Monday, June 7, 2010


Hi darling. Spectacular day today, cool, sunny and dry, with an ever so convenient shower in the afternoon so that I didn't have to water. Which was especially nice since I took advantage of a comfortable day to do housekeeping, mostly laundry and vacuuming.

Just looked up Arctic sunrise and sunset times. I can't even imagine. I used to work for someone who had spent a summer camping in Denmark. He said that his wife didn't have any problems but that he couldn't get used to the perpetual light. I myself like it pitch dark when I sleep, particularly as the sun comes up. I have chinks at the sides of my window shades and the bedroom faces northeast. Vampirically I feel the sun's rays on me before dawn, oh the horror, I bury my head in the bedcovers and curse the day I didn't measure for shades carefully enough. That quarter-inch on either side counts.

I hope someone on your team will be blogging or writing descriptive journal notes or something. Seriously. I would love to know the impressions. Might be boring and tedious and workaday for y'all (and obviously it's not your primary mission), but for this armchair traveler, it sounds like an occasion for lots of poetic description and absurdist narrative. Maybe you could get Ian McEwan to come along. McEwan wrote a book, On Chesil Beach I think is the title, plus a new one in which he either does or doesn't believe in climate change. I think him coming along to your beach would yield some interesting prose. I am in possession of two McEwan novels, Atonement, and Saturday. I'm going to rework the opening lines of Saturday.
Some minutes before dawn (which seemed to him mere minutes after sunset, oh groan no, not "seemed," no longer was he passed out on the sofa in his overleveraged seventies ranch in a fastgrowing suburb, with his wife snoring upstairs) he woke to find himself already in motion, pushing off the sleeping bag which contained a three-quarters full bottle of beaujolais, plus one of the fetching interns from a former Russian republic, Latvia, Denmark, maybe Russia itself - it seemed hardly to matter. In twilight (congratulating himself on what he remembered of his prep-school Benjamin Franklin) they are all the same, perhaps in need of better washing, but here (despite his purebred hygienic standards he was no hypocrite, and could hardly blame her if he himself suffered from similar lapses of recent contact with freezing water and a dubious bar of government-issue Ivory, when he, over time, credit cards maxed, had become accustomed to L'Occitane), encamped as they all were on this wretched beach. He rose to his feet, letting the sleeping bare lie. It's not clear to him when exactly he became conscious, nor does it seem relevant. Wait. No, it was relevant. Shit. That was the second bottle of beaujolais. That girl could put it away. He had calculated that if he paced himself in the extraordinarily disciplined yet wanton fashion he had spent a lifetime cultivating, thirty bottles (paid for drop by drop, with a fraction of a fraction of a penny from each taxpayer - beer was for suckers) for the summer would suffice. There were fifty-nine twilights to go, and they were down two already. He's done such a thing many times before, but now he's alarmed and surprised. Now the movement isn't so easy or pleasurable in his limbs. He glares down at the sleeping wench, aware of her serene breathing and of the wintry (but wait it was June) dusk air on his skin. There was a time when it might have been a pleasurable sensation. Now it wasn't. He had editors breathing down his neck. His watch shows three forty. He has no idea WTF he's doing out of the sleeping bag: he has no need to relive himself [copy ed. note: relieve], nor is he disturbed by a dream or some element of the day before, or even by the state of the world. Especially not the latter, good fucking lord, it was good to get away from that, although now he was a little skeptical about the mercury levels of fish offered to him by the fishermen who had set up amusement-park-style fried fish stands once they'd gotten wind of the short-term economic redevelopment funds that would bring the gringos (or whatever the word was north of the border). It's as if, standing there in the twilight (gloaming, predawn - what?), he's materialized not out of nothing, fully formed, unencumbered. Unencumbered my ass, he thought. I've got an ancient lover I have to page hit on every night to make sure my Family, Big Love style, is safe. Baby, don't you understand, I'm not Mormon, but I plan to spend the whole rest of eternity with you anyway, okay? He doesn't feel tired... yeah, that's his old self saying that. Heck yeah he feels tired, especially because of the hour on top of his recent labors. On the upside? His conscience is untroubled, certainly not by any recent case. Oh great, Ludmila's going to want some fresh-roast brew too, he realized.
Unadulterated McEwan (last lines of first paragraph of Saturday - man, that paragraph was longer than I anticipated...)
In fact, he's alert and empty-headed and inexplicably elated. With no decision made, no motivation at all, he begins to move... and experiences such ease and lightness in his tread that he suspects at once he's dreaming or sleep-walking. If it is the case, he'll be disappointed. Dreams don't interest him; that this should be real is a richer possibility. And he's entirely himself, he is certain of it, and he knows that sleep is behind him: to know the difference between it and waking, to know the boundaries, is the essence of sanity.
There's no way to "perfect" this piece. It's a mess. But that's how my mind works, especially when my it bores me silly to try to be "inductive" as both Emily Dickinson and Jane Jacobs were. As much as I like that idea.

My notes from the lecture on Saturday [the speakers on Jane Jacobs]

simple, plain, fun
mischievous, fun
fierce, unpredictable

her observations
(she reminds me of E.D.)
ruthlessly rigorous
but not

against artificial segregation of disciplines

she saw what really is
fundamentally curious
surprise, serendipity
not an idealogue
looked closely - to see how things happened

particular to general



glancing, sideways, aslant

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