Conversations with Velikovsky, Journal Entries 1971:
Velikovsky Seeks to “Exploit” Edgar Allan Poe’s
“The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” for his book
Mankind in Amnesia.
by Eric Miller
March 11, 1971
"Talked with V a few minutes ago. Said he read Poe's piece and not only did he read it but he said he wished to "exploit it"... Click to Read
"A Young Poet & His Pipe Dream"
Vol. I, 1963,
[Background Notes: Again, beginning pages of my Journals first begun in a return trip in 1963 to my early home town, Mason City, Iowa, at 22 years of age. Below I reflect, among other things, on my home town.]
There is some romantic perversion in the concept that man is the measure of all things. It seems to me that that which we are not is the true measure of what we are or can know.
Genius is a reckless gamble with fate.
The desire to be original in thought and art is a Circe for those who aspire to create. Because of it the young are seduced into stylistic tricks.
One of the most difficult problems to overcome: How to maintain one's skepticism, not to be seduced into signing one's name to principles that can only be provisional, and yet to act in the world as though one were not a divided man.
Tonight I think of that small town in Midwestern Iowa that was my home until the age of fifteen. Even now I can see it so clearly in my mind; the truth is I feel that I never left, or, at least, that somehow it is still alive in me in all its beauty and fear.
Mason City is a symbol of the constant. The population never seems to increase or decrease, it remains at or near 30, 000. Children are born there as anywhere and the old die with their faded dreams as they do the world over. Yet in spite of this the same children seem to people the streets, the very faces that I know wander in the streets or sit aimlessly on their porches at dusk and masses of high trees line every street and at dusk and twilight hours they are a dark blue against the grey blue sky.
It seems to me now, how strange that for fifteen years when my heart was so open to this land and its people -and now that I am the same yet so different it is so close.
It was here that I first suffered, loved, it was here that I would lie awake at night in shame and fear-it was here that I found a fullness and perfection in the beauty of the earth and skies and a painful incompleteness in our poverty.
Everything I learned was taught me by this city, this land and the people who live and are buried here.
[Background Notes: As mentioned in the first installment, I wrote my first one act play in these very days. See "Plays" A WALL FOR SALE to actually read what I wrote]
I am just a few lines way from completing my first one act play. It is called A WALL FOR SALE -it is quite an interesting thing. There are many dimensions to it, though I'm afraid they'll go pretty much unnoticed because of the burlesque qualities. Perhaps that is my fault. Anyway it concerns the sale of a wall, an ordinary wall. It is the way men identify with the wall, what it means to them, that makes the wall into a symbol-of what? I must confess I'm not sure. - However, that is its strong point. Enough, I have been working on it for about a full week, no sleep steals upon me that is not touched with thoughts of it. It gets trying. Tonight I hope to have no thought whirling in my mind-a good night's rest-that is the ambition of the moment.
Discussed modern poetry with Travi-it is very depressing what poetry has come to. Where are the young poets who are not writing insipid, tired lines, that aren't even good prose? They are somewhere alive-Where? I despair waiting to hear from them.
Tried to write today. Utter failure! What a black, unrewarding, miserable task I have set for myself. When the incendiary moments of hope and confidence burn out, what is left? I can't even write a sentence correctly and I fancy myself a potentially expert writer. Remorse, guilt, fear, anxiety and terrible depression. How quickly the black mood sets upon me as soon as I begin to question myself-what I really am, and where this life will lead me. To ward off the demons I read. Everywhere I turn responsibilities confront me like a hydra-headed monster. And I have neither the energy to fight it nor to run . --
I would like to do something with the language that has not yet been done, esp. the use of language in drama.
A Wall For Sale was read Friday night at the Scripteasers (a group of local playwrights and semi-professional actors). They were all, without exception, excitedly impressed. It was an invaluable experience to hear it read. I had intended to change a number of things but after the reading I have decided against it. It will stand as is, with all its limitations (except, of course, the addition of stage directions).
[Comment on the Entry]
All my life I suffered from PTSD and Bipolarity and my Journals literally contain probably one of the most extensively detailed documented "case histories" of these maladies. More of these matters in things to come. . .
In preparation for posting a First Entry, I began reading the first of the entire set of 175 journals. I had never read any of my journals before. At most I had glanced through but a few pages from any of them, ever. As I got to page 44, I came upon a startlingly prescient entry, which well serves, it seems, for a first entry of “Journal Jottings” taken from “My Complete Journals.”
In the summer of ’63, as I have noted in my “homepage” remarks, my artist friend and I traveled to the Midwest, where, in my home town of Mason City, Iowa, I bought my first journal. The pix is of an actual page from that first journal, on page 44 (undated). It was written shortly after I turned 23.
Marginal dating notation in bold, of course, is created anew for posting purposes. Any dates that do not appear in bold at the beginning of an entry was provided by the journals. Any given “Background Notes” will appear in brackets, as follow:
Volume 1.pg. 44, ELM Journals
Late Summer, 1963
[Background Notes: The journals indicate that at the time of this entry, I was immersed in the reading of Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, Flaubert, Genet, Camus, Malraux, etc. and writing plays, short stories, and philosophical reflections. The one act play, A Wall for Sale, was being completed, as well as various short stories, including, The Walk. Married, with a infant daughter, financially struggling, insecure, and often self-tortured, thus we open the curtains on our own little self-drama with the outcry of a troubled, but determined, poet.]
I wish I could read without the temptation to write. If what I read is bad I think: “How much better I could do it. Why, this author has made a fortune and a reputation off this tripe;” and if it is interestingly good I think, “I would like to try my hand at that; what a wonderful adventure of feeling and thought. I have such things in my own being,” etc., etc.. . Yet I have accomplished nothing and in all likelihood could not even write a 10 cent novel without a million grave defects. Well, why should I plague myself thinking about it? I either will write or I will not (good or bad) and it all comes to the same in the end.
Yet that is not quite true for I desire to write with everything in me and cannot imagine, however much I try, a life deserted of at least a continuous attempt. I see myself as an old man of 70 writing about an old man who could never write but who never quit—will it be a boring story? Perhaps the writing of it but never the living of it.
Tonight I have no definite feelings or thoughts about anything, yet it is pleasant and I have taken great pleasure in eating today and in smelling the air. (I ate some cold pork chops with my fingers as I read "War and Peace" and experienced an enormously heroic emotion doing so. Only the most mundane experiences arouse in me “heroic” sentiments).
Must write a letter to Cedric.
[Comment on the Entry]
Well!, here I am, that clairvoyantly seen “old man” just as our Journalist “saw” it in the above passage. Indeed, I have just turned 70 and am writing about an “old man” (me) who could never write anything of value “but who never quit.” And the author of the above cited remarks correctly saw into the future that that the living of such a life of a creative artist was never boring. I do, however, take a bit of umbrage over my calling myself an “old man” at 70, but I forgive the fledgling author as he was young, a poet, and obliged to tell the truth, no matter the subject or who it concerned.
A NOTE ON “MY JOURNALS” . . . .
As a fledgling young writer, for years I had written all my creative writing notes on stray scraps of paper, or, at best, in cheap wire-spiral bound note books, easily discarded or lost—apparently, it seemed, as calculated. And this may well have been, in fact, the situation, for I had a strong case of self-denial, insecurity, extreme angst and even, occasionally, self-loathing, particularly in reference to my hateful inability to write masterfully, as I so desperately wanted. In any case, surely it was “meant” to be that I purchased my first “official” cloth-bound, hand stitched, journal that became the first in my 175 volume collection, half a continent away from my early adopted home town in southern California. That is to say I purchased my first-of-all journals in my native-born home town, Mason City Iowa, from which our family originally moved in 1955, when I was just 15.
A close artist friend and I had decided in 1963 (when we were both in our early 20s) to make a great cross-country trip. Eager to just “get on the road” and drive, we hatched a plan to travel from where we were both living at the time in San Diego to two destinations: The Chicago Museum of Art, to view a great exhibition of Modern Artists, and (especially to accommodate me) a visit to my home town, Mason City, Iowa. I remember, to this day, 47 years later, with extraordinary clarity the indelible days of that amazing trip. Here, I only want to record that it was while my artist friend, Roger Penny, and I were touring the various small shops in downtown Mason City (the original town area) that we happened upon a stationery store that looked “artsy-craftsy” and quite intriguing. We went in and in no time Roger spied a beautiful leather and green cloth-bound writing journal and called me over to show it to me. “You must get this! Then you’ll have someplace to keep what you write.” he insisted. Dogged, nearly all my life, literally, by impecunious circumstances, I looked at the price tag and reluctantly put the beautiful journal back on its shelf. “No,” my friend insisted, “you can afford it. You need it for your writing. Get it!” There was a battle in my mind, but not for long.
Thus, I acquired my first journal and embarked on a life-long habit of writing in journals. To the best of my memory, through all these decades, moving to different states, and even living abroad, I have not lost a single journal. At first it would take some 3 years to finish 400 pages, then I became increasingly prolific, if not prolix. Another close friend of those early days, (and really throughout all his life, ever since early high school) Mark Casady, played a major role in deciding the strategy for what I should write. “Don’t think about it,” he counseled me, “just put it in the journal. You can think about if you want to keep it or not later. Just put it in the journal, whatever ‘s on your mind.”
In all these many decades I’ve never read any of the some, now, 175 journals. At most I’ve glanced through a couple of them for only a few pages a few years back. So, reading and posting selections from My Journals on my Journal Jottings website, will be a new experience for me as well. The waters are bound to be a bit choppy here and there, many of these years are years of great struggle not only in my own life but in the life of our nation.
Hopefully, a cupful now and then from this decades-deep well of Journal Jottings will provide some refreshment, if not reflection on the dreams, fancies, and foibles of a poet’s journey through the great Mystery of Life.