I Hammershoi, Morgenstern & Storm
II Land's End & Exhaustion at the Bookshop
IV Letters Coetzee/Auster
V Digression, correction: lament: me, the bookreviewer
VI Where did I take my mind?
VIII random excessive fear memory
IX the idea of a physiological neutrality (androgyn again)
X non violent men and non violent men (so-called)
XI ill/virus: moviewatching list
XII dorothy richardson
XIII Longships/Mary Butts
From the bed i take hammershoi images of the doors of our holidayplace. at 1/15. steady hand practice (worked out ok).
4 bookshelves in the holidayplace: 2 shelves of military history, the other shelves well, the summary is 4 bookshelves and nothing appealing to read in them… and a lot of empty shelves, imagine, a house with empty bookshelves...
Morgenstern: A conversation is a distanced mutual way of touching each other. [Gespräch ist gegenseitige distanzierte Berührung.]
also: Mir genügt zur Zeit das Schwatzen der Seevögel, das leise Sich-Wiegen des stacheligen Strandhafers, ein wenig durch die Finger rinnender Sand und die graublaugrüne Fläche vor mir mit ihrer seltsamen Unbedingtheit. p36
At night there was a storm. I wake up afraid. I am not used anymore to fear of that extent. I don't understand why this frailty has come back. in the kitchen i look at the black kitchenwindow. i don't know what i expect to see. of course, security considerations. that this is not a solid window. but then again there is burglar alarm. you tell yourself what to do: you know this house at the sea. you have been here before (but you're spooked out of the sounds of your own house too sometimes). you're at the sea which you have missed so very much. your life is almost ok now (why is this not enough, why do you still feel haunted). this is a dream, silly. go to bed again.
I manage to sleep again, wonder the next day: why this fear. I find no explanation and forget about it.
of course you have an explanation: excessive fear memory. amygdala annotations.
A few days later: We go to land's end to watch the end. the land just - stops. it feels an abrupt end, all those cliffs. Not the way I like ends, gentle finishes approximate so that one never can say where the ending started and where it stopped. And at some point there is nothing and one wonders whatever has been there. Waves, don't go too close to the edge: dangerous cliffs. I could watch the waves for hours & turn into our lady of the fog horn.
To St Just where we find a bookshop. It's called Cook Book St Just's Cafe Bookshop. It is rather quite good. We buy books. We buy plants. We still furnish our mental & actual home. I suppose this is something which never ends and that is good. In this Bookshop there is a chair in which I almost fall asleep. As if from monumental exhaustion. I see a woman in that bookshop. Elderly and slightly handicapped but in a way you only notice it when you look closely. The drowsy observation of other people. That woman's got something, that sort of feel to her, some kind of warmth, serenity, a smile. I feel bad about my exhaustion. Maybe i got that virus that's in the news. someone tells me i look preraffaelitish. couple of hours later, in the evening i am proper sick, indeed the virus. that bookshopwoman. I suspect she's somehow related to the shop, and indeed when we pay she inscribes all our purchases in one big book. no computer. no calculator. She's got parkinson's disease(?). This bookshop felt like an oasis in this very bleak village which is bleak in a way only the english can do bleak.
Tom McCarthy -- Men in Space
B.S. Johnson -- Christie Malry's own double entry
Wilhelm Raabe -- Pfisters Muehle
Alexander von Humboldt -- Es ist ein Treiben in mir
The other list (books I stole from a local wetherspoon's the other day):
Edna St Vincent Millay -- The Harp Weaver
Aldous Huxley -- The Olive Tree (And Other Essays)
Aldous Huxley -- Limbo
Saul Bellow -- The Actual
Official Diary 1970. Her Majesty's Stationary Office
Maximes de la Rouchefoucauld
Hugh Walpole -- Anthony Trollope
Cowper. Selected Poems and Letters. Chosen and edited by A. Norman Jeffares
D.B. Wyndham Lewis -- The Hooded Hawk or The Case of Mr. Boswell
Bernhard Shaw -- Translations and Tomfooleries
Bernhard Shaw -- Geneva. Cymbeline Refinished. Good King Charles
and one that I want to keep secret.
explain yourself: why not more books by women? -- because i've read them already maybe? because the booklist above reflected the actual ratio of male/female writers available to steal in the pub?
of course -- some things never finish….
i had to justify - the other day - what was interpreted as my male reading behaviour. people do confuse me.
when a woman doesn't like another woman: why is the explanation always some kind of cat fight rationale, internal rivalry whatever. it's of course never more complicated than that, or so the assumption. it has never to do with proper arguments, actual differences. arguments between women are not allowed to enter the realm of rational discussion. it's always psychology. and isn't this appeal of "don't betray the sisterhood" not just in turn the appeal to the assumed feminine gentleness? be foremost nurturing. just don't nurture yourself.
you're a sell out they tell me those who sold me out long ago. sell out to whom i ask, it's called between the chairs and i've decided to ignore it all. at my own peril of course.
letters coetzee/auster [forthcoming: here and now; in dutch: Een manier van vriendschap. brieven 2008 - 2011]: i don't know. not really exciting, but that's maybe just me.
showed me what a really different world this is they live in, of course, how could it not be a very different world, old successful men talking about all the important things in life, sport etc, in a way the dutch would call ouwehoeren. it's pleasant to read, a mellow, mellifluent, benevolent discourse. not crazily deep or intellectually challenging, but you notice they have something to say to each other which maybe is of interest to others. yet it felt alien to me. adultconversations, grandparents talking, when i was in the mental trenches, in the days of yore…
in this letter exchange auster as the more disarming person. also the one who chats along more while coetzee seems to be more focussed, and i sometimes wished auster would respond in the same vein and sometimes wished that coetzee had some more of auster's ease. not a great deal spent talking about the novel (or if - then the usual, the expected, what you'd expect them to say anyway) and writing. what i liked best maybe: the way they talk about the problems of winning in sport, in chess and the problem of winning as in: the wish of destroying your opponent and how this is a scary tendency.
most perplexed by - and maybe this has to do with me since ages regarding freud with the highest suspicion - how serious they take freud. that there are still people who think freud had some valid things to say. i thought people had gotten over him by now. you must get used to that people still take freud serious. but that there are sometimes also people who get something out of freud's writing. some actual good ideas.
coetzee whose books i am never sure what to think about - in those letters: some ideas of his spooked me a bit, aren't exactly -- quietening. of course it's all just theoretical thinking along, but still.
my favourite auster book is his joubert translation
Digression, correction: lament: me, the bookreviewer.
all those lists. which reminds me of. when i was maybe 18 or 19 and then too had a lot of books: people accused me: you always talk about buying books and so on, name dropping. do you not read them. by then i had - for instance - read proust already, probably more than a lot of them. not that this does say anything. but i had no way to defend myself against this accusation. And it's not like I've found meanwhile ways to defend myself against this sort of thing. today i can separate those accusations from my ideas of my own selfworth or the value of my creative activities, but that's about it.
I start writing reviews for a local magazine. I write about Virginia Woolf, Pessoa, when everyone else is interested in the political situation of -- i don't know. i am actually accused of being bourgeois (when i didn't even have enough cash for a phone -- the people that now would demand that i check my privilege, the rhetoric never changes, only the vocabulary). There isn't anything political in the things I write. I am not given a proof copy and when i come to get one I get told what shit i've written. I write some more pieces. Not sure why they publish them when they are so shit. Someone else tells me they are much too good for this sort of magazine. i am not sure how to judge this statement [it's not about the quality of what you do. it's never about the quality. not saying all i do is secretly and unrecognizeldly grand which it isn't. it's just about that quality is not one of the criteria. looks is one. whom you know another one. quality is very low on the ladder. we all knew that before of course]. It becomes all too much hassle. I threw in the towel. you're not welcome anymore, like in that gloria gaynor song. is not the actual observation: you have never been welcome anyway, you're an intruder, an irritation. you like the wrong things. Point taken, as they say, lesson learnt:
your participation in any sort of cultural undertaking will also always involve to some extent your humiliation:
I noticed though the rules of conduct that are expected. Be foremost good looking, don't speak, or if: never too loud, and never ever of something controversial. don't disagree. don't adore any other gods than them. don't mention things they don't know. display an inch (or two) of boob (the only jobqualifications that matter). you will not be listened to if you don't obey the beauty regime. you will perhaps be listened to if you do. but only if they are in a good mood. beauty is always more important than what you think. it's ok to be hurt by some man, that's even good for then the others can show that they are not so bad. it's not good to be hurt a lot more and even to talk about it. this is not done. accept that anyone that barely can spell his name will be taken more serious than you and be praised as the voice of his generation, the most talented person ever. accept that you don't get credits for your work. accept your annihilation with good grace.
It was wrong in some way to try and show the things you were looking at. Keep quiet about them. Then somebody else expresses them; and those other people turned to you, and demanded your admiration -- and wondered why you were furious. It's too long to wait, until the things come up of themselves. You must attend to them.
dorothy richardson -- the tunnel p128
So I took my mind elsewhere.
[lesson 2: do not ever put the most of your energy, creativity anywhere where you get that amount of public flak.]
As I feel this hasn't much changed anyway. I'm not sure I've recovered from this set of rules or whether this shock of annihilation ever can be overcome. the additional observation: or expectation that i'll be listened to more when i get older. but then it even gets worse as the young and pretty will always be preferred. in a way it also gets easier. invisibility is a good form of protection: you can do what you want for no one notices anyway (except when you cross the line (they define where the line goes of course)).
age anyway: some time recently i got IDed for booze. someone told me my handwriting looks like that of someone 50 or 60 years old. people that know me from the internet tend to assume i am older than i actually am. people in real life think i am younger. generally i think older is better than younger, but a lot of people think the other way round. i like getting older.
you will not be listened to and also always have to anticipate being thrashed but out of that unwelcomeness at least there is a possibility to state your side of things, to put your view into the world. whatever then is not for me to say.
[everything in this blog, my own words, things i write myself always get a lot less views than quotes of other people.]
[a few days later i check my mail: conference organizer informs me of the rejection of my abstract due to their policy not to allow pseudonyms whatever understandable reasons i might have.]
where did i take my mind?
I can't say.
where did I take my mind: into some extreme form of introversion. the self reliant world. i paid a huge price of course. i am still paying it. i'm reading alone, underneath the blanket.
I took my mind somewhere where I needed no defenses. that's not somewhere that's accessible to anyone. some people call it the dissociative continuum. i don't call it anything.
i haven't been able to grow that socalled thick skin, i only mastered the art of annihilation myself. as if it hurts less when i do it. the appearance or better: pretense of control.
the words and you.
the writing and you.
i can't do abrupt. i need repetition. there is something calming in repetition (also: if i repeat to myself, talk to myself i at least hear myself in some way, there is a virtue of tautology), a security that has some opening to something new. i've only recently found calm again in writing. land's end and word's end? i can't actually do land's end and word's end.
i ask the better half why are you not beating me -- not because i miss it so much but because rather -- these days it surprises me more when people don't do horrid things than when they are. i know already the answer, and he tells me again why he doesn't find this an acceptable form of conduct. the actual question maybe was: not why are you not beating me but when will you do it. when will you find fault in me (as if they need a reason...) and use your strength/social and financial power against me. (when will the annihilation be complete?)
I say: I kill you probably when you do it or i kill myself. haven't decided yet.
He says: rather kill me than yourself should i ever do this.
I don't want to kill anyone i say…
random excessive fear memory
couple of years ago, in a bar, not drunk, idling away, not yet wanting to go home, some unknown drunk guy comes towards me, holds me and sticks his fleshy tongue in my mouth, kissing me. i push him away, escape to the loo where i spend the next half an hour vomiting and crying over an instant of maybe 3 seconds. people then think i've lost it and am drunk. i'll go home, he follows me, i scream to leave me alone, home, i bolt the door, plank underneath the door handle, switch the phone off and the bell too, no more intrusion from outside. i cry myself to sleep and don't leave the house for a few days. my mouth doesn't belong to me anymore, and the word for it all is: soiled. [purity is an action, not a body. or a thought. i only ever can think of purity as an action, as something that someone does, like grace, or mercy. compassion. those are not nouns. unknowns.]
the almost immediate accusation of my overreaction, it was just a kiss, you scared the guy off (the assumption that i am somehow in any way interested in him. there must be a love interest between the offender and the offended…and the usual immediate reversal kicks in: i was the wrongdoer in being hysterical. it was just a misunderstanding, you know…he actually likes you.)
those reactions do me in a bit more.
my right to definition says that this was horrid. everyone else says it was just a kiss.
to compile a list of those incidents (and consequences) is beyond me.
but it ought to be done.
not that it will change much anyway.
and still, a genuine question: why must you speak of those horrors.
the last time being beaten: ordinary. in the face. i fell down. like in the movies. i look for my glasses and bend them back into shape. unsure whether this was all or whether there will be more.
do you have to speak about this in order to bend your soul back into shape?
assimilation towards a more society-conform nature is impossible. you can only try to be yourself some more.
you'll have to allow people to reject you, they do it anyway, but they're cross with you for you make them feel guilty with all your horrible stories. i'm not forcing anyone i say. i'd rather you go instead of staying and resenting me at the same time. rather, leave me alone, i've got enough stuff to do anyway. your prejudices are a waste of my time.
the idea of physiological neutrality (androgyn!):
where selfhate and selfdefense become one: the idea just to get rid of all the womanbits alltogether to achieve physiological neutrality. tranny surgery, but without getting manbits attached. the rationale: no womanbits = no more getting hurt. of course one can still get hurt, but i wasn't thinking ahead that much at the time. then i abandoned that project and resorted to the burqa approach: the only sexismproof clothing item, no one can see how you look like: your right to visual privacy: who has a right to see your face, your body. why can't you determine that yourself? it gave me a feeling of security and shelteredness albeit a bit unpractical too. the longtime reader might remember that project.
i wear normal clothes now. my body is still complete.
non violent men (actual), and non violent men (so-called):
i had meant to write about this since a while. i find it hard to sort out my thoughts about this.
(so-called - we don't want to hear it):
- the indirectness argument: indirectness is better than direct description. intimacy by way of distance, so it goes. it's more noble, more, you know, more refined. therefore, if you don't display an appreciation of indirectness in word and manner, you'll be looked down upon as emotional pleb. everything is allowed, except saying directly what happened.
- the tone of voice argument: you.are.so.crude.
the ones that - some that say: why do you have to talk about it so much why do you have to say it so often, why all the details. i know i have heard it. i understand. i am not doing anything like that. why can't you leave it rest. you don't need to say anything anymore. why can't you allow the gentleness of not stirring it all the time. why can't you allow soothing silence. [why must you make everything so difficult? difficult for whom?]
i'm sorry i know.
why do you apologize.
why so defensive [his reasons: i dont' want to hear about it maybe i find out that i am complicit; her reasons: if i say more it will be used against me.]
to say, to be silent, for whose sake. why can't you cope with my truth.
- some that say: "the tortured look for their torturers." well let's just assume some innate masochism and we have all clean hands and can all lean back and have nothing to do with it. statement also signals failure to grasp the difference between victimhood and personhood. boring if it wasn't such a damaging prejudice.
- if it was really so horrid you would not be able to say anything they say. since you are talking, it wasn't horrid.
the loudness. shrill, did you want to say that? by naming the horror you become the horror and hence you have to be avoided.
you become an entity of "too much."
you don't know how to behave yourself in polite society.
ATTENTIONWHORE, you invent horrible stories, because you want sympathy. sensation, attention. oh yes. it's all so very attentive.
- often: the non violent men have a partner who suffered from violence. they lament their burden (to me, they talk, how much they suffer and maybe they do), having to make good what others destroyed. they long for what they call a positive woman, an unhurt one (are there unhurt ones), the unbroken, the lively. they take out their dissatisfaction with the situation on their women and not on those that caused the actual harm.
some that don't say anything. they just shoulder the burden. but why is it seen as a burden.
- those that want a reward for being a decent person for being something that should go without saying. but they want extra appraisal. which means they're doing you a favour and you got to pay: in being nice to them. or else. and that is the fine line were they are probably will become violent, from psychological violent to verbally violent and they'll never raise their hand against you, but they're not very nice anyway.
none of the above.
they seem to be a bit less easy to characterize than the above. a terra incognita. do they really exist, the non violent ones. this is only partly a rhetorical question.
those that treat you like a normal person maybe?
question: might it be those that understand that victimhood doesn't equal personhood, in theory and practice? (an ideal? an approximation to the ideal?)
answer: i accept that within the range of normal human fallibility.
ill/virus: abed & watching movies for distraction
Strajk -- about solidarnosc. not sure how much of it was romanticized but liked it
Pauline at the Beach (Eric Roehmer) -- boring & shallow
L'Annulaire -- after a story by yoko ogawa - story is awful but movie very nicely done, nicely filmed.
Poetry -- very moving. liked this best of all i saw.
The Da Vinci Code -- awful
Stephanie Daley -- awful too the way it sets up the elder woman with a difficult pregnancy against the socalled miscarrying childmurder teenage mom. good documentary value as in how spooky the religious indoctrination already has become, abstinence education, make no mistake: you'll go to jail for miscarrying. hawthorne's the scarlet letter is taught at school in this movie with the following conclusion by the teacher: of importance is only the relation between the male and god and the rest can be discarded.
Wanda (Barbara Loden) -- good. if only the people in the roehmer one had acted like that it'd been ten times better.
Turrin Horse -- gloom. can't get the melody out of my head. despite the bw beauty of it all i find it a bit repetitive with the bela tarr movies… i liked it, but not as much as his others.
Kes -- about a boy in yorkshire who tames a kestrel. was strong yorkshire dialect and couldn't understand much of it. but i liked the story.
hitchcock 39 steps -- can't remember, fell asleep.
tous les matins du monde -- liked it quite a bit
Archipelago -- dull apart from the scilly islands and the things the artist said to the young lad, but even that is not particularly spectacular.
dorothy richardson. i don't really understand why she is not more widely read. i am at fault myself because it takes me so long to get through the pilgrimage, but then again, slowness is good. i had taken her books to cornwall last time as well and not managed to finish them. this time i won't either. maybe one day tracing all the places where she lived, during winter, in cornwall. now i read her again i realize how good it is and how underestimated.
p124 lost in admiration and a silent, mentally wordless opposition
p130 the excited gravity of her happiness
p131 Many English people thought foreign literature the best.
p136 Why must I always think of her in this place? … It is always worst just along here… Why do I always forget there's this piece… always be hurrying along seeing nothing and then, suddenly, Teetgen's Teas and this row of shops? I can't bear it. I don't know what it is. It is sending me mad. One day it will be worse. If it gets any worse I shall be mad. Just here. Certainly. Something is wearing out of me. I am meant to go mad. If not, I should not always be coming along this piece without knowing it, whichever street I take. Other people would know streets apart. I don't know where this bit is or how I get to it. I come every day because I am meant to go mad here. Something that knows brings me here and is making me go mad because I am myself and nothing changes that.
(from the tunnel)
Land's End again [Longships]
3 February 1937
Remember: A Sequence, out of this afternoon on the cliffs. Stuff of a poem, later with luck; stuff of what? Something I believe very enduring.
The last month also, in this midwinter, time & spirit, I've made a practice of walking directly after lunch from the House to the 'Viking's Grave.' At the base of the next headland to the Ped-men-Dhu, on the left of the Irish Lady, a tumulus & a grove, thrown open, its stones thrones back; partly overgrown, but with the shaped headstone very clearly in place.
From these you can see all that there is to be seen, from Cape Cornwall to the Longships.
Today - I always enjoy that walk - the sequence was as follows, its total synthesis, effect -- there is no noun quite for it -- impossible to describe & hard even to indicate. Say in all, that I had tapped something. Something sui generis or unique, wholly external, strange, wholly delightful, strong, that drove me back, my walk half over, from the Old Coastguard Cottages [a few minutes' walk from Tebel Vos], to retrace my walk, step by step, almost as if under orders. Order I doubt if I followed properly & I certainly did not understand.
Full of a fine new life & vitality & pleasure; sure too of a unique experience, however fast it was vanishing from conscious perception. How I long to keep it. It flirts with me on its way off.
The sequence that caused, evoked it --
The silver bars & flashes out to sea; vast dead white waves hurling themselves on the Longships tower. The lighthouse, arduous, black & menacing through foam & mist. On my right, on the look out, the black storm - cone swinging, menacing, sinister. The running water that had run with me, all down the turf path from the top of the moor to the barrow, crystal with small light plants under it. A clot of foam blown in on the grass at my feet; the empty grave, a wave breaking on the shore behind the Irish Lady, the strong hurrying air, violent to danger on the cliff-edge.
Mary Butts -- Journal