PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1978 - SEPTEMBER
There was a time - in New Zealand - when waiting was important - the atmosphere of the room, the colour of the walls, the feel of the seat, the smell of the air. Waiting was a relevant detail of my day, and I felt obliged, either to glance at Reader's Digest, or write a surreal waiting poem.
So I got to thinking about beauty - and the essence of what it is - something that essentially pleases a sense in its form, colour, shade, tone, whatever. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why is one person's face beautiful to me and not another's when the reverse might be true for a friend of mine? Are animals beautiful? What animal is ugly? Is a chimp ugly or a crab? Don't we use an adjusted scale when we look on animals? Don't we say a chimp is beautiful, yet if a man looked like a chimp we would consider him ugly.
My head is thinking a lot about my own appearance. I have become vain since shaving off my beard, looking into mirrors and windows constantly for my reflection. People have said I'm handsome and pretty. I begin to feel it, to be conscious of it, and a desire arises in me to be able to use it, to use this prettiness.
But back to beauty. Surely, my idea of beauty in a person is bound up with wanting that person physically and sexually. So I find myself quite able to accept the physical advances of the beautiful, but not so of the not so beautiful. If a complete stranger came up to kiss me, the more beautiful she was the more likely I would be not to reject her. I try to project that the other way round.
There has to be a reason. Is it possible that from our birth we build up sets of experiences associated with faces, objects, forms, and that these develop, until we have certain composite patterns, and then, when a new face is presented to us, the subconscious runs through all related experiences and comes up with an answer as to whether we like the face, whether we think it is beautiful.
What about the beauty of art. What we consider spontaneously to be pleasing to the eye is not necessarily the same as what we are told is a masterpiece.
The blankness of Claudia's face still haunts me. Nietzsche says: I should only believe in a god that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity. I learned to walk; since then I have let myself run. I learned to fly; since then I do not need pushing in order to move from the spot. Now am I light, now do I fly, now do I see myself under myself. Now, there danceth a god in me.
Pamela fought her way through the hall's endless suitcases, struggled over beds and carpet rolls, and surprised us with a head peeping around door. You are Paul, I know you, Marielle talked so much about you. Glad to meet you. Am I disturbing. No, no not at all, I'm just removing the wears of a day at the office. I've just made some tea. Hello Pamela, all the way from Boston, on holiday from Vienna and the groupies (where Harold lies embattled in a field of emotions).
Pamela falls in love, she has already decided to love me. It's a competition thing with Marielle. I feel her manipulating me naively so that I want her sexually. I like it. She has the burden of being one of Marielle's people. I have the burden of being someone who has affected Marielle greatly. Pamela is so English. I feel some of the strain she underwent in attaching herself to the group and its hazardous life. Pamela is lovely. Someone to share breakfast with.
I have been formally warned at work. I am accused of misappropriating materials: a xerox of my head was found. If only they knew how many copies I've taken. how many bits of coffee I've stolen (how absurdly childish is that?), how many phone calls I've made to France and Vienna. The fiddling of expenses, the paper, pens, pencils, sellotape, card I have whipped. And yet they may still find out. And what about my time keeping: I go home leaving others with work still to be finished. But I justify this by my early arrival and working through lunch - but do I work through lunch? And what about my dress: I was wearing sandals when Ian Macyntyre came to lecture us; and then there's my head band; my suit of mockery. But I don't come in as a clown. Oh, how I would love to photocopy my penis and leave it lying around or even hanging on the wall one day. Bunuel would do it for a film.
Now I must not go home early, or answer the telephone or talk too much in my cynical jokey way. I hope I can manage to go straight. Being fired is not good for my metabolism, it upsets the regular growth of fingernails.
I was fired once when I was a young laundry van driver because I refused to coal the furnaces. A few months later the company went bust. I have done all my other jobs well, and it's only boredom that gets to me in the end. With this job, I'm being punished because I set a bad example.
I begin to think about my madness, my acuteness, my perception of the world - where the fuck am I going. I must stop somewhere and direct my energies somewhere, somehow. My madness will destroy me, it deludes me into thinking I'm normal and just braver, totally refusing to believe that other's don't understand. That's the point: the madness always believes it is being understood for what it is, a game, until suddenly one day it is no longer a game, and the reactions from outside start to grate on beliefs and it's too late, and one cannot walk quietly any more through the day.
Bunuel comes to mind so many times. Just now I saw a naked man alive and well on the pavement, he was fat and throwing his arms in the air. It was a performance, but the nearest watchers were far away, their backs turned. The madness of the Phantom of Liberty. In one scene people came to the house as visitors and were invited to sit down at the table to shit, and in order to eat they had to excuse themselves politely. The film was absurd, the camera followed the new instead of the thread. It was a plotless story, just relying on absurdity to hold it together.
I feel beautiful - my hair swept back, my fingernails clean, light comes and goes from the garden, but the wind no longer enters, the door is closed.
17 September, Aldeburgh
To Harold: Gurgles from the sea anenomes. I ran away from the city down to the seaside with the Four Quartets tickling the hairs under my arm and the moon fuller than a circle, almost an edible apple. I built a cormorant in a sandy estuary and watched it motionless - beady eyes gleaming for passing fish, but it never moved. Sticks and grass and seaweed feathers, and sand all hung from the cormorant branches, a reed was its long long beak. The silence and the sun, feeling full again after so long without eating or tasting the salt. Everywhere the ferns, the Suffolk ferns intermingled with the thorns and the sweet blackberry, occasional poppets of violet, red poppy, yellow seeds - bare feet rejoicing - bare chest reflecting sunshine and image. Running slowly, catching spikes in my toe more alone than not alone, a pleasure, an acquaintance or two, wading in the ice-box river along ridges of sand, light so very light. The city is nothing but gravity in living and solid form. How light you must feel, weighed up by turmoils of love and infatuation or the spurmoils of food sucked and curdled in olive oil.
Look in the window of the house on Victoria Rd and you may see a piano, some silver oddments, a picture on the wall, a set of croquet clubs by the stairs, and the very green foliage in the conservatory gone a little wild. The owner makes his own bread, buys his vegetables from the farm up the road, endeavours to use herbs and spices correctly, does his washing and cleaning on Sunday. He doesn't go to church these days because he fought with the vicar about playing the organ. Andrew is a teacher of biology; every morning he drives into Ipswich where he has a little more responsibility than he would like. Andrew and his semi-permanent guest, Philip, my old friend, are both gay and in love with classical music. They are partly here because of the Britten-Pears connection. While other men's money belongs to beer, horses and children, their's goes into books and records. There is an essence of fineness here - the air is filled with pretty solos or profound movements. There are no crumbs on the floor (nor words on the toilet walls). There is no touching (nor tickling of the balls). There is no mention of money (no nits in their hair).
I am the chariot driver again
I am the silver sailor again
I am the chewer of grass again
I am the tallest of hollyhocks again
I am the gentle octopus again
I am the flock of swallows again (not sure of the season)
I am momentarily sane again
I am barefooted again (earth and sand, water and fern)
The gravity of the city is not here, my back is straight again no weight to share
I am the lover of the most little again
I am the lover of the incredible ocean again, and the net and the fishermen and the pebbles and the pub and the old women and ENGLAND again.
19 September 1978
Here in the office, I feel like the colt that has, at last, been broken in - I lose my sense of specialness. So this is how the city wins those young and bouncing kids; it seduces them into forgetting time and ideals; and manipulates them to be so busy as to forget emotional excitements. I am tamed. Somehow last week was the end of the summer, the end of the training period. I went away, forgot everything, and came back with my head twisted to fit straighter and less screwy-eyed. Come on autumn, I challenge you to bring me the wild and exciting. Come on winter, I challenge you to bring me the warmth of love that my lovers are splashing about in Greece. I challenge thee spring to make me ready for a new tour.
I built a cormorant in the sea and nobody even looked at it.
Saturday 23 September
How many things pass through the brain in a day. On seeing Chinese men and women wander a long road, all dressed the same, I wonder how much of Brave New World is already there in their communism, how much social force, how little liberty. Why does it make me sad? Because it's directly affecting me on one emotional level now, at this moment: oh how terrible, all these people being brought up like machines to do work. But then I think, so what, what do I care. And then other thoughts come, about people who run away from the world because it's all so sad and boring and pitiful. Of course it is and those who run away have a lot of sense. They can live in some kind of freedom and peace of self-justification or self-righteousness, and go around saying how terrible the world is. How right they are. But how much better to look for the magic, be entertained by it, but not to be disappointed when it fails. And the old men on the street make me sad too.
Should I enter the Time Out short story competition?
I blew up at Jean the other night when he asked why we don't communicate so well.
I think it is ridiculous to think of Marielle so much, talking to her on tape, looking at her picture, missing her, not being able to forget her. In the party we (Jean and I) had there were the self-realisers, the prettiest people, the Baghwan groupies, the freemasons (Johnie came with lovely Tessa), Flow and Dick. It feels good to be so busy, to have so many acquaintances, connections everywhere. Do I enter London life at last, is my flat on the map.
The Iternational Times (IT) and Demolition Decorators (DDs) are going to share an office in the squat at 13-14 St James's St. The DDs and the Revolutionaries, drink tea from broken mugs and sit on wooden crates. I should be too old for this by now, I should have started upon more mature projects - but such is life.
M casually says that she is sending her books and things to Argentina. Are you going home, my lovely one, my pretty one. I cannot help my feelings. I want to hold you tight, like a sister. I see you weak now, and tender. I feel responsible. I made you big in my eyes, but you are small, just like me. She wants to give money back to her mother. I see her pride - look Mama, look how well I've done for myself - and tell my little story 'Pepi and the Serviettes'.
The Revolutionaries turn up together in a large yellow van for a meeting with us the DDs. The first performance of the day is over. They spill threads of honey across the carpet, choose the ripest of bananas to butter their sandwiches, politely compete for only two cups, jostle for position, and talk to each other at the same time. Willy is the reddest anarchist, a fighter for the cause, a martyr to the freedom, a one-man festival of life and death. He is one of three dedicated self-indulgent masochists who create each issue of International Times. His contentment waves up and through his face as he smiles. It has always been his dream to act a little, and now he is doing it and supporting his cause. The loud and the lonely 'I've-got-friends' Japanese girl says there is so much freedom and space in England, while in Japan nothing is possible. Willy replies: 'You were good at the airport, intimating some divine connection between You, the Japanese girl, and You, the whole proportion of the Japanese population that are socialist.' We are joining forces and will sell back copies of IT in the crowds for 20p. Half the money will go to IT and half to the Demolition Decorators. And then there's Tommy, the bearded one, the one that nearly stutters, the exhaustive organiser, the reticent but determined-to-be-a- hero type. His ideas are always louder; his absences more obvious. Indeed, his energy always overwhelms us until his proposal is rolling along the streets, and usually into the police station cells. Tommy laughs: 'I was arrested'. So it's Tommy who is working hardest to realise his dream, his Revolutionary masturbation. He optimistically imagines endless outcomes, and then, there in his head, they become as firm and fast as concrete and steel.
And so we congregated at Brockwell Park, having marched from Hyde Park. And now here we are, the socialists, the rockers against racism, the backers against fascism. Here are the black-faced and leather capped; here are the green-haired and paper-clipped ear; here are the dying Dylons, and the sons of their friends; here are the music ones, the rock and roll and reggae drones; here are the pumping bands and the trendy dance hall lambs; here are the violently colourful, tightly cossetted and the weekend dollies; and here are the strong in faith and the weak in spirit.
Monday 25 September
Yes, I did want to make love with J and C together. We had spent such a nice evening that I arrogantly asked them to join me in bed. They hugged and kissed me, but then left to go to their own room. However, some minutes later, clad only in a towel, J returned, told me to close my eyes, and led me to his bed. They tried to remove my trousers, but I had to help them (it's a bit awkward and embarrassing six hands trying to undo one's trousers!) - and so to some frantic lovemaking . . .
Arriving in the office, Rosemary notices my suit. Ha ha. She thinks I've bought a new one because of the trouble I've been in lately. What did I want to say? Michele asked me if I did anything exciting at the weekend. Could I have replied that I made love with two people together for the first time in my life? Could I have replied that?
On the tube, there was a very beautiful woman. She moved and looked as soft as alpaca wool of the purest kind. I thought I would say hello if she didn't get off at Oxford Circus. And there was a thick-cheeked man reading a script. Last night I fell asleep listening to Horowitz play Rachmaninov's third piano concerto - amazing.
Saturday 30 September
Mozart plays, a candle burns, I have the fire burning for the first time since spring. I write about Robert Lewis.
Sunday 31 September
I carried M, Roger and Lieve off on one of my mad schemes, as M put it, and took 70 pictures of them in the Secret Garden.
Paul K Lyons
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