… for me, starting today,
just sit to blog a bit each day
with no idea what i’ll say”
easy to say, yet the confidence came only after i realized i have a back-up:
the idea that came before that thought, the blog piece I thought I’d do today:
SUW (Selections from Unpublished Writings) 1: Folio (foolscap-size notebook) 1, 1976, pp. 2–4
& that’s what i’ll start with. First scan the epigraphs on p. 2 (p. 1 is blank)
1976 Folio 1 p. 2 (click to enlarge)
… but such a felyship of good knyghtes
shall never be togydirs in so company…
And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant
to read in; but for to give faith and believe all is
true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty.
But all is written for our doctrine, that we fall
not to vice ne sin, but to exercise and follow virtue…
… but thou art but a fool to take thought,
for it will not amend thee…
me repenteth … that ever I came within this country, but I
may not turn now again for shame, and what adventure shall
fall to me, be it life or death, I will take the adventure
that shall come to me.
I didn’t remember where these quotes were from, or why I’d chosen to use them as epigraphs. For a moment I thought the first one might have been form Chaucer. Then I googled. Turned out it was from Le Morte d’Arthur
by Sir Thomas Malory, first published in 1485 by William Caxton
, & the second one turned out to be from Caxton’s Preface, & the third & fourth also from other parts of Malory’s book, which I must have been reading at the time, maybe wondering if I might want to use it in one of my university literature classes, or maybe just because it interested me at the time. I can’t make out right now what this selection says about the state I was in when I started this new folio after a period of little or occasional scattered writing. I may have thought of the “good knyghtes” of the first epigraph as metaphors for the writings that would accumulate in the folio; I can understand how I liked the first three lines of the Caxton quote, but don’t know why I copied the next two, unless as irony; the third may have made sense to me when contrasted with actual doing, while the fourth, well, maybe I identified somehow with the stoicism it expresses. I don’t think I related consciously to the contexts of each passage from Malory (which I’ve rediscovered by googling), & can’t see today how Arthur’s thoughts about Guinevere
, or Merlin’s reasons for saying what he says to Arthur
, or Balin’s situation in which he voices these feelings
relate to who I was then & what I was feeling. I may learn more from the facing page:
I stopped, feeling how weak it was, and, with so much effort needed to keep going, what was the point. So many other things need doing. they too decisions once made and not completed.
But stopping’s no good either. Call it circles, spinning or vicious, cycles or spirals, it doesn’t matter – now no matter child the name, a Burgess could make it funny at leat, but this is what there is. And Teacher’s whiskey – no shit.
I don’t have a single goal, that’s my trouble. Too skeptical. Or a single trouble. But to do at least one thing well, like the circus people. I read poetry passing well. And other things. But that changes very little in my circumstances, or anywhere else. A grown man reading the exploits of the knights of the Round Table, or the Fatah. And you can’t get away, or into something else, because that’s always too minor or minute or something.
Once, during one period of my life, everything […] not only fitted together, but, I believed, was moving things forward the way they had to be moved. And much more so than when I’d been in the youth movement and the kibbutz. For then, on the one hand there’d been some skepticism at least, some doubt and reasoning, especially after the 20th Congress – and, on the other hand, sacrrifices: things you didn’t do or shouldn’t ot mustn’t do, and things one just didn’t have time for. But this period was different: I did everything I wanted when I wanted, and in doing so felt the world being changed. It may not have been the sanest period of my life, but it felt – the rightest…
[…] write about it now? […] Like: it’s no good keeping cards in your hand, you can get caught with them – the way I did this afternoon playing rummy with N and J. I could have put down three color cards on their builds, and I didn’t, thinking I’d finish quicker if I kept them.
But I’d have to change the names. It’s not that I’m afraid of libel suits: it’s that I don’t thin it’s fair to expose the lives of others, or of what I know of others, to public view. If i’m willing to expose mysekf, that’s something else. And not just names – beause then I still won’t be free enough to say what I know, it’ll be too easy foor some people at least to convert the names back again. And since what I’d be writing would be based on my limited knowledge, distortions would be inevitable, meaking it even less fair. Here, then, is a motive for fiction.
What will I call the place? …] And how? A number of ways, as Durrell did in the Alexandria Quartet? Why? They must grow out of the conception.
Play the cards you have.
I didn’t. Without looking through the rest of this folio, or the others, I know I didn’t. I’ve never written a truly fictional story, let alone a novel. I just don’t have that kind of imagination. Beneath that writing, which was in pen, are lines of verse, in pencil:
Rain on the pane, drops
like plummeting me-
teors, like longtailed tad-
downward plunging to ex-
tinction, listen to the fall-
ing rain, sings felici-
ano on the voice
of peace, the fyrside
warms the room with the desk
piled with students’ ex-
plications of my love
is like to ice and I
to fire, thunder under
my thoughts, over my head,
the cat’s mewing to go
outside and not going
when I open the door
many songs later, music
instead of news of wars
as receiver, O, of all,
I complain of nothing
and comprehend less.
I know I can’t take the
framed pane and hang it
in a gallery with the roundhead
longtails squiggling past each
other down to nothing and only
other drops on their path.
So that was the adventure that came that day, about 38 years ago, to 40-year-old me, in our apartment facing Napoleon Hill in Ramat Gan, in NYC terms the western borough of Greater Tel Aviv.
& this is the adventure that came to me today, in our home on this hillock in a valley west-south-west of Mullumbimby in north-eastern New South Wales, after a day and a half of almost ceaseless rain, welcome after a long dry, but it has stopped for some hours now…