I finished reading Anais Nin's Early Diary Volume Three[/u[ and began The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry: "'I don't know what I'm going to do,' Jacy said, looking up. 'What do you do about it, Mama? Life just isn't the way it's supposed to be at all.'" [Laurel Edition, p. 175.] My days denied my nights, my nights transcended my days.
I began February reading Katharine Anne Porter's The Leaning Tower. In one scene a little girl, Miranda, is sitting in the bleachers at a circus; looking down, she sees several boys under the bleachers looking up under the women's skirts. "She looked squarely into the eyes of one, who returned her a look so peculiar she gazed and gazed, trying to understand it. It was a bold grinning stare without any kind of friendliness in it." (Collected Stories, HBJ, p. 343)
I finished Porter's Old Mortality from Pale Horse, Pale Rider, then read Robertson Davies's A Masque for Aesop. I thought, having read it only once, that Davies’s Fifth Business was a perfect novel, though I’d not bothered to define what I meant by perfect. I wasn't writing. I finished Specimens of the Russian Poets, edited and translated by John Bowring and published in Boston in 1822. It was the first English-language anthology of Russian poetry, the oldest book I owned, and rare. I also read Davies’s A Jig for the Gypsy. As usual, most of the books I read I read because I had recently added them to my first-edition collection. What made my collection mine was that I not only owned its titles but had read them. I hadn't necessarily read them well, certainly hadn't studied them, but I had read them. I finished Davies's The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks and Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn. I’d read no Longfellow since high school and, to my surprise, found him exciting.
I sgurded on the tenth for the second time in February, wrote nothing in my notebook, and soon remembered almost nothing except that after Lee and I had played my game, I'd thought, "What of her loneliness?" I knew she loved me and might do unimagined things to help me. What we needed to be lovers we didn't have, but we had had it as I'd felt with her--in more than memory however less than fact. The next day I copied a sentence from Davies's The Tabletalk of Samuel Marchbanks: "To be a book collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope-fiend with those of a miser." [UK FE, p. 113] I, the dope-fiend book-collector, was beat, as usual days after.
I finished Tabletalk, glad to be done with it; I suspected my lukewarm response had more to do with my recent indulgence than with what Davies had written. I finished Ring Lardner's Gullible's Travels and read all of Longfellow's The Courtship of Miles Standish. I finished Faulkner's Father Abraham and read his Notes on a Horse Thief at the U. of A. Special Collections room. As recently as a year ago I had still read the first editions I collected. Now I never did. A mint book can always be read; a read book is never mint again. I had been raised to prefer read to unread books, but collecting had its own rules and I owned reading copies of my collectibles; if I was ready to read a title of which I had no reading copy, I borrowed one from the U. of A. Library; if it had no copy, it borrowed one, at my request, from yet another library through Inter-Library Loan. I had to use Special Collections for the Faulkner novella because Inter-Library-Loan wouldn't borrow a book the library had, and Special Collections had a copy of the small, signed edition that was so far the only book-edition of Notes on a Horsethief. Inter-Library-Loan books circulated, so I could take them home; Special-Collections books could not be taken from the Special-Collections room. I quoted from Anais Nin's Ladders To Fire in my notebook: "Reality was the dragon that must be killed by the lover each time anew." [P.24, US First.] I thought the lover’s love did not necessarily depend on the death of the dragon. I knew it didn't depend on cocaine, either.
I read Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, a cocaine novel, and copied two quotations into my notebook. In one Alana, one of the teenagers in the scene, says: "I think we've all lost some sort of feeling." [P. 158.] The other passage I quoted, an exchange between Clay, who is still a relatively decent human being, and Rip, the group's connection and (hence) the guy who does the most coke, shows the degree to which she is understating. Clay says: "It's. . . I don't think it's right." Rip replies: "'What's right? If you want something, you have the right to take it. If you want to do something, you have the right to do it.'" [P. 189.] They are talking about the dead tied-up 13-year-old-girl Rip's been f*cking. I wrote: Bleak. The nightmare scene of young cokers with everything money can buy, looking for self-respect in pleasure and not finding it. Coke-fantasy sex in LTZ is neither caring nor loving, is empty, ugly, & even deadly.
My fantasies? I was in bed and Faith had put the mirror in place, as usual. (So soon things change and strangers become intimates, still ignorant, one of the other.) I wondered before beginning, Less than Zero fresh in my mind, if I would respect (or even be able to have) my fantasies tonight. I can, though my love partner was hard to find. Again she is Lee, though straight I know she would not see what I would show her but a sick sad scene from Less Than Zero. Still, in the fantasy--now!--, I know she can see me and would even want to. To know such falsehood true is why I do the drug? How long will I respect my fantasy? On putting down Less Than Zero what I’m doing had seemed obviously pathological.
This minute, though, I've no doubt: This is what I want to be doing Now!
I finished Jean Rhys's The Wide Sargasso Sea. I didn't write, as usual the day after playing. I saw Lee. She said she missed me and asked me to set aside an evening to be with her; I responded as though I wished to, which I did, but also didn't because I knew she wouldn't want me doing coke. I trusted her as I trusted no one to see through to the truth about me. She knew me, didn't think me better than I was. But imagining talking to her about what I was thinking only tired me. We made a date for tomorrow evening.
Lee arrived for our rendezvous at seven. I felt dull, terribly dull, still hung over from the night before last. Unwilling to do a line because of how Lee felt about the drug, I hoped that wine would help me talk; it didn't, at least not much. Lee might be the best confidant I could imagine but, with her in the flesh, I was dumb; the evening stumbled no where and she left at nine. I had wanted to tell her that I was sorry I'd lately been distant, that I thought about her, that to me she stood for a certain personal high level of integrity, that I trusted her. I imagined she had wanted to tell me that something I had had I seemed to have lost, that she thought about me and that my willfulness made her crazy and sad. She no more than I had had words and I knew that for a time, at least, I wouldn't think her with me as I lay before my mirror.
I finished Rhys's Sleep It Off, Lady and began Martin Luther King's Where Do We Go From Here?, published in 1968, the year he was murdered. King wrote, "One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites." [First Edition. P. 37.] Marjorie had thought power the opposite of love. I'd said to her one night that, because I loved her, she had power over me. She hadn't liked it. She didn't want it, she said. What happens to unused power? Marjorie's, I imagined, attacked her. She came to believe the voices she heard more real than she herself, was diagnosed last fall as a psychotic schizophrenic.
I finished Where Do We Go From Here?. (I cared politically, but felt these days I had little useful to offer. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s I'd been a radical and had thought Dr. King slow to describe the war in Vietnam in racial terms. I'd realized one day that I had become a partisan, and guessed a day would come when I would think that I had been unwise. I argued politics with my father, often to anger, our caring turned to polemical debate hurtful to both of us. I was not uncaring nor was William, but each of us could be made to appear so by the other. How much we cared! My views were liberal, my politics angry, my hopes human, my words unwritten. I felt now, espousing my coke addiction, as I had then, espousing the Black Panthers and Weather Underground. I chose the drug now as I'd chosen my allies then--the Vietcong, too--, in spite of myself. War is not better than consensus nor is drug use better than abstinence. As a rule I prefer nonviolence and abstinence. On the other hand, response is situational. When warred upon, some will wisely choose to war against; when blind some will risk to see and some of them be hurt.) I began Sons and Lovers.
Naked in bed I wrote: All I wish is to surrender to the love I feel. But, someone with me in the flesh, how will I--so blatantly aroused, cock lifted, my eyes, if I wish, upon my reflection in my dressing mirror, focused only on myself--safely assume that I am being seen merely surrendered? In Sons and Lovers Clara says to Paul: “I wish you knew the cruelty of men in their brute force. They simply don’t know that the woman exists." (Modern Library, p. 362). Yes, my fantasy is that my surrender to what I can feel will be my and my lover’s focus, but unless she chooses that focus--well, the idea of being the man Clara describes, brute and unaware and self-righteous too, repulses me. I have to make it clear before the curtain lifts on my fantasy scene that though to feel what I can I need her to want what I want, for me to feel, I will accept any otherness at all and know it love. I will even come, I think, because I have been frankly, honestly, rebuked. Truth is eros. I feel it so, literally, my nights.
I did another line, smoked, lay back and felt. I pulled up again to write. For me to offer an explanation after my fantasy lover joins me in the flesh would require me to focus on the words I have to say, not speak from within the feeling using the words I find there. My rational would be my feeling's adversary, not its voice. In my fantasy, she merely knows. I wrote to she who might be almost anyone so she would know: If while you are with me you show in any way you need me, I will be there for you. My love requires me to tell you that; but if you call on me, I will not feel. I could legitimately take--feel--only because I knew that, asked, I could and would give. My fantasy is of you not only forgiving and accepting my feeling but welcoming, and wanting and encouraging it. Whom will I first approach? Today I thought no one, ever. Tonight, I wonder: whom will I first approach?
My next notebook entry was a letter to Sidney's friend Josephine.
I’m writing in bed, leaning on my right elbow, my left leg over and well to the right of my right. Before I wrote your name above I pushed my penis through my legs so, in the mirror, I could see it between my balls, then put my glasses on to better see how much of the shaft is through. Its head is reddish purple, and I put my pen down a moment to touch it and see if it is hard. It isn't, though recently has been and still has enough extra blood in it to feel rubbery. Obviously, as I write, I am having sex with you, though you will only know it if, tomorrow when I read this, I decide to send it.
I had been writing nearly half an hour before inspiration flagged and I skipped ahead to write what I intended to be the end of the letter. I hoped I would come back later to write more at the point at which I’d stopped. This Thursday, the Third (Was Thursday the Third? I didn’t know, called myself a fool aloud and told myself to stop pondering detail and go on with what I had to say.), I will write about the night to come till about 7 P.M. and then go to bed alone to make love. I will imagine you soon to come to the door; when you do, and join me, I will know, though neither of us speaks, that you want to be here and that, for the next hour, whatever I do you will know it is for love.
I soon stopped writing. Could I lie back now and feel? No. I had not, as I'd hoped, done scribbling. I wrote in big letters on the top of the next page:
The sometimes impossibility of telling the difference between illusion and reality, true love and mock bliss, fascinated me. Under Coke pathology I drew an arrow toward undisprovable . I felt I should be the last to say my drug use wasn't pathological. I would leave such characterization to time and others and function, using or not, as best I could. These months I was using. These years? This night. Beneath Undisprovable I drew another arrow, pointing to: As is its permanence. The pathology might come to be healed and in the meantime disease could be a source of creativity—I’d read my Thomas Mann. There was also an arrow under Love but it pointed to no words.
At mid-page I resumed my fantasy letter to Josephine, my hand-writing less consistently slanted than it had been. I'd yet again been lying down, legs apart, and then yet again had words come to mind that I wished to write and pulled back up to lean on my right arm and (unsuccessfully) try to write them. What I wrote instead was: I see you standing naked now beside the bed, your low-hanging breasts free, your patience passing as lust stirs. You have been the first to ask for me to feel for you, the first to accept this solitudinous love as though it is a gift to you. Soon you will touch me, as you never have; as no one ever has. I paused, thought, wrote more. My handwriting had deteriorated still further and I was now writing only on the last few lines of another and another and another page. I knew I could write nothing useful at this hour and had known it for pages; finally I lay back, felt, slept.
March 1 I finished parts III and IV of Faulkner's Uncollected Stories and then read L'il Gal by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I finished Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt. March 3 I finished [u]Heed the Thunder by Jim Thompson, this title one of his few to first appear in hardback. Old Lincoln Fargo, dying, thinking of life and war, says:
[color="green"]"I guess we don't never learn, Edie. We don't never learn. There ain't none of us can tell whether it'll rain the next day or not. We don't know whether our kids are goin' to be boys or girls. Or why the world turns one way instead of another. Or--or the what or why or when of anything. Hindsight's the only gift we got, except on one thing. On that, we're all prophets.
"We know what's in the other fellow's mind. It don't make no difference that we've never seen him before, or whatever. We know he's out to do us if he gets the chance." [P. 271.]
I had to talk to Faith. I knew she wasn’t out to hurt or use or do me, as I wasn’t out to hurt or use or do her. But I didn’t know what was in her mind. I had to ask, and listen to her answer.
For the next part of LOVE NOTE click here.
To go to the THE HEALING & LOVE NOTE DISCUSSION FORUM click here. I want to hear almost anything you are willing to say, including whether you have had similar or contradictory experiences. Criticism of my behavior and beliefs is also solicited and will be (more or less!) welcome.
Edited by Coach, 24 April 2006 - 12:02 AM.