Sanzenin Temple, Kyoto, 1949
I wake depressed, regretful of the past, and turn the page of my calendar. June. I see the dark, shaded variegated greens of Hatsui’s calm scene. A single yellow light at the center of its left-hand margin.
Rereading my diary, I discover that last month I had outlined the few steps needed to recover myself. I have yet to take one. Depression, fear, financial insecurity, procrastination, self-neglect, grief. My list of defects relieved only by a dear friend’s praise of my work, which inspires a list of projects I will not complete.
I make a list of my lazy reading, of which I am ashamed: mysteries (10); general nonfiction (9); poetry (6); Christian apologetics (5); criticism (4), including Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period and The Philosophical Hitchcock; biography and memoir (3), the Arendt-Scholem Correspondence; and fiction (1). I can think of only a handful of novelists whom I have read over the decades: Woolf; Cather; James, mostly; Dostoyevsky. Kafka, Sebald. So unlike the many poets I have read in their entirety. That list would be pages long.
I struggle with the internet and am on and off newsites all day. Trump’s trade war, Trump’s pardon of D’Souza, who joked about the Holocaust: Samantha Bee’s vulgarism: cunt. How does one establish a moral politics? Simone Weil: “Collective passion is the only source of energy at the disposal of parties with which to make propaganda and to exert pressure upon the souls of every member.”
I am thinking,” Susan Sontag wrote of Weil, “of her contempt for pleasure and for happiness, her noble and ridiculous political gestures, her elaborate self-denials, her tireless courting of affliction; and I do not exclude her homeliness, her physical clumsiness, her migraines . . .” The diagnostic features of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder:
another list, in which shines a singular light.