|ENTRIES 1991||by David Eide||.|
Another excerpt from the 1991 Journal. The political was central because it was during the Gulf War and any war rivets the attention of the citizen. No war is good but Bush Sr. proved to be adept at pulling a coalition together and there was little protest at the action. The presidential campaign of 1992 was under way. I remember watching C-Span and they showed Bill Clinton talking to a lady's group somewhere. Within a minute I pointed to the TV and said, "that's the next President of the US." So, he and Hillary entered the scene. I was working as a contributing editor for a energy magazine at that time. I wrote about ocean thermal energy, wind power, government efforts to support renewables and so on. The audience was made up of engineers, managers, and those involved in the energy industry. Journals were one way to keep on the literary path, the writing life as I put it. That was a life woven between obligations of one sort of another and the journals kept me on the beam. One central belief of that writing life was encapsulated in the phrase, "self-rule." I had seen the end of liberal democracy or its potential and it stiffened my attention on what a liberal democracy may or may not be. What sort of individual should emerge out of an ideal state of liberal democracy? I asked that sort of question. I did that in lieu of writing novels and always regretted it but these things happen. The journals between 1984 and 1990 were extensive but then in the early 90's slimmed down quite a bit. Plus, I've edited the ones I've posted so as not to embarrass myself or others.
Any stories etc centered around politics would involve this one theme-- the collapse of authority, the devolution of problems to the individual and the strange results which end an era. This is certainly a problem- on a personal basis- that is, in my youth I had the heroic urge. I believed, as I still do, that the creative urge is the most heroic. But you discover after a time that the creative urge is not enough in itself. It must constantly build on hard work and this hard work chips away at the heroic spirit, brings it down to the common level. How does it get back to the heroic level once again? The difference between the 75-83/84-90 periods. And I think a legitimate theme that should be pursued since it represents an authentic tension in this period.
The academic area was once an object of veneration but has slipped considerably in my esteem the past 20 years. On the one hand it is a puppy for corporate and govt. interests and wealthy alumni who demand and pay for excellent football programs and, on the other, ideologues in the various depts. who have some agenda poisonous to the pursuit of truth. Ideologues of the left and right are the scourges of the Earth. So, the university, in my eyes, has lost credibility and are not the venerable, trustworthy institutions one thought in a more innocent youth. Well, let us put it this way. The university stands as an object of satire and scorn. You could run down each institution (without getting too ridiculous about it) corporations; federal govt; state govt; church; university; family. I have had various relations with these things through the years. There are positive and negatives to each. These are only curious relations in conjunction with finding the moral character of the time. And then parked outside the institutions is "society." Curiosity as a protection against enclosure. You allow politics to enter your activity at the risk of driving the Muse out- always, without exception. In fact, development is delayed in the culture since we are citizens in a free, democratic society that demands our relation and/or participation. And, as this occurs, the muse sleeps. The muse sleeps until the role of citizen has been resolved.
Freedom to enter the spiritual center of the culture! Then one possesses a thing of wonder and can conquer worlds, explore them and take on any contingency.
The battle once fierce, lay quiet as the fallen Oak peaceful but in the memory of those who carry the smell of conflict with them forever. it empties from my spirit and is carried to an eternal grove where old conversations can be heard; the piercing thrust, the cry of anguish, the clouds of passion around the iron heads determining power on the field of battle. "They were going to ransack the treasure hoard and make us poor. They stripped us naked and made us march in front of the gawking women and showed us the desiccated heads of those they had conquered." "And I have left my wife and child for this?" The encirclement is as wide as the lines of force around the Earth
The post '75 period of things (personally) has been a struggle against and with the great energies of the 60's, esp. to '83. Since '83 something else has emerged. The political situation disintegrated through the 70's and has not really recovered. The questions and critiques all started to appear the same and so were ignored. The space adventure and the mind being led up and out of the force of gravity to the vastness of the mysterious universe. Computer development as a spin off and, in its own way, another universe unto itself. "Age of information" which creases the ability of the self or enhances the individual, apparently. What is the significance of information? What are the best forms of communication?
The deadly consequences of human habit accelerated and amplified as it is at this time. The troubling situation of relations; family, sexual, racial, class and so forth. The optimistic, cheery attitude I carried from pre-75 to post-75 was that of being able to solve all or most conflicts since they seemed rather vain and stupid next to that which enlarges and ennobles life. That was compelled, as well, by the breakdown of the political consensus and faith in the institutions to solve the problems. And then the terrible oppression put on the individual to take these burdens on (tape #114 worth listening to)
A pattern along these lines: disjunction with the past/confrontation with the complexity and problems of the present. The three major problems relate to the future and the ability to transmit the "good." The terrible pressure of the confrontations. The other side of the equation being, "that which feeds the spirit"- religion, thought, art and so forth. That was the crux of youth- the 75-83 period. Plus, certainly, the other confusions. The inhuman through this period! The terrors of things seen!
Going through a decent bookstore, better than average with a generous sampling of all subjects with excellent literary magazines and newspapers from cities and countries, after a cursory going through these only a few or precious few writer worth going back to: Buckminster Fuller, most of Nietzsche, Adorno, various poets, Wendell Berry-- there are others without question. What is a novel? What is a good novel? What in the world is the reason for the novel? The question, as always, is to figure out for oneself if one is better equipped to produce literary work or thought. You can do both but not at the same time. Poetic thoughts-- but, not analytic thoughts but the attempt to comprehend things and articulate the comprehension. Stories: the freeing of the imagination from the construct of daily life--characters who emerge and play away--characters who are always there. That is what the concentration must be on. Go to the sources you trust; Borges, Kafka, Calvino among others. You don't need to stop thinking or to throw out the very best in thought but--- it is a matter of what you are going to produce. What are you going to produce?
The Vietnam Era ends. That 20 years period of doubt, demoralization, disillusionment, cynicism, irrationality, stupidity and the rest come to a close. Those qualities do not end, they are eternal, but now they will not dominate. The US, through its period of doubt, could not do anything creative in relation to domestic affairs-- you can't do anything in as divisive an atmosphere as existed in the past 20 years. The personality must take on some of the tension which it, itself, has not created. But the creative self holds fast to its hard-won identity which has little or no relation to the specifics of any time. The protests and concerns of youth leave one as a bee from a withered flower. You must gird yourself and commit yourself for at least 25 years of work. No waste but plans. Take care of necessitates. Dedication. Support. Continually try to understand the rhythms of youth- up to that time at any rate. You had to fight and fend off, break away from the world view of your father -- in a loving way--- in a way that comes to accept his view of the world.
Exploration and articulation. Capture the echo as it resounds back to you--- that is the poetry. Well, the tapes and the notebooks. The prose fiction has been my greatest disappointment. Understanding throughout the period between 75-90 entails various things. Certainly, the need to know how to know and how to know one's ignorance and so forth. The unique moment of time which comes through the complexity and condition of things today. The scientific principle; the structure of things; light and gravity; specter of open universe. The structure of human institutions- analytic and intuitive: political, economic, social, -- The structure of experience--beauty and meaning embodied in self-expression. Technology and the extensions it allow. The individual stripped of everything but natural attributes ie. personal development. Experience of the common life in the common society.
The "radical" critique as I was exposed to it in youth, now flags uselessly without interest; is laborious and depends on failure to capture adherents. If there is vision from better sources than itself, it seeks to destroy the sources of its vision. In the circle of the radical there is no breathing; there is no life, only the dead brain electrifying itself back to life. The sensibilities of the radical are overwhelmed by the necessity to think and compromise in the world. Everything which the radical judges as anathema is the radical him or herself.
From truth's point of view the radical is not an enemy, simply an individual who has not grown, has not matured and ripened and demands that the world do the same thing. But, from the position of radical, all other radicals are enemies. The message of the radical dies in the sardonic laughter of falling youth. A split most certainly does occur. On one side of the split is potential, aspiration and all of this and on the other side the destruction of these things. You must cultivate the one and protect yourself from the other in whatever guise it comes in.
The writing, in all its forms, has always been the focal point. Then there is life away from the writing which I just cut away from myself. I did have common interests with both my parents; art, social concerns etc with my mother and events of the world, economics, sports and so on with my father.
Well, there is one thing without question; you are here, not there. And that there is no time but the present. And that youth struggles out of some imposition it only glimpses at, to a place where the mind thinks clearly and when the will is engaged with what it perceives it can do the best. From 1975 to the present, you have done what is marked down on paper and little else. You must trust that as a reality and take things to the next level without thinking, necessarily, about where you should be. One thing, without question, I had a desire to conserve things on this one level and on the other hand, engage all energy at all points, through all time. Cultural confusion plays a part without question. The novel, if not the whole of literature, seemed strangled now when I began to develop. So, things took that edge. Identity was another problem compounded by the various rolls one assumes through time.
A central dilemma has been that of the demands of sensibility vs. practical demands; a difficult situation because of the way the culture is structured; difficult because of the built-in guilt over "time stolen' etc. It's a theme worth developing. I had a strong dream last night about my father and ex-wife and myself. At some point in the dream, I broke down in tears and say, "don't they realize how much I have done for them? How much I have sacrificed for them?' The emotions were overwhelming, purgative as a matter of fact. Another strong feeling; you cannot wait to be asked or prodded or encouraged or any of this. Always but always seize the initiative. In my personal life I have feared being pulled from the familiar. That the 75-83 period established themes; cultural themes and themes of the individual who is "up against it."
You have to watch taking on too large perceptions, too large ideas, too much material and, in the process, lose the need for the mind to fill itself with what it knows, turning what it knows over and over as an object of beauty and, all the same, opening to what it does not know. I had strong feelings last night about how obstructionist my father had been in relation to my deepest aspirations. I am sure that this is a subjective, purely psychological feelings built into the male. I think that my father is basically good. He felt some bit of jealousy among other strange, shadowy things. The life you have lived, its tangential contacts, etc need some loving embrace or some studied meaning out of it-- all of this is necessary. If art, thought, literature has been at the center of the existence then you must plunge yourself down into the heart of these things. You must take the good from your father and leave the rest for bad memory; forgive, forget and push on. Much of this year has been involved with the relation to the father; the father in decline but regardless. A different father than the one in youth.
If power rules over justice there is dysfunction. If manipulation rules over development, then there is dysfunction. There is no such thing as the complete, self-contained individual. It exists in imagination from time to time, as a myth, and no doubt motivated by complications of family, community, tribe, state and the rest of it. There is always, without question, conflict between the growing individual and the institutions arranged against him. So, in the initial stages you have a family or institution with the worst and most emaciated image put on development to cripple it and keep it from finding its good. So much, of a mythological nature, can be discovered in the family problem. I do understand this about the nature of my own family and its influence on myself. It has a kind of buoyant confidence- an esprit and an energy. Some of this is directed into private pursuits and the solution to problems in these pursuits and other of it was directed toward the "problems of the world,' et al. The nature of the buoyant confidence was to produce success, independence and so forth rather than doubt, anxiety and the rest of the evils which occur when the buoyant self-confident personality takes on large problems or contemplates on the nature of things for any length of time. The family has always been divided between the practicality of the male and the dreaminess of the female in it. Little wars have broken out in it. There is a happy dumbness to it. I do know this. That the family is not a happy environment, and it is not one that nurtures that which you desire to do. It tries to pull down, degrade and otherwise block ones way out to one's truest path.
I had an impressive and pleasant dream last night. There was preliminary material that gave me the impression that a terrible thing had occurred to destroy a good deal of mankind. I found myself going up these steep mountains--it was a foreboding mountain that extended high over every other object--it reminded me of the Rockies. At the top I rested and exalted at the view I had. Great mountain ridges surrounded me and down below was a huge crystal blue lake. I kept telling myself, "I can't believe I am here!" I also mused on the fact that I was solitary. That I was perhaps the last human being on the earth. At that moment I saw a wild animal descend on me and then another and another. I realized I was in danger and ran down the mountainside to the lake where a small raft was beached. I jumped on the raft and began to paddle down; everything was cold and majestic. The scenery reminded me of Norway or Switzerland. the lake emptied into a stream and I went down the stream until I came across a cabin. I went into the cabin and it appeared deserted to me so, in relief, I prepared to stay in the cabin. However, a woman appears, an older woman. I tell her I will work for my meal which she agrees with. A man appears and we go outside to do some work. I was thinking about Marisa. I was thinking that I would see her very shortly and expected her to emerge from the woods. Then I woke up.
At this stage of things in order to go forward, you need to do things for yourself. I did go through a stage when I felt the highest ideal was to do what one could for the other person; not in a pathetic sense. Regardless, it is the result of the general revolt against the culture. This was also a result of trying to be a better citizen by concentrating on the values of community, the democratic spirit and so forth rather than pure, strict individual goals isolated from the actual stream of life. I think all of this is still very important, but it is nothing without personal achievement.
These are the questions you must address every day until they are resolved. Certainly, the scientific prejudice which has swept up and down the culture is an aspect of it, characteristic in the institutions and general personality. Generally, it is a good but is is bad for what it attempts to accrue to itself. It is bad for what it ignores, and this ignorance creates the most empty of values and characters. To allow the scientific principle to leak out of the laboratory was a terrible mistake for culture but regardless. It is good to be skeptical. It is good to question authority, including the authority of science. The question that needs to be addressed is this, "what has science brought to the earth and what will it brings into the future?" Well, it is grist for the mill for the literary imagination. All products of the culture are grist for the poetic imagination. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of grist!
The delight in seeing the influences of youth! An oppression, an oppression for sure. They leave one like devils who have thought they were going to camp for a thousand years.
The University is as far away from my affections as at any other time. It smells of corruption through and through. It is not attracting vitality; it is not attracting the largeness that you need in this sort of setting. Puny ideologists is what the University contains and it is bankrupt through and through. Perhaps a subject for satire. And too, when we look back to the University, we see our own college days and how we were manipulated. And what stupid influences cling to our brains like little monkeys on the neck. The corporation has a good deal more vitality since they have had to become flexible in relation to the competition of the real world. The University becomes a safe womb for people fearful of the outside world. Fearful, finally, of the impressions and in a quandary as to what to do with them.
Strong intimations of the period between 1980 through 1983 carrying a good deal of 1984 and 1985 with it. The era of the madwomen is how I would characterize it. Mad women and their designs/the suffering of mad women.
I think I had, when younger, a romantic sense about the mad that gave them credibility. I saw madness as the 13th muse in my mid-20's. Then, the whole thing became absurd, even dangerous, so I outgrew that but as I did, I ran into instances of the craziness. Some profound instances in this period. Nonetheless, there were some windows there; there was something ancient about it. It is something that I have distance from so can look at more objectively. I think you could dramatize some of the things there. Personally, you have to save yourself from them but artistically you do not judge at all.
So the female emotions were setting the environment. Those emotions were discontented, suffering, cut-loose from what I was familiar with. Imagination to the nth degree. You could only recover through the 1984- present where the male ruled; the conservation of energy, freedom of development of personality. The sense of direction which comes when the male view of reality predominates. You need a sense of humor for some of the things you traverse.
The thing which you have always had to avoid and fight off are the projections. The projections of other people, family and/or no, who are taking what they can from themselves and plunging it into you so that you can take their burden. It is utterly crucial that you identify all of that in yourself and in your development. Very painful but necessary to do. Mother projections-father projections-sibling projections-peer projections- children projection and all of the way, up and down. Racial, sexual, class, religious projection. Projections of anger. Projection from the social media. Be agile in relation to these things. Get some lightness and humor into the poetry effort. How can you direct the effort to specific themes? The people of the universe, produced out of the forms, forces of the time; the time that you have understood somewhat. The people emerge out of these things. The story emerges out of artistry. Everything you have written can be extended downward and toward the horizon, esp. those notes that refer to some actual experience. Casually meditate on the form that was forced on you by the generation; that is, cut off by the unprecedented nature of the present world; pressured by the threats that seemed beyond the scope of individuals, groups, govts. and so forth. Therefore, the hunt for the spectacular solution or transformation which would solve the terrible problems. I think that is a key. It produces a tremendous limitation unless it can expand outside of its parochialism and taken in thousands of years of human experience. So, these produce themes, stories, and characters, etc. You can't really escape the conditioning of the northern California region and the figures which move in it, through it and so forth.
Looking back I would say politicization is a key word. The politicization took off in the 60's and ran throughout the 70's and finally emptied itself out in the 80's. In one sense how can you escape 'politicization' in a political democracy, when the citizens are, putatively, the 'boss'? But, at the same time when does the politicization cross a threshold and become pathetic? Politics of sex, race, religion, class, all these play throughout this period. Most of it long on generalization and short on specifics. Most of it a form of disguised hatred and degraded thought. Most of it unable to come to terms with reality. Politicization eventually results in paralysis and stupidity. Those unable to pursue nourishing and fulfilling goals usually go into highly political camps. Politicization means the destruction of skill and inspiration. Politicization is not the search for truth; it is either wanting power or holding onto power.
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