Our friends, how seldom visited, how little known—it is true; and yet, when I meet an unknown person, and try to break off, here at this table, what I call ‘my life,’ it is not one life that I look back upon; I am not one person; I am many people; I do not altogether know who I am—or how to distinguish my life from theirs.
Virginia Woolf The Waves
P h i l o s o p h y
Words of your art are the world,
perceptions of selves weave portraits
from sea. One life is not confined to
one body. Promised in the body
something more certain than itself.
F i r s t M e m o r y
The one that paints red and purple flowers
on your mother’s dress?
The one where the base of your bowl of life
stands upon this one memory?
Lying swaddled in the nursery in St. Ives.
Her white dressing gown.
Reflection of turquoise in the mirror crinkled like the wool blanket she wrapped.
Obsessed with the lighthouse, the sea.
You said you were lying and hearing this splash
of the waves breaking, and you saw the light: barreling waves.
Moments of being embedded in moments of non-being.
Who was in your kaleidoscope of selves?
Did you reinvent your self?
D e a r V – I
Hysterical as I read how you loathed Freud. He claims psychoanalysis brought about your creativity and that you needed to see a therapist. I bet you were thankful for Leonard; he put Freud in his place. “If Virginia had gone to see somebody about her mental breakdowns, the creativity, the madness, it would have stopped.”Good for him. It was more Preferable to be mad and creative than to be analyzed. Who wants to remember that horrible dress your mom made you wear to St. Ives anyway? You said you “ceased to be obsessed by your mother. You no longer hear her voice; you do not see her. … you suppose that you did for yourself what psycho-analysts do for their patients. You expressed some very long felt and deeply felt emotion. And in expressing it you explained it and then laid it to rest.” And you didn’t even have to pay, right? Unless by writing. You do lighten up a bit on Freud , whose “ sense of the power of the past and of the primitive emotions that lurk beneath the veneer of culture can be seen in To the Lighthouse.” But he is still that “screwed up shrunk very old man.”
Did you see who just walked by?”
“I could smell a light hint of self absorption in this gaudy unpleasant theater.”
“Who does he think he is showing up at the same conference? What is he going to do? Go up there and tell you that your novels are just a cry out for help?”
T h e R o a d t o t h e B e a c h
Has my ocean traveled with your wind?
Waves send mysteries abroad.
Barrels pursue each other as sea divides itself from a dark horizon.
Without its companion, one cannot be by itself.
The sea as ourselves. The wind as our thoughts.
Fragments travel on ship’s cargo, Lost: another sea to breathe with and conform to.
I n s i d e r
The sea always comes back.
Is that why you love the
“We may sink and settle on the waves.”
Rhythmic pounding marked
passages of time. Whose
breath comes, goes
“Who am I? Am I all of them? Am I one and
distinct? I do not know.”
at the shore line before
“And the words that trail drearily without
human meaning; I will reduce you to order.”
Your outside was full of disorder,
confusion. What were the little things
“Beech trees, the river bank, where the
trees meet united like lovers in the water.”
Not a ruined or wasted thing. Meaning in
an ordinary Wednesday afternoon.
“All is shattered.”
D e a r V – II
You would have really enjoyed meeting Jacques Lacan. He doesn’t find confidence in the structure of “I.” The self? Well, he thought that we were all made up of “selves” and our identity never stops forming. We are tied to others, just the way that you made The Waves. Everybody is fragments, and “I” is actually “we.” Good call, V.
“In bringing into being the “I” who will play the protagonist in the subject’s life story, forming a link between the subject’s psyche and the world outside, the mirror stage lays the groundwork for the cultural formation of identity.”
The mirror stage brings memories of childhood. Your mother? Was she in the mirror?
“Please, Sigmund drives me to drink.”
“I never wanted my theories to be married to his. It is so unfortunate that we are in literary articles together.”
“I’m glad we had lunch, Jacques. Cheers!”
T o T h e L i g h t h o u s e
Conformed to the bay.
Certain of a love.
Changing as time travels.
Ground eats away.
Constant reminder of an intertwined melody.
Of the mirror.
Of the waves.
V ‘ s D i a r y
Saturday, August 12th
Hovering in your mind today
after you read Dickens and Austen.
The Moths. The image. The struggle in your pen.
Wednesday, September 25th
The Waves now. You wanted to quit.
I’m thankful you didn’t.
It wasn’t pleasurable to write.
I promise, it was pleasurable to read.
Saturday, November 30th
Your room at Rodmell would be the key.
Something was missing. It was nonsense.
You kept erasing and you couldn’t find the center.
Is there such thing?
Wednesday, April 9th
So many questions you left.
Are there no true words? Is there
only one person? One exact thing to slip
into while keeping the book itself alive? You give us a hint.
Bernard: he goes on straight in the final stride. End.
Wednesday, January 7th
We can’t read The Waves between tea
and dinner. High pressure pushes
brains to knots. Half past twelve, you’re
Sunday, July 19th
L said a masterpiece.
This is extremely difficult, V.
What did the reviewers say? Your friends?
It screwed their brains up.
Thursday, October 8th
Published. Hogarth Press.
U n b u r y t h e S e v e n t h
A vase on the table of past.
Six selves missing the seventh.
What words were left?
Ones that satisfied everything but happiness, loss?
Is the cowardly world conquerable together?
But weren’t they always on their own?
I have lived a thousand lives already. Every day I find relics of myself in the sand.
The death of the self.
The heroism in the unattainable.
B y t h e E d g e o f E n d
Here lies a companion for nature’s ground.
The antagonist for a limitless reality found.
No painter or composer could frame this commitment.
Battle, a fierce battle.
Fight for an answer and join a world
not confined to intimate things.
Surrender at last, the struggle is over.
Wishing for independence among others.
Find another connection.
One that is separate from your mother’s.
The question is if your purpose is good here?
There is no answer.
Overtaken with relief, instead of fear.
Without virtues, who can you be? Who could you become?
Overwhelming doom you can’t run from.
Realization laid you down, made you numb.
F o u n d
The sun un risen.
The waves un shored.
March 28th, 1941
The pen stopped here.