1 July 2001 '...it's as if I'd been invited to Italy'
I'm writing this at the keyboard, not via the digital pen ... and from memory not present circumstance.
Since sending off daffodil three on 29th I've taken a holiday from this.
It began by deciding to visit an art gallery selected by random number from the 160 or so listed in London. The gallery is called 'Mobile Home' and you have to telephone. I did so but no one was in so I just went. I arrived at the street door just as someone was going in - it was someone called Ronnie Simpson whose gallery it is.
He took me up three floors to a beautiful all-white apartment in which was an installation called Cowboy Cinema by Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards. Close to the floor a tiny videoscreen showed their film of driving round the semi-rural city streets of Milton Keynes - with Hollywood-type titles showing all the time. The screen was set in a little arena made out of abstract oil paintings stapled to stretchers on top of a fork-lift truck pallet. In the other room was a pistol and a blue seat decorated with modern jewelry and words.
What a nice accident!
Other chance-chosen galleries didn't tempt me so I went to a second-hand bookshop. It had moved - so I walked to its new address but didn't find anything interesting. Everything seemed worse in the new location and there was hardly any ventilation. I came out immediately.
Then I sat in a park waiting for an idea when a man asked me to listen to a phone call he was trying to make to a help agency. The voice on the answerphone was very indistinct and neither of us could understand it properly. He said that I looked a helpful person, that's why he'd asked me. He was very troubled by something but he didn't want to discuss it. He seemed to be a nice person in some great difficulty but I couldn't help him much.
That set me walking in a direction I didn't intend and soon I espied a bookshop I'd forgotten existed. Inside I went to a shelf where I remembered finding a rare book by Stan Brakhage. This time I found an even rarer one, by Gertrude Stein: it's called TWO(with a foreword by Jane Flanner, Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, New York 1951), the first of the eight volumes of her posthumously published writings. I already have three of them (together with nearly everything else she wrote). I'd given up hope of finding more of her writings.
I've already started reading (aloud) the first piece which is called 'Two: Gertrude Stein and Her Brother'. I can't resist copying the first sentences:
The sound that is in them comes out of them. Each one of them has sound in them. Each one of them has sound coming out of them. There are two of them. One of them is a man and one of them is a women. The are both living...
This goes on (about the sounds in them and coming out of them) for nearly a hundred pages after which other things beside sound predominate for forty more. I like it more than any of her books that I've begun reading. '...what escapes you the first time can you can discover on the fifth or sixth reading' it says in the foreword. It's so beautifully clear. She wrote it in 1910 or so and still it's miles ahead of every writing, every perception, that I can think of.
Then I went into a little shop selling only books about Morocco - the man inside was from there and talked about his country and his books. Only the second copies are here, he said, the first ones are at home in my own collection... I showed him the Stein book - he said it was a 'good price' (whatever that means) and we talked about bookshops.
Later I slept and then went walking on the heath. I didn't write anything on the handheld but I did write some notes on a piece of paper. Here is an expanded version:
19:20 Train. Strong impulse to walk again, on the heath, among trees and animals, not streets and cars and people!
I feel unusually easy in mind after a day deliberately NOT attending to softopia/daffodil (and continuing to interact with people ... perhaps lonely ones)
Not fully rested yet but glad to be doing this.
More memories of my walk in the city:
I saw some flats where I'd like to live - because of the obvious quality of their (modern) architecture, even though the position is not so good - which tells me something about what I am seeking - good quality surroundings - and informed people. But the flats looked too expensive for me.
Then I passed close to a horrible scene of two young people in a doorway injecting themselves in the presence of two huge men who I imagine had just sold them some drugs.
20.10 After a longish walk round the heath to a seat in the west meadow (if that's what it's called) from which I can see the dome of St. Paul's ... and the Royal Free Hospital... CLICK! ...I suddenly recalled the statement I added yesterday to Uncle Evan's précis...
(but now it's midnight - I'll copy the rest of this note in the morning... )
2 July: ...Uncle Evan's supposed statement was:
A proposal for a de-specialised way of doing things via what jcj calls 'people-dependent technology'. With computer-assistance each person is expected to act with much more awareness, and effectiveness, than is possible for specialists. This requires everyone to pay more attention to others and to his or her self. It assumes large changes in culture and in the tempo of life.
What that statement told - what caused a mass of related thoughts to 'CLICK' into place - was my realising that writing Uncle Evan's précis can be the best possible starting point for the connective work that I am always seeking to begin... Writing the précis can be the path, or perhaps the connecting action itself...
...and then, as I looked about me, I realised that this work could resemble my having come to this seat, in a part of the heath detached from my daily path...
...from here you can see and can contemplate more widely than in the wooded parts, yet with plenty of secure and well-selected memories (in the text of 'the internet and everyone' - which is itself an anthology of my life)...
(the metaphor and the proposed writing are getting intermingled now)
( ...and it could also help to rescue that book from oblivion or from under-reading?... )
20:17 I'm extremely happy at that insight - 'it's as if I'd been invited to Italy' was the way my feelings took word (was I remembering Wallace Steven's phrase 'an Italy of the mind'?)...
Yes I'm very pleased, and I feel that this is a tiny first step to something newer, and far more connected, than what I've been doing lately.
...then I looked about and wrote thus:
And it's such a good evening - cool wind, blue sky, a few cumulus clouds, young people walking by, long grass, the moon visible by day, and St. Paul's and the towers of Canary Wharf in the distance. And this wide expanse, without trees or cutting machines - just the uncut grasses (still for a moment between gusts), and the long shadow of the trees behind me lifting or limiting the direct sunlight to the trees on the other side of the meadow (which itself is in shadow). (If you can imagine it - the words are not quite right)
So the essential thing now is
a) not to forget the significance of this
b) to devote regular times to writing Uncle Evan's précis
c) to let this diary etc become subsidiary to it (and perhaps supportive of it?)
The simplest way is 'once a week' or on set days... and probably equally important is frequent reading of the accumulating whole of softopia and daffodil and to constantly be seeking and seeing connections (and making hypertextual links)...
I hope I can remember all this, and actually do it - I've resolved to do so much in my life that hasn't happened!