Tuesday, March 1, 1983

Ought and isn't

I had a pretty disturbing dream that Nanna P. died and I was upset, doubly so because I hadn’t kept in touch . . . My subconscious reminds me to write. . . . It's a bit unsettling.

I got up at eleven and helped Pete carry old clothes down to the mini-market. He set up a stall and made about £15 by the end of the day. I bought another Coltrane album at the market (Live At Birdland, 1963); he's one of my favourites at the moment, even though Penny condemns his music as “vile” and Barry says it’s all a “big con.”

It was a sunny enticing day with hints of spring in the air. The woods and fields climbing away beyond Rousseau towards Gaunt’s Hill looked so promising I wanted to go for a walk.

I got a superb letter from Dad after quite a long silence: it had me in fits of laughter, especially his descriptions of a ridiculously inane conversation with Uncle George. In my last letter to Dad I said that, in a way, I envy Robert his Buddhist practice. He writes: “Rob travels a stony path just now, and while his Buddhism eases his doubts, he still ‘cries out in the wilderness’ and at times I feel desperately sorry for him.” Robert's hinting that he might shave his head: I just can’t imagine him bald, but it's a sign he's now getting very serious about it. He even missed Saturday’s home game against Arkthorpe to visit the Monastery in Cumbria.

Dad mentions his autobiographical saga has found vitality again after a bad patch. Things seem OK on the home front.

I read Moby Dick today: so far I've got through about fifty pages. A lazy and bored atmosphere has settled down on Wollstonecraft. Lindsey's in quite a lot of trouble with her tutors over the tutorials she’s missed and all the work she hasn’t done, and she showed me the two ominous-looking notes she’s received warning her not to miss another tutorial (“it will not be tolerable”) and requesting she meet with her personal tutor (“as a matter of urgency”). She’s worried.

There's so much to say here in these pages: about the things I mention in my letters, about thoughts triggered by words I’ve read, about word associations, lines and phrases. I should note them down, for my own future reference. So much ought to be and isn’t. . . .

I've been thinking more about history and its role in determining individual consciousness, actions, ideas etc., and I wonder if perhaps history determines the fates of some individual to a greater extent that with others. If Hitler hadn’t been born then the Weimar Republic would’ve spawned another tyrant, but is that the case with Helen Vaughan or Emily Dickinson? (Did Emily Dickinson get her "immortality because of an experience, her own experience"? not the ultimate product of a system")?

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