as difficult to attain as a pair of wings and a halo

9/13/42. The most spiritual and “beautiful” literature has already been written—in the Bible, in the Greek dramas, in their philosophies. What we have to attain is at best the material representation, a poor substitute for the eternities we cannot logically hope to emulate. Spirituality in our day is as difficult to attain as a pair of wings and a halo.

 Patricia Highsmith, “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.″ Anna von Planta (Editor). (Liveright, November 16, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. December 20, 2021. 22° F, feels like 16° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

As I sit alone with these words, I think about how brave he was in so many ways, and how brave he was to go into that studio every day with his demons and his angels, and labor to put them on canvas. Nulla dia sine linea, No day without a line, is the motto at the Art Students League, from Pliny the Elder, derived from the Greek painter Apelles. The devotions.

— Elizabeth Alexander, “The Light of the World: A Memoir.


Elizabeth Alexander was married to Ficre Ghebreyesus from 1997 until he died unexpectedly in 2012 days after his 50th birthday. Her memoir, “The Light of the World” is a story of her loss and her love.  The painting above was Ficre Ghebreyesus’ Middle Passage Figures with Solitary Boats (c. 2002–2007) (detail). Acrylic on canvas. 24 x 30 inches; 26.5 x 32.5 x 2 inches.

Walking. Swallowed up by Stegner…

172 mornings.

Today, 5:50 a.m., that’s 173.

Home to Cove Island Park, and back. Five mile loop.

Wallace Stegner (via Audible) has been keeping me company. The Spectactor Bird. Angle of Repose. Crossing to Safety. Remembering Laughter. All the Little Live Things.

And now, Stegner’s Recapitulation.

“Remembered habit created remembered reality. His needle ran in a groove.” (WS-R)

173 consecutive mornings. ~1,700,000 steps. I’d say that’s a groove.

As my feet pat the shoulder of the road, helicopters come whirling down from the red maples, illuminated against the street lamps. My mind lets go of the narration, I stop, and I watch, in silence. A warm gust of wind sends another troop of helicopters whirring down on me. Raining helicopters!

“That intense obsessed involvement, and then absence, silence.” (WS-R)

And then back to Stegner…and Recapitulation.

“Listen to those cottonwoods talking..Doesn’t that sound tell you, as much as any single signal in your life, who you are? Doesn’t it smell of sage and rabbit brush and shad scale? Doesn’t it have the feel of wet red ditch-bank sand in it, and the stir of a thunderstorm coming up over one of the little Mormon towns down in the plateaus? Just now, for a half second, it drowned me in associations and sensations. It brought back whole two people I used to love. When cottonwoods have been rattling at you all through your childhood, they mean home. I could have spent fifty years listening to the shamal thresh the palms in the date gardens of Hofuf, and never felt anything but out of place. But one puff of wind through those trees in the gully is enough to tell me, not that I have come home, but that I never left. Having let it surge through his head like the wind through the branches, he takes it back.” (WS-R)

And then, the aha moment.

My mind swimming in Stegner’s words for weeks.

Why so uninspired to write DK?

Try to follow behind that!

Forgettaboutit.


Notes:

  • WS-R = Wallace Stegner, Recapitulation (Penguin Books, November 1, 1997)
  • Photo: DK, Weed Ave, Stamford, CT. October 24, 2020. 6:26 am. 61° F.  Wind gusts: up to 13 mph.

All My Friends

This book is dedicated to the voices in my head, the most remarkable of my friends.

And to my wife, who lives with us.

Fredrik Backman, the opening dedication to his new book titled “Anxious People: A Novel” (Atria Books, September 8, 2020)


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The first moment I wrote in my notebook again, I wrote of that fleeting feeling in the morning, of possibility.

That’s what I want Drifts to be, my desire and longing for it.

Kate Zambreno, Drifts: A Novel (Penguin, May 19, 2020)


Portrait of Kate Zambreno by Nikola Tamindzic

Morning Walk (90 sec)


Written by Harry Stead, Why Long Walks Will Change Your Life (Human Parts @ Medium.com)

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Epiphanies aren’t lightning bolts. They are a hummed note, a prayer mumbled constantly, brought to the surface given the right conditions. It’s as if I am always hearing three ways, first shallowly, collecting, then one level deeper as I’m processing, and finally, I am hearing with my body, which is when I’m hearing myself. That’s one way, for me, information combines with experience and becomes knowledge. I wish there were a shortcut.

Stephanie Danler, Stray: A Memoir (Knopf, May 19, 2020)


Notes: New York Times Book Review on “Stray: A Memoir” – “In ‘Stray,’ Stephanie Danler Asks How a Victim Becomes a Perpetrator

Hi Ho, Hi Ho. Off to Work We Go.

May you hear in your own stories
the moan of wind around the corners
of half-forgotten houses
and the silence in rooms you remember…

May you study your craft as you would study
a new friend or a long time, much loved lover.
And all the while, lost though you may be in the forest,
drop your own words on the path like pebbles
and write your way home.

– Pat Schneider, from “Blessing for a Writer” in “How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice” 


Source: Thank you Whiskey River. Photo: Anka Zhuravleva.  Inspired: “This is what poetry is: not a kind of public posturing but a private language of music and imagery that is strange and compelling enough that it can speak privately to thousands of people at the same time.” ~ Ilya Kaminsky, from “Still Dancing: An Interview With Ilya Kaminsky” by Garth Greenwell, March/April 2019 (Feb 13, 2019)

Go on.

Thirty years ago, I was remembering, an eminent writer had given me some unsolicited advice.

Just look at an orange, she said.

Go on looking at it. For hours.

Then put down what you see.

– C. P. Snow, Strangers and Brothers: Last Things


Photo: anka zhuravleva

get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells

What time of day do you write?

There’s an Irish song written by Brendan Behan that goes: In the early mornin’ /  the screws were bawling /  get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells. Well, that’s how I feel in the early morning: Get up, ya bowsie. I want to get up before the small mundanities and the stupidities and the prison guards of the Internet. Clean out my cell. Or my cells. Get the words down on paper. A perfect day for me begins in the dark before anyone else has woken, say 4:30 or 5 am. Two hours or so of this. In the quiet. And then, when the house begins to stir, the rest of my life will too. But for a small parcel of early morning hours, I feel entirely free. And then I go out and walk the dog.

~ Colum McCann, from “Colum McCann on Ulysses, Mary Lavin, and Drinking with John Berger” (Literary Hub, February 25, 2020)


Notes: Thank you Sawsan for sharing.

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