Monday, August 25, 2008

JOURNAL EXCERPT: May 20, Sat.1978 6:45 PM

"I started reading The Notebooks of Thomas Wolfe.He excites me. He became so immersed in the world around him. I have only read You Can't Go Home Again by him. I started The Web and the Rock, got about three-fourths of the way through and wasn't able to finish it. It became too much of a struggle. It also became very boring. You Can't Go Home Again was a much better book; more cohesive. I also have Look Homeward, Angel by Wolfe, but haven't read it yet.

"Received a letter from Ida a few days ago. Surprised the hell out of me. I haven't written her back yet.

"I've decided to start writing poetry again. Hope I'm ready for it now. My past poetry hasn't been too good."

MANHOOD REDO: Looking back, I think I was drawn to the study of literature because it seemed like a way into the world of emotions; I suspect that explains the sentence, "He became so immersed in the world around him." Whereas I felt cut off from the world around me, locked in a frozen emotional state, standing on the board but unable to dive headfirst into the messy human world, stuck in a place of feelings stunted by masculinity, Wolfe in my mind could feel everything, enter fully into his environment. He felt all the pains, darkness, and glories of childhood, captured the rolling emotional states of a town, a community, savored the struggles and transitions into adulthood. He reveled in the complexity and comprehensiveness of a lived life. It all seemed so different, such a nontraditional way for a man to be in the world.

The same applied to writing. I could spill feelings onto the page, whether a journal, a story, a poem. I was reading and writing to save myself, to start the thawing process.

Of course, later in grad school, I learned that the study of literature had its own very traditonally masculine qualities. And it became hard to hold onto that deep-seated emotional revelation in stories. Some twenty-five years after grad school, it's still not as strong as when I first began reading literature on my own in my twenties, although there are flashes of it.

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