Towle all afternoon and now hoping to have done with it soon.  Dickens heartwarm meets Thoreau and Annie Get Your Gun.  

Finished the bloody book.  She marries Val who had picked her up in his car when “Autumn in New York” was playing on the radio.  He’s a photographer.  They are happy.  I listened to it finish.  Half an ear.  

Labor Day weekend.  That silent sound and feel.  Solo didn’t eat at all today.  Is he ok?  Ordered too much new cat food and mistakenly got the lamb and duck that he didn’t like before.   

Now that I’m finished that book, what to read next?  Finish Rosen’s book of lit failure and finish Enard’s huge Zone.  And/or go back to Proust.  

I heard back from Tim Crimmins but now I’m embarassed to have contacted him and to write something back.  What was I thinking?

Stiff vodka drink at Phat Fish with that late lunch of salmon taco.  What was I thinking?
how will this reply go over?  

Hi Tim  

I don’t recall that talk. If you “arrived in September” of ’62, does that mean you did not do the summer at Ammendale?   

Your name popped up on Twitter the other day but it turns out that younger fellow who borrowed your moniker is a grad student in history at the University of Chicago. He knew about your work and sent me the link to your gsu profile.  

I was glad to see the photo there because that is what I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks in my mind’s eye, remembered images, how you looked 55 years ago, more or less, laughing and smiling.  

Strange and mysterious the ways of memory.  I see Greg Byrer for lunch a few times a year.  Jim Atwell I see every few years.  In late May we went down to Cooperstown to say hello, he just turned 80 this month.  He also just published a fine little fable of grace, you can find it on Amazon. Five star recommendation!  

all bests to you,


He wrote :  “Hi Bob,

Yes, I arrived in September 1962 and graduated in spring 1966. I taught for two years at O’Connell HS in Falls Church VA and one year in an experimental community in Baltimore where four of us taught in the public schools. I left the order in 1969.

I remember talking with you when you were planning to leave.



Timothy J. Crimmins

Georgia State University

I think my reply will be ok.  Take out the question about when he arrived.  Sept of 62 would still be at Ammendale.  Just after the first summer.  We all
had graduated that June of ’62.  

Sent Pat a reply to her note.  Marie-Therese wrote a long email to Va, with a new email address for her.  No word from Roy.  Have to call Verizon and re-do my package and add the international calling.  

Sunday  2 September

First Spa day in quite a while.  Everyone happy and tranquil.  

3 September

Monday  And I’ve not yet ordered printed copies of my 2017 book from CreateSpace.  yikes.  

Chimney guys coming on Wednesday it looks like.  clearing the mantle today.  etc super hot and muggy again. 
Wonderful letter from Tim with four photos of Anselm Hall property.  

Today a day off.  Manchester.  Lunch at Cabelas.  Who knew?  

Living room all draped and ready for the chimney crew tomorrow.  

Hi Bob,

I thought since we parted ways you might be known as “Robert.” As a footnote to your finding me by way of the University of Chicago Timothy Crimmins, I received an email just after yours from a professor in NYC who liked an article on incarceration that I had written and had ideas for a follow up. Since I hadn’t written the article, I knew how to get in touch with its Timothy-Crimmins author.

On the class-contact topic, I haven’t seen Greg Byrer since the mid 1980s when we had a class reunion of those of us who finished up at Elkins Park in 1966. Since then I’ve seen Jim Sterba when the philosophers meet in Atlanta. He teaches at Norte Dame. We last had lunch three years ago. I saw Jim Bender at a Central Catholic reunion three months ago.

I looked you up so I could see you now. I found a photo of you and your wife in the Stroke Association newsletter, along with a lovely account of your continuing bond.

I’m currently living mostly in Philadelphia where I help with afternoon daycare for my wife’s 2 & 1/2 year old granddaughter. Her parents live down the hall of our loft building and work in labs at Penn. We’re hoping that they’ll get jobs in Atlanta in the next year or so and we’ll all move back. I have a son in NYC with two children and a daughter in DC with three. I also travel to both places for grandparent duty, so it’s good being in Philly where they are only a train ride away.

I’m officially retired, but have returned part time to teach one course a semester and manage grants that I am awarded. I tell people I’m a part-time professor and part-time daycare worker.

While here in Philly, I’ve twice walked around the ghost of the scholasticate, now a subdivision. The gate at Spring Avenue is chained (photo 1) and the road to Anselm Hall abandoned. You can still walk there. On the right of the road leading down to the bridge, the landscape is the same, but the back yards of suburban homes intrude to the left (photo 2).  Azaleas still line the road at the bend where the left turn went up the slight rise to Anselm Hall, but the big boxwoods are gone as well as our Tudor-style mansion. The present view is quite a shock at first (photo 3). The road continues on to the back entrance to the kitchen hallway where we came out for recreation of rule. The giant beech tree we gathered under remains, but due to limb loss is but a half of its mass.  The road continues on to the Visitor’s House, which now a private residence (photo 4).

I remember our after dinner group walks on those roads and evening one-on-ones.  I retain an image of the two of us on one late-night walk as we rounded the giant boxwoods heading up to Anselm Hall.  I can’t remember the conversation, just the earnestness of our discussion.

If you’re heading down toward Philly in the next year or so, please let me know. I’d love to have lunch.




Hi Tim

Thanks for the photos and everything in your letter.  I'm glad you mentioned Jim Sterba right off because when I saw your face in my memory I saw his also but could not think of his name.  (Greg and I stopped talking about these things about ten or more years ago).  When you said for Jim, philosophy, I said to myself, yep, that was the look on is face.  I found his Notre Dame profile and it seems Ethics is his main topic and I also thought, yes, that was on his face too.  Ask him if he knows John Sitter at Notre Dame, in the English Dept.  John taught for years at Emory but moved to ND about ? ten years ago.  We were in the same class together in high school in Cumberland.  

Remember the chapel in Anselm Hall, how Mrs Widener, Dixon, I guess, had taken it with her?  I was haunted by the house and grounds for years and did some looking into it.  She built another mansion and had the ballroom walls reinstalled there.  Tudor walnut paneling, not sure if they were authentic antique (like the rooms in the Phila Art Museum) or just good reproductions.  When she died the Dixons gave the house to Temple Univ and they made it into a Conference center of some sort.  In or on the edge of Fairmont Park.  If it still exists and if you can get into that room, you can have the amazing experience of walking into a room and recognize it and feel familiar in it by virtue of its Volume and Space!  I did this years ago when I visited Philly. I've been back to the grounds four or five times over the years.

First time was the most crushing.  I had been anxious to show Virginia the house because I dreamt about it often and told her about it so much.  We finally made in in late winter of '76, must have been Spring Break up here. We drove up the drive and at the top---nothing.  The house was gone.  I could not believe it.  Really traumatic since I had had no warning.  We got out and walk a little bit over the flat ashen, cindered ground.  I still regret that I didn't pick up a few chunks of the chimney bricks that were there in the rubble.  

I did more research on the house after that and learned that it was a copy (of sorts) of a famous Tudor house in England, Compton Wynyates.  It had become very fashionable in this country in the 1900s and four or five were built in various locations.  Ohio and Newport etc.  We later were in England and I drove us out to see the house north of Oxford.  Big white sign with big red letters, "house no longer open to the public."  David was about six perhaps.  Later Virginia took us to Spain for a long year sabbatical so she could research in the libraries in Madrid.  I used that as a pretext to try to see Compton Wynyates.  Wrote to the owner and asked him, spieling a arts and cultural riff about the importance of the house in American architectural history, etc.  Got a short hand written note inviting me to call and arrange to come see the house.  Early October I drove north out of Oxford on a wet day.  The butler answered the bell.  I lunched with Spencer Compton, Earl of Northampton and his soon to be the fourth wife, Pamela, also his Jungian analyst, at the far end hung a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots.  After lunch Compton told me they would be away for a few hours and I could look around as much as I wished.  I walked through every room and stairway and floor, fascinated and astonished beyond belief.  
Later he asked if I didn't want to see his collection of Durers and other works.  I knew he was into esoteric studies and he did tell me in the first conversation that all the rivers of England merged together right under the house and then flowed on down into the Thames.  America in esoteric terms was the throat and voice of the cosmic body, etc etc.  I couldn't remember it all and didn't take any notes.  Maybe I did later, not sure now.  

I guess I hope that the visit itself would somehow help exorcise the dreams I had of Anselm Hall, but I'm pretty sure they continued for a good while.  Much later our son turned out to get a full scholarship to the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple and so he was there for four years and a few later and we visited the city.  On
a few more of those visits I would drive though the grounds as much as possible.  But I have no photos.   Found some later online once Google street view kicked in.  

On one of my early visits back I went to see Gerry Molyneaux on a few of these at La Salle, but on my own I parked on the far side of the property, down on the lower level, back of the steep hill where there is a little pond.  We didn't walk down that far very often.  Parts of the iron fence were still up but it was easy to walk in and walk around.  At the far side of the pond I saw Brother Didimus John, silver hair, he was sitting by himself and began to cry silently, to weep.  I was not seen, far away, and I kept quiet, paused and then took myself back away.  Later that day at the college I learned that he was then celebrating his 50th anniversary in the order.  Then or shortly.  A touching moment.  I've never told anyone.  I have always thought that it was him. At this distance I cannot be sure of this, memory fades so much.  Did I even make that up??  Don't think so.  Back on that street where I parked I noticed a neighbor's house that had a front yard full of pieces of the old mansion, salvaged from the property.  Maybe I chatted with the fellow, maybe I just took them in and recognized them.  Stone carving chunks, green coppery decorative pieces, dark wooden carvings, all pieces placed like lawn ornaments or just a collection.  Maybe he was selling them.  Antique shop like?  

My son goes to Philly every July now to see his friends there and play a gig at The Grape Room.  Maybe we can get down there next summer.  But it would be fun
to go down before that.  

More to say in response to your letter, but this is enough for now.  Do you ever venture north toward Boston?  



Long hot day in Hooksett and Concord. Napped in front of Target.  Great lunch at Consuelos.  Back home it looks like no one was even here.  Solo very happy.  Chimney guys did a great job of cleaning up after themselves.  

Long piece in NYkr on Julia Kristeva.  Bulgarian deep past now circling back to haunt her.  How we overrate these intellectuals, as we overrate everyone who gains stardom in our time.  It seems.  Is that cynical of me?  Or just what someone says now that he is old enough to have seen some fashions rise and fall in every human sphere.  

crickets in the warm and humid summer night--

“Underneath an artist's preoccupations with sex, society, religion, etc... there is a soul tortured beyond endurance by the lack of tenderness in the world.” 

 Lawrence Durrell

Henri Cole posted this on twitter.  Early Durrell?  No reply from Tim.  What a fool I was.  Long day in Nashua today.  Hot until the rain storm broke the heat as we drove through Manchester.  Va did the Jimador group.  I walked a short while at the Weirs and ate at Cactus Jacks.  Chile con queso can you believe it.  A day of two naps in the car since we got up at 5:30.  Will do the same on Saturday for the yard sale.  

I read the sample and two things happened while reading that.

First, something odd: The voice of the piece, its almost whimsical nature as it wanders all over the place, reminded me of you.  It was almost as if you were reading the words to me.  

Second, I was in Alexandria and Cairo in 1968 and, as I read about both cities, I kept wondering how much they have changed in the last 50 years.  I suspect quite a lot, at least in some places.  A friend of mine once said "Paris bustles.  Cairo teems."  Very true in '68.  Probably even more true today.  

How did you come across this book?   Did someone recommend it?  Since it was written originally in French did Dave recommend it?  Have you read it?  

When I finish Neibuhr's book on the social origins of denominationalism, which I first read at Brown and am finding very interesting, I may buy Zone and read it.  The sample did pull me into the story/  Meanwhile there is so much about Protestant religions that Catholic kids are never taught.   Some passages in Neibuhr's book I like, but I'll wait to relate them. 


Of course I’m flattered that he thinks Énard’s narrator sounds like me.  Yay  

8 Sept  yard sale morning  Sort of chilly by 11 am.  Sun trying to get through the haze.  

“But Proust wished to reject the false solidarity of labels and banners and special causes.  He concerned himself with all humanity, not with one segment of it.  His vision was shaped by his desire not to allow his sexual identity to define the scope of his novel.”  47  Shattuck, Proust’s Way

mentioned in Lydia Davis’s introductory note to volume three

At first I thought Proust making a strange claim about Jupien, or the passage that follows the scene, but then I thought of two or three instances of exactly what he describes that I have observed myself over the years without quite realizing it until he mentions it.  This must be one of the chief achievements of Proust.  I think Aciman describes it this way.  He reminds us of what we have already observed and thought.  We recognize ourselves.  Now it sounds like one of those old clichés.  But there it is.  

Could I write the whole journal for the rest of the year, next year, in Énard’s style of no punctuation no breaks no grammar just flow forward or does that style work and fit only for Zone and not for any of his other pieces?  Have to take a look at Street of Thieves.  He punctuates of course in Zone just never a period Thieves is regular 2014 I could send Phil Compass as well as Zone I think he would like both 

seeing Timothy’s name on twitter got me thinking about what a fine proustian mystery tale I might weave around the Anselm Hall years and now their memory How many guys would talk to me about all of that at this long a stretch away from it?  would I really want to interview them or just make it up along the lines I’ve already invented over the years?  the movie last night fed flames about these sorts of things.  The Harrelson character and the super-strong first daughter who survives, gets out, becomes hyper-successful in NYC and writes the memoir.  I wonder more about the two other daughters and the brother.  Have to look up their lives now.  He becomes a policeman and detective.  Perfect.  What is going on here?  Who is the victim?  Who is the criminal?  At Anselm Hall what all was I enacting-enabling as the sacrificial victim expelled through “craziness” from the Order?  Ammendale had been a tightly lidded place but Anselm Hall felt liberating. The architecture and pleasure garden landscaping of the place, a park for learning and loving, designed by the Central Park designers as a park for gamboling and playing tennis on clay courts.  Didimus and Kevin could be straight out of the proustian drama.  Where Ammendale was lidded and silent, tight as a bell run only under directions, Anselm was free to be full of dramas of pairings and explorative conversations on every topic, of late night intensities and daylight wanderings around the larger neighborhood, the campus and the city.  People left and rumours trailed their disappearance.  Guys were expelled, sent home, for this and for that.  One never knew for sure.  Perfect atmosphere for intrigue and imaginative caulking to fill in the fissures of boredom and confusion and inattention.  Add in the larger world dramas, civil rights movements, war and draft, inner city decays, poverty and the call to take arms against social injustices, to live up to the founder’s vision of aid to the poor, to the church’s teachings on all moral issues.  Notre Dame, Sitter the medal winner at the Reilly Center, Sterba the ethicist with a big white mane of hair at the philosophy department.  Silver haired old men, Didimus would be cast well as Charlus, wouldn’t he?  If I were an investigative journalist as Énard portrays himself would I want to pursue any tales?  I doubt it very much.  Not my kind of poetry even if I were to write it up in the mode of Zone.  

Modiano and Aciman would both chime in and say, forget that typographical trickery.  You don’t need to imitate that sort of fakery.  

Wasn’t he the guy who flipped out once or twice?  Yeah, I remember one time he got down on his hands and knees at dinner time in the refectory.  What was that all about?  Was that before or after he went out to Eugenia Memorial for a few days, or was it weeks?  I don’t know.  Brother Director was dealing with a lot of stuff at once and I think the whole house felt it.  

If they talk about it at all.  Could well be the sort of event, cluster of events, that no one really had a clear take on at all.  Would I want to hear anyone’s reports about any of it or is it not all best left to the unknowns of imperfectly remembered historical consciousness.  Aciman’s misreading motif will surely apply well to misremembering.  

10 September  Monday

Waiting for Kirk’s to jump start the battery in the car!!  

Dr Larson at 4 if we get off.  Checking on hotel reservations in Lisbon and Paris.  

Énard says William Burroughs went to Tangier and fell in love with Ginsburg and Ginsburg sent him packing.  Never knew that part of the tale.  The way he brings all this in late into the book shows perfectly what the book is---a frenzied, dreamlike melange of all that he’s read on the topic, a reworking of the Iliad if you will as one blurbist has it, through intensive reading about all of these wars in recent history and collective memory.  I recognize perfectly how his mind and temperament work.  Channeling is a good term for it, but more than a channel, a transformative re-imagining, creative research, research reconfigured through soul, emotion, and imagination.  Conspiracy theorists do this at a much lower level of hunch and suspicion and faulty imagination.  As Énard just said on a recent page, the historical details are so impossible that one can’t make them up.  Was it during the scene when his mother as a little girl was performing Bach for an audience of killers in Franco’s palace in Madrid.  Around that point in the narrative flow.  

Tail rains of the super storm off the Carolinas.  Petie and Ray may show up tomorrow afternoon.  Now in Boston for friend’s quadruple bypass.  Pool still closed so Elizabeth and Willow off to vote and ramble for the day.  I’ll buy a battery.  Maybe tires too.  

Almost finished Zone.  Sent off the book to Phil, will finish it on kindle.  Finally realized earlier today while reading that it is doing what I’ve longed for someone to do---set the Holocaust into a larger and deeper setting.  
Énard tells me something about Joyce I never quite knew---that he was incestuously intwined with his daughter and liked girls her age or younger in the brothels, esp in Trieste.  

finished Zone but could go back over the last twenty or so pages to revisit and savor.  Got into a rush, partially because of the kindle---too easy to imagine flowing, skimming, no page turns.  I think there is a gizmo to imitate pages turning.  I might like that.  Ready to reread Compass too.  

Just exhilarating, Énard’s prose is and perhaps that is a musical quality and why not dive into his French as well as Proust’s?  What would Énard think of Modiano?  of Aciman?  Does it matter?  Of course not.  And maybe.  Depends.  And vice versa?  You have to love how he counters Said’s Orientalism and how he imitates the Persian literary forms.  So too Murakami I think.  

12 Sept
Peo meeting and lunch with slide show and talk about trip to China.
Dear Francisco, 
I think I should tell you that the stroke I had in 2003 took away the use of my left side.  I walk very slowly with a brace on my left leg and a cane in my right.  I also walk on my husband's arm.  I can manage stairs or steps as long as there is a handrail on both sides; one for up and one for down.  
For those reasons, it probably will not be possible for me to use the tram or the off/on bus.  Mainly because people don't want to wait for me.  I can get in and out of a sedan type car, but have more trouble with a vehicle like a van which is  usually too high.

It looks like our tour will take us to the main sites in Lisbon so I wonder if you might take us along the route of the tram that you mentioned  to see the sights along the way.
I am very much looking forward to seeing you and to meeting your wife.  I hope you will have a wonderful time at your family reunion. My sister and her new husband are due here any minute for an unplanned visit so I need to getting working on cleaning up the kitchen.
un abraço,

PT and Ray coming this afternoon or evening.  

Thurs 13 evening  
Willow went to ER this morning early.  Infection in small intestine--diverticulitis.  Anti-biotics until we leave.  Week from tomorrow.  Good times with PT & Ray also.  Lunch on the terrace at Covered Bridge.  Beautiful weather now.  Chimney crew finished the job a day early.  Ray and PT urge us to go business class to Asia.  Speakers about China yesterday at the PEO meeting gave us a good overview of what a trip might be like.  Might not be possible to change our flights for the March trip. We’ll see.  

Anne says Rich and Barb won’t see much of hurricane Florence, far enough inland.  Realized I don’t have active phone numbers for them! ?  How can that be?  Have them after all.  Not under Garlitz but under Rich and Barbara separately.  

Good chat with Ray at our breakfast at the Overflow.  We both wanted creamed chip beef on toast but they were out of that!  Clear he worked so hard on 3600, they did, to honor the parents and Rick’s memory, grief and memory.  We agreed the price will have to drop and we hope each party can clear by the end 50-80k.  Roy still a lovable mystery.  

Friday  14   

Did the Radiology Echocardiogram at 11.  Polly’s for lunch.  First time ever I had a salad and pea soup, then two of Petie’s pancakes and some ice cream.  
We drove to Bretton Woods and had snacks on the porch.  Crowded place.  Beautiful afternoon air and skies.  While Va was in Radiology I called Viking Air and changed the long flight on Cathay P to Business Class.  Bravo.  Thanks to Ray and PT for urging this.  We will be glad.  

Saturday  15 Sept
Night.  Jacuzzi a big hit this visit.  Christmas carols on the piano.  Fresh corn.  Chocolate.  Lunch at Docks mid-afternoon.  Beautiful day, sky clear, bight sun, hot at mid-day.  Business meeting late morning to talk about possible scenarios with the house.  How low is too low a price, what to hope for, what to expect.  Why don’t we just buy it?  Why doesn’t PT just buy it?  
Will an assisted living organization buy it?  

Meanwhile I pinned down the itinerary for Bali.  Now to pack for Portugal.  
Maybe Crazy Asians movie tomorrow with George and Darlene.  

The sisters tell and re-tell each other all of the stories they know, can remember.  Remembering, re-telling.  Isn’t this the way it should be for everyone?  When did our family stop re-telling the stories, give up on the stories or put them away in deep boxes for safe keeping?  

18 September   Tuesday  Day in Littleton after a slow rainy start walking downtown.  Lunch at Shilling, talked with waiter who graduated from Lyndon State.  Happy working there and sees a future because they’ve pulled him into accounting.  Sunny and above the storm.  Muggy when I got back.  Va says the pool has new decor and lights.  

21   Off to Madrid later today. 


23  October  

Back a week tomorrow.  Day off today.  Va on her anti-b.  She and Eliz walked in Concord.  I went to Manchester, good bouncing around there, usual spots, lunch at Consuelos.  Rain on the way home.  Days darker and shorter.  Not yet as cold as it could be.  Reply to email from Phil---

Yes, Zone is grim and I read it only with big chunks of time in between bouts of reading.  Did you ever see the
BBC correspondents reporting from Syria over the past five years or so?  Sometimes I couldn't watch their reports, one woman in particular had this desperate, fierce look and voice as she talked about her images of the worst suffering and fighting.  

Enard's book seems an algebraic expansion of such activity.  Who are the people who become war correspondents and how can they keep at it?  Well, and the Iliad is pretty grim too, Enard might say and that seems exactly what he is after in the book.  One hopes that his writing of it was somehow therapeutic for him if not for his readers.  And yet I think he pulls it off---"therapeutic" is not a good term, although much of lit crit fifty years ago that tried to use Freud and Jung and others did invoke a therapeutic function of art.  But more directly the "art of war."  By making his relentless telling of it into a fevered dream-nightmare, Enard finds a way to weave it all together into a gigantic opera/aria/tapestry/epic about this fertile crescent, the Mediterranean, this cradle of civilization built by and upon endless killing and war and massacre after massacre.  I assume his point is that all such cradles of civ are such.  (Aztecs, Mayans, Chinese, India, etc).  

I was grateful for the fact that by doing it this way he finally puts the Nazis and the Jews into the largest possible context--not to diminsh the horror of those events but to line them up with the stream of endless horrors history keeps seeing.  

It's not unlike a short piece in today's Post or New Yorker online half-jokingly comparing the Saudi's murder of Kashoggi with the way the Irish mob used to kill people in Hell's Kitchen in the 70s.  I had not idea that there was such an Irish mob there then.  Instead of being a historian and investigator and detective and asking how could the Nazi's have gotten power and done what they did?  The approach Zone offers is, eh, what else is new?  Is that a good response?  or helpful?  Less delusional than wringing hands, holding trials and inquiries and promising "never happen again" pieties.  Not cynical but artistically epic.  Plus Enard convinces me that his research, reading, is impeccable and trustworthy---the Berber heads, the Franco generals.  

In Spain right now the current government is trying to erase as much about the Fascist era as possible and hence they are digging up Franco's body and planing to give it to his family and ask them to get rid of it or take care of it in some private way so no one can make a pilgrimage shrine out of the grave.  Will that do any good?  Will Fascism die out in Spain?  

The article on Ghandi made me dizzy with dense recapitulations of so many political groups and ideas and allusions--felt like
a deeply researched piece which may have been cut too much or compressed too much.  Yes people are turning Ghandi's reputation on its head and yet by the end of the piece the writer seems to re-heroize Gandhi under the notion of self-sacrifice as the main weapon to use against all the massive forces of destruction which doom democracy and political life.  

I read Enard's first book and can send it if you want.  No need to return Zone by the way.  Pass it on to someone or donate to your transfer station.   But his first novel, Street of Thieves, is a standard tale of two Moroccan friends in their early twenties.  One stays devout and sides with the imam and later the jihadists.  The other makes it to Spain and eventually has to decide whether to side with the West or with Islam.  He makes it much more complicated in the detail and telling---a believable picaresque tale of what immigrants to Europe might have to go through.  

Tomorrow we will have been back just a week from our travels.  My energy tells me I'm not yet really back just yet.

Yet my energy on the trip told me I didn't have the energy for it I used to have twenty years or even ten ago.  I just can't
feel that curious or interested in picturesque old town streets, or magnificent Renaissance courtly libraries, or carvings dating from the 14th century, or beautiful, sad Fado singing no matter how well performed.  Weary or aging or demented?  Or just where I should be to keep enjoying what I can enjoy?  Since we visited and saw so many hillsides full of grapes I did stop
at the state liquor store today and bought a bottle of Port and sipped some after dinner.  First bottle of Port I've bought??
Not sure.  Maybe.  


24 October  Wednesday  

Week ago we were flying.  

29 October Monday

Rain.  Warm.  Darlene did some of her life coaching work with Va this morning.  She recommends a meditation app called Insight Timer.  In the iTunes store this has a 4.9 rating from 81.5K ratings.  Headspace has 4.9 from  380.5K ratings.  I suspect the numbers connect with “meditation” vs “mindfulness.”  

I like Headspace---it is the one I found first and have used for a few months.  I even suggested it to David Schlesinger the other day.  I will now try Insight and see how I like it.  Don’t care for the “Timer” in the name, however.  But it does have neat gong sounds.  Appointment made for consult on Va’s surgery.  Lance gave us the GPS location of his chateau site.  Found in the attic our old high-end Dual turntable.  Probably ship it to Rick. One box a day from the attic is our current motto.  

Day off Tuesday super.  Zen day I can call these.  Meditation apps  in the car and in ear buds.  Drove to WRJ, lunch and then down to Franklin.  In spite of the enthusiasm of the shuttle driver a few weeks ago, the re-birth of Franklin not yet very noticeable---to the untrained eye.  Or the non-Franklin eye.  It is on the traffic lane from the west to 93 and that will be hard to adjust.  Only one light where pedestrians can cross with a light.  

Great passage in Proust on waiting, while he was waiting for Albertine to stop in for what seemed just a few minutes? after his visit around midnight to the Guermantes salon.  Around page 135 in the Am edition I’m now using.  Larger font and spacing.  

Nov 1   Colin and family here in the morning.  Took stuff to the dump, including two big canvases, which had been rolled up in the attic for years.  How many years ago now?  One was a regular size “Larry Poons” style piece, pale, pastels, brush strokes.  The other was the big beautiful blue with an irregular circle of white discs---an attempt at a mystical piece and one I always liked.  So big though.  5x5 maybe.  And it serves as the cover of a book---one of my books or one of Rupert’s publications?  KB Journal looks alive and well.  Triennial conferences now.  Henry King at Malmo Univ in Sweden has a good essay on Othello, which Burke wrote when Ralph Ellison was bringing out Invisible Man.  

Aciman’s essay on falling in love with a pocket handkerchief in Sept Town and Country magazine traces the whole of his vision of desire.  

We fall in love with people and things not for who they are but for who they let us think we are.

A day or so later I step hastily inside the store again, hoping (a) that the pochette has disappeared, so I won’t have to think of it again, or (b) that I’ve started caring for it less. But no. It’s still there, folded neatly in the same glass case, waiting. It knows me. It speaks my language, bears my name almost. I want to know its secret, its make, the reason it caught my eye and hasn’t let go.
I’m running late for a meeting but decide to ask another salesman to let me see it. All the silk pochettes in the case are made by the same house in Milan, Bigi, all knitted, not woven, in dark colors with contrasting borders. This salesman not only lets me hold it, he unfolds it for me. I want it even more now. What is it that haunts me? Is it its unusual pattern, its colors, its feel, its craftsmanship? Or the seemingly casual way it’s been unfolded, as if to make me think I already own it? I eye the price. Again the frown, again the salesman’s gaze that says, “I’ve seen this done before. You’ll be back.”
I have never been given to impulse buying. I experience buyer’s remorse even before purchasing anything. And I have never been the sort of man who would easily strike up a conversation with strangers and then invite them for coffee. I hesitate, I distrust my own instincts, and I invariably opt to do nothing. So, unable to make up my mind about the pocket square, I walk out of the store resolved either to end this sudden romance or at least to put it on hold, to reconsider—always to reconsider. I am a creature of prevarication and ritual.
Would he say it is more or less identical to Proust’s ideas and views?  
Tired all day in a strange way.  Rainy and gray.  Post-Halloween melancholy.  We binged on the BBC drama “Bodyguard” and maybe that is much like eating too much candy at one time.  
Nice note from Jann Chisholm in NYC.  Aho’s paintings list at $5500.  Not as high as I would have expected but then have no frame of reference.  
Foul odor in the basement and Solo has been coughing.  Is there a dead mouse down there?  or squirrel?  Been avoiding going down again.  One trip to the dump is enough.  Dumped a few other treasures from the attic, the silent removals.  Why do I have nothing more to say about these paintings?  I loved doing them in the doing of them.  Once they are over and fixed, who’s to say?  I did enjoy giving most of them away to students.  The whole process substituted for being a publishing scholar in my field or a successful writer.  Brackets around “successful.”  A published writer.  Eleven people staff the Amherst College Writing Center and Roy is one of the three {or four} guys.  Still the editor of the WAC journal, linked now through Clemson to the KBJ crew.  Strange need to go over these touchstones of ? years, memory, local items and curiosity. 
note to Phil===
One day in Portugal on the cruise we found ourselves seated for lunch with two couples, young woman in her early 40s, her husband, and her father and mother.  We went through the early chat of where are you from and what do/did you do.  Usually all of such things on the cruise with other couples was very pleasant.  The young couple both work in Manhattan.  Cumberland came up.  I suppose I said I came from Cumberland.  The younger woman said brightly, Oh, I was born in Cumberland.  Oh, how nice.  The mother said she had been a radiologist nurse and had worked at Sacred Heart Hospital there, up on the mountain top.  We never got around to what the father had done or why the family had been in Cumberland.  There was a distinct lull in the pleasantry.  So I said, well, I had my tonsils removed at Sacred Heart hospital but when I was a child it was the old hospital location downtown (was it on Center Street?) and--to add color and advance the travelers' tales motif, I thought, I added that at that time the sisters who ran the hospital were the Sisters of Charity, the kind that wore the big French bonnets that looked like sailboats or flying geese.  More lull.  Distinct sense that no one in the family we were chatting with wanted to go further with their link to Cumberland.  I silently refused to ask further, like to the father, so were you with Celanese at the time, or something like that.  Chat moved on to something else and we had little opportunity to be friendly with either couple for the rest of the cruise, other than the friendly nod now and then.  The father was actually the friendliest in that regard.  The younger couple I decided were in finance or such in NY.  The nurse mother was the coldest of the group.  

Seems strange that I didn't ask them more right away, but even more strange that they offered nothing more and asked us nothing further about ourselves.  

Another item in the folder about The Mysteries of Cumberland.  (Nuanced reference to that famous American novel "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.")  

we rushed to the Jimador last night and got there about 6:30.  Willow had a great time with the crew that included a new woman, a chef, from Puerto Rico, and the live wire of the evening.  I sat on the other side of the restaurant and read a big chunk of Proust.  Passage about his realizing his grandmother was dead.  Famous passage.  Justly so.  How magnificent it is, moving and sublime.  

Rupert sent a link to paintings by John Walker at a Park Avenue place.  Prices at 100k.  Aho not in that league I guess.  

Anxious about the cardio consult on Weds for Willow.  Petie has said she will come to help out.  How soon will we do this and which version--open heart or TVR--trans catheter valve replacement procedure.  Either one more serious than we’d realized, though “open heart surgery” still has a pretty ominous resonance.  Yes these things have become much more routine and Rick’s seem to have gone ok a few years ago.  But we don’t know.  IRS sent us a refund check for $6.33.  Buying votes.  

Dave Babson said hello today at the Hooksett stop going south.  Third or fourth time Alex has lured him back to work for him.   He had gone to Charlotte years ago, stayed there about five years.  Has been at the Hooksett center for about three years.  His son is 20, tried a year at Plymouth but didn’t like it enough to go back.  Dave’s head is bald, gave it a pat to show we’re now in the shaved head club.  Still shaving mine.  How long will that last?  Anyway, good to see Dave.  He must be about 52.  

Ted and Helen want to get together for Coriolanus at Dartmouth.  We said we would pass on that but meet them for dinner.  Dec 1.  Might see Jess this Saturday for lunch.  

Nov 7  Met with Fahad Gilani, MD at CMC.  Guess his age perfectly--37.  Great news---Willow will have the three-day TVR and not the surgery.  
Whew.  Whoot. Wow.  Relieved and joyed we lunched at Republic and goûted at Dancing Lion.  Richard said yes two women from California were there yesterday and bought lots of things to take back to Los Gatos with them.  I had met them when I walked by the Currier yesterday in the rainy mist.  Currier was closed.  I happily remembered the Lion and urged them to go there.  Taking their son around to find a college where he could play hockey.  

Looking at Ivan M Granger’s anthology This Dance of Bliss.  Seems necessary these days.  Last night I was astonished to hear from Chris Colpitts.  Class of ’85 he said.  Texted me on Message.  “Hi Bob!  I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember you.  You were one of my favorite professors during my tenure at PSC (85).  I was just thinking of you today, as a matter of fact.  Trust all’s well.”  Lovely note.  Casual remembrance we all have.  Yet it hit me quite hard--beautifully so.  In line with other experiences, such as the meeting with Joâo in Lisbon at Chimera.  

Cécile called us today.  She was happy Lorette had her baby today, Mia.  Very heavy and big.  Sent two photos.  She also found out that Chris’s son, Andy, is a new assistant in the Sarah Lawrence program, not the director.  

Granger’s collection reminds me of the limitations in Aciman’s vision.  Or at least makes me wonder if in conversation he would agree that while his writings present the dramas of desire, they permit us to lift aside that veil if we wish to and discover the inner bliss.  “We fall in love with people and things not for who they are but for who they let us think we are.”  Aciman says in the article on the handkerchief. But now place that with the poem by Marie Howe that Granger opens his collection with, the ending of Howe’s poem, “Annunciation,”    
                                            as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
                                            it isn’t-----I was blinded like that----and swam
                                            in what shone at me
                                            only able to endure it by being no one and so
                                            specifically myself I thought I’d die
                                            from being loved like that. 

The experience in both passages, Howe’s and Aciman’s, is the same, isn’t it?  Although Aciman’s thought holds on to doubt and illusion, where Howe’s affirms total affirmation---light, blinding, erasure, swimming (bodily experience of light/love) loss of self--being wholly self, death-life, beloved-loving.  Too bad “annunciation” is invoked because that hangs on to the Christian mythos too much too.  To make them identical phrasings we have to eliminate all hint of uncertainty “they let us think we are” and say yes to being both who they are and who we are and will become with them, and eliminate scriptural resonances, if there are any, and there Howe does give us “a tilting within myself” and “I thought I’d die” but I have not---I have lived being loved by that killing love and I am telling you now that yes we may die and then we are alive and more so, more thou and more I.  

Aciman comes closest so far to allowing this in Eight White Nights but he feels no one ever finishes that book and indeed he cages his bets there by sustaining the back and forth as uncertainty--misreading--rather than as the blinding flash of love itself.  Which flashes and stays flashing, pulsing, unceasingly, whether we attend to it or not, feel it or not.  It returns, it is there, when we open to it.  “Some deep-seated part of the self now knows beyond question that a greater reality exists.”  Granger

8 Nov  At the piano with Colin.  Will and Clare downstairs too.  Sunny again.  Need to read some sacred poetry once a year like reading an academic article once a year.  
“The most handsome face, the most original intelligence, would never possess that particular and mysterious essence, so unique that no human being will ever have an exact double even given an infinity of worlds and an eternity of time.“
– Marcel Proust, from “Mme de Breyves’s Melancholy Summer Vacation,” Pleasures and Days (Hesperus Press, 2004)
“The result--his own enthusiasm for reciting the Puranas faded and died.  The young listeners who used to look at him with lively eyes and bring joy to his heart, stopped coming.”  ---Ananthamurthy

Booked the Road Scholar tour to Hawaii for March of 2020.  They called this morning.  We are among the first called.  Should have a balcony stateroom with accessible features, shower bench.  Woo Hoo 

13 Nov   

All these years and I’m just learning (or re-realizing?) that the Greeks has three gods of desire--the Erotes--Pothos (sexual longing), Himeros (sexual desire), and Eros (more playful, mischievous god of love).  

started Rainbow People, which Gibson’s had on the shelf, by Nichoals Mosley.  Turns out to be his final book.  Fascinating introductory premise about immigrants and generations.  And the millenial evolution of consciousness.  “a bridge between one state of existence and another” So there is “betweeness” again.  Light passing through raindrops.  Rainbow as hope.  “in what might be called reality everything happens all at once.”  “both yes and no” page 13 

note from Jess---she must be a saint in the hospice world---confirmation from a client’s son at the bottom of her note--

Glad you liked cookies but sinceI don’t use preservatives they don’t last! Better just eat them up🤪

Would like to suggest ThePine or whatever name of restaurant in Hanover one experience there was very good, service, ambiance, food.

These cold dark mornings it is very hard to get up to go to work...all the bad choices that led to this,
Some days very dark, others, once up and going ok. When all 3animlas are cozied up to me I just want to stay put.

The Jody thing is stalled in doldrums...not sure why. Just lost interest. Kindling that flared up into bright flame then never caught with the big wood. Wish it had been a woman pal,..easier. 

Wednesday is crazy driving day...least favorite.

Oh, got some good feedback from son of new patient...”are you trained for this cause it’s coming off you in waves of warmth and kindness...”
Pretty nice eh?


‘People think I’m a colourist, but I have tried to refute the idea that colours are pretty for years. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: they mean something, they have a property. One which is often difficult to make out,’ said the artist in a 2014 interview discussing gravity and grace, before adding: ‘beauty is not enough. There must be something more, a structure. You must commit yourself, and risk everything, sacrifice the good, and go through a process of recognition until something better is created, built upon the ruins of the original idea.’

Per Kirkeby  on Wallpaper  about his tower in Provence at La Coste. 


Got the call this morning about tomorrow’s scenario at CMC.  Our appointment request honored---10 am.  Should be fine.  

Bought rice.  First time in? ever? twenty years? absolutely no rice in the house past few days.  

Corrected Cécile’s letter to Hamilton in Paris.  Hope she gets it, but don’t know if it will be extra or in place of where she is now?  Not asking yet.  

CMC tomorrow.  What to take?  only Proust or a bag full of stuff for the boredom of the hospital zone?  

Just did the auto-sign for realtor in Abq to lower price on the house. 

Sat  17 Nov

A few months ago I was grumbling that I would never read a novel Nicholas had recommended, yet here I am again reading one.  And only twenty pages in I thought, have I read this before?  Did I start it once years back and never got very far into it??  But I do like it, so far.  Like the way Mosley thinks, even if thinking is more his mode than feeling.  And yet so far that is difficult to determine.  He uses, the narrator uses, his sense of craziness, of being a mutant, head injury and special health and psyche issues, to live in his inner world and be alive to myth and the interconnectedness of tales and real events in interesting, exciting, even, ways.  Why did I miss this author?  Most of us have, it seems.  And---I cannot even recall the novel I struggled to finish a few months back that made me swear off N’s suggestions.  See.  

somehow lost the October text of this journal---no  that’s just the Folder.  

waiting to see if lunch materializes today with Chris Colpitts---

so far I see the family in Hesperides as being like the Durrells on Corfu but that will wear off.  I like the narrator.  

I overdid Facebook the day at CMC.  Could call it cruel tease book.  People freak out, understandably, because the “info” is partial to say the least and a picture is not worth a thousand words.  Could twee that.  

Of course lunch did not happen!  I messaged him at 10:57.  Fixed lunch for pew and we watched Graham Norton.  Michael Bublé is back.  Hooray.  12:56 Chris texts saying he’s been sick, just woke up, really sorry.  Oh well, dummy, me, it was an honor to have been thought of, remembered, and a double honor to have been messaged and asked.  Dumbo.  Downloaded Bublé’s new album.  Some message from Dave on Facebook saying he is playing a gig at the Petit Palais, part of WWI celebrations.  Have to find out more about that.  Meanwhile, Chapter I in Hesperides terrific.  I think I remember the movie Accident that Moseley wrote.  Have to check that.  Joseph Losey directed it.  Saw it, way way back then.  Mitchelmore the blogger does not seem to have any mention of Mosley.  Ha.  

Strange disorientation and weakness and tiredness today--mid-day.  In spite of long sleeps over the past two days.  Symptom I suppose of stress--of just how stressful the hospital day was even though I thought I was handling it quite well.  Guess I was not.  Or maybe I was and it takes its toll no matter how well you take it.  

Mosley’s novel is wonderful.  Hesperides.  Great fun and brilliant and quirky on lots of excellent ways.  A new Proust for me to follow?  A Proustean counter-Proust, if only that he’s English and a generation or two after Proust.  And a generation before Modiano.  Almost exactly my parents’ generation.  

Sunday 18th   Thanksgiving week coming up.  Tuesday already designated in my head as “gazelle” day.  All boxed up and ready to drop in Concord.  Today I’ll try to hang the painted wooden letters for Emma and Eliot’s names in the garage.  Much better rested this morning.  So when we go for the main procedure, ease off on the caffeine and food and plan on three days or more after it in addition to it.  

19 Nov   Monday   In my flush of enthusiasm for Mosley I tweeted that everyone should read this novel at once.  It was aimed at Aciman.  I thought I would email him and tell him to read Mosley and then make his own writing a fine blend of Mosley’s approaches and his own, Aciman’s, to the characters and events they wanted to imagine on through to some sort of whole notion, whole-partial drama.  But then I thought, no, that would be pretty dumb and lame, so a tweet to the world at large--my followers, including Aciman, seemed to do.  Whether he even notices it is dubious.  But that doesn’t matter, does it?  

Finally we booked a short trip to Phila in early May to use the coupons from the cancelled trip.  Barnes Foundation.  That should be enjoyable enough.  Could have coffee with Gerry and Tim Crimmins.  Would I really want to do that??  Scott and Gwen but we know them so little.  

20 Nov  Dr Gilani called about an hour ago.  Va’s aortic valve is bicuspid and most valves are tricuspid.  He scheduled her procedure for Dec 6, Thursday, so we go down Dec 5, two nights in the hospital and then we hope home.  

Have a date for my surgery.  I go into the hospital (CMC,Manchester) on Weds, December 5th for pre-op.
The actual surgery be on Thursday, December 6th.  I should be home by Friday December 7th.  Plenty of time to be totally recovered and ready to celebrate with Dave and family starting Dec 21st!
much love, Bela (pew)

Hi, My cardiologist, Dr. Fahad Gulani (Pakistani extraction)called with a date for my surgery and an update on my heart.  Turns out that I was born with  a bicuspid aorta (most people have a tri cusped) So, once again, I am special!  That makes the TAVR procedure a little more complicated (requires more prep by surgeons) , but still possible.  I will go in for prep on Wednesday, December 5th; have the operation on Thursday ,December 6th and, barring any complications, be home by Friday, December 7th.  Your  thoughts and prayers will be appreciated.
Much love, 

Snow this morning, still falling.  Power line crew outside trimming branches.  Elizabeth and I shifted day off to tomorrow.   

Phil sent NYr piece on Énard---

“florilegium”   I want to see an image of the bridge they will build!  We visited
Da Vinci's tomb in France (by accident).  

II also visited his tomb and was quite amused by the sole decoration: a pair of deer antlers.  How ironic!    P

Indeed.  Nice long piece on Énard.  I agree that Street of Thieves is more memorable because more like a Western novel, a bildungsroman.  
(May be the first time I've ever used that word).  I read Compass before Zone and I liked reading the nYkr piece because I remember almost
nothing, well, nothing, from the reading except that I liked the random-like narrative flow.  So:  I remember less and less, yes, but, I
wonder if "schezerazade" style Eastern tale-telling is less memorable because the entertainment is meant to keep going rather than be
remembered.  I.E  the West invented and values History and Historical Consciusness (Lukacs again) whereas the East values staying alive by spinning any enticing web that might hold your decapitator's attention for a few more seconds.   Oh that is so anti-diverse of me to even pen such a
thing !  !   Yikes, is Steve BAnnon occupying my brain too?  
Snow day here, snuggling in at home while power line guys outside trim the trees.  Streets look clear and dry though, very light snow, less
than three inches.  Looks nice though.  Always does at first.  

Va got the dates for her procedure--   Dec 5-7, two nights in the hospital.  Dr says she has a bicuspid aorta, most are tricuspid.  He'll use a 
valve replacement better designed for the bi-lateral structure and all should go well.  Talk about Ultimate Trust or something close to it--these
god-like surgeons.  Thank goodness Grey's Anatomy has taught the younger generation well.  This doc went to Cornell and Yale medical, seems
to be about 38 or 40.  Sharp and pleasant too.  

Page 171 in Hesperides a passage that could be in Aciman’s essay on the pocket handkerchief, or in Enigma Variations:  
And so the conflicts between affection and propriety, impulse and restraint, that seemed to bedevil families in the real world, for us provided a sort of glamour in the games we felt we were permitted.  . . . over to page 174  “But were not both the encroachment and the taboo what we wanted? . . . “he could enjoy what he felt guilty about without the danger of losing it.  . . . . if you wanted to possess something and keep it alive then you dangle it, you don’t devour it; you play with it like a cat with a mouse.”  

I will sen more on the difference between east and west in another email, but I want you to tell Va again that we will be thinking of her.   I can't help wondering if this bi-valve situation in her heart might have contributed in some way to the (I forget the term) in her brain years ago.  

Weather here quite pleasant.  Trees, however, have lost almost all color as they have finally lost 99% of their leaves.  Cold predicted for Thanksgiving.  Peg is cooking a turkey breast.  I confess that I really don't like holidays nor birthdays nor anniversaries.  I think they are all dumb, especially those where we have to kill a zillion turkeys.   However, because I ignored the anniversary of our first date, I got told to change my ways about a week or so ago.   

Men may irritate women as the #MeToo movement insists, but of course, the feeling is mutual.  Whoever designed this male-female set-up should be told that it's a royal fuck-up......................P
“Proust because of his specific idea about life being ‘impossible’ except in terms of art and memory.”  Mosley interview  “I think in fact that discourse even with Plato was mostly argy-bargy”  “a work of art has an almost personal relationship with a reader”  

Second really snowy day.  Short walk at Wally’s.  “those interminable winter evenings when you stand at the window, longing desperately for a stranger to arrive.”  23 Anne Serre, Governesses. 

Pile of Mosley books arrived today.  Better like his work.  Hesperides feels a little longish now, page 232, but I’ve been distracted with things.  Boxes down from the attic, Thanksgiving yesterday.  Nice get together and dinner at the Inn.  Super frigid.  Warmer today.  30 sec chat with the kids because we couldn’t get the phones to connect properly and were going out the door.  
Started the Mosley bio book, interviews with the Iranian scholar.  Enjoying writing cards.  Got one today from Alexandra.  They are moving to Spain, north of Valencia, for about nine months of the year.  Mosley’s late career mysticism is what interests, so I can not dig too far back into the early works.  Relieved to see that after his conversion to Anglicism he later moved away from it.  A N Wilson gives him blurbs.  Had forgotten about Wilson but they must be contemporaries.  Mosley is from the world of Spencer Compton.  Eton.  Probably they knew each other, but Compton younger so perhaps not.  

Kellerhaus late this afternoon.  30% off box of soft dark chocolate creams.  At the checkout you reach into a bag of decorations and what you pull out is your discount for the day.  Dark clouds, rain/snow coming tomorrow.  

Dave’s T-shirt press release

Greetings, human allies of the Funkabopulation! 
Cobra Fantastic, your favorite band of fearless funkateers, has safely returned to the Mothership to begin recording their brand new EP, set to be released to your planet’s inter-webs during the season you call “Spring”. Watch this space for more details !
In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that the Cobra Fantastic T-SHIRTS are now available for order online with Free Shipping until December 10th. But watch out, little Earthling funkateers! Supplies are EXTREMELY limited - don't let the opportunity to sheathe your physical form in a textile covering adorned with an all-seeing eye travelling in a spaceship slip through your grasp!
They’re available in Photon Green, Scorched Earth, and the classic Abyss Black - and now in KIDS' sizes, for the budding funkabopulators in your midst!

Behold, the link : 
We thank you and salute you in your funkitude, dear humans! Don't forget to get your daily dose of funkabopulation via our social media infiltrations : you'll find some excerpts from Big Daddy's birthday concert on our , and we have some exciting new additions on the way to our - keep your eyes peeled!

Yours, as always, in interplanetary funksmanship,
The High Command of Planet 9

Monday  26
Googled face flushing after breakfast and remembered that in addition to rushing up and down the stairs a few times, laundry, etc, I ate that stupid chocolate with chili, small tab, and drank the Assam tea after a cup of hot espresso.  Duh.  Writing Christmas cards.  Feels good.  Just signing, no notes.  Gloria just called Va to find out what’s happening.  We go for the blood draw at eleven and then both have eye doctor appointments at 1. 
Storm coming tonight and tomorrow but somehow I/we don’t want to cancel day off plans just yet.  Wait and see just how it looks in the morning.  
end of Chapter X, p 266 onward just wonderful.  And there he does somethings no one else does.  You want to say to Aciman, and Proust, see, see this, do this too.  Add this move, these moves, into your works and they would be so much better.  Modiano already has his versions of some of what Mosley does.  


White-out day off.  Snow in the morning.  Got a late start, by 10, and got to Canaan no problem.  Almost only car on the road.  Beautiful snow, all whiteness except for the trees.  Three dark turkeys or ? pheasants? crossed the road, slowed me down.  Darker than any other turkeys I have seen.  Flecks of gold in their dark breasts.  Michael texted as I was stopped in Canaan for a pit stop.  He canceled.  Just as well.  Hanover was very wet and foggy and slushy.  Lunch at the market, some reading, wandering the store.  Drove home same way, stopped at the gas station in Canaan for a nap.  Ten minutes.  Lunch.  Ask the doctor tomorrow if this is anything.  
It is the novel by J B Priestly that I read near the end of summer and felt I was slowly plowing through it and then disapointed greatly about all it seemed to have been trying to do.  Can’t even recall any details from it.  
Lost track right at the very end of who the “they won’t be there if we don’t survive” refers to but still a wonderful book and ending to it.  
Car maintenance visit in Concord.  Batteries for Mickey and Minnie.
When has a book left as wonderful a feeling as Hesperides Tree has?  A great comic genius, I’m ready to dub him.  Read some more and see.  I like what happens to his narrator at the final parts of the book--passages I could copy out about his becoming ill, being overwhelmed, flooded by too much, and, throughout, how he becomes crazy, dazed, disoriented, all from the images of John Scotus Erigena’s floating toward Ireland in the little boat.  The way of unknowing, floating ahead into possibility and potentiality.  Sunday Times blurb on back of Metamorphosis “Mosley’s very special talent is for describing the sensations experienced within a cocoon of dismay and terror.”  
Margaritas today.  Beautiful trees in snow on the road still.  Enjoyable lunch.  Still glad we’re not going to see Coriolanus.  Concert tomorrow at Silver.  
Mosley’s biographical interview with rahbaran amazing.  I like most what he seems to have come to in his late career, that “watch and listen” is the way to live life best.  Clearly he must have been a fascinating talker.  Helps reaffirm what I now think about writers and artists---“they really can’t help it, it’s the only way they’ve figure out how to live.”  As opposed to revering them for being saints and heroes.  But I’m joking.  Everyone is like this.  
“the world’s most brilliant conversationalist” is the blurb Wilson put on the back of the book.  The world’s most !   “my path of-- Trust what turns up and see what happens.” 
“You only know God by keeping your eyes and ears open and seeing what happens.”  
Three or four small books suggested by a thread on twitter.  See how they are.  Imagine reading tons of stuff while at CMC in two days for two days or three.  Fireside chat with Doug and Patsy earlier this evening.  Nog and cheese and wine.  Doug’s father was part of the divinity faculty at Vanderbilt in 1951 who made the cover of Time because they all quit to protest the refusal of the school to begin to admit black students.  The divinity school.  His father had already lined up a much better job up in Chicago anyway.  Some on the faculty in Tennessee said of his dad, oh, you’re a drunk, as a way of dismissing the proposal.  Doug chuckled, “he was,” but that was irrelevant to the issue.  They all were in those days.  
“NM: Well, this is a feeling:  itself a chance: you can’t bank on it: you can’t prove it. “  
Mosley reviews so much of the thought and thinkers, writers and poets, who have dominated my lifetime, it is great fun to see him opine on them and to find how much he agrees with me, on Everything!  Pretty much.  He admired Virginia Woolf much in the past, “The person I do think is just a player of word-games, although a very clever and sometimes amusing one, is James Joyce.”  109
Splendid day in Hanover and WRJ.  Michael at his best.  In Coop a former student said hi, Andrew Drum and his girl friend Melissa.  He was in class h said in 2007, graduated in 2010 or 11.  They both work at the Dermatology clinic at DMH.  Anne just called to wish Va a good procedure.  One of her friends had it done a year or so ago and had great results.  
Article in NYRB on Girard titled The Prophet of Envy.  Apparently Girard agreed with me that, geez, no one very discusses envy in America.  Or in the West.  Seems he did in his earlier books, then later turned to violence, the sacred and the scapegoat principle.  
Passage in Mosley last night struck me--the difference between Jewish thinkers and Christian thinkers---in very broad and very loose sense---the distant, abstract father god rather than the loving earthy son of the Christians.  “and a supposedly ever-present Holy Ghost God.  This implies that meaning should be able to be searched and listened for.”  106  This becomes Mosley’s main theme---the value of searching, watching and listening.  Hooray I say.  
“Language (or symbol-using) is an attempt to say something, but it is never a final definition.  The meaning is there, the meaning is floating about, and it can be conjectured by what happens.  That I think is my big original thought!  It goes on out of language.  I mean one is aware of it through one’s own language not quite getting it.  You carry on, and you keep your eyes and ear open, and by what happens you gather what the meaning might be.”  109

“In other words. whereas Beckett says literature is a Sprachspiel with no meaning behind it, you say of course it’s a Sprachspiel, but it points to a meaning somewhere outside it.  That is to say, language is an effort to show that there is a meaning. . . .”  “language connects the reader to a reality outside or behind or between the lines.”  109
Yes.  Wonderful.  
Stories:  “You don’t interpret; you sift in your own mind, in your heart, in your being, and then something remains or it doesn’t; and by this you become the person that you are.”  “Literature gives you the opportunity to go on adventures into the dark.”  “You watch, you listen, you discover.”  112
Today we go to Manchester.  Dec 5
Friday night.  TAVR success and a new TIA--mini-stroke.  Hoping for good recovery, lots of sleeping.  Hospital team will assess Monday but already planning for visiting nurses and a week or two of rehab.  Petie and Ray coming into Logan tomorrow, Saturday.  I’m glad I asked them to come.
Dec 7.  Did two nights in hotels in Manchester.  Good to be home tonight.
December 8  Saturday  

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Sent out the news of aphasia and TIA to emailers and facebookers.  Asked Ken if he could put up a tree.  Has not answered yet.  Furnace is not kicking on even after the fuel delivery guy came and filled the tank and tried to get it started so now I am waiting for that.  Thank goodness for the heat pumps.  

During the night I decided I will stay tonight and tomorrow down in Bedford.  Petie and Ray come in around noon.  They will lunch with his granddaughter before coming up to CMC.  I’m betting they will get a hotel in the city.  

Ken sent exactly the reply I was hoping for: ”Absolutely will do. Are there decorations also somewhere or what was your plan around that?” He called later in the afternoon to check on placement.  I was in Panera in Bedford, craving the onion soup.  It seemed just ok this time, not great.  Checked in now to the Country Inn by Radisson.  Weird place, eighties I guess business meeting sort of “retreat inn” style place.  Business retreat meetings north of Boston.  Desk guy suggested the River Road tavern for Kobe burgers, but I’m guessing the pretentious Copper Door might have a nice fish offering.  I could go to the Capelas but not that up for Italian.  

I got to Willow’s around 2.  Lunch first was salad at the rest stop because Panera’s in Concord at 12:20 was mobbed.  She was sleeping or just resting.  Not as responsive immediately as yesterday.  Petie texted they were in the hospital cafeteria so I went down to meet them.  They were tired from the flight and snafu a the Budget Logan operation.  Had not seen his granddaughter and had not eaten until then.  When we visited Willow was more alert and there were flashes of emotive alertness and response at different times.  Ray “flirted” with her about something I missed and she was laughing at various jokes.  Earlier before meeting them Dave and Cecile called and we had a good talk with them.  Cécile got the job for Hamilton in Paris and is excited because it feels like a different order of importance for whom she might meet at the larger operation of Reid House.  The French woman who hired her made her feel really invited into a more serious realm than that of the Vassar-Wesleyan circles.  Party kids vs the true liberal arts devotees of Hamilton—-and maybe Sarah Lawrence is in that group, where Andy Colpitts is assistant director.  
Time to find some dinner.   Copper Door crammed, thank goodness.  Got lost driving around in the dark woods of Bedford, finally went to Whole Foods and ate grilled scallops and cold broccoli and quinoa in their beer pub.  Drank an ale called Creme Brûlée and it was weirdly good.  This motel feels weird, like maybe I did stay here once years ago but also because it, the “country inn” lobby, looks like a tv sitcom or movie site.  Like it is quoting some famous movie or movies.  So, dinner at Whole Foods and then a wholesome wander around the store with a few purchases at last in tow—-cat grass, cookies, and two moo goo rice powdered ice cream balls, it all felt good, much more interesting than the hot young crowd of players and climbers jammed into Copper Door.  

Poor Willow—how will she recover?  It seems bleak, really, I wonder if she will walk much after this or ever swim again?  Or be able to travel much? etc  How can we know what will happen?  Were we totally mistaken to have opted for the valve replacement without fuller thought and longer consultation with a panel of carefully curated experts and local opinionizers?  That’s the thing about possibilities and their surprises.  Had we done nothing, would she have slowed down perhaps and lived another three years or thirteen?  Or would she have had a big stroke, a much earlier death?  The banalities and helplessly endless spinnings of the rational mind.  Mosley’s voice and texts seem just perfect for just this moment of our journey into the next moment.  Hopeful Monsters the title of his big and important book.  Metamorphosis the title of the slim one I started the other and which comes ten years after the big book.  Whatever Virginia’s new chapter leads us into, that is what it will be.  And even then we won’t know much until we live each moment as fully as it comes, as we live into it.  
The language mind the rational mind must embrace helplessly its helplessness in the presence of what is.  

Last night I said it was good to be home and yet tonight here I am away again in a strangely deja-vu strange hotel in Merrimack.  Or Bedford.  Maybe both.  Why did I not drive back home tonight?  From here on I will unless terrible weather intervenes.  Or the desire to go against my best hunches, once again.  Petie and Ray are at the Fairfield Inn close by and now I wonder if I should not use the Fairfield in Concord next time I want a night away.  The mind plays endlessly with chips in the game.  

I’m relieved Petie came.  I need the company, I can now see that.  Our fifteen bonus years, have I learned something?  Technically the fifteenth year has not completed yet.  Fourteen and two-thirds.  We gambled and lost after having gambled and won many times over.  And yet we still have won, as we will continue to discover.  These binary options ridiculous.  We did not gamble.  This is not a game.  

4:55 am  Just realized this is a handicap access room.  Have to change the filter on  Also can now see how our trip in the fall might be our last visit, our farewell, to Iberia.  Marga’s village deep into the heart of the stony peninsula itself with the symbols of the triangle and the circle inscribed on the hidden threshold.  And the visit with Francisco in Portugal, he the visitor from Iberia to Albuquerque when Virginia was in her second or third year of high school.  These two visits make a beautiful portal.  

Of course the monkey mind races ahead trying to figure and pre-figure but all of these things are tentative tenticular probings.  Remember the lit mag at pac English dept was Probes! 

5:00 am  Do I want to stay the night in Concord or go all the way back home and drive in Monday morning traffic?  Don’t have to drive at 8 am but as long as it is dry should save the money and be at home tomorrow night.  

Walked on the treadmill here at the motel for ten minutes before breakfast and ten after.  Start.  Slowest pace possible, still, good idea and a start.

Petie told me yesterday as they finished their meal that Chris has a girl friend.  He said to her, not sure when, Mom, I’m seeing somebody.  Young woman of thirty-five who has a little boy (I think).  For how long? Two years.  Wow.  I chuckled loudly, hope she didn’t mind.  But it is pretty big news and so good to hear.  She’s a hairdresser.  Don’t know if Marilyn knows much more.  Has not met her yet.  

Have to find the Living Will document this evening and bring a copy tomorrow if possible.  Is it bound in with the Power of Attorney pages?

Monday morning  
10 December
Nice long talk with Donald last night.  Debating in my mind whether to send out the Christmas letter with or without postscript update.  Think I will send it out as is and add update later—-or should I wait until tonight to add a line about recovering from some rehab.  Maybe.  I meet with the team later today.  Maybe home tomorrow evening?   just read over the letter and decided to send it anyway as is.  Put the date at the top.  

Monday evening

Whew.  Wonderful day.  Here’s the email update.  

Now clear to everyone who sees her that Virginia is reviving rapidly; much more responsive today, speech much more clear, jokes, comments.  

Medical team now sure that there was no stroke, no mini-stroke, no TIA.  Overall stress of the procedure, heavy sedation and something he termed "pacing" that was required during the process itself because Va's aorta is bicuspid not tricuspid.  All signs continue to be excellent.

Virginia will stay at CMC, up one floor on the RMU, for a week of rehab, three hours a day of all the kinds--PT, OT, speech.  

Thanks for all your good wishes, prayers and hoots.  Feeling very positive for the recovery.  Plus there is an offer today for the house in Abq!!!



The house offer coming just a few minutes after Kim’s phone call felt like a miracle.  Just after Ray and Petie and I had decided what to do an hour earlier at lunch in the cafeteria.  Buy out the boys and make the house as a rental.  Turns out Ray has a few of these already in Texas.  

St Peregrine?  My friend in Japan (from I house) says 
my mother told him this?  Wonder where she got this saint?
Only you can answer such a question! 

Yes.  St. Peregrine is often invoked against illnesses, but is especially so for cancer.  He is the patron saint of those suffering from cancer.  He was a Servite friar in the late thirteenth to early fourteenth century.  His national shrine in the US is in the large Servite church in Chicago, Our Lady of Sorrows on Jackson Blvd.  

11 Dec  They moved Va to a private room.  The Rehab unit accepted her for treatment.  But no bed available until tomorrow.  I helped an OT give her some exercises and as I think of it now, her body has lost strength and is wobbly much as if she had been drunk, had been drinking too much.  Dr Gilani visited and explained some more about the procedure.  He agreed with my comparison with PTSD.  He explained what pacing is—-making the heart beat more rapidly in order to regulate the blood flow needed to get the valve into proper position.  He showed us a video of his kids.  Other visits from staff and at that period of the day, around noon,  Va was alert and responsive and joking.  And I thought I could see her face and skin look better, fresher, indication that the valve is helping the heart function more fully.  So in that sense, in the long run, as she recovers her strength, the heart will function more strongly, the recovery will be much better.  She’s downcast to be there, to be lying in bed and not feeling herself, to be faced with two weeks of going through the kind or rehab we’ve done so much of already before.  On the other hand, other options could have had very different results.  

Petie and Ray stayed in Boston.  Her cold and cough sounded much worse.  Later in the afternoon we had the conference call with Kim and we all agreed to accept the offer as is and not try any counter-offer games.  Kim seemed to want that.  Maybe that is the usual scenario in realtor-world.  We so hope it will go.  The buy, Chase Heard, is an artist, has a website.  

Feel like I didn’t do all that much today but I’m really tired.  That fruit cake I found at Whole Food may actually have had some rum in it.  Called Rum Cake.  Small but still.  Big meal after nothing all day.  Almost finished watching the Coen brothers latest movie, Buster Scruggs.  Turns out it is from tales by Ring Lardner.  Use of the gorgeous western landscape is sublime.  Tiny human figures in the vast new world.  Health Monitor says 6 floors climbed and a measly 3850 steps.  oh and 35 mins of Mindfulness.  Maybe that’s what has worn me out.  Driving at night too.  See if I can get to bed before ten.

Dec 12   Why has Roy not signed the agreement yet??  Early morning here yet.  8 am.  I seem to sleep five or six hours no matter what.  Was ready to get up at five.  Back to monk’s hours.  Millions of people do this daily commute I now have, so get with it.  Waiting for Ben to arrive at ten to do a fitting on the tub bench.  Fingers crossed it will work super well.  Let’s see that’s fingers for the house sale and fingers for the shower bench.  How many fingers can one keep crossed and for how long?  Trying to figure also how to really rest, relax, conserve energy and stay focused and it occurred yep to limit or eliminate screen times.  If Willow will be doing fourteen days of rehab or God willing less, why not take a rest retreat and really keep everything as simple and quiet as possible.  No tv at all for two weeks.  Could I do that??  And the iphone?  Hmm.  Why not give it tries.  Need the phone but don’t need to scan the apps endlessly all day at every chance.  Try to remember the years before this when these screens barely existed.  

my tweet for the day :  it's only taken me 70-so years to learn that human bodies are uni-, bi-, tri- or quadri- cuspid in the architecture of aortic valves. Why do they hide these things from us?  Comment Surely we have herein the source of the five great world religions. If we learned this in all the schools we could stop warfare forever.

Remember only one posting a day on any screen!

Genetically Speaking, You're More Like Your DadYou may have inherited your mother's eyes, but, genetically speaking, you use more DNA passed down from your father. That's the conclusion of a new study on mice that researchers say likely applies to all mammals.Mar 3, 2015

Why did I have to be a mammal?  

12 December  Wednesday  just after 5pm.  Left about 2:30 and drove home in the bright sun.  Nap just now.  

Willow was doing well.  Already in the rehab, big private room.  Looking good and speaking better.  After lunch, didn’t eat much, she got sleepy again and didn’t make it through GH.  Petie called while I was there.  They are still in Boston, might come back for a visit before they head to Texas. Petie’s cold and cough sounded better.  

email to Jess
Yes, I'm fine.   Came home early today, around 3pm so got here in daylight.
Va now up in the rehab unit, program of activities will start tomorrow.  She's visibly much better
each day.  I really think it is sort of like a mega- hangover---way too much anasthesia and the "pacing" of the process which as the surgeon explained later means your heart is kept at a higher beating level for (how long?) so the blood flow is just right for placing the device.  Yikes.  anyway, she's on her way once more.  But I was thinking--patient meets the doctor and maybe his assistant beforehand, but the anasthesiologist is sheerly a pipeline flow technician, never interfaces with the person, so in effect
has no way to judge just how much "booze" of type x this particular person can handle.  

And the Abq house is now under contract with a buyer!!  A Christmas miracle for the family. :-)  Va only lived there from age 14 to 20.  The real childhood home had been sold when they moved up to the heights to build this house.  The buyer seems to be an artist, woman, and I think the family will like that.  

Staying rested is my top priority and it is almost for me from my selfish point of view a caregiver vacation/rest period since she's there and I have a bit more space and time to myself.  I started putting up decorations this evening.  One a day is my motto.  We love the line from a sit-com---
in whiny voice: 'but I've already done one thing today."   Love the driving conditions too.  Getting into the pace of it each day.  

Long phone call from Rich.  Barbara’s younger brother died of cancer very much in the way Rick did—-no early diagnosis and sudden discovery that the cancer was everywhere.  Rich sounded pretty good.  Social life other than family seems to be with former employees who were with him for years.   

Now nine pm and I’ve not read a page yet.  Want to watch a movie or a few minutes of something.  And since I had that “collapse-nap” at 4 I don’t feel quite sleepy yet.  

13 December   Thursday   evening  6pm.  Solo scared me this morning by not coming in to meow me awake and even downstairs I could not find him.  Only after breakfast as  was packing to leave did he come in yawning.  The kitty milk Judith had given us made him sick.  The evening before he had thrown up a lot.  

Once again Willow looked and acted better.  I had dropped the car at the dealer to have new tires put on.  So I got to CMC about 9:30, just in time to meet the new case worker, Bob Veira, and her PT, a high-energy woman with a rich English accent, but I forgot her name.  She is from Manchester UK.  Later after lunch she said Willow had done very well in her session of evaluation.  It was a full morning and by 1 Va was tired.  She had speech therapy coming up at 2.  I took the car back, told them how much I liked it.  Just now I opened their offer to Exchange and upgrade.  The lease option looks very tempting—-monthly payment and two thousand cash sweetner.

Ben’s bench is terrific.  Feels solid and spacious.  Might even be appealing to lots of people who don’t want a a bath.  

Tonight I feel tired but not as stress-tired ask last night.  Had a good nap in the car waiting room while I waited for it.  Perfect timing.  Managed to reduce caffeine significantly—-one cup here in the morning and a bottle of tea at the rest stop and that was it.  

Friday 14 December   Best day yet.  Willow looking really good.  Talkative a bit more.  Tiring easily still but more alert for longer time.  Day 2 of therapies.  Helen the nurse this evening really gets it, can see her strength and knows how to help her up by herself.  The younger staff think they need to use two people, don’t understand body mechanics the way Helen does.  She’s been there 18 years.  In the biz since she was a candy striper in high school.  Watching another Michiel Huisman movie, most recent, 2017.  Not very good but lots of camera time on his face.  Student at Chase this evening who checked me out with purchases is interested in the new movement in clothing fashion, looser, baggier clothing.  Nice short conversation with him.  Prep school and landmark college, dyslexic.  Father works in security, border and airport.  He’s from New London and agrees a good setting for a Stephen King novel.  Willow wants to go home and is frustrated by the exercises but also responding well to all of them.  Be so interesting to hear what the eval group is like and says on Monday.  Kids arrive a week from today.  Ken and Carole coming to put up the tree tomorrow.  I’ll walk at the gym and check in at Enterprise and then drive to Fresh Market and Whole.  Petie and Ray coming back up for a visit.  They will be able to see more strikingly how well Willow is doing.  I just hope she can walk well enough to come in from the car and use the downstairs bedroom.  This movie is trying to be a sci-fi epic about time and algorithms.  Uses long angelic electro music sweeps and murder and hologrammic art works.  Tonight I will try to stay up until ten or eleven to see how that will affect my sleep.  I got up about five this morning and then in Va’s room took a few naps with the aide of headspace meditations.  Huisman is about to save his girlfriend from being murdered.  He gets to run through the streets at top speed.  In the moment of the shot the couples are linked across fifty years.  Our couple makes it to 2:23 and live.  Dying star story.  His dad’s predictions—-in everyone’s life comes a moment when the universe opens itself to us and now he’s a pilot (he had been afraid to fly), they have a baby and all ends well.  Same shade of blue used throughout.  Found Christmas music on iTunes by a choir in Vancouver, Chor Leoni, and like it much—reminds me most of our singing at Ammendale and Elkins Park, all men, simple arrangements with piano.  More satisfying than the Cambridge King’s College choir.  

Read a wee bit of Mosley.  Love how matter of fact way he says how he loved a boy in school.  Typical of his generation:  “I had in some way been in love with Johnny I suppose, during our years at boarding school  when there had been no girls around; and I had even hopped into bed with him once or twice.  But now to love Alix was surely impossible, however much it might be desired—and even psychologically explicable.  In appearance Alix was the opposite of Johnny—short and fair-haired; her presence held as if in the framework of a painting.”  32

More important is this passage—-

It seemed I would have to go back to my hotel and think—no not think, but wait—to see what would happen, what had happened, to let it go on happening.  And then whatever had happened would work itself out: would not be without meaning , , ,    53

that watching and waiting becomes the watchword of his late work and now I am making it mine —-

15 December   Just got home.  Hard to figure why an easy day should be so tiring.  Walked at Tanger.  Drove to Bedford to find Fresh Market had closed.  Visited Willow who looked again even better and more herself and more alert.  We were disappointed to find that there was indeed not therapy today.  Tomorrow they say there will be.  Petie and Ray showed up around 1.  We ate in the cafeteria and visited some more.  Ray’s father was a traveling bible preacher in western Virginia.  Ray went to college with ten dollars in his pocket.  Finding oil on their land came much later in his life, ten or twenty years ago?  Now all deeded to the three boys.  Both he and Petie looked much better, much more rested.  The church has a conference at La Quinta tomorrow morning so they are staying over.  Somehow glad about that.  Almost wish they would stay through Monday to hear the news from the evaluation.  Think it would help Willow accept and be ready.  Not sure of course what they will say, recommend, but somehow I’m suspecting one more week.  Maybe she could come home on Saturday or Sunday after the kids arrive late Friday night.  

Really od’d on caffeine today and chocolate.  And/or I’m still more tired than I realize.  hmm big panera cookie and smoothie could be??

2019 YEAR FORWARD 2019

5 January  Saturday  2019

Ken and Carole brought us a fine lunch.  Butternut soup and bacon quiche and Jan Hagel cookies.  Nice to catch up with them.  They leave for Florida in six days on the 11th.  

Echogram yesterday at Speare.  Jeannie the tech talked a lot about everything from Sodoko to Bristol school expenses.  She urged me to write a letter to the CMC team about too much anesthesia.  Later in the day I got fired up to do so and this is what I wrote.  

14 Rogers Street
Plymouth, NH 03264
December 4, 2019

Re: MRN: 712589  Visit:00065899619
New England Heart Institute at CMC  100 McGregor Street Manchester NH 03102
Dr Fahad Gilani, Dr Powen Hsu, cc Dr Eric Larson, Concord NH  cc Dr Diane Arsenault, Plymouth, NH

Dear Doctors:

Today during the Echocardiogram we saw the TAVR in place, working beautifully.  In two days it will have been a month since the TAVR procedure at CMC.We thought it would be a three to four day visit to CMC.  Virginia had a week there in critical care and then two weeks upstairs at RMU.  Back in Plymouth, we continue OT, PT and home health care through Pemi-Baker Community Health.  We also hire an assistant privately for eight to ten hours a week.  Virginia’s mental clarity is not the same nor her speaking ability.  Our lives are not even close to the way things were before December 5, 20018.  From now on I would suggest patients make a video of normal life and activity before a TAVR procedure so all involved can see exactly what “baseline” was like in experiential terms before versus after.  Prior to the surgery I do not recall talking with the Anaesthesiologist.  My memory might be at fault here; perhaps that doctor spoke to Virginia in the early hours before the procedure?  Afterwards I wondered from very early on if the anaesthesia had been too strong, inexpertly administered?  Mainly I wondered if the anaesthesiologist knew Virginia’s medical history and state of health before the procedure?  Did he consult with Dr Eric Larson, Virginia’s neurologist of over twelve years?  In 2003 Virginia survived an AVM burst.  Two brain surgeries, three months in a coma (or asleep), two more brain surgeries and placement of a shunt, followed by years of PT and OT.  She has had as well incidents of seizure and TIAs. Is the anesthesia for a TAVR on a 74 year old woman with such a history different from the anesthesia for a TAVR on a, say, 57 year old man with no prior brain bleed or seizure disorder history?  A UTI showed up very early after the procedure.  Had we been able to do an MRI perhaps we would have had more definitive evidence of what exactly happened?  

Yours truly, 

Robert E. Garlitz
Last night I thought I would add at the end, to round off the prose poem----

I saw Eternity the other night, 
Like a great ring of pure and endless light, 

Today I think I should leave the whole thing as a prose poem and not send it.  The tech lady, the chatty tech lady, has opinions on the schools and such in Bristol that lead me to question whether she is a good source for motivating such a letter.  Or such a prose poem.  Last night it was so clear that I had to point out to the doctors that “baseline” was such a ridiculous term.  Today I will say of course it is.  All terms are.  

Most men lead lives of quiet exaltation.  

Bali trip we can cancel up to the last minute and still get full refund.  Forget worrying about that for now.  Think of something else you don’t know if you want or not want, will do or not do.  Wait.  Watch.  Let go.  

Virginia slept after breakfast and then after lunch, a long time.  Zyrtec may have done her in.  Watching tv now, Victoria.  Will she sleep tonight?  I got way too nervous about getting the house neatened up for Ken and Carole.  And of course they each went to the bathroom and so saw the new bedroom in the den.  Oh well.  Tired now.  Got a lot done actually.  Reading Mosley too.  

Sunday  Jan 6  

Three Kings.  Quietest one ever.  Va has been very sleepy yesterday and today.  Slept last night but some tossing from 3am on.  Not sure whether to call anyone.  Eliz and I postponed a shower until tomorrow afternoon.  She’s watching tv movies now, dozing off and on.  Walking not nearly as stable as it was two days ago.  Feels like a few steps backwards.