Profane Exegesis: Pride of Plath. An oddly frustrating day. Difficult to put my finger on it exactly...

Maybe the girl in the bookshop... shewing me her cleavage. Desire without a suitable object.... so to speak. I probably feel frustrated due to feeling slightly guilty for buying yet more books, and I spent over £30 on them, a fair whack. A combination of remaindered and new. I’m not going to name them all, but they’re all interesting. Mainly non-fiction, but a couple of novels also, one I’m thirty pages into, called Mammals, by Pierre Merot, being touted as better than Huellellebecq, and funnier. I can’t judge yet, but I’m enjoying it and it is of course, very elegantly written in contrast to its unpretentious content about a proverbial 'loser'. He drinks, likes women and books, has no children etc. It’s the French version of me, if not quite as I don’t drink much or smoke at all, perish the thort, and this bloke is addicted to both. I have no idea where it’s going to go and neither should I be reading it when I’ve still the Amis' and Peel and others to finish as well as keep my mind on Philip K., while some of other memories are relatively fresh, however vague; that and I want to touch on an essay on him by Colin Wilson. I actually felt some relief to see that Mammals is written with little dialogue. It’s all interior monologue of sorts, written in the second person. Dick used the method of splitting himself in two as in Valis and Albemuth, written earlier, for much needed perspective as he put it, even saying in the novel, Valis, that he and Horselover Fat were the same person. Aren’t they all, considering other people are only projections of ourselves and every novelist can only write about how he interprets the world. For me to have stated all of this long in advance only gives the game away in a way. But to discover the world is an illusion has more than enough psychological and metaphysical permutations to hold its own. What brings it alive for me is the interlinking connections and synchronicities over a lifetime so far, where the penny slowly begins to drop as suspicion sneaks in and what was formerly solid and real takes on the quality of a repeated story, a dream. I went out earlier, it being a Saturday, and typically, come back with a pile of books as I say. I did stop of at the burger joint for a milkshake – it's just liquid ice-cream – and to watch the talent from the front window. It can be a fine art meeting and avoiding the looks. When you’re inside it seems ridiculous, almost pathetic just how curious people can be, as if the sight of someone eating a burger or drinking a milkshake in a burger joint is the strangest, most outlandish thing they’ve ever seen. But when I’m on the other side of the glass – any glass, my first awareness is that people in cafes and restaurants use it as an excuse to stare of course; watch other people passing. And when you look in and meet their stare, the territorial instinct comes into play and they treat it as if you’re invading “their” space; “What’s he/she looking at?” when the sense of entitlement is all

theirs. On the inside I both try and be somewhat subtle and inoffensive about it or I’ll smile, or least as best I can. Some days I’m quite good at it, especially from a distance. And it’s better to smile than unsettle or freak them out with what could be taken as cold, Martian-like interest, though I’m my own favorite Martian, and the aliens are so easily alienated after all. If I’m passing a café, but especially a restaurant and I see some confident bald businessman or playboy type or just about any bloke at all anticipating me about to have a good look as I'm going by, when the looking is all about himself of course, and I might not have noticed him or his comely wife or mistress or whatever, I’ll keep looking straight on, only with a fixed Herman Munster-like, but humorless grin on my face, from ear to ear; “like” a crazed Whatsername (Heck, I went to see Erin Brokovitch three times, though it was on a membership ticket)? Only a fraction of the psychological subtlety needed for the most trivial of days. Oh and a slim girl in a lowish top sensed me looking at her I think, and came over, this in another cheap bookstore, but I didn’t want to be standing there obviously eying the nice tits in case I was mistaken, so I turned to the wall shelves behind and she came by me, and slightly in front, and sideways, showing of her small-size cleavage; she was anything from 19-22. I She had a friend around in the shop somewhere. Then a bloke moved into the gap and in front of me a bit as people will, so I moved away from him, and it was amusing to see her look sideways at him, slightly surprised and less pleased, assuming I was still there. Her mobile went off, and it was for her friend. She couldn’t seem to find her. I’ve only ever approached women on their own; not true, but I’ve never attempted to pick up or expect one to dump their buddy. I’m far too self-conscious for that, and I’d feel for the other girl. Why come between them, even potentially, no pun intended. I’d thought there might be a remote chance of getting some painting done on Sat; it’s now very early Sunday morning, and no, I’m not living the healthy life but have yet to go to bed and will after a bath and a stretch, though not in that order. As I say, I prefer to paint in the daytime, and there’s no getting away from that, then all I want to do is go out and get some exercise, whatever that might entail, whether it’s a combination of book-browsing and groceries or even taking in an exhibition. Invariably, by the time I get back, a combination of browsing what I bought, with a cup of tea, shitting, or food, takes me up to whatever I Want to see on TV. Earlier it was the third installment in this updated version of Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. It’s been quite interesting. Is he a split personality or a clone of himself? I don’t know as I lost track of the plot. I let my mind wander too much. I blame it on MTV myself. I expect it to come together next time. The story of my life. Later, I watched Man on Fire, starring Denzel Washington. This was gripping if flashy. The fancy filmic effects, or gimmicky visual touches had the effect of reminding you that you’re watching a film; though rather than come up with the usual easy objection that this only gets in the way, I found it made an interesting contrast to the brutal realism of the story. 'Denze' plays an alcoholic ex-government agent/operative who’s hired as a

bodyguard to protect the young daughter of a rich industrialist in Mexico City. She’s played by “the endearing…whatsername... fortunately it’s in the Radio Times…Dakota Fanning,” who was also excellent in Spielberg’s remake of The War of The Worlds. He – Washington, is emotionally guarded and quite severe, but she wins him over. She’s kidnapped, and he’s badly injured in the attack and goes out for a ruthless revenge when told she’s dead, by buddy, Christopher Walken, and after much bloodshed and great set-pieces, finds out she’s still alive. Which is exactly what we want to hear of course. There are many clever twists and turns to hold our interest, or certainly mine, though I had the inkling it was a set-up when a police chief insists on being involved through the higher authorities – as two corrupt cops were killed during the kidnapping; they just happened to be there on their day off in full uniform – as the resident female journalist points out during what I took to be a press conference. Well, enough of this. I was beginning to feel a bit queasy at the end when, after giving up his freedom for her release, he’s in the hands of the gangsters, a willing choice on his part, but alls well that ends well in death. As always in this ego-world, it has to be one or the other. A life for a life, as the extortionist says. One of the good-guy older cops and friend of the journalist gets to him in the end. The film, released in 2004, was made by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley, he of Blade Runner and Gladiator. Swapping himself on behalf of the girl presented the question; how far would you go or be willing to do the same for someone you loved? Or professed to love. The situation with Burton/John Hurt as Winston in the movie of Orwell’s 1984 comes to mind, when, about to have his face eaten into by a rat, he screams for them to put her in his place. That explains Sylvia Plath's lack of faith in anyone or anything right there, with her head – mind – full of Nazi horrors... medical experiments on kids, women eviscerated alive. It's there in her poetry and the extract on the BBC Open Uni prog I watched a few times. But a study of the Gita and the Upanishads as I did when I was 23 would have told her the world is maya, nothing more than a dream. I'd take off for walks on Arthurs Seat, knowing I had to get some time alone or I'd go crazy. That and to tighten up my brain... follow some intuitions... (Standing at the edge of a rock, facing into the wind and rain, looking across over the town, playing the role of the eternal artist, Plato's philosopher king via Bernard Shaw and feeling unexpectedly light, laughing at my the silly concerns of the hundreds and thousands of little people and their little concerns, but as much at myself for thinking that and being there). But you forget that when the chips are down or that's how it looks, and pain is the big solid block to integrity and good intentions, its easy to lose ones moral, motivation, then the plot if you're not careful, and the insidious part is as much that pleasure is pain in disguise... but what is pain but fear and projection, based on forgiveness? And many people have described a cessation of pain under

torture, the increasing presence of a healing light of love etc. And you don't need to have a mystical/numinous experience to read about it. You only need to pick up a book and read with a relatively open mind. A bit less writing and a bit less selective reading perhaps. I see I have her Letters Home too. Another 500 pages for godsakes. I wrote a lot of letters in my mid-20's.... must be about the same or not far off... and mainly to the same person, two years older than me. It was good to be in love, but painful too, under the circumstances. But as usual I came to feel she didn't understand the complexities of the situation. Neither did I. The 'vulnerable'; the poor me look how I've been treated all my life purveyors of.... victim consciousness, the 'fragile', are a whole lot tougher than they make out; it can be as much just another form of controlling, of manipulation. That was always my problem. Or part of it. That I bought it. And the crisis in conscience was in never seeing it for what it was; almost pure self-interest in the guise of love. If I had recognized it was hatred that underlay it I could have dealt with it sooner and more decisively, instead of this silly and agonizing vacillation... but when you think someone else's intentions are blameless, however tedious, you tend to blame yourself; it isn't their fault for being boring or static or insecure or... a million other excuses. So you let your life be subtly, gradually circumscribed, because you 'don't want to hurt their feelings'. When the safest thing you can do is look after and pay close attention to your own, because otherwise, you're on the slippery slope to not even making mistakes on your own behalf in the process of leading your own life; then it just becomes a part of their insane story, childishly distorted. And that's the road to hell, from which you might never extricate yourself. In short, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about pursuing your dreams; if it's real, you'll grow into it, and if it isn't, you made your own mistakes, not theirs, and another will form itself in any case. Nor do they have your particular talents, intuitions, specific life-experience. No one can tell you what's good for you, you have to find it out for yourself, and no one can do that or knows that better than you. And if they love you they'll still be there; as long as they know you love them. But if they don't – if they think hatred is love, it will never work out, whatever the circumstances and compromises. And standard notions of affection, loyalty, fidelity, become meaningless; more self-deception, bargains, and compromise and projected guilt-trips. I've got a bit carried away... Meanwhile, back at the ranch... …Interestingly there was a similarly humiliating epiphany presented in Jekyll, where a biker humiliates him/James Nesbitt, in front of his wife, the exquisite Gina Bellman; he humiliates both of them, his biker buddies in tow behind him. And needless to say, he comes to a gruesome end at the hands (and teeth) of Nesbitt/Dr Jackman in Hyde guise later. There were hints he might slip into his Hyde persona during their earlier ordeal, and we longed for it of course, but they drew it out. That, and his alter ego was locked in a fancy electronic box at the time, which is probably where I got lost. I tend to be in only a halfinterested state as I watch, chaffing at the bit to read or write. Which why I have

to get up earlier, to restate the obvious, though recording progs helped but my vid’s fucked. That’s it; that’s what I need! I knew there was something! That and getting the cable sorted out. I can’t get any TV watching in, ha ha, what with all this writing. As a semi-dedicated couch-potattie, I’m losing my touch. Bafftime. And more of Mammals. The background music is Beethoven’s 6th. The food was seafood and baked veg; a mix of aubergines, courgettes, and peppers, and so overcooked as to be mushy to the point of inedible, but I ate them anyway (I shoulda fried them, not baked them). I detest the waste – of money spent. Later/earlier, a pineapple, bananas and coconut smoothie'. Or so they say, as they also add apples and orange juice. Why? Why not just stick to what it says on the front of the carton? Supermarket brands get in on the act, complete with the friendly and informal info-style on the carton. All an act. A world full of mimics and simulacrums. All natural ingredients they say. You read it, and it’s a combination of purees. Yum. It’s a narcissists', sociopaths’ world, run by the criminally insane. Bogged down with books, I wasn’t going to be approaching anyone of course. That and I know how easy it is to start spending money on nothing. One time I went for a quick pizza with a Girl 20's and it cost me £25. I'd finished a stint of selling paintings and sat on a bench in the gardens and she sat down beside me. I noticed she had a book of ghost stories by M R James, so that meant she was intelligent... or so I thought. There was some music on in the Gardens, so it was packed. I coulda sat about, only I was on the bus, so that was that. Just as well. And so to bath.

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