Tuesday, May 18, 2021

THE DEATH OF DENIS DONOGHUE: GRATIFIED ATTENTION

 



    


Already now, May 16, 2021, it seems so long ago that Denis Donoghue died on April 6, 2021

I first heard Denis Donoghue in 1964 when I attended his lectures on silence in Shakespeare while a student at University College, Dublin.  He began with that reply of Cordelia to her father that I need not repeat as anyone reading this will know that sentence... years later we became friends through little notes exchanged and then meals shared: costs carefully split to the penny. He became a not infrequent guest for dinner as it seemed he had time to come to our tiny apartment in the East Village of Manhattan as there were very few people, he said, at NYU who had an actual interest in poems and stories… 

My wife and children always enjoyed his company which in some way is a commentary on then and continuing politically argumentative academic reality.

We remember vividly the time DD described his giving up classical singing--- his arm slashing through the air--- "I gave it up, I could not subject my wife and future children to the uncertain life of a singer; so now, not even singing in the shower."

And of course another time when my son and Denis agreed that Latin prose was quite boring when compared to Latin poetry…. I myself never really got beyond Caesar.

I am sure more distinguished people will write of his   many critical books and the arguments he pursued and was pursued by though nothing dates more than such. 

    Denis Donoghue's true legacy is contained in Warrenpoint.  It is his own story of growing up in a policeman's barracks in Northern Ireland and of how he came to be a very good reader.  The following I would suggest is always the center of that reading: "It did not grieve me that I lacked inventiveness , could not make up a story or imagine a sequence of thought requiring rhyme.  All I wanted to do was to observe a relation between myself and structures I had not invented... Mine was the intelligence that comes after."   

Denis reiterated this once upon a time when he was asked to lecture at the St. Marks Poetry Project in the East Village of Manhattan on the future of poetry.  Someone in the audience asked him what poets should be writing about and in what form?

He declined to prescribe what a poet should write, "All of my work depends on what the poet created or will create."   

On a very personal note: probably the last thing Denis Donoghue wrote was an essay on the Henry James novel “The Sacred Fount” which I had been unable to make sense of even after having been goaded to attempt to read it by the Spanish writer, Julian Rios.  

When Denis was able, last year we talked on the phone and I asked him if he could explain how to read the novel or at least provide an approach to how to read, "After all you are the Henry James Professor" and we both laughed.

He begins his essay by quoting from a letter by Hugh Kenner to Guy Davenport which is from the collected letters of Kenner and Davenport which were edited by a friend of mine Edward Burns whose name I had included with mine---to share the embarrassment, really--- in the asking DD to explain "The Sacred Fount" as Burns also found the James novel impossible...

[Aside Denis reviewed---possibly is last published essay---,  this magnificent annotated collection of letters and over-looked the rather nasty comment on Denis by Hugh Kenner, a mark of the respect DD had for Kenner, I choose to believe]

I will accept and choose to believe that possibly these are near the last lines DD wrote and even if I am corrected, they invite a reader to read: "Reading one of James's later novels is like walking slowly through a gallery of modern art, paying gratified attention if possible to each painting. Many of the paintings distain to be asked what does it mean while issuing a strong invitation to pay attention. When I come to Chapter 8, I am not ready to be ravished, as I am when I read "Among School Children" and "Ash Wednesday," but after a few sentences, I give in."

Sadly, I never got the chance to talk more about this novel with Denis as I received a text message on April 7th from his daughter Emma, "Really sorry to tell you that Denis died in his sleep yesterday (having been unable to keep down much food these last months)."

I so wanted to "tease out" my continued difficulty with the novel, "The Sacred Fount"  and to remind him I  had first read that expression "to tease out" in a note--- in which he had replied to me then in Patchogue, New York back from my year at University College, Dublin--- about that sentence of Cordelia's... 


I have left out all the personal information and/or gossip one acquires in the knowing of a person for a long period of time... of these days I must probably start by retelling when Alastair Reid, the poet and translator, and a woman friend came along with Denis to our small apartment and my wife poured the Irish whiskey for Alastair  as if it was wine: the consequences while not fatal are after all comic... or as my Whitney mother would being say, sounds like you're gonna become an Irish washer-woman... 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

THE BULGARIAN PSYCHIATRIST (how it begins)

(of course I am aware that there is a rather famous story "The Bulgarian Poetess"  by John Updike but this short book is not a comment on it)


George said he came to America with only a suitcase stuffed with neckties.

Yes, stuffed with neckties, he said, but couldn’t begin to tell anyone how many ties were in the brown suitcase because both the number, three, seemed so insubstantial when it came to trying to see how three ties could fill up a suitcase and how could anyone who hadn’t come to America with only one suitcase stuffed with ties, begin to understand how a suitcase--- even a large brown fake leather suitcase from Bulgaria--- could be stuffed with three neckties, two of which  he never wore after he began to live in America, which is not to say he had ever worn those three neckties as he and his wife moved about the United States during the year and nine months before establishing themselves in Brooklyn, on the edge of Greenpoint, to be exact, a street over from McCarren Park--- though there was a moment before that when they lived at another address in Brooklyn, in a street given over to as a topical description might: light industry, in a building stuffed, George later said, with Bulgarians and you can imagine what that was like, I am sure, stuffed with Bulgarians but we are not talking of that time…

No, he wore only one of the three ties as it was hard to unpack a suitcase stuffed with three ties and he was not trying to be thought philosophical because he and his wife had flown TWA from Frankfurt, that most factual of German cities, where they had been in residence immediately before receiving the notification that their application for a visa to the United States of America had been approved after having lived--- for how many years had it been--- in Hamburg where George was an attending psychiatrist in a clinic where fresh-cut flowers were placed in each patient's room reminding visitors of the complex glimmer of a possible recovery or funeral.

And it was not that he had always ever worn those three neckties in Germany or even before in Bulgaria. He was sure of having worn one of the ties and it was that tie he was wearing as he arrived in the United States of America and which appears around his neck and under the collar of the white shirt in the photograph his wife took of him as he walked down the steps from the plane.

Later, he learned that both actions: the walking down the steps from the plane and the picture talking were very rare actions, events almost, it could be said.  Vera was standing on the runway, smelling the kerosene fuel he was sure, having paused, turning telling George STOP as he was about to continue his walking down the steps having been separated from Vera by a very large man and two women who had pushed their ways in front of George, who gave way as was his wont.

Never again in all the times they were to come back from journeys abroad did any of these now three actions re-occur:  the walking down the steps, the picture taking, the being separated by pushy large people.

There must have been some sort of renovation of the terminal going on and while they did not have to board a bus for a short ride to the ARRIVALS as they were familiar with in Sofia, George does not remember any obvious signs of construction but he was hardly looking out for it on this, his first arrival in The United States of America, wearing one of the three ties which he always said later filled up his suitcase.

Vera some time later must have had the snapshot enlarged into a framed 8x10 photograph.  It was installed on the wall just before the bathroom door next to a drawing by Christo of an aspect of his plan to wrap the Reichstag in Berlin.  One of the children had typed on faded slip of lined school notebook paper: DAD'S ARRIVAL and inserted it in front of the glass but behind the wood of the lower right corner of the frame,

The tie, at the moment of the picture being taken, was blown by the wind up to George's right in the form of an abstract representation of the letter J in the Latin alphabet.

Indeed, it was this same narrow woven wool black tie which he constantly wore all those months as they traveled about in the United States and to be scrupulous, something George did not advocate, as it only led to the dreariest of consequences, though he was not making any real argument for lying, if someone might jump on his claim.  There is however a difference between lying and being scrupulous and it might be supposed in some way he did not have three ties in his suitcase if he was wearing one of them both arriving and then while traveling in the country by train, plane, bus and rented, borrowed or private automobile.

George did not have an epiphany while traveling, as had Powys, in Houston.  George was not given to any sort of religious enthusiasm.  The very word epiphany frightened him because of its religious overtone and while he did not think very highly of the anti-religion campaigns by the communists in Bulgaria, there was still a residual materialist component to his life as a psychiatrist and now he did believe, if he could use that word, that there was really nothing much beyond the room in which he and his patient sat, right now, pretending of course all the while, there was something beyond the room, a dire necessity for many reasons:  his patients were so lacking in imagination!  If only they had imagination and the ability to forget!   His patients were too often gripped by memories as tenacious as a terminal cancer and held by fantasies occasionally nailing them to the floor as in the famous joke much repeated with curious variations in the cafes in Sofia when he had been a medical student and still repeated to this day, Ilov told him only recently even with the fall of the communism now more than ten years ago.

George did wonder, when he thought about it so many years later, why Powys could use a word like epiphany when describing his discovery of the absence of sewers in Houston.  Powys had ended up in that city while on his own journey around the United States, a journey which turned out to be both his first and final trip around the country.  It was there in Houston Powys knew why he was moving to France with his family.

At the very least in France, Powys believed then, the French would not refuse to build a sewer system when there was only a need for one every three or four years, if even then, because how could a person look forward to living in a country, living out the years remaining, in a country where there was a city with many millions of people that could be built without a sewer.

However, when you arrive in a country with only a suitcase stuffed with neckties, you have only your own intelligence, George would say.  You arrive with only what you have already put into your head.  They could take everything away from you and they did that as far as they were able when you left a country like Bulgaria, back then, and it is hard to explain this, now, after the fall of the communism but then:  you are suddenly in this country, in The United States of America, where you have to always remember you arrived with only a suitcase stuffed with neckties and you have to be always prepared to survive, once again, as you did then, as you stepped down from that plane--- it was a TWA plane, an airline long gone from the skies and how it seemed then that TWA, Trans World Airways, along with PANAM, Pan American World Airlines, were symbols of the country George was coming to and this observation, one of so many, came back to him when he came to think about his curiosity about this Powys  and his being able to decide on such a radical move as he had after his trip by railroad around the United States and from that moment in Houston as Powys tried to get across a main highway now under a foot of water because that was the year of the one flood every three years or was it four years and Powys wanted to get across the highway to have a drink which he needed and when he got back to St. Marks Place couldn't get it out of his mind that there were people in this country, in the United States of America, in a rich and powerful city of the United States of America who could make such a decision that prevented him on that day from getting across that highway to have a drink after a hard day... no, it was more like days which seemed like months of traveling on the so-called Amtrak where you didn't know what would break next, which part of the train would fall silent, dark, stop working and again Powys thought there had to be some better way to live and while he was prepared to think traveling by railroad was maybe not the best way to see America and he was prepared to make allowances for all the things that didn't work on the train                 

                                                        he had learned to be tolerant, though that wasn't exactly the word he wanted, but anyway, he learned, somehow, as a grave digger for the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, when he was in the last years of high school, to over¬look, to be prepared for nasty surprises, to the finding of things that they didn't expect to find when they went digging into these graves where surprisingly things move about which are not supposed to move about and  really most of the time no one knew what was just a shovelful of earth away and later after both of the decisions were done into the past:  when Powys had moved to France and when George and Vera had left Germany for The United States of America eventually finding themselves living in Brooklyn, Powys on a brief visit from Paris for the fortieth anniversary of his brother's ordination, asked George:  did you think you would end up here in  this bar on St. Marks Place--- or where you are living in Brooklyn?--- when you stepped down from that plane out there at Kennedy? and found yourself in a country where even the white people didn't have brains because by now I am sure you have discovered:  white people in America are prepared to put up with the most awful situations if they think they are bound to get better--- which of course they are not really---  but there is no way to ever convince anyone in this country of that and you learn to be an American within an hour of landing in the United States of America, if not earlier as the world is full up of people who are destined to be Americans and are saturated with the idea: life is going to get better and better no matter what either the life or experience teaches them: 

isn't it a wonderful country where people in their eighties are thinking about, as they put it, career changes, 

(Copyright @Thomas McGonigle 2021)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

THE GLACIAL CARNIVAL

THE GLACIAL CARNIVAL 

Another piece of this book appeared in the on-line journal CAVEAT LECTOR (Caveat-lector.org). The only time something of mine has so appeared.  THE GLACIAL CARNIVAL  is composed of sentences rooted in rescued relics from that time of the late Seventies in NYC when living in Room 801 in the Earle Hotel over-looking Washington Square....


-Hugo was saying: too much concern for everybody if you ask me.

---And you didn’t even come from out of town so  you can take it in stride when you’re in the WHITE MARK DELI on Sixth Avenue… and have asked the guy for change after you got a quart of ale and this next customer comes  up to the counter with a can of dog food saying, hey, can you open this for me? The guy behind the counter asks, do you need a spoon?  Nah, I can get it out with my fingers.

-Hugo has been here before.  He is stunned to still be alive, I think.  All his best friends are dead or married and he only thought of the former.  What can you say to a guy who’s married?  

I go over to Hugo's apartment near the river.  Across the street from  from his window is a truck park.  Guys fuck each other between the trucks or suck each other off.  I could charge admission… a guy gives a guy a hand job and hands him a handful of cum… what does he tell the guy?

-Hugo gave up on girls and boys a long time ago.  It’s nice and boring here.  I want or I don’t want.  That’s about all there is.  People are always asking, how’s it going, how are you, how, how, how…

-I go back to the hotel.  The only thing I miss…

-Was there ever a time when I didn’t miss something or other?

-Pride is a bird’s meal.

-Hugo says he knew a woman who liked to get a guy from the Bowery when guys were sleeping on the street… don’t ask me how she did it.  

-Get a guy on the Bowery and brought him Uptown and does things to him and then tells him to get lost with a twenty dollar bill.

-Hugo says, he is much too busy.  He didn’t have the time to kill himself. To kill yourself you got to be able to find yourself.

-But Hugo was at one time not alone: he is remembering her tongue discovering his armpits, the place behind the knees, the spot behind his balls and she would comment on how his little toe is curled up into a miniature fist.

-But she left.  They always eventually do.

-Like him, I often sleep with my clothes on… saves time in the morning--- for what you ask?  It’s only habit.

-At least no refrigerator in the room…the waking and falling asleep to the sounds of a refrigerator… to be found dying and the last sounds you will be hearing: the refrigerator…

-The smallness of my room is appealing as there is no empty spaces to dream of…

-But room enough for a Pat and Mike joke… they had been great drinking buddies and then one of them goes and dies and it could be either one or the other and you throw in the cows, the wife, the house and the children and one of them is looking at the other boxed up and ready to go: looks good since he stopped drinking.

REMEMBER, here is a young man living in a hotel room, once upon a time, as the hotel where he lived once upon a time no longer has such tenants, they have guests who come because of its location, because they want a small hotel, they want a hotel that reminds them of small hotels they have stayed in Europe, once upon a time, and even Europeans come to the hotel as they want something that is familiar, though these people are surprised that the light bulbs actually allow you to read while resting in bed.

-He is listening,: I gotta find a lady to eat my grapes, being said in The 55--- a hole two steps down from Christopher Street--- with a bursting liver, once you’ve decided nothing matters that would be paradise, a version of it, I guess someone else is saying: broken glass, tears.

-My corpse should be viewed face to the pillow.

-Obsession versus observation.

-Is it tonight to The Ramrod or The Toilet?

-Jason Holliday was saying, fucking a girl in the ass is like milking a cow.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-ehssx01b0

-I’ve been fucking you for ten years and now you want to go down to get a license so we don’t have to keep on with the fucking: what do you call it?

-He had died of a heart attack on the operating table--- they thought it was a heart attack but it was his spleen that got him in the end. 

-Shut your mouth a little while I… what I’m saying…



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

ROLLED DICE ( A SHORT NOVEL OF THE PRESENT MOMENT)

             

(there are a few unfixed errors in the typing)

                PREWORDS:  in the fiction of the fictional present moment there is a constant argument about what is true... did something happen or did nothing happen... could it all be farce repeating as farce as is often said about history though history is a fiction because of its nature which is always based on selection and selection has all the authority of the flipping of a coin.

             I had just read INVISIBLE INK, the newly translated novel by Patrick Modiano (Yale University Press, 2020) when news came of the death of the Irish poet Derek Mahon. 

                I have read now 25 of Patrick Modiano's short novels and the coincidence of these two readerly events seem to me to point to the genius of Modiano which could be too easily summed up in Gertrude Stein's famous remark: There is no such thing as repetition.  Only Insistence.


       INVISIBLE INK--- a man remembering a moment when he went looking for a person--- is in so many ways a sort of description of every one of Modiano's novels, novels that hint often overtly  at autobiography or rather at the truthful necessary element that is in every so-called fiction, whether that fiction be by Joyce or Tolstoy or Proust of Celine or or or.. 


       All of Modiano's novels are searches for something or someone who is lost to the narrator or misplaced because poorly remembered... but then in the so-called real life are we not all accidents and our meetings with others, accidents.


       All of the novels end in some sort of defeat, something found missing or just that phrase found missing and so the only next step is another book... 


      As to Mahon I met him on Dublin in 1965 and again in 66 and in other years but always in some way associated with a certain another: Eugene Lambe


       But as with INVISIBLE INK: "There are blanks in this life, white spaces you can detect if you open the "case file": a single sheet in sky-blue folder that has faded with time. That ancient sky blue has itself turned almost white.  And the words "case file" are written across the middle of the folder.  In black ink.  This is my only remnant of the Hutte Detective Agency, the only trace of my passage in that old..."


         Modiano's words invited me to open pages found when I was into my apartment in Manhattan, pages still held together by a metal spindle minus the covers.... there are some pages of prose in ink and then a list of names some with addresses but others without addresses:


Teddy Disterdick


Brian Mooney


Clive Burland


Gary Seaman


Michael J. Peters 

11357 35th Ave NE  

Seattle


But I've already written about Michael J. Peters and copied out the three letters I had saved from him:  which you can read if you go to July 28, 2015 abcofreading.blogspot.com.


I know why the names are there. Michael J. Peters was the last American I talked to Zagreb--we had met in Trieste--- before I took the train to Istanbul though I got off in Sofia (that began my Bulgarian life) and Michael was on his way to see the Cedars of Lebanon


        Gary Seaman was met in Berlin, Spring 1965) and speaking German took me to East Berlin and then as guests of the FDJ we went to the DDR...he re-appeared in JUST LIKE THAT my novel of a beginning of the Sixties of the last century...


       As to the other and even with these two names I wonder and will only wonder and not having won a Nobel prize and not having published now 25 novels in English translation...no one is lining up to get my whatever might result...and I know because of Modiano there is some value in looking back, though looking back is much frowned upon by the present moment unless one is engaged in some vulgar political polemic...


 .  One must remember that in say 1920 just before the moments that will give the USA: Anderson, Hemingway, Faulkner, the population was 106 million and the average sale of a real literary book was a couple thousand copies while a century later with a population of 331 million a couple of thousand copies is still all that a very good literary author can hope for... 


HERE ARE THE LETTERS FROM MICHAEL J. PETERS AND A REPLY:

                              ONE

                                                               10.18.68

Dear Tom

          The fault of not continuing our, at best, broken line of correspondences is entirely mine.  Your letter written in Dublin arrived here some months back.  I shall pledge myself to more discipline in the future and hopefully purge myself of my shortcomings.  Please forgive this horrible red [the letter is written in red ink] but it’s all I have.  Perhaps it’s symbolic of many things--- but that would really be too heavy to write about!!

          I haven’t written anyone since last spring when I wrote a Syrian girl about her body and how much her armpit had meant to me while suffering the adversities of Oriental life.  In that particular letter I overextended myself, totally exceeding my fondest expectations and proving what I’ve always suspected; that words are nearer to me than pubic stubble.  So anyway my letters comes someplace between Theŕeśe’s smooth belly and just plain words

          My family forwarded your letter (I spent the first two months of summer north of Seattle) but I didn’t receive it until after your proposed induction date of 1 June.  However I can vaguely recall being terribly drunk at about that date so I must have communed with you somehow.  I’m confident that you did avoid the messy business in some manner--- hopefully it will end soon and civilization can redeem her soul.

          ‘Merkan’ intelligence is beautifully characterized by Wallace, Nixon, and to a lesser extent H.H.H.  The idea of a national political platform essentially based on beating Black-Americans into submission and giving young people haircuts is particularly appalling in the face the real issues: poverty, capitalist economy , etc. (Before I forget--- I’ve a stack of back issues to the ‘Helix’ Seattle’s underground.  It’s established and heads above most such papers.  Drop a card with your new address and I’ll forward them immediately!!)

          A close friend wrote a few weeks ago from Big Sur about living and dying and he idea of somehow reaching a decision as to the validity of life.  It was really quite abstract.  Implicit was the suggestion that he might die soon by his own hand.  I mention it only because I think about it at times and I’m sure you also do.

          I’ve been reading a lot of late, mostly heavy academic books but some Gíde, Hesse and Greek tragedy too.  In an attempt to make myself more comfortable I’ve change majors again--- transferring to the NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES & LITERATURE DEPT.  was easy. It seems to be more a challenge.  I think my field may eventually be Islamic art

          At any rate, Tom—write me of your condition and of your wife.  As I proposed--- a simple card with your address would be adequate.  In return I promise a stack of ‘underground’ sheets’ as well as long coherent “think letter.”

                                                          Michael.


                                                 TWO

                                                                  SEATTLE          November 68

Thomas-

I must say how pleasant it was to receive your letter.  My blatant procrastination had left me worried that Elbie J. and the boys had grabbed you in London and somehow thrust you into the War Machine.  Like all Crusades, ours kills, rapes, pillages and sloganizes in the name Good.  If it weren’t so sad we could chuckle until the piss runs down our legs.  But alas it is most serious and profitable!!  By the way—did you see Chicago (Pig City, USA)??  A totally beautiful and predictable exercise in ‘Merikan’ democracy. Ah, for the good old days when pigs were pigs and not cops.

I’m glad to see you have returned to the States if for no other reason than to fill your belly with unescapable crud of ‘Merikan” civilization and your nostrils with the stench of our hypocrisy.  Beware!!  The spirit of 76 corrupts.

Can your believe Nixon??  Absolutely disgusting!!  The man is a Turkey!!  The imagination can easily see a new era of Brown Shirts and Black Boots.   By the way—did the good people of Wisconsin erect a monument to good old Joe Mc.  They must have; it would be only proper to have done so.

University continues--- it drones on and on with the rhythm of a palpitating whore.  It’s a game that I’ve to pay for a while.  Still I look for the warm lady dressed in brown, cloaked in darkness, but that’s a game I play with myself and hardly as significant as the scholarly thing with books.  A friend who sits on the fence and gets despondent over things like spring mornings at the [Big] Sur and Leningrad snows wrote that but I had to destroy his letter because it caused me to think about things and that’s somewhere near the end.  I like the idea of making love on dirty sheets in your Venetian slum house.  I beg to be your guest paying or otherwise.  Venice is good to those who know her.,  Where else the ecstasy of days measured in the downy armpits and the dry rasps of rending spirits.  Which reminds me--- did you see the latest issue of NOVA? (It’s an English (British) mag.  Of doubtful quality).  It has an etching of Twiggy with an arm extended to God doing her toilette with a trusty Gillette super blue blade.  God was it laughable!!!!  They must have invented that splendid cover for me--- an exclusive thing designed solely to evoke a licentious chuckle from those who care about such trivia.

The sky never seems to be more than pale green, an opaque continuum that leaves some doubt about the exact moment when heaven meets mother earth.  The November sky is for those who think about  communion and black flags and tortured genius of sensitive people—

I hope you find some value in the copies of Helix---it’s our ersatz journalism draped in the filigree of OP-POP culture.

Well at least they try.

About your letters and things--- a catholic school.  Really, Thomas!!  A  bastion of radical, irrational dogma.  Can you make it??  I had hoped you could find something in Europe away from all the hassle of concerned parents.  I’m looking closely at teaching in Roberts College, Istanbul my next trip over. However with an M.A. in NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES & LITERATURE  it is will be a tight fit to meet their requirements.  I understand they prefer English M.A.’s with teaching experience.

Of course I remain interested in your writing, anxiously awaiting an opportunity to read your work.  What are the chances of publication??  If things get too slow, I could work for a printing at this end. If you’re truly satisfied with your novel, now in London, and assuming it is turned down, you might try Grove Press in NYC or Lighthouse Books in San Francisco.

I’ll shortly begin working for the Post Office in an attempt to work off my indebtedness--- I was forced to buy a car… V.W. and will in the next month rent a beach cottage on the Sound.  I’ve to get away from my family they are stunting my personality.  It will be limited freedom allowing me to be more eccentric in my existence.  Somehow I’ll manage to keep up my studies at [University of] Washington while working.  You should strongly consider visiting me or moving out here.  We have the mountains and the sea and a radical political climate. (We were the only western state to tell Nixon to get screwed).  Because of certain regrettable obligations I can’t truly consider Mexico this spring.  But I’m sure you would find the Northwest rather enjoyable and my cottage would be yours and your wife’s   We are provincial, but nevertheless very good people. The music is sweet as is the beer and the grass is abundant in the children’s pipes.  I can confidently say there would be good times for all.  Consider it, Tom.  We could open a commune in the wastes of eastern Washington or in the nearby mountains.


I couldn’t find the issue of the Evergreen Review that you requested but I did meet an interesting cunt that led me to several café-au-lait in the district and a near fuck.  I’ll keep looking!

When I gather my wits I’ll write you a long ‘think’ letter… Should be around the New Year.  Let me know of your plans, Tom, I want to share conversation and beer with you before time passes and things are lost. As for God’s blessing--- I’m sure he would if he could.,

                                                          MICHAEL


                                                THREE


                                                                             29/11/68 [29/12/68]

Thomas McGonigle:

My bed has been empty for weeks and it’s cold.  God it’s cold—the frost is fixed on the window till well past noon and my feet stay bare through it all  like Ransom’s frozen parsnips in the snow.  The hot bath at 2:00 brings me back; things focus much better with lemon scented suds soaking my crotch. Tom, I’m glad you have at least tenatively agreed to share the northern wilderness this summer—It’ll be good for both of us.  My disordered mind needs company and you need inspiration before returning to ‘academia.’

Through the ordeal of autumn with the death and all I managed to rise above it all be placed on the “President’s List of Scholars” at the University.  Janet said is showed how well adjusted and established I was--- I grabbed her tits in front of her mother, she cried, and now in their minds I’m not nearly as well adjusted as they had contemplated.  An unfortunate outburst for all concerned but it was the easiest way to make my point.  Anyway it’s all returned to the back of  my foggy consciousness and it’ll not return until  I rattle.

I read Donleavy’s Saddest Summer of Samuel S. last evening--- it was naturally impressive but not the same magnitude as The Ginger Man.  Also have a short story copied ifn the bourgeois anti-sexuality monthly Playboy--- The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthasar B. but it is the same Dublin/Trinity thing and it will probably be bit as well received as the others. It seem better suited to those of us for whom the divine light of perversion has long since descended and dimmed.  Anyway my shadow seems larger and my body-mind more lustful.  Read this morning where a G-man (FBI) gunned down a hippie in Istanbul.  Seems be less safe than before.  It all sounds ultra-somthing.

They’ve taken all the plastic Christmas to the rubbish heap thank God.  It becomes unbearable after a while.  I’m always suspicious of prophets and apocalyptic visions anyway, it strikes me as a business man’s hoax.  Can you imagine your wife telling you that your child was conceived in heaven let alone the Immaculate Conception---but I mustn’t offend the R.C.s and the lessers.   Skepticism is my cross!  To bear it on my slightly stopped shoulders for the sake…….?

I don’t feel like continuing , Tom.  An inspiration is about to send me to the Conservatory to look at the tropical flora captive behind steamy windows.   The idea of brightly blooming  things behind and forced birth while even the worms are frozen in their slime is curious.  I’ll post this then write within a few days, enclose any journals I’ve accumulated since the last and if you like talk about Phédra or send some of Doneavys that you’ve not read.

A prosperous new year full of goodies

MICHAEL

                                            [I have no further letters from Michael]


POST  POST SOMETNING

In September, 1967 I was in Trieste staying at a youth hostel on the Adriatic with the Castle of Miramare to the right and the city to the left… I met Michael J. Peters there. I remember a drunken evening and being forced to stay during a heavy rainstorm in a seaside cabana with him and two South African girls as we were locked out of hostel which closed at 10PM.  The next day Michael and I went to a hotel in the Via Diaz in Trieste, thinking of Joyce writing Ulysses in this city now hollowed out and no longer important… we took a ferry along to Pula in what was then Yugoslavia and then by  train to Zagreb where I last saw Michael as he was leaving for Athens and on to look at the Cedars of Lebanon as he said while I was going to Belgrade and eventually to Sofia where my life changed when I walked up in the dark Hristo Botev Boulevard to eventually marry Lilia, the first girl I talked to, who was then minding her mother’s kiosk.  We left Sofia just before Easter, 1968 for Dublin by way of Venice, Paris and London.  In October we went to Menasha, Wisconsin where my parents were living in exile from Patchogue.


I have a carbon of a letter I must have sent to Michael during this time written on the back of a mimeo of a history quiz I had given in the 7th grade class I was teaching at St. John’s Polish Catholic School in Menasha, Wisconsin.  I began teaching in November after Lilia and I came from Dublin at the end of October.  The teacher had quit and they needed someone desperately. I was a lousy letter writer but… 


Michael:      Thank you ever so much for the Helixs they are a piece of food in this cold night that is lived through with little sign of the morn… could you send more if possible in fact any you don’t need?

The reverse is a test… it is all arbitrary and that but I had to find out if they knew any facts at all…these poor students already their minds are warped by the American death, they talk with glib fascination of the Vietnam death,, about the orgasm of killing  (we have had deer hunting the last two weeks) have you this great festival?  About the refined brutality of death that is American football American style…the previous teacher used to give them no homework if the Green Bay Packers won also no homework on days they might play. 

About Joe McC  his spirit was exorcised by Allen the G last year…the RCs have a mass over his grave each year hoping to bring back his body from the worms.

From the newspapers I could imagine that you should be able to find some nice pair of breasts to bury your nose in, I wouldn’t want the armpit of American civilization for the stubs might spear your tender,,,

The RCs quite good compared to other places and quite progressive  very little control over what I do no outside exams in the 7th grade  the religion is opening their eyes at least that is what it will be for me…  I also teach American history. Monday they debate  resolved THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED  perhaps we could go on IT WAS ALL A WASTE OF TIME

You must realize these kids have never seen a slum, they have never seen a Black.  I was going to write negro but that is taboo and I only use the b in class.

Are you able to work and study full time.  I am going to back for night courses at the u in languages as anything serious up here would be a waste of time  I just want the basics and any idiot can teach that

Are you developing the Lowery bit?

I think we will come in June if it is at all possible.  I will get paid for that month and but won’t have to work

Spring in Mexico is impossible anyway there is no holiday given for that

The near fucks  (Evergreen search)  deserve head split open

In fact as I write this letter I have made my mind definite to come  up on the hill with the beautiful  long haired women all mingling and gentle   no news now on novel  but sent it to Hollins College in Virginia in the hopes of a full fellowship to do an MA in creative writing  a nice gentle way of spending a year

Hollins is a girls undergraduate school with an integrated sexually grad school of 30.  The main thing I just do is over awe that them with talent suck’em down socially and then I can sit and type to my heart’s content for a year.

Washington state radical even with Boeing?

You have a nice hand writing  the symbol of good breeding  that is more important in this world gone to seed,  now or a few seconds I shall turn my upper class properly aristocratic

  I might mention in this context  that Mr Donleavy has a new book out

Roberts should not be difficult if you could pick up a methods course in teaching eng. as a foreign language  what about the place in Beirut  also there is an American college for some religion in Alexandria  also working for the oil companies  also the British Council  has good jobs in Saudi Arabia  $7600 plus travel insurance cheap housing etc etc  you would save 5 at least

If you ever want anything from this place I will try and comply  I will send the Milwaukee rad sheet if I can get some copies  a trip to Mil is more than 100 miles

Swimming through the vomit is bad enough

Let me end there

Christmas we realize is coming,,,

I hope you find nice things in stocking but remember it’s what between that counts

And god bless your undertaking to introduce a note of necrophilia into this…

         

                                      FINALLY


Michael J. Peters is alive in your reading of his letters.  Or have I lurched too far from the example of William's trusting in his red wheelbarrow?  Am I supposed to tell you what I make of Michael J. Peters in these letters.  One last detail  we exchanged books in Zagreb.  I do not  remember which book I gave him but I still have the small Grove Press paperback version of Alain Robbe-Grillet's THE VOYEUR


Thursday, December 24, 2020

FRANZ KLINE NAPKINS from THE POSTHUMOUS CLICHE

 


                       FRANZ KLINE NAPKINS

from               THE POSTHUMOUS CLICHE

                                      knowing Jack(John) WESLE


....but he is saying here I am in this apartment and it is very nice and I don’t know why I am here:  I think I must be getting away with something: I’m getting away with something he says again and I am confessing in some way in response to the silence--- which is a too grand of a word I say--- but it feels like it, when certain names are used when sometimes talking about  art:  I have never understood Picasso or Braque’s work--- and Jack says I don’t know--- people are always talking about them so I guess they knew what they were doing or people were saying they knew what they were doing but I never talked about them because no one ever asked me about them but it could have been because of the people I knew and I say the only painter I ever heard you talk about was Franz Kline and he says I don’t remember and I said it had nothing to do with the white and black paintings or how Kline thought the white part was the most important part but no one ever talked about the white part and only saw the black parts of his paintings which he never understood but you were telling me about being in the Cedar Tavern and he gave you some napkins and even signed them… he had been marking then up with a pen or something and it was just the two of you that night because most times he was always surrounded by all these people and you didn’t know what to talk about and here he was by himself and you  were sitting next to him and he pushed these across to you and then he took them back and scrawled his name on them but didn’t say why he was doing this and you shoved them into your pocket and then sometime in the 60s you needed money so you had to sell them as you didn’t have any need for napkins signed by Franz Kline… so he was the only painter I ever heard you talk about, and Jack is saying if you say so and Rudy is in the room as it is probably time for me to be going and Jack is not wanting to stand up and I am saying you can change your t-shirt  now and I am saying Piret my wife is always telling me I dribble all the time and that is what men do they dribble all the time here there and everywhere and on anything but always always on their clean white t-shirts for sure their t-shirts, it’s something women learn to put up with, she says, if they want to be around a man while Jack is saying there’s another number I’m really afraid of: six, it’s such an incomplete sort of number and then in the movies they are always deep-sixing something or other while Rudy is tapping the back of Jack’s chair, you have to take a piss Jack, he says and then the exercise person is coming, this is a busy day and Jack is saying, I have to take a piss and while it is hard for him to get out of the chair he still saying, six and getting deep-sixed, that is what I am afraid of : they’re going to put an 86 on my forehead and then deep-sixing me out the window or into the toilet--- Jack, you’re so funny, Rudy says and I watch Jack grab the walker—as he is pushing himself up from the chair and he begins to walk saying  they were always deep-sixing things in the Navy movies during the war and I am always scared of being deep-sixed as you say and you never know when they are going to put an 86 on your head and then deep-six you out the window but I don’t  think they would put me down the toilet as it would be better to put me out the window… at the door to the toilet Jack takes his hand off the walker and I shake it and we have a lot to talk about the next time I am saying and he is saying I am glad you came to visit…I hope you will come again…


Sunday, November 22, 2020

MY DEAD OF IRELAND

 


This evening I was wondering why Dublin does not come to mind more frequently.  I was in the basement and picked up GIRL ON A BICYCLE a novel by Leland Bardwell.  I had not read it as it was badly printed on paper that turned brown though I  had acquired it from the memory of meeting her in Dublin.  But more vivid in mind was Fintan MacLachlan her companion, boyfriend or what not, now  finally only known as the father of three of her children but when I knew him he was a taxi driver and as a "toucher."  

There is never reason for how names appear in mind, as they simply do...we are always almost unanchored to the present moment

SO to make a list of the dead--- does that account for how Dublin seems to have gone somewhere yet my ST. PATRICK'S DAY another day in Dublin remains in print in the world--though the National Library of Ireland does not have it in its collection, while University College, Dublin's library has it... 

James Liddy, 

Philip Casey, 

Eugene Lambe, 

Derek Mahon, 

Patrick Kavanagh, 

John Jordan, 

Francis Stuart, 

Liam O'Flaherty, 

Dickie Riordain, 

Dermot Healy, 

John Montague, 

Leland Bardwell, 

J. P. Donleavy,  

Christine Keeler,

Pearse Hutchinson, 

Austin Clarke, 

Jonathan Bardon, 

Ian Whitcomb, 

Tommy Smith, 

Philip Hobsbaum, 

Brian Higgins, 

Michael Hartnett, 

Tim Tollekson, 

Willie and Beatrice Opperman, 

Brian Moore, 

Desmond O'Grady, 

Roger McHugh, 

Jeremiah Hogan, 

Garech Browne, 

Paddy O'Hanlon, 

Jan Kaminski, 

Justin O'Mahony, 

Jim Fitzgerald, 

Stephen and Kathleen Behan, 

Mary Lavin,

But of course Grafton Street remains and St Stephen's Green... I will walk by Ely Place where last I lived...continue on and think of teaching at the Dublin Tuition Center or living in Grosvenor Square...and and and... but no longer tonight



Saturday, October 17, 2020

PATRICK MODIANO AND DEREK MAHON: TO BE MISSING

 


PATRICK MODIANO AND DEREK MAHON....

I had just read INVISIBLE INK, the newly translated novel by Patrick Modiano (Yale University Press, 2020) when news came of the death of the Irish poet Derek Mahon. 

                             SUGGESTION: some have suggested the plague will last  for another year  so a wonderful time to read TWO Modiano novels a month and by the end of the year there will be a new one from Yale....

        I have read now 25 of Patrick Modiano's short novels and the coincidence of these two readerly events seem to me to point to the genius of Modiano which could be too easily summed up in Gertrude Stein's famous remark: There is no such thing as repetition.  Only Insistence.

       INVISIBLE INK--- a man remembering a moment when he went looking for a person--- is in so many ways a sort of description of every one of Modiano's novels, novels that hint often overtly  at autobiography or rather at the truthful necessary element that is in every so-called fiction, whether that fiction be by Joyce or Tolstoy or Proust of Celine or or or.. 

       All of Modiano's novels are searches for something or someone who is lost to the narrator, or misplaced for poorly remembered... but then in the so-called real life are we not all accidents and our meetings with others, accidents.

       All of the novels end in some sort of defeat, something found missing or just that phrase found missing and so the only next step is another book... 

      As to Mahon I met him on Dublin in 1965 and again in 66 and in other years but always in some way associated with a certain another: Eugene Lambe

                                 



       (AN ASIDE)What a perfect gift to give to a loved one: a two year subscription and each month they would receive a Modiano novel... I know of only one other author like this: Cesar Aira who is also the author of many many short novels which instead of being searches for are rather concerned with the telling about something or other, a telling... my review from the LA Times of one of Aira's


novels will fill you in on this author:  https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2009-mar-01-ca-cesar-aira1-story.html. 

Here are the last two lines:
     A final reviewer’s sigh: the charm (if that word is still meaningful) of this scene -- so refreshing. And what a gift: to look forward to reading a new Aira novel from New Directions every year for the rest of one’s life. 

          Sadly, no one will pay me to write a review of Modiano's novel... so I write this post... but as with INVISIBLE INK: "There are blanks in this life, white spaces you can detect if you open the "case file": a single sheet in sky-blue folder that has faded with time. That ancient sky blue has itself turned almost white.  And the words "case file" are written across the middle of the folder.  In black ink.  This is my only remnant of the Hutte Detective Agency, the only trace of my passage in that old..."

         Modiano's words invited me to open pages found when I was into my apartment in Manhattan, pages still held together by a metal spindle minus the covers.... there are some pages of prose in ink and then a list of names some with addresses but others without addresses:

Teddy Disterduck
Brian Mooney
Clive Burland
Gary Seaman
Michael J. Peters 
11357 35th Ave NE  
Seattle

But I've already written about Michael J. Peters and copied out the three letters I had saved from him:  which you can read if you goto July 28, 2015 abcofreading.blogspot.com.

I know why the names are there. Michael J. Peters was the last American I talked to Zagreb--we had met in Trieste--- before I took the train to Istanbul though I got off in Sofia (that began my Bulgarian life) and Michael was on his way to see the Cedars of Lebanon

        Gary Seaman was met in Berlin, Spring 1965) and speaking German took me to East Berlin and then as guests of the FDJ we went to the DDR...he re-appeared in JUST LIKE THAT my novel of a beginning of the Sixties of the last century...

       As to the other and even with these two names I wonder and will only wonder and not having won a Nobel prize and not having published now 25 novels in English translation...no one is lining up to get my whatever might result...and I know because of Modiano there is some value in looking back, though looking back is much frowned upon by the present moment unless one is engaged in some vulgar political polemic...

       Finally I admire the novels of Modiano and I admire ever more to the point of jealousy of his having a reading public in France that has an appetite for such books.  One must remember that in say 1920 just before the moments that will give the USA: Anderson, Hemingway, Faulkner, the population was 106 million and the average sale of a real literary book was a couple thousand copies while a century later with a population of 331 million a couple of thousand copies is still all that a very good literary author can hope for... 

HERE ARE THE LETTERS FROM MICHAEL J. PETERS AND A REPLY:
                              ONE
                         10.18.68
Dear Tom
          The fault of not continuing our, at best, broken line of correspondences is entirely mine.  Your letter written in Dublin arrived here some months back.  I shall pledge myself to more discipline in the future and hopefully purge myself of my shortcomings.  Please forgive this horrible red [the letter is written in red ink] but it’s all I have.  Perhaps it’s symbolic of many things--- but that would really be too heavy to write about!!
          I haven’t written anyone since last spring when I wrote a Syrian girl about her body and how much her armpit had meant to me while suffering the adversities of Oriental life.  In that particular letter I overextended myself, totally exceeding my fondest expectations and proving what I’ve always suspected; that words are nearer to me than pubic stubble.  So anyway my letters comes someplace between Theŕeśe’s smooth belly and just plain words
          My family forwarded your letter (I spent the first two months of summer north of Seattle) but I didn’t receive it until after your proposed induction date of 1 June.  However I can vaguely recall being terribly drunk at about that date so I must have communed with you somehow.  I’m confident that you did avoid the messy business in some manner--- hopefully it will end soon and civilization can redeem her soul.
          ‘Merkan’ intelligence is beautifully characterized by Wallace, Nixon, and to a lesser extent H.H.H.  The idea of a national political platform essentially based on beating Black-Americans into submission and giving young people haircuts is particularly appalling in the face the real issues: poverty, capitalist economy , etc. (Before I forget--- I’ve a stack of back issues to the ‘Helix’ Seattle’s underground.  It’s established and heads above most such papers.  Drop a card with your new address and I’ll forward them immediately!!)
          A close friend wrote a few weeks ago from Big Sur about living and dying and he idea of somehow reaching a decision as to the validity of life.  It was really quite abstract.  Implicit was the suggestion that he might die soon by his own hand.  I mention it only because I think about it at times and I’m sure you also do.
          I’ve been reading a lot of late, mostly heavy academic books but some Gíde, Hesse and Greek tragedy too.  In an attempt to make myself more comfortable I’ve change majors again--- transferring to the NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES & LITERATURE DEPT.  was easy. It seems to be more a challenge.  I think my field may eventually be Islamic art
          At any rate, Tom—write me of your condition and of your wife.  As I proposed--- a simple card with your address would be adequate.  In return I promise a stack of ‘underground’ sheets’ as well as long coherent “think letter.”
                                                          Michael.

                                                 TWO
                  SEATTLE                                                            November 68
Thomas-
I must say how pleasant it was to receive your letter.  My blatant procrastination had left me worried that Elbie J. and the boys had grabbed you in London and somehow thrust you into the War Machine.  Like all Crusades, ours kills, rapes, pillages and sloganizes in the name Good.  If it weren’t so sad we could chuckle until the piss runs down our legs.  But alas it is most serious and profitable!!  By the way—did you see Chicago (Pig City, USA)??  A totally beautiful and predictable exercise in ‘Merikan’ democracy. Ah, for the good old days when pigs were pigs and not cops.
I’m glad to see you have returned to the States if for no other reason than to fill your belly with unescapable crud of ‘Merikan” civilization and your nostrils with the stench of our hypocrisy.  Beware!!  The spirit of 76 corrupts.
Can your believe Nixon??  Absolutely disgusting!!  The man is a Turkey!!  The imagination can easily see a new era of Brown Shirts and Black Boots.   By the way—did the good people of Wisconsin erect a monument to good old Joe Mc.  They must have; it would be only proper to have done so.
University continues--- it drones on and on with the rhythm of a palpitating whore.  It’s a game that I’ve to pay for a while.  Still I look for the warm lady dressed in brown, cloaked in darkness, but that’s a game I play with myself and hardly as significant as the scholarly thing with books.  A friend who sits on the fence and gets despondent over things like spring mornings at the [Big] Sur and Leningrad snows wrote that but I had to destroy his letter because it caused me to think about things and that’s somewhere near the end.  I like the idea of making love on dirty sheets in your Venetian slum house.  I beg to be your guest paying or otherwise.  Venice is good to those who know her.,  Where else the ecstasy of days measured in the downy armpits and the dry rasps of rending spirits.  Which reminds me--- did you see the latest issue of NOVA? (It’s an English (British) mag.  Of doubtful quality).  It has an etching of Twiggy with an arm extended to God doing her toilette with a trusty Gillette super blue blade.  God was it laughable!!!!  They must have invented that splendid cover for me--- an exclusive thing designed solely to evoke a licentious chuckle from those who care about such trivia.
The sky never seems to be more than pale green, an opaque continuum that leaves some doubt about the exact moment when heaven meets mother earth.  The November sky is for those who think about  communion and black flags and tortured genius of sensitive people—
I hope you find some value in the copies of Helix---it’s our ersatz journalism draped in the filigree of OP-POP culture.
Well at least they try.
About your letters and things--- a catholic school.  Really, Thomas!!  A  bastion of radical, irrational dogma.  Can you make it??  I had hoped you could find something in Europe away from all the hassle of concerned parents.  I’m looking closely at teaching in Roberts College, Istanbul my next trip over. However with an M.A. in NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES & LITERATURE  it is will be a tight fit to meet their requirements.  I understand they prefer English M.A.’s with teaching experience.
Of course I remain interested in your writing, anxiously awaiting an opportunity to read your work.  What are the chances of publication??  If things get too slow, I could work for a printing at this end. If you’re truly satisfied with your novel, now in London, and assuming it is turned down, you might try Grove Press in NYC or Lighthouse Books in San Francisco.
I’ll shortly begin working for the Post Office in an attempt to work off my indebtedness--- I was forced to buy a car… V.W. and will in the next month rent a beach cottage on the Sound.  I’ve to get away from my family they are stunting my personality.  It will be limited freedom allowing me to be more eccentric in my existence.  Somehow I’ll manage to keep up my studies at [University of] Washington while working.  You should strongly consider visiting me or moving out here.  We have the mountains and the sea and a radical political climate. (We were the only western state to tell Nixon to get screwed).  Because of certain regrettable obligations I can’t truly consider Mexico this spring.  But I’m sure you would find the Northwest rather enjoyable and my cottage would be yours and your wife’s   We are provincial, but nevertheless very good people. The music is sweet as is the beer and the grass is abundant in the children’s pipes.  I can confidently say there would be good times for all.  Consider it, Tom.  We could open a commune in the wastes of eastern Washington or in the nearby mountains.

I couldn’t find the issue of the Evergreen Review that you requested but I did meet an interesting cunt that led me to several café-au-lait in the district and a near fuck.  I’ll keep looking!
When I gather my wits I’ll write you a long ‘think’ letter… Should be around the New Year.  Let me know of your plans, Tom, I want to share conversation and beer with you before time passes and things are lost. As for God’s blessing--- I’m sure he would if he could.,
                                                          MICHAEL

                                                THREE

                                                                             29/11/68 [29/12/68]
Thomas McGonigle:
My bed has been empty for weeks and it’s cold.  God it’s cold—the frost is fixed on the window till well past noon and my feet stay bare through it all  like Ransom’s frozen parsnips in the snow.  The hot bath at 2:00 brings me back; things focus much better with lemon scented suds soaking my crotch. Tom, I’m glad you have at least tenatively agreed to share the northern wilderness this summer—It’ll be good for both of us.  My disordered mind needs company and you need inspiration before returning to ‘academia.’
Through the ordeal of autumn with the death and all I managed to rise above it all be placed on the “President’s List of Scholars” at the University.  Janet said is showed how well adjusted and established I was--- I grabbed her tits in front of her mother, she cried, and now in their minds I’m not nearly as well adjusted as they had contemplated.  An unfortunate outburst for all concerned but it was the easiest way to make my point.  Anyway it’s all returned to the back of  my foggy consciousness and it’ll not return until  I rattle.
I read Donleavy’s Saddest Summer of Samuel S. last evening--- it was naturally impressive but not the same magnitude as The Ginger Man.  Also have a short story copied ifn the bourgeois anti-sexuality monthly Playboy--- The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthasar B. but it is the same Dublin/Trinity thing and it will probably be bit as well received as the others. It seem better suited to those of us for whom the divine light of perversion has long since descended and dimmed.  Anyway my shadow seems larger and my body-mind more lustful.  Read this morning where a G-man (FBI) gunned down a hippie in Istanbul.  Seems be less safe than before.  It all sounds ultra-somthing.
They’ve taken all the plastic Christmas to the rubbish heap thank God.  It becomes unbearable after a while.  I’m always suspicious of prophets and apocalyptic visions anyway, it strikes me as a business man’s hoax.  Can you imagine your wife telling you that your child was conceived in heaven let alone the Immaculate Conception---but I mustn’t offend the R.C.s and the lessers.   Skepticism is my cross!  To bear it on my slightly stopped shoulders for the sake…….?
I don’t feel like continuing , Tom.  An inspiration is about to send me to the Conservatory to look at the tropical flora captive behind steamy windows.   The idea of brightly blooming  things behind and forced birth while even the worms are frozen in their slime is curious.  I’ll post this then write within a few days, enclose any journals I’ve accumulated since the last and if you like talk about Phédra or send some of Doneavys that you’ve not read.
A prosperous new year full of goodies
MICHAEL
                                            [I have no further letters from Michael]

POST  POST SOMETNING
In September, 1967 I was in Trieste staying at a youth hostel on the Adriatic with the Castle of Miramare to the right and the city to the left… I met Michael J. Peters there. I remember a drunken evening and being forced to stay during a heavy rainstorm in a seaside cabana with him and two South African girls as we were locked out of hostel which closed at 10PM.  The next day Michael and I went to a hotel in the Via Diaz in Trieste, thinking of Joyce writing Ulysses in this city now hollowed out and no longer important… we took a ferry along to Pula in what was then Yugoslavia and then by  train to Zagreb where I last saw Michael as he was leaving for Athens and on to look at the Cedars of Lebanon as he said while I was going to Belgrade and eventually to Sofia where my life changed when I walked up in the dark Hristo Botev Boulevard to eventually marry Lilia, the first girl I talked to, who was then minding her mother’s kiosk.  We left Sofia just before Easter, 1968 for Dublin by way of Venice, Paris and London.  In October we went to Menasha, Wisconsin where my parents were living in exile from Patchogue.

I have a carbon of a letter I must have sent to Michael during this time written on the back of a mimeo of a history quiz I had given in the 7th grade class I was teaching at St. John’s Polish Catholic School in Menasha, Wisconsin.  I began teaching in November after Lilia and I came from Dublin at the end of October.  The teacher had quit and they needed someone desperately. I was a lousy letter writer but… 

Michael:      Thank you ever so much for the Helixs they are a piece of food in this cold night that is lived through with little sign of the morn… could you send more if possible in fact any you don’t need?
The reverse is a test… it is all arbitrary and that but I had to find out if they knew any facts at all…these poor students already their minds are warped by the American death, they talk with glib fascination of the Vietnam death,, about the orgasm of killing  (we have had deer hunting the last two weeks) have you this great festival?  About the refined brutality of death that is American football American style…the previous teacher used to give them no homework if the Green Bay Packers won also no homework on days they might play. 
About Joe McC  his spirit was exorcised by Allen the G last year…the RCs have a mass over his grave each year hoping to bring back his body from the worms.
From the newspapers I could imagine that you should be able to find some nice pair of breasts to bury your nose in, I wouldn’t want the armpit of American civilization for the stubs might spear your tender,,,
The RCs quite good compared to other places and quite progressive  very little control over what I do no outside exams in the 7th grade  the religion is opening their eyes at least that is what it will be for me…  I also teach American history. Monday they debate  resolved THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED  perhaps we could go on IT WAS ALL A WASTE OF TIME
You must realize these kids have never seen a slum, they have never seen a Black.  I was going to write negro but that is taboo and I only use the b in class.
Are you able to work and study full time.  I am going to back for night courses at the u in languages as anything serious up here would be a waste of time  I just want the basics and any idiot can teach that
Are you developing the Lowery bit?
I think we will come in June if it is at all possible.  I will get paid for that month and but won’t have to work
Spring in Mexico is impossible anyway there is no holiday given for that
The near fucks  (Evergreen search)  deserve head split open
In fact as I write this letter I have made my mind definite to come  up on the hill with the beautiful  long haired women all mingling and gentle   no news now on novel  but sent it to Hollins College in Virginia in the hopes of a full fellowship to do an MA in creative writing  a nice gentle way of spending a year
Hollins is a girls undergraduate school with an integrated sexually grad school of 30.  The main thing I just do is over awe that them with talent suck’em down socially and then I can sit and type to my heart’s content for a year.
Washington state radical even with Boeing?
You have a nice hand writing  the symbol of good breeding  that is more important in this world gone to seed,  now or a few seconds I shall turn my upper class properly aristocratic
  I might mention in this context  that Mr Donleavy has a new book out
Roberts should not be difficult if you could pick up a methods course in teaching eng. as a foreign language  what about the place in Beirut  also there is an American college for some religion in Alexandria  also working for the oil companies  also the British Council  has good jobs in Saudi Arabia  $7600 plus travel insurance cheap housing etc etc  you would save 5 at least
If you ever want anything from this place I will try and comply  I will send the Milwaukee rad sheet if I can get some copies  a trip to Mil is more than 100 miles
Swimming through the vomit is bad enough
Let me end there
Christmas we realize is coming,,,
I hope you find nice things in stocking but remember it’s what between that counts
And god bless your undertaking to introduce a note of necrophilia into this…
         
                                      FINALLY

Michael J. Peters is alive in your reading of his letters.  Or have I lurched too far from the example of William's trusting in his red wheelbarrow?  Am I supposed to tell you what I make of Michael J. Peters in these letters.  One last detail  we exchanged books in Zagreb.  I do not  remember which book I gave him but I still have the small Grove Press paperback version of Alain Robbe-Grillet's THE VOYEUR