Last night, editing late at King Dusko, I was trying to think of images to convey what happens between ink on the page and the magic in the mind.
I was editing a section with Ada and Patrick:
"She loved her father’s library. It had been packed and unpacked in several different incarnations around the country, and she saw it now with Patrick’s eyes. Tall ceilings, an entire wall nearly taken up with leaded glass windows. The room was scattered over with midcentury chairs and tables. An antique rug she’d crawled over as a baby slanted across its gleaming floorboards, and sway-bellied bookshelves framed the big chesterfield spanning the far wall. There was even a fireplace. She liked to lie facing the window when she read, with tides of light flowing over her in from through the trees. The room was an aquarium of dreams."
See, I still couldn't quite catch it, that bloom that happens when you read. I settled for setting.
So I've been a bit fixated on that moment readers live for, when you're suddenly and completely transported into another world. Its a moment that exists outside time. That moment of deep communion between your mind and another's.
The mind is an alchemist.
Reading is a kind of controlled dream state. The younger sister of Memory, and of course Proust describes that particular alchemy best:
"And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And as in the game wherein the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little pieces of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch and twist and take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, solid and recognizable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea."
You see that bit excerpted again and again, yet it never fails to make me shiver all over with happiness.
Speaking of minds: Jack Gilbert. I've been in love with his for years. He passed in November of 2012, but I keep turning over new gems about him. This from a wonderful interview with Cerise Press:
"One of your distinctive poetic traits is the declarative statement, even when such statements may not be true, such as “Ghosts are by their nature drawn to/the willows” from the poem “Becoming Regardless.” How does this technique add to your poems?
It was so natural. I really never thought about it."
The declarative statement...
When I was in college, once I got to hear Philip Glass speak. It was a strange occasion. A small group, a tiny room. Somehow KU had been able to keep the event very quiet. I guess he must have wanted it that way- he opened up immediately, and was an extraordinarily generous speaker. Sitting at the table, telling us all about his youth, his ambitions.
He said that when he was young he felt that "there was no place at the table, artistically," for what he wanted to do. So it occurred to him he ought to build his own table.
That struck a chord with me I have carried ever since.
I like to think of myself as a scrappy thing, happy to go my own way even if (especially if) its harder. I've been making my own table for what seems like a awfully long time.
I have imaginary mentors sitting at it.
Jack Gilbert, and his statements. Vladimir Nabokov. Denis Johnson. I'll tell you the rest some other time.
For now, one last note on mind. This from Osho, on not having expectations, what he calls a 'closed mind':
"Do not allow your mind to create a pattern. Then your wife will be new every day, your husband will be new every day. But do not allow the mind to create a pattern of expectations, do not allow the mind to move in the future. Then your master will be every day new, your friend will be every day new. And everything is new in the world except the mind. Mind is the only thing which is old. It is always old."
"Love is always here; there is no future to it. That is why love is so near to meditation. That is why death is also so near to meditation- because death is also always here and now, it can never happen in the future. Can you die in the future? Or how can you die in the past? The past has gone, it is no more, so you cannot die in it. The future has not yet come, so how can you die in it?
Death always occurs in the present. Death, love, meditation- they all occur in the present. So if you are afraid of death, you cannot love.
If you are afraid of love, you cannot meditate. If you are afraid of meditation, your life will be useless. Useless not in the sense of any purpose, but useless in the sense that you will never be able to feel any bliss in it.
It will be futile.... [love, meditation, death] if you can enter in one, you can enter in the remaining two."
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)