– Weep more; cry less.
– When M. moved back to the city from Dubai, she bragged that she could fit her entire life into one tattered suitcase; you gawked, you disbelieved, you were envious, you felt liberated by the thought of not being burdened and burdened by the thought of being liberated. As you stepped over the toilet that was in the middle of her kitchenette to relocate to the bed—oh, the prices one pays to rent cheaply smack in the middle of Chelsea; “At least it has a curtain around it”—you did indeed realize how barren the walls were, one cupboard with only one or two chipped tea cups, no photographs, nothing extraneous, nothing that spoke of who lived there whatsoever, and, most panic-inducing, the utter lack of books. You recalled shipping suitcases of books across an ocean, paying exorbitant fees so as not to part with marginal notes, underlinings, tomes that saw you through the dark winters and bludgeonings and the nights measured in years or years measured in nights when you couldn’t sleep after he fucked you yawningly, finishing yourself off with Proust, a snoring husk, spent and stupid, beside you. Annica. “How could I live without my books?” “The hard part is getting rid of everything, realizing that you are not your possessions; but once you do, you never miss anything—you wonder instead how you ever managed to breathe with so many senseless things cluttering your flat, your space, your life.” To live like that: weightless, unencumbered, books in your head, having finally shed all your impermanent skins.
– Strether’s speech to Bilham: make it your manifesto, as he never could.
– N. has become an unexpected model of sorts, quickly and perhaps dangerously so but that is the ripest sort of creative fuel: this will evolve into something; chew on it like a kratom leaf for it will manifest, it will bloom if you trust that it will. There is something singular in N.’s vision, in his way of overlapping strands of memory, observation, nontraditional reportage, a subjective aesthetics, and cross-cultural episodes and intrigues—something to be tried on like veils, experimented with like leather. Contact N. for an interview: pluck his fertile mind to shreds with the most incisive questions you can formulate to get at his source.
– Something about Gauguin; something about magic.
– Memory is not to be relied upon; it is a tricky kind of ghost. When in the middle of the night inspiration strikes; when in an inebriated moment the title for your next book arrives unbidden; when you leave a man’s flat after the most disappointing sex of your life, instead of trying to remember his name, remember the words that came to you when he turned the lights out—remember the splash of red on the opaque walls, the squeal of the city in the background like an automaton whose presence refuses to be ignored, some hum that seeps into everything that you set to paper. If a sonnet begins to unspiral in your mind while on the F train, don’t brush it aside and think that it will strike again: the muses are never kind, nor are they fair. Stick to your notebook like a fly to tarpaper; delve into things; look up “catgut”; never arrive empty-handed but always holding some spot of entrails, some bag of bones.
– Enough with the masks already; enough with the panic.
– Something about Bartók’s sixth string symphony.
– Return to W— Castle where on a foggy day while your lover moped around in the refurbished dungeon to inspect the oubliettes you glanced out over ramparts and saw the world so distractedly and with so little color that you stuffed the only draft of your novel between the bricks and stones for the birds to find and ravage and pick apart like the carrion you thought you were—see if this can be done in either reality or in fantasy. How did the words taste to the crow who ate your I’s and your O’s? What sort of raven did you keep stolid and robust through at least one crass winter?
– Quite simply: let people journey to the bloody dungeons, if they so desire.
– Christen new spaces in ritualistic ways, with or without sage: do not reread; do not rethink. There will be brain matter spattered all over the place; there will be typos; there will be memories that come unwelcome—hold to them. Refuse to run. Sit; just fucking sit with it. (Zazen, again. Again.) There will be something in this, somewhere, if not now then in a future when you look back: that “I” you are some decades hence regretting a lost manuscript, a buried lover, a recalcitrant soothsayer. You have fled enough already, but from what you cannot say until you meet it, head on, like a battle scene straight out of the Iliad.
– Burn no more pages; shred no more words. If you hold on to anything, hold on to those—surely a suitcase could carry a lifetime’s outpouring of syllables in rhyme or otherwise. Keep writing the novel you have been writing for the last seven years—but shift it from your mind to the page, please, please.
– Open your eyes. Above all, above your fucking eyes.