1. i read my first German book last week, without aid of dictionaries or parallel texts – Die Lausige Hexe fliegt ans Meer – a translation of Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch All At Sea. i tried to read Kraut children’s books 2 years ago and gave up in despair. i don’t feel my German has really improved since then but i can nonetheless now read these books without too much difficulty, so i suppose i am Hitler. i underline the words i don’t know and look them up after finishing. i’m now on Das Feuer von Kreta by Gabriele Bayerlein – much more adult in tone (with beaten slaves and forced marriages and what not) and enjoying it very much.

i feel no shame about reading children’s books. Both Murphy’s and Bayerlein’s books attain a nice balance. i want to know what happens next, i care about the characters, and the books don’t appear patronising or infantile to an adult, or at least not to me. i don’t have much interest in categories like fiction, non-fiction, literary fiction, thriller, children’s fiction etc . Ray Monk’s Wittgenstein bio, possibly because so much of it is a paraphrase of Wittgenstein’s own words, reads like a Tolstoy novel. WG Sebald’s books are just themselves, whatever they are. The two biographies i’ve read of Samuel Beckett gripped me like thrillers. Dr Johnson’s essays are akin to being cornered, harangued, charmed, enlightened by a highly lucid and cogent drunk (a regrettably rare experience in real life).

2. In addition, i don’t see any absolute divide between children and adults. We have a shape of consciousness outside of time – before we are born, if you like – and at different physical ages we unfold different aspects of this complex. It’s foolish to say we cease to be children, and good riddance, and become real human beings, i.e. adults. Rather, we embody different aspects of our eternal energy and some of these may be childlike or childish, others adult or weary, others sage or cynical or patronising or half-dead (sadly, many old people are just zombies). i see this more clearly with my last life – the different stages, different types of energy.

3. i taught Jack again today. He’s a Vice President of some description. He went to Microsoft and found his counterparts were Executive Senior Corporate Vice Presidents, so he asked his old boss “can you make me a Senior Executive Corporate Vice President?” The old boss said, wearily: “can I just pay you 20,000 € a year more instead?” Jack agreed to this. Then there was a new boss and Jack tried the same trick, hoping for an extra 20 k. The new boss however just made him a Senior XXX VP.

Jack told me this with his usual boyish good humour. He is very intelligent and competent, late 50s, and earns about 10 times what i do (at least), but if you considered his present shape of energy it would evidently include a goodly quantity of boyish energy, and one could probably see this in the Original Jack, the Jack outside of time. He also reads mainly science-fiction and Fantasy novels and told me he was playing the Eragon audiobook in his car and sat immobile in his garage for an hour, waiting to hear what happened next. It amuses me that he tells this to the only real sorceror he’s likely to ever meet. i don’t feel i’ve known him in another life, that is i don’t feel anything, but i can imagine knowing him as a child, since i overwhelmingly feel him to be about 10 years old.

4. Last night i dreamt of a Greek/Roman goddess – i vaguely recognised the name and googled it today. i dreamt of a different (Nordic) goddess in May 2010, again a name i vaguely recognised. Last May it was just a name, and a golden statue, something to ponder. Last night, the goddess was real. i rarely have dreams of this intensity, with a force beyond my self – not my occasional anxiety-dreams or combat/murder-dreams, or dreams of girls i’ve known in the past. There wasn’t much to the dream, that i could tell anyone – but it was a genuine visitation, not an element of my own unconscious. i can only think of one other dream of this power – again, i was with a (Germanic) god, this back in 2006 (it made more sense when i began my rune studies a couple of years later).

i’ve felt shaken and weird all day. And as if a window were briefly opened, on another reality. Such experiences are rare and of great value. It isn’t, i think, easy for gods or what have you to contact us in dreams – when it happens it’s usually at certain times (with me, it happens about 0400-0600). When i’m awake, the window opens in books.

5. People occasionally ask why i don’t become a journalist or marketeer. Pragmatically, i couldn’t because i lack the contacts, the apple polishing skills, the right background. And then, i can’t use words to manipulate, for my own profit. To amuse myself, yes; but not for money or advancement. It’s been this way all my life, the stranger as i can use language quite well when interested. i believe the difficulty is vital – that i feel language as fundamentally holy, however commonly debased. Literature is not merely entertainment; it extends from entertainment (e.g. the excellently diverting novels of Norbert Davis or PG Wodehouse or Alan Furst) to wisdom literature – and i think solid entertainment must have some wisdom to it; and wisdom must grip, compel, entrance, if it is wisdom. i wouldn’t trust boring wisdom, and i wouldn’t be very pleased by wholly japing entertainments, by idle foolery. So i handle words with care.

It’s not that gods appear in my dreams, wagging their fingers and telling me to only use language in exalted holy ways or something bad will happen. It’s rather that literature, or these rare dreams, are of another order, and i remember my limitation. i’ve felt this at times with books: some Hermann Hesse, Tolkien, Ursula le Guin, TS Eliot, Shakespeare, Dante, Sophocles, und so weiter. One feels a standard, a measure by which to judge – oneself, most of all.

6. Today, i told Bettina, one of my student-friends, about Stephen Spender’s ‘I Think’ poem. i read this for the first time in 2004, doing an office job i absolutely detested, exhausted and close to murder or suicide. i read it in a quiet staffroom in a building without natural light; i felt my mind aflood with energy and hope and light; then, surprised, i noted that the building hadn’t broken apart, that work continued as normal – that poetry does nothing. And yet, this poem led me here. The estuary to the sea, sword to scabbard, man to god, and man is child and everything. Even as a bad elberry and haphazard wizard i am whatever i am, so strangely visited.

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are fŠted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.

Stephen Spender


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