Core of darkness

[Anya Jasbar]

To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless...Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by. Her horizon seemed to her limitless. There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome. This core of darkness could go anywhere, for no one saw it. They could not stop it, she thought, exulting. There was freedom, there was peace, there was, most welcome of all, a summoning together, a resting on a platform of stability. Not as oneself did one find rest ever, in her experience (she accomplished here something dexterous with her needles), but as a wedge of darkness. Losing personality, one lost the fret, the hurry, the stir; and there rose to her lips always some exclamation of triumph over life when things came together in this peace, this rest, this eternity ...

I had forgotten these images -- the thick leather curtain and the wedge-shaped core of darkness -- or rather I knew them but could not remember how I knew them. Re-copying my old notes has proven fruitful in many ways. I sorted out my books today -- I can only take 100 lbs worth of books, and only 50 when I first arrive. The only non-philosophy books which are making the first trip are Orlando, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Years, Magic Mountain, Villette, The Book of Disquiet, Labyrinths, and the collected poems of Emily Dickinson. That says much.

I read Stoner by John Williams this weekend -- perhaps there's a connection between that image of the core of darkness and Stoner's own deliberate pace through life -- deliberate and dark but with surprising flashes of activity and fierce determination. Some of the best descriptions of love -- a funny phrase to write.

I spent today with my parents at a rain-soaked Longwood Gardens -- lost for hours amongst the plants and trees.

I have one more week of work, one more weekend of togetherness, and then I leave.