Sunday, March 19 1939:
There are so many interesting details I have not kept track of in these notes. One thing I would like to mention however is my esprit de corps. In the three weeks since I left Seattle I have traveled without any money and found it quite inessential. It is always easy to beg a few nickels in almost any city but whenever I did I found they would stick to my pocket so long it was hard to get rid of them. Truly the poorest man is the richest if he but knows how to extract the treasures from books, from nature and from humanity. I feel that I have lived in the last few days, also in a worldly sense I could point to no specific achievement. But man is a psychological creature as Keyserling points out and the meaning of evolution is the gradual triumphs of spirit over matter. I feel that spiritually I am advancing to a point so that in a few years I will be able to do writing of a creative value. The other things – ragged clothes, and improper diet I do not look upon as beneficial as is the habit of some religious mystics but I do not believe they will do any permanent damage and furthermore my role as a common beggar and wondering student will assist in the aim which at present dominates my life:
TO CONVERT AS WIDE A RANGE OF EXPERIENCE AS POSSIBLE INTO CONSCIOUS THOUGHT.
...Somewhat dilapidated clothes but also my facial expression. I am one of the few hobos on the road who still likes to walk, and the healthy life I lead without smoking or drinking or submitting to other common vices, the sleeping outdoors beside a fire, and the occasional hardships of travel have left their traces in a sunburned and wind-beaten skin, and eyes that have been cleaned and sharpened by being focused on near and far objects
Sunday, April 2:
I walked some 12 miles today in search of the glamorous Saint Louis I had dreamed of but all I found was the prosaic city of solid stone and concrete and nearly as solid smoke and dust. I long to bury myself in a really exciting city, a city where culture is vibrant, a city where music is passionately loved and where love is something holy and beautiful—a city like Paris or Moscow where poetry is part of life where men are poets and life is a poem.
August 20th, 1938:
Plan for a Musico-Electrodynamic-Psychoanalytical Novel…
In some fashion I have just been struck with a brain-waive of ideas for a post-surrealist neo-psychoanalytic, electro-chemical novel about a man and a glass of water in which the two themes—Ivory soprano and purple bass—melodiously interweave like the point-counterpoint of a musical composition. In all seriousness there is promising material here for a long story or a short novel using a vitalized stream-of consciousness technique. The axis of the tale is an oldish, semi-intellectual man hypersensitized by some tragic experience, looking into a glass of water and what he sees in it, what images, what pictures of the past it awakens in his imagination. This is obviously alluding to the crystal-vision technique for evoking the subconscious as used in psychiatry.
James Joyce wrote about 1 day in the life of his characters but for this theme 2 hours would be sufficient. Joyce’s work is an epic of scholarship and symbolism but its torrential force is dissipated because it encompasses too much amorphous plot and action so that it annihilates not only time but also the orientations and proportions which are necessary to art. It’s parallelism with the Odyssey and its symbolism using different scenes to represent different organs of the body (James Joyce’s Ulysses by R. Miller Budnitskaya, Critic’s Group Dialectics) while interesting are not particularly successful as literary devices. For the spiritualization of life with all its dulcet and dolorous tone-colors into the form of a psychoanalytic novel the virtue of the most primitive simplicity and permits the minute analysis of details rather than of the more genial aspects of reality which are obvious to everyone. Since it deals with a static situation as far as physical motion is concerned it has no primary plot, and only primary character (the secondary characters are images in his mind gaining an ephemeral reality as materialized in the water) Basically there is but 1 reciprocal relationship—between the man and the glass of water (other influences as sun-color-wind-vibrations are mirrored in the glass so that everything outside it seems in darkness and shadows.)
It is important that the waterglass should be composed of a vitreous substance containing manganese and due to this chemical impurity the ultra-violet rays have softened its sharply crystalline for by giving it a pale amethyst tint. This imperfection which really increases its beauty is a bond with the past history of the man bringing to mind the llamas, the Guarani Indians, the Algaroba trees of high Bolivia mystically interweaving their shadows in the windowpanes which in the rarified atmosphere of that high altitude, the violent ultra violet rays have tinted in colors ranging from pale amethyst to deep violet black.
The man himself is sunburned, old and worn—faded blue yes—nose asymmetrical but giving him a brooding philosophical expression.
The sun plays a central part in the tale not only for the Freudian symbolism of sun and water, i.e. male and female but it is the miraculous and poetic source of life-giving energy, the dynamo which runs the earth-machine, the influence which transmutes one element into another thereby harmonizing the relationship between man and glass, and also creating the sad illusion of time by measuring the passing hours like the relentlessly falling knife of a cosmic guillotine.
These 2 hours in the man’s life should be used as the focal point for all past and future hours. It is preferably the time of twilight and while the blood-red sun drops behind the screen of cherry trees and lilacs outside the curtained window the mind of the protagonist floats like an ivory boat on the blue waves of dream and fancy.
The relationship of man and glass is that of a flower bending over a river, a philosopher reading an esoteric book or 2 lovers in the delights of orgasm. As the sun moves to the horizon the glass of water moves down the chromatic scale red-yellow-green as it reflects the yellow light, the red cherries and the green curtains. It also transmits all the shades and nuances of the man’s emotion, reflecting the mirages of the past—the moving figure of himself visualized with terrible subjectiveness(sic)—the pale pathetic shadows of human beings, brothers, sisters and wanderers—the dank chaotic city with its blazing lights and the fiery stars of its auto headlights—all reproduced with the fidelity and mellowness of a rare violin.
The water is a plastic and effeminate medium a musical instrument which his mind plays upon with subtlety equal to the fingers of a virtuoso running up and down the keys of a piano.
By disregarding the canons of plot and action the story gathers momentum purely in response to the electrical current emanated in the dynamo of the man’s psyche. The human brain is here portrayed as a wonderful electrico-musical phenomenon which makes its possession a sublime, God-like super-being by recreating in aesthetically emerging patterns, piece by piece and color by color the materialistic universe. As the story nears its end a sublime truth becomes revealed, namely that the play of mind upon matter is a musical process like the moving of a bow across the strings of a violin.