My maternal grandmother, Ernestyna Hermelin (née Akst)

My grandmother, Ernestyna Hermelin (née Akst

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A Wonderful Woman: My Grandmother, Whose Wonderful Love I Knew in My First 3¼ Years

In my first 3¼ years I knew my grandmother’s love, and I know it has nourished & informed me through all my 78+ years so far. I have no sure memory of her, & for decades I hardly ever thought of her, until once on an ecstasy (already two decades ago) I felt I knew her love and how it sustains me. Later I looked again in the memoirs my mother wrote for me, read again how she loved me, and relearned more things about her. This portrait is the only photograph that I have of her. Sometimes when I crinkle my eyes and look at it I see her smiling happily, a smile I feel I know. Sometimes I also see my mother, myself, something in each of my three sons. Ernestyna Akst, who would become my mother’s mother, my maternal grandmother, was born in 1885 in Warsaw, and lived there until she was taken to a German concentration camp (I don’t know which, I don’t know when) and exterminated. I don’t know when this photo, which is also my only photo of any ancestor before my parents, was taken. It may be from those 3¼  years. She was the only grandparent I was close to. My father’s parents were older, and more distant. They too were exterminated by the Nazis, I don’t know how, or, where, or when.In  June 1936, when I was born, my grandmother lived alone in a small apartment. Click or hit here to continue reading this full “page”.


SOON THE MOON will come up, big and round, like last night, beautiful, from where the lights of the port of Akaba stretch in gleaming dotted lines towards the Saudi port whose name I don’t remember, to cast a growing sheen of beauty across the moving waters before me. I have felt closer intimacy with the moon. Lying under a eucalyptus tree on a hillside some thirty miles out of Melbourne some sixteen years ago, aged thirty‑two or so, about an hour after letting the small piece of blotting paper with the drop of LSD on it dissolve under my tongue, I saw its beams streaming directly at me, and opened my mouth to drink them in, and felt their power stirring in me, and female forms danced among the branches, inviting and inciting me to join the cosmic orgy. Until I tripped off in another direction, as now my mind does, not remaining fixed on any memory or thought, for the sound of the small waves rippling onto this stony beach, incessantly repeating yet never the same, brings me to think of other beaches, and of scenes between my many visits to so many beaches since the first time I came to a beach, a ten‑year‑old war refugee, at Repulse Bay in Hong Kong. Not only scenes come though, also thoughts: still I wonder at this inexplicable response to beauty, in sight and sound, and again I ask myself what this remembering is for, and why I have this desire still, or rather again, to share my memories and thoughts, to write at last the book or books I have wanted so many years to write, so many beginnings, so many designs, so many subjects, so many styles, things I apparently cannot communicate in conversation, nor really want to say to any one particular person though there are many people I know and probably many I don’t that I would like to write them to or for, though I could not with any certainty now tell you why. At certain times I would have said I knew why, in my prophetic phases when I believed that what I was writing was important, that it would surely change the world. And there were phases like that even before I started with the psychedelic drugs. So much to tell, so much to make sense of, if one can. All those pages at home, all those stages I’ve been through, and nothing achieved – if achievement is what counts, and if it is to be measured by products and income. The waves wash in, the waves wash out. The sea’s surface can be beautiful, and beautiful too is its feel when I swim in it, cool still in early May after the blazing heat of the sun at midday. Beautiful, yet deceptive, or treacherous: a few days ago Click or hit here to continue reading this full “page”.


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