The Journals of Denton Welch…

… was feeling a bit down about the substantial posts i made to this blog yesterday that caught nobody’s attention… then this bit of sparkling prose:

All my hard bones go wild with music notes, here in the rain. The fibers tremble with the whipping leaves. To be alone in the car with sandwiches and coffee and a Turkish cigarette! So snuggly alone that the world is the car, and the wood, the road, the view stung with rain, the rest of the universe.

… the book, as it winds down to an end, has taken a mournful but quite beautiful turn… every passage seems to be spiritually aglow, radiant, even as he describes the suffering he is wishing to overcome… it is hard to escape the impression of a slow descent towards the threshold of being-not-being…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW says not to worry what people will think about his journal writing, time will eradicate what it needs to and embrace the rest… he thinks people will blush reading the journal, not in 200 years time, maybe a little in 100 years time… well, it is not quite 80 years time that i am reading it… no blushing here… i suppose he might have been referring to some of his remarks about people he met… he sometimes wasn’t kind… people who knew the people might blush…

… DW is more and more often sick… all of this flows from the accident he had when 20… i wonder what got so messed up the it should become a slow but steady decline until he dies in his early 30’s… what the cosmos serves up to people… it’s a crap shoot really… by any measure, the cosmic forces that be have smiled on me… i wish i felt better about it all… i still want to find that fundamental truth that makes it all ok…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW has been asked to write an article supporting nudity at boarding schools as a means of reducing sexual interaction… he believes it will have the reverse effect…

… he writes frequently about passing through army camps no longer in use… military ghost towns left from the Second World War…

… DW frequently has fans write him and even show up to visit… i have rarely reached out to anyone i appreciated the work of… once or twice to photographers… i am not very interested in celebrity if it isn’t my own and i have no celebrity myself to speak of…

… i have reached page 300, seventy to go… it’s been a long read, sometimes boring, often enough interesting to keep me going…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… winding down to the end…

… DW had a fascination with old country churches and stopped to visit them whenever he encountered one… was this peculiar to him or was it a general past time of the English?…

… i learn of Frances Burney, another writer and journal keeper… her journals cover the years 1768-1840… i search to see if the journals and letters are still in print and they are… i put them on my wish list… it’s not clear i will get them as they pertain to a level of society in England and France that i am not convinced i want to know more about… there is so much to read that i have already purchased, downloaded, etc… still, if i want to continue to journey down the journal rabbit hole…

… DW’s journal entries get longer and more detailed, sometimes too long and too detailed… but then it’s his journal and he is not creating a piece for publication but to remember and possibly write a piece from the journal as he seems to have often done…

The Journals of Denton Welch

The day is messy. I’ve done some writing, but things are sloppy. I am a melting jelly. It seems that my happiness only comes from being a monk; and when I am not a monk, therefore I cannot be happy.1

… how well i know that sentiment… i get up in the wee hours of the morning precisely because i need my monk time…

… DW mentions arum lilies which i look up… they are the same as calla lilies…

Why is it all so clear-cut the factories are a threat to a lone human being and green fields an invitation? We seem to be very frightened of our own contrivances and to call them ugly, evil, almost at once. We take what comes from them, hating their faces and breathings all the time. Biscuits please, but a biscuit factory is nearly as evil as a bomb factory to one’s heart. I do not mean just ugly visually, I mean wicked atmosphere. The threat the torture-chamber has.2

… when i was in college, i worked in a Ford factory near where i lived… a formative experience for lots of reasons… i don’t know that i felt about factories the way DW does, but i get what he drives at… and when i think about the degree to which i now purchase things made locally, in small workrooms, on farms, hand crafted… i think, couldn’t be a network of local economies and small workshops?… Small Is Beautiful E. F. Schumacher wrote… he championed local economies that provided work that was good for the soul… and Buddhist Economics… Schumacher’s advice to socialists:

Socialists should insist on using the nationalized industries not simply to out-capitalise the capitalists – an attempt in which they may or may not succeed – but to evolve a more democratic and dignified system of industrial administration, a more humane employment of machinery, and a more intelligent utilization of the fruits of human ingenuity and effort. If they can do this, they have the future in their hands. If they cannot, they have nothing to offer that is worthy of the sweat of free-born men.

… is this not what the Biden/Harris administration is trying to do?… ok, we are not nationalizing industries, but we are attempting to bolster the working class and middle class and make their participation in the economy more rewarding and less harrowing for them… which will lead to greater productivity?…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 271 [return]
  2. Ibid, p276 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW was continually meeting strangers, having extended conversations with them and often being invited into their homes… he seems to have met people easily… more easily than i do… was it an easier time for people meeting?…

… DW has incorporated the people he knew into his fictional work without much disguise, often changing their last names while retaining the first… i have a feeling that i should read at least one of the fictional works, but i am anxious to move on to the so-many-other books i have waiting… to dive further down the rabbit hole or not, that is the question…

… after 10 years, Evie leaves him to work for some ladies in Cornwall though it seems it didn’t last more than a month and it seems Eric and DW didn’t expect it to last long…

… this:

 I know tonight it is best for me to be alone most of the time — near people who wish me well and like to see me, but alone; for in loneness everything seems to grow into its proper place and there’s hardly any waste of spirit. What little there is does not offend, it’s is one’s own fault, one lets it pass.1

… how well i relate to this sentiment… precisely the way i like my world to operate…

… and this:

 yet it is most important to have people near one that one need hardly see. Without this consciousness of other human beings I think almost all of us are liable to be swamped by the power of matter. One’s strength is not enough to bear this with no other help near.2

… this makes me remember the countless hours i have spent in coffee shops and lunch shops, just to be near people but not, generally, to talk with them, unless they were attractive young women…

… i miss pre-covid life… i felt comfortable with more people around me then… i have chosen Trax on 52 as my winter “headquarters,” precisely because so few people go there in the morning… i would rather go to Big Mouth or even Kitchen and Coffee (despite it’s plain vanilla decor and music)… there are more people there as the hour gets later… i like to start with a place virtually empty, then watch the regulars and newcomers come and go… i like to observe and write about them in this journal… the pandemic has not been easy, but i have been well suited to what it requires of us for safety… my habits didn’t change much at all…

… DW has an old doll house he got from a friend… he lovingly restored it… he mentions it in his journals when he finds something suitable to add to its interior… at this moment he mentions a little pin cushion in the shape of a stool that is so much more the stool than the pin cushion that he buys it immediately for the doll house… it is interesting to be furnishing one’s full scale living quarters simultaneously with a doll house… a house within a house, like the nested Russian dolls… one imagines that he wears the full-scale house and decor, as most of us do, as an extension of his psyche, but also, this miniature house… do they engage different aspects of the nesting instinct?… one could build a short story around this…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 270 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 270 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… this passage:

It is quite true that a general unwillingness to appreciate robs most people of their eyes, nose, mouth, ears, limbs. They are trunks of wood always repudiating; although they have already been deprived of all sense and movement.

… there is an odd connection between the people DW describes here and the lunatic fringe that would hang their fellow citizens in this country in this time… the rabble roused to illogical belief in conspiracies of evil being perpetrated against them…

… the character of Evie interests me… she was, essentially, a housekeeper and cook for DW… she lived with him and moved wherever he moved… he describes her as inhuman, by which i think he suggests that she is a remote or distant sort of character… what led her to be this sort of figure in a young and damaged man’s life?… what personal life did she have?… it seems we are never told…

… i read about the Essays of Elia, written by Charles Lamb… DW relished them in his youth (while convalescing from his accident?)… i find a copy on the internet, offered by the Library of Congress…

… as i am reading, i am listening to a marvelous set of cello suites performed by Marcus Wagner… Paul Torelier has composed one set… we have a set of Bach Cello suites performed by Tortelier in our music collection that i have listed to over and over and over again… its good music to be going in the background while you are reading, studying, editing photographs, writing…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… this interesting passage:

We saw in front of us the little untutored Gothic revival church — how much better, sometimes, only a little knowledge is! The person who built this church was unclogged with “book-learning” and so his church is unrepulsive and almost pretty and good. But I am well aware how dangerous this gospel of ignorance can be. It is, I suppose, excuse for every inanity. Things only are good because they are good. But ignorance or book learning can help or hinder according to other circumstances that shall combine with them.1

… there is a potentially profound truth here… we make a big deal about book learning… high school, college, post-graduate learning… in general, these things are positive for individuals and society, but they are never a guarantee of wisdom and good judgement… wisdom and judiciousness are qualities that one has or doesn’t… they seem more fundamental to bringing forward good things than book learning… i don’t know if they can be cultivated or not… generally speaking, some level of restraint is needed in one’s personality to make room for these qualities…

… we are past the war in the journals, which, until the doodle-bugs arrived, featured pretty peripherally in them… but still, little things that are memories of the war pop up… windows in an historic church blown out and yet to be repaired… a friend stopping by with camping equipment issued during the war… a tartan rug with two round holes in it, bullet or moth?… he’s not sure…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, pp 247-48. [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… i read about ten pages… the book is long, almost 400 pages… i am a little beyond half way done… the entries have become more extended which i attribute to the happiness he has found with Eric… at times it seems endless, but mostly it is satisfying reading the relatively unpolished thoughts and observations… i have a desire to read some of his more polished writing and story telling, but i also have a long line of books waiting to be read… i keep buying them because they seem interesting… i am not a fast reader, especially because i make notes as i go…

… it’s later in the day… more reading in the Journals… i come across this:

Last night in the moon — head on my shoulder, and the screeching owl flickering across the lawn, through the trees and back again; while the cow mooed sadly for its bull. All stillness in the room, only the arch of grey light from the Gothic window living across the polished floor and the end of the bed. Moment that can never be made again, only known in years afterwards.1

… and this:

I suppose money is so fascinating, so repelling and so tiring because it has the power to draw all forms of ingenuity out of people.2

… fish pudding is mentioned as part of a meal… i look it up and find a recipe for Fiskepudding, Norwegian Fish Mousse… i save it to Paprika…

… he complains he has nothing to write or is not writing well, but since Eric came into his life he seems to write more and more completely… there is a gradual maturing goin on… he is having success, settling down… if only his health would improve, which we know it doesn’t…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 220. [return]
  2. Ibid. [return]

First Thoughts

… i am up too early… awake at 2 AM, then again at 3:15 AM… out of bed at 3:45 AM… Fiona acts like she will come with me then resettles on the bed… Chas stays asleep until after i am downstairs making coffee, feeding the cat, taking my BP meds… i hear the substantial thump of Chas jumping down off the bed… i put on a coat and shoes on in anticipation Fiona will come too and i will have to take her out for a walk, but she does not…

… i let Chas out… let Chas back in… give Chas some treats (what he really woke up for)… pour some coffee… we return upstairs and i quietly let him back into the bedroom… Fiona stays put… now, here i am writing in my journal, thinking i should put the garbage out…

… back from putting the garbage out…

… i think about Georges Perec, An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Paris… i think about Denton Welch… i think about Proust… i think about this journal… i think about rendering life through the quotidian… i think about the differences between Perec, Welch, Proust and this journal… Perec chooses to maintain a clinical detachment from the details he notes and writes down (at first i wrote “details he describes” but then realized describes is an overstatement)… he doesn’t attach them to a human being, himself or anyone else… this is relative of course… one cannot be completely detached from ones direct experience…

… the result is the construction of a skeleton of happenings the reader will begin to flesh out by inserting the organs, muscles and skin of their own experiences… i wrote yesterday that i thought it would make a good “avant garde” play, a solitary performer, center stage, reciting the contents of the book… the audience is left to flesh out the skeleton with details remembered from their own lives…

… while i am very interested in reporting out on the innumerable quotidian nonevents, as Perec writes… i am not interested in detaching them from my subjective being or playing the clinician who’s job is to report experience with as little judgement about that experience as possible… what i am trying to do lies somewhere between the clinical reporting of Perec and the recording of the minute and personally grasped details in Denton’s journals… i am interested in what my preconscious self deems significant enough to do a double take on… i am interested in the feelings provoked by the scenes unfolding in front of my eyes, ears and nose… i am interested in the thoughts that flow through my mind as i see, feel, taste and touch the world around me…

… today i go for a covid test as prelude to a colonoscopy procedure next week… i also stop taking supplements, eating leafy greens, nuts, seeds… sadly, H just baked a loaf of bread encrusted with seeds which maybe i can cut the crust off of to eat…

… Notes On Attention Paid, the monumental writing effort that nobody will ever read end to end… few will even read small pieces of it… that nobody reads it was getting to me a little yesterday… i keep reminding myself that readership isn’t the goal… setting myself down in words and images is the goal… whether anybody reads or looks is distantly secondary…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… i am passing through a stretch where journal entries are long and very detailed… the kind of details that flesh out a scene, make it more than matter of fact circumstance, people and objects described as if DW wants to take firm possession of them in his memory…

… i think about the Perec book, with the minimal detail of unremarkable things, only finding the barest representation of what the thing or person or animal is and leaving it at that… i begin to realize there are many ways to report out on the quotidian…

… DW seems to be most concerned with the objects that accompany his and other’s lives, the way that people impact him, noting his feelings about them…

… i am trying to put my finger on something… the way these journals unfold… they are tellings of daily happenings and impressions and you know that there won’t be a dramatic climax, but rather a series of smaller climaxes along with their attendant valleys… the rhythm of a life… none of it terribly important but all of it necessary…

… we are up with a start… Fiona sat up in bed, indicating she was preparing to dismount… we scrambled to set her down on the floor, whereupon she scrambled out of the bedroom and down the stairs before we could catch her and slow her down… she is not supposed to be running down stairs which she half did… sigh… gate at the top of the stairs tonight…

… in my sleepy stupor i scrambled to put clothes on so i could take her out for a walk… H asking me questions about her scramble downstairs… they are annoyed with me and the questions sound accusatory… what part of Fiona scrambled faster than i could did they not understand?… what’s happened has happened… let’s move on to taking her out which is what i did… took her a while but she had a wicked pee… we came back… H gave her treats and fed her water with a syringe… Fiona is still trying to figure out how to drink with the cone collar on… she will eventually…

… H, Fiona and Chas all downstairs napping… it is 5:17 AM, normal for me to be up but way before H’s normal wake time…

… feeling the need for a little spiritual calm i have recordings of Gregorian Chants going in my headphones… i am not religious, wouldn’t want to be catholic if i were, but it’s all in latin so i don’t understand a word and the chants are very soothing, like gentle waves lapping the shore of a beach…

… today will be about keeping Fiona still, monitoring her wound and taking her for periodic walks… there are too many stairs involved in letting her out in the back yard… and in any case, she would be want to chase squirrels back there… best to keep her on a leash to restrain her enthusiasm which clearly has returned…

… i was so upset yesterday with the bleeding and having to go back to the vet… it overwhelmed and in some ways immobilized me… thankfully H was coping better… 40 years as an ICU nurse gives you calm in the face of concerning situations… i also didn’t like seeing Fiona so knackered… barely able to move… only to changing position once in a while… such a vital and enthusiastic dog… particularly so in the hours leading up to her surgery… it worries me that if H ever got seriously sick i might loose it and be unable to be there for her… of course, my more confident mind says, yah, you might freak our here and there, but you will find a way to rise to the occasion…

An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Paris, by Georges Perec, arrived yesterday… it turns out to be a small, slim, little book… it will be a quick read and i am anxious to get to it, but i have to finish The Journals of Denton Welch first and i have a little less than half the book to go…

… Georges Perec is known for the idea that one ought to pay close attention to the small, unremarkable-to-most-people details… i have to learn more about his reasons for this, but i am guessing they are similar to my own, which is that the bulk of creaturely awareness is about these small, seemingly insignificant, details… we live our lives in a sea of the quotidian… western society, Americans especially, is/are all about the climactic extreme experiences that are felt in intense bursts producing adrenalin rushes that forever sear the experience into our minds… the bigger and more impossible the challenge, the more an individual is valued for achieving it… i value the quotidian over the rush of the exceptional and extraordinary… though some of my clearest memories are of fleeting exceptional moments that surface randomly from the sea of the quotidian…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… before i am done with Denton Welch completely i will have to read one of his books… they were well received in his lifetime and i wonder if that is where the “profound’ content winds up… or, perhaps i have to recalibrate my concept of profound, which is an epiphanic thought or idea that represents a deep insight into the meaning of being alive in this cosmos… such an idea would make death seem reasonable… if we just got to grasp such an insight before we melt back into the cosmic fabric, all would be ok… or so i like to imagine…

… another odd menu… tomato soup, egg and celery pie, melba toast and minced pie1

… interestingly, the Journals come more alive with the arrival of Eric as a permanent fixture in his life…

… it occurs to me to look up egg and celery pie and i find a quiche recipe… then, because i have some cardoon in the refrigerator, i look up cardoon quiche, don’t find anything so then look up cardoon and eggs, do find something, and then resolve to make a cardoon quiche because cardoon, plus egg, plus gruyere cheese might be interesting… i think we will skip eggs this morning and make that tonight for dinner… while Fiona is recovering…

… DW talking about an 18th century doll house he is restoring… quite a lot of detail… remembered from years ago, though the object is in front of him to provoke the memories…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 180 [return]

First thoughts:

… Fiona spay day… a little nervous… will be glad to have it over with… then on to the recovery and getting myself mentally and physically ready for a colonoscopy… a year overdue… a major step forward in the doctoring that needs doing…

… speaking of things intestinal… clearly had a bug yesterday of the sort that makes me pretty unhappy, not because of unfortunate bowl movements, but because of an all over achey feeling that really wears me down… a malevolent organism on the march… i feel better this AM… i also re-started my probiotic supplement this AM… the subscription came undone due to some rearrangement of my prime account at Amazon…

… colonoscopy, then thanksgiving next week…

… an edge of frustration that few people read what i write… i tell myself that isn’t the point… writing every day and publishing everyday is the point… a product of the now… every day… when i review it… i like what i have done… so, keep doing it…

… part of me thinks that my writing should be dense with profound understanding… that is not the point unless profound understanding is composed of the minutia of my life… that’s what this blog is about… the day in and day out record of some of what i pay attention to… an intentional recording…

… as i read Denton Welch’s journals, i find profound understanding largely absent… it is a detailed and well written account of what was important to him and much of it is pretty self centered… there is the occasional passage that dives a little more deeply into the broad human condition…

… is my writing as self centered?… it is to some degree but, i like to think, also big picture focused to some degree…

… i read a forecast in The Economist that indicated the most likely result of the midterms will be a Republican controlled house, Democrat controlled Senate… short of disaster… all the big stuff needs to get done in the next year…

… HCR meter mostly about the infrastructure package (a BFD) and how far right extremists are seeking to punish any republican that voted for it… there were 13 in the house who did… it is being portrayed as the another step in a socialist takeover of the country… one hopes the benefits will become apparent by the midterms and perhaps the house will stay under Democratic leadership… a fellow can dream…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… i might be getting bored with them… but i would like to get to the end, so i will persist…

… life with Eric settles, they live together now… despite the occasional bomb blast and sick day, all is bliss…

The moon shone through the Gothic window on my face. It had nothing to tell but stillness, dead wonder, magic that changes everything from heat and fear to the silver of the snails forgotten trail.

When Erik was away and I lay in bed so still with books, my thoughts, the pretty things I have collected, I thought that all I really wanted was to be alone, to think and to dream in a daze about work I shall do. But now that he is asleep on the bed, I find I can still think and dream, and I even feel better physically because someone is here if I should not feel well.

There’s always this question with me, to be alone or not. Really, to be alone is my nature. If it were not so, I would not have been alone as much as I have.

Is reverie really what people live for, and do they just do things to feed their reverie?1

… as i read the above, i see reflections of myself… as H would tell anyone, i am a loner… it’s partly true, i like my alone time and i do a great deal to feed my reveries… i have managed to work out a way to have the alone time… it’s why i get up at 4 AM… H will sleep to at least 7 (when i am usually heading out the door for my walk)… for three often blissful hours i read and write… feed my reveries then write them down and share them with the world, which really isn’t interested but i only care a little about that… i envy DW’s success in getting published, but realize that i would have to pull myself together and write something more contained than this sprawling journal which nobody has time, even if interested, to read more than a little of… the journal is the thing to me… this daily reporting of the randomly important details of my life and reveries… this window into the ordinariness of life, my life… yes DW, i at least live in large part for my reveries…

… this seems a good place to stop… the place where the reveries have been fed and then regurgitate onto the computer screen and fired off into the www…


  1. Welch, Denton. The Journals of Denton Welch. p 173 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… the war injects itself more and more… deaths on the front… V-1 (doodle-bug) rocket bombs starting to fall…

_On Thursday last I went towards the river and I saw truck after truck with a huge red cross on it winding slowly along the road — quite 50 of them. And I thought of the soldiers inside — their wounds and torn bodies.

I picnic by the river in the boiling sun, in only my shorts; then I bicycled right along the banks until I felt the sun burning into the dip between my shoulder blades.1

… these two paragraphs together are surprising… DW observes the war from a distance, getting on with the pleasures of his life… it’s quite the juxtaposition…

… DW talks about Italian prisoners of war roaming the countryside and going for swims in the streams… no POW camps?…

… DW picnics all the time… the war seems of little consequence and concern, impinging on him daily and sometimes dangerously close, but his reporting of it is like the reporting of a minimal nuisance, like a mosquito… he sees it but it seems to have little impact… one wonders if he ever thought of volunteering his time?… if so, he never mentions it… overall, he seems very self involved… on the other hand, aren’t journals the place where we get to be self involved?…

_ in the past through the barley field by East Peckham sluice gates I found a little flat red stone or piece of glass with a masonic symbol on it; and I have put it in my pocket for my fortune. Up above, the doodle bugs are whizzing up to London with the guns banging black puffs in the sky.

Just in the river was a vicious plop, which is a spiked finger of shrapnel diving.2

… there is something surreal about the way he recounts all this… as if he is narrating a film, not actually threatened with death and dismemberment…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 157 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 160 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… yes, titled posts when i am reading and writing about a book or an article… it makes sense then…

… this passage:

When you long with all your heart for someone to love you, madness grows there that shakes all sense from the trees and the water and the earth. And nothing lives for you, except the long deep bitter want. And this is what everyone feels from birth to death.1

… i suppose he is really thinking about unrequited love… my experience of love that is in any way returned, is that it is sweet, not bitter, even loves that can’t be consummated…

… DW’s torment over Eric…

And we had prawns and lettuce hearts and partridge eggs, and macaroni, and plum flan and peppermint cream and coffee and apple juice.2

… what a curious menu…

… on the sixth of June, he notes “that the invasion had begun on Northern France”3… the war doesn’t figure much in the journals even though they are written entirely within the war… i am trying to imagine living in Europe during WW II, keeping this journal, and saying very little about it… did he really pay so little attention to such a consequential unfolding of history?… was he really that self involved?… even this mention of the invasion is one made in passing…

… and now it seems the Northern France invasion has made ignoring the war all but impossible…

 I thought it was strange to sit with elderly ladies in such a clean, such a Tudorized house with radiators and frigidaires, while the most unspeakable atrocities were happening in mass is only 100 miles away at least.4


  1. Welch, Denton, The Diaries of Denton Welch, p 145 [return]
  2. Ibid, pp 150-151 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 150 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 151 [return]

The Diaries of Denton Welch

… been a few days since i have had time to read the diaries… when i left off, DW’s relationship with Eric is in the infatuation stage… he seems so young, he is in his 20’s, but he seems almost childlike in his racing about the countryside on his bicycle… he mentions something called a ha-ha… i look it up… a wall set in a ditch so as not to interrupt the vista…

… DW and E spent part of their lives in close proximity without meeting… it reminds me of H and i… we spent our teenage years in towns separated by a few miles… frequented some of the same spots… possibly were in those spots at the same time… but we were not to meet one another until much later… i too wish we had met earlier… would we have even liked each other?… i was immature for my age for a long time…

… E has been away but then comes home… they are reunited and the world closes in around their new relationship bliss…

… DW describes a watch he is given by a friend on his birthday… i remember a watch i was given or encouraged to buy by M, back in the day… i don’t remember if a birthday was involved…

It is happiness to have things liked, but when I’m ill as I was on Wednesday and other days lately everything pales to nothing and I want to die more than anything on earth.

I think all I can do is keep my work going as long as I can. And if I can no longer, then will I die.

… this is the primal condition for most of us… as long as we work, have something meaningful to do, are able to do it… we live… when we can’t, we proceed to the departure lounge… i keep thinking that before i get to that lounge i want to have understood what life is all about… i want it’s profound truth(s) to have been revealed to me… i have been earnest for so long… i feel life owes me that… but of course… it doesn’t…

… enough DW for this morning…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… Eric Oliver appears in DW’s life… it is interesting how matter of fact DW is about his gayness… he describes in great detail time spent with EO, makes it very clear that he loves him, but has yet to say anything much about a sexual relationship…

… a remarkable passage of existential angst…

 Again I felt nothing but all the sadness and parting and dying and diseases in the world. All the accidents and hate in the long, long everlasting going-on-ness of it all. I thought that I and Eric and all people living were nothing but the reflection of all the thousand million people who have gone before, and I thought that in a long time, almost no time at all, we would all be gone again and swept away.1

… it’s all EO all the time now… total infatuation… EO seems to be bisexual… DW describes the attraction between him and a woman friend, and how they go off together alone to do he knows exactly what… apparently EO thought the girl was “passionate”… sexuality is implied often but not talked about overtly… discretion seems to be the dominating force… finally, there is a kiss, one, to comfort… he so doesn’t make a point of the homosexuality… it just is and this is probably as it should be…

… i did a search on Eric Oliver who’s noted accomplishment seems confined to being Denton Welch’s companion and executor of his estate…


  1. Welch, Denton, The Journals of Denton Welch, p 125 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… what an interesting entry:

 I seem to have spent a great deal of my childhood in prison — other people’s prisons. The Black Tulip prison, the French Revolution prisons, the Spanish Inquisition prisons. And the horror of those prisons was so real to me that I often look back and vaguely remember straw, the filthy food, the oozing walls and the toads on the floor, as if I were really once in that situation. Whenever I hear about prisons, I seem to imagine that I have experience confinement myself.

… would one engage so strongly in prison fantasy if one were not feeling in a prison themselves?… i wonder what DW’s prison was… certainly it was his physical infirmity in adulthood, but this memory takes place in childhood before the accident that ruined his health… would it be closeted homosexuality?… that would be the major suspect, but without knowing more about his life, i don’t know if there were other prisons to be endured…

… DW describing a visit to a wealthy woman to deliver a painting of her pug… DW seems to be comfortably bourgeois… i think to myself that a painting of a pug could not be breaking any new ground in art… is it pandering to the wealthy for sustenance?… the journals so far leave me with the impression that while DW was open to experiences, and rendered them in often considerable detail in his journals, that there isn’t anything particularly extraordinary about him other than his penchant for prose writing… i will have to read one of his fictional works before i arrive at a firm opinion… in any case, my efforts are no more groundbreaking or notable… not even as notable, because i’ve had little success at being noticed in general… he is going places and doing things that i can only imagine the equivalent of in my time on earth… my movement through this time and space is more mundane… yet i write about it and publish what i write… am i any less arrogant?…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… women continue to be “supporting cast” in DW’s journals… he is all about the men and seems to manage a level of intimacy with total strangers that is surprising given my understanding of the difficult time men have talking to one another… and i wonder if any of them suspect he is gay?… the men are brief encounters as he moves about the world… none yet has become a lover, or at least, that he is willing to tell about in his journals… i imagine him as an effeminate man who aspired to take the place of the ladies the young men he befriended would talk about as men do…

… an extended set of entries describing a rogue man named Monte… this set of entries becomes the basis of a book, we are told… Monte is an incorrigible liar and confidence man… one wonders whether these entries are entirely fact or already the fictional account that will make its way into a book at a later date… DW seems to have regularly penned things into his journal that were rough drafts or sketches for something more ambitious later…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW appears to be a bit of an aristocrat in attitude if not in actual wealth… he seems to admire the trappings of wealth, refined things, interiors, private pew boxes for the wealthy…

… and then, a passage describing an encounter with a young working class man… he seemed to be attracted to pleasantly muscled with labor and tanned from sun exposure young men… it’s his version of a pinup that he might pleasure himself to… it’s rather contradictory, a bit Lady Chatterly’s lover, LGBTQ+ version…

John Cowper Powys A Philosophy of Solitude is mentioned… Wikipedia describes this book and two other non-fiction products as better aligned with the self-help books of the modern era… offering advice on the achievement of happiness in an otherwise ordinary and mean existence…

… DW goes on at length about all the “boys” he encounters in the landscape… very few women and when encountered, a more matter of fact and brief assessment… well healed and well connected women are worth his time in description but mostly he has eyes for the men… homosexuality is a clear subtext of his observations of men and boys… so clear that it is frank and honest without being in your face…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… so far, i am not certain of the broader value of DW’s journaling… his descriptive powers and command of the English language are, as advertised, impressive… but he seems arrogant, self indulgent and often petty in his assessments of people around him… i am not sure i see the potential for any profound observations… an observation that dives to the core of what it is to be human in this cosmos… or perhaps he is the profound observation… a complicated human being that seems more honest than many in his journals…

… most who write about him or his work excuse his less attractive qualities because of his accident and the, reputedly, constant pain he suffered… they make him out as a kind of saint to endure such affliction and produce so much so well… i think at best one can excuse him for being young and vain, complicated by his unfortunate physical circumstances and consequent short life…

… i read further and recognize the over abundant passion of a young man responding to the cosmos around him… the lovely description of an oriental lacquer screen in the fading daylight…

… and then, a really lovely entry, from his sick bed, imagining an historic old house as it might have been inhabited more than a century before… observations of the solemn, harsh adults, the contrasting gaiety of children and of servants quarreling and making love… this starts to be less the arrogant, over passionate youth, and more the maturing writer who is beginning to understand restraint and, in any case, is focused on something other than himself for the moment…

… the description of a suicide attempt… the rough draft for a story… compelling… the editor of the book warns in a footnote that the scene is fictional… still, it compels me to think it real and i wonder whether there is some basis in facts as all DW’s work is autobiographical… he writes powerfully in this passage… i begin to be a fan despite his foibles…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… there is mention of an article on Gerard (Manley) Hopkins… DW apparently admires him as a genius and is disappointed in the article for making him seem ordinary… i have no idea who this is so I look him up… an English poet and Jesuit Priest who became widely recognized, posthumously, for his poetry… he was an innovator who influenced the work of T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis… i read about sprung rhythm… it does not make complete sense to me…

… Hopkins was becoming a recognized poet at the time DW was writing his journals… one wonders if he knew of him before his popularization or as a result of that… it makes a difference to his assessment of Hopkins… did he recognize him as a genius on his own?… or was he being told he was a genius?…

a link to the poetry of Hopkins…

… oh my, DW has such a huge opinion of himself…

This is a terribly muddled state to be in. It shows that I can never be true friends with anyone except distant women — far away. For I wish for communion with the inarticulate and can only fray and fritter with the quick. I would tinsel, tinsel all the day if I were so placed. Yet I love myself and my company so much that I would not even ask the soldier to come in for fear of his becoming a regular visitor. I even feel people pollute my house who come into it.1

… not much progress this AM… a little distracted…


  1. Welch, Denton, The Journals of, p 11 [return]

Denton Welch, The Journals of

… read the the jacket flaps… read a wikipedia article discussing the varying editions… i have the 1984 edition which is expanded but noted as having several misprints and misreadings…

… as i turn to the introduction by Michael De-la-noy, i take note of the small type and the length of the book, 371 pages… this will take some time…

… astoundingly, i learn he could not read until the age of 9, but traveled far and wide with his mother… his family was well off…

He was, as Edith Sitwell never tired of telling him, a born writer, and everything he wrote was written after he was condemned to death.1

… just finished De-la-noy’s introduction… i am certain i will enjoy the journals…


  1. De-la-noy, Michael, The Journals of Denton Welch, p ix [return]