Photography - A Feminist History, Emma Lewis

Photography by Pria Kambli

Photograph by Priya Kambli

When Emma Lewis first discovered the work of artist and activist Joan E Biren (known as JEB) in 2016, she describes it as a “lightbulb moment.” Biren – who began documenting the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the 1970s, and used her camera as a revolutionary tool to advance social justice for lesbians – was well known in the States. So why had Lewis, a curator at Tate Modern, never heard of her?1

… part of an ongoing effort in the art and museum world to give greater recognition to women in the arts… in this case, photography… read this article in AnOther Magazine about it… because of my oft stated interest in women in photography, i have purchased the Kindle version of the book… my library of unread books grows… how does one set aside enough time for all the books one wants to read?…


  1. Florence Skelton, From Dorothea Lange to JEB: Feminist Histories Captured on Camera, AnOther Magazine, November 30, 2021 [return]

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…

First Thoughts

… i have switched back to Firefox as browser after discovering that Safari didn’t play nice with many websites… a shame… both on the Safari and websites ends… at any rate, i will now have to update passwords in the Firefox environment as i was switching over to keychain… sigh… it is so hard to maintain a unified browsing and password environment…

HCR meter about the booming economy (inflation not withstanding) and the January 6 commission… also about the news failing to celebrate the economy… two different spins on the future of inflation… HCR maintains that Jerome Powell told congress inflation would abate as supply chain issues got worked out… the news indicated that testimony was given to congress saying the opposite… i don’t remember if it was Powell or another economic official… the January 6 news is that there is evidence of 45 communicating with the “command center” at the Willard Hotel and January 5… and finally, news that Mark Meadows is starting to cooperate… will anything in the way of accountability ever come of it?…

… not feeling great this AM… sleep a little fitful… i am not rested…

… first day of December… i bought H a Tim Burton Nightmare Before Christmas Advent Calendar… she was pleased… now to work on everyone else’s gifts… i have ideas, just have to execute…

… did a course on optimizing SEO on Square Space websites… we have done probably 70% of what can be done… for some of what remains to be done, it isn’t clear that we should do it… in any case, with a little further tweaking i will be able to tell J that we are fully optimized…

… uploaded the Beached Stones series to my portfolio website… i submitted this series to Shots Magazine for their Earthly Delights call… i wonder how much of what gets published will be nudes, especially female nudes, thought the call for entries had a male nude… Earthly Delights references Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, a tryptic painted between 1510 and 1515… the tryptic is thought by some art historians to be a warning against lust, suggesting that hell awaits those who loose control of themselves… my submission references female genitalia with photographs of stones on the beach around which ocean waves have eroded the sand in suggestive ways, at least to my mind… so my entry is both a reference to lust and configured from earthly materials… it is perfect really, but i have been disappointed by the editors before…

Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymous Bosch

Miscellaneous readings…

… this AM i have been reading about How Steve Bannon Has Exploited Google Ads to Monetize Extremism; Lauren Boebert Doubling Down on Her Anti-Muslim Bigotry; an anonymous republican standing up to Kevin McCarthy; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson supporting a bill requiring electric charging stations in all new and renovated buildings; the uselessness of travel bans; Predicting Justice Barrett’s First Question in Dobbs; Why the 14th Amendment Does Not Prohibit Abortion; Man Imprisoned for 16 Years for Raping Lovely Bones Author Is Exonerated; AG Meese: Failing to Overrule Roe and Casey “Would Threaten to Destroy the 40-Year Effort to Restrain the Court with the Founders’ Interpretive Principles”; Ancient Insurrections—and Ours

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…

First Thoughts

Recently, Salon columnist Chauncey DeVega conducted an interview with Miles Taylor, the chief of staff to Trump’s Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who published a New York Times op-ed in 2018 as “Anonymous” claiming that he was part of a resistance movement in the Trump White House. Taylor told DeVega that Republican congresspeople are worried they will be attacked if they cross Trump. “I’m talking about former Cabinet secretaries, sitting members of Congress and others who personally confessed to me, ‘I don’t think I can join you in rising up against this guy because I’ve got to worry about my family’s safety.’” Taylor said. “I didn’t anticipate how much I was going to hear that as a response. They would say to me, “Look, I’ve got kids and this is too crazy right now.”1

HCR meter turned decidedly downward… the only thing that matters right now is passing voting rights legislation which, as far as she and i can tell, is on the back burner… the day is rapidly approaching beyond which it will be too late… that the Democrats can’t get their shit together to do the one thing that will preserve democracy and make anything else they want to do possible is utterly tragic… Rome is burning and even they are fiddling…

… i keep thinking about M’s belief that the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection… it makes me so angry because i know how uninformed they are about what is going down in the country because i know they principally watch Fox news… i am in despair about it because i love them and because they are representative of the damage Fox news has done in this country…

… i also marvel at this country’s inability to hold anyone significant accountable for misdeeds… it is beyond comprehension that our system should be so weak as to be incapable in this regard… was it ever strong enough?… or did it depend on the good will of it’s citizens to keep the rails up… and now they are divided and unable to do so…

… signs of the growing threat of authoritarian/fascist rule… a patriotic and militaristic mural painted on the side of a county building to honor veterans on veterans day… this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony opened with the National Anthem and closed with God Bless America… neither of these things have happened before during the 15 years we have lived here… my perception is they are happening now because of the growing threat from the right…

… i really dislike starting the day with these thoughts and feelings churning around in my mind… i would prefer something more optimistic…


  1. Richardson, Heather Cox, Letters from an American, November 29, 2021 [return]

My Submission to Shots Magazine call for entry, theme: Earthly Delights

US added to list of ‘backsliding’ democracies for first time

_ The organisation’s secretary general, Kevin Casas-Zamora, said: “The visible deterioration of democracy in the United States, as seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation (in elections), and the runaway polarisation … is one of the most concerning developments.”1

this article was noted by MSNBC last week… it made an impression on me, but truthfully, i already knew what it was telling us… we are backsliding and furthermore, i believe the next three years will decide whither democracy in the USA… there is far too little alarm about the slide and the tools for countering it seem to be lacking, or perhaps, the situation is at the precarious edge of the cliff with one having to be very careful of what levers they try to pull as the wrong move could plunge us over the edge…

… over the holiday weekend i had two brief but eye opening conversations, both with close family members…

… one believes that we will be able to resist the extremes of either end because we are, basically, a centrist country… they believe that the people in the middle, of which they are one, will save the day… i am not optimistic on that point… it might be true if the voting landscape were not in the process of being skewed to favor a radical minority on the right… voting rights legislation is required if there is to be hope of the middle being able to stave if off…

… another was anxious to defend the idea that the January 6th riot/insurrection was nothing more than an impassioned protest that was mostly peaceful… it was the first time i have experienced a close family member believing something that is utter nonsense…

… together they made me more alarmed than ever…

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

… i read the review in AnOther magazine which i have been avoiding for days, largely because it was primal me that was interested in looking at it and i was trying to resist primal me… it surprised (disappointed?) me that it was not about the porn industry and was instead about societal attitudes towards sex and woman and largely about the polarization we are experiencing around the globe… i now want to watch it though with subtitles and it’s subject matter it will be a more difficult sell to H… a link to the trailer

First Thoughts

Weight: 231.8

… i will be writing my weight down daily to help me get it back under control…

… started the morning with a review of the first week of journal entries in 2021… i am hoping to review all 52 weeks during the month of December and identify themes that emerged over the year… my system of tagging and saved filters is proving enormously valuable in this effort… i am able to gather together the attention i have paid to people, books and topics by person, title and topic…

… yesterday’s FT with M and J was a little fraught… M and i got into it briefly over January 6, 2021… they have bought the idea that it was a legitimate protest… that infuriated me… i had hoped for better from them… J also got on my nerves a bit over website optimization issues… i need to do some further research into how Square Space handles search engine optimization before we talk more about that… they seem to think i have not done what could be done while i think we pretty much have…

… my weight situation, disappointing, but what should i have expected given two Thanksgiving dinners etc…

… it is already proving enormously satisfying to read through the past year’s journal entries… it is turning out to be time intensive because i am having to fill in keywords and set up filters for a plethora of people, readings and ideas… i don’t think i got super religious about this until about mid-year and i didn’t start gathering things together in saved filters until the end of the summer, beginning of the fall… if i can keep the pace and get it done for the year, i should have an impressive list of ideas, people and readings to share as a summary of my year…

Thanksgiving Part II

… we almost always go to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving so we like to make ourselves another one the weekend following so i can strut my cooking stuff and H can have leftover turkey sandwiches and soup…

The menu:

Buddhist Economics

… this is a profound essay that i come back to again and again… it makes so much sense… please excuse it’s antiquated approach to gender roles which are a product of the time in which it was written:

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. To organise work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.1

… i think about the work i currently pursue, and i will call it work even though it doesn’t produce an income which it doesn’t need to do… i read, write and make pictures daily, and that is rewarding to me… i also enjoy setting it down and spending time with H and the dogs, cooking and sharing nice meals… i am in a perfect place with very good balance between work and leisure…

It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products.2

… and this:

From the point of view of Buddhist economics, therefore, production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.3

… are there exceptions?… aren’t there things better produced in large factories?… like smartphones, automobiles, computers, etc.?… don’t these things work better and interconnect better with a more unified system of production?… what we are left with then is a system where some (most?) things are produced and distributed locally and others are mass produced and distributed nationally and globally… factories will increasingly be automated, not requiring human labor… local production will be centered on handcrafting, on local labor…

… and this:

Just as a modern European economist would not consider it a great achievement if all European art treasures were sold to America at attractive prices, so the Buddhist economist would insist that a population basing its economic life on non-renewable fuels is living parasitically, on capital instead of income. Such a way of life could have no permanence and could therefore be justified only as a purely temporary expedient. As the world’s resources of non-renewable fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—are exceedingly unevenly distributed over the globe and undoubtedly limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation at an ever-increasing rate is an act of violence against nature which must almost inevitably lead to violence between men.4


  1. Schumacher, E. F., Buddhist Economics [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]
  4. Ibid [return]

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]

Shots Magazine submission, Earthly Delights

… i didn’t submit to the last issue, theme Rebels and Renegades (and actually haven’t submitted in a long time)… i didn’t like the theme largely because i don’t do much portrait photography which seemed to be what was called for (and in fact, published)… the next theme is Earthly Delights and i am pretty sure i will submit to that… i am thinking some images from the series i am assembling of stones on the beach which waves have washed over, leaving erosion patterns that are often rather suggestive of female genitalia… it would seem to address the theme on at least two levels…

Lynn Hershman Leeson at Gazelli Art House in London

Lynn Hershman Leeson via AnOther Magazine

… this exhibition looks interesting to me…

… from an interview with the artist:

It’s really a series of humiliations, being an artist – but particularly a female one, and particularly at my age.

… what else was she going to do?… she tells us… you make the work… it isn’t make the work for the purpose of being discovered… its make the work and something will come of it…

… something i have to remind myself of all…the…time…

… from the Code of Arms exhibition website:

Over the last five decades, artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has been internationally acclaimed for her art and films. Cited as one of the most influential media artists, Hershman Leeson is widely recognized for her innovative work investigating issues such as the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. She has made pioneering contributions to the fields of photography, video, film, performance, artificial intelligence, bio art, installation and interactive as well as net-based media art. ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany, organized the first comprehensive retrospective of her work titled ‘Civic Radar’.

… her interest in the relationship between the human body and technology attracts me to her work… she was a pioneer in looking at that relationship and expressing it in her art… i am thinking i need to pull out my “What Intelligent Life is Made Of” talk, possibly update it and put it out there again…

First Thoughts

… long conversation with H at breakfast yesterday… went down a rabbit hole about their relationship with siblings and whether they wanted to see their brother while he was on the east coast… got in the middle of something i didn’t want to be in the middle of… the conversation so long and wide ranging that the day was permanently reorganized and no writing or photo editing was done…

… a bunch of grocery shopping followed, and then a couple of hours just hanging out waiting to do chicken chores because i wasn’t in the mood to do writing, reading or photography… once the chickens were tended to, i got us both a glass of whisky and more laying around and watching TV ensued… then dinner, which was a hamburger with bacon, swiss cheese and onion… no sides, that was it…

… today i will roast a turkey and we will have our second turkey day… H likes, especially, to have turkey leftovers for sandwiches etc…

… we have started to prep for the trip to Florida to see M… working out strategies for loading the car… ordering new suitcases… H got a couple of Timbuk2 roller bags for us… trying to decide if we should get a clamshell for top of car, or if we can even afford one… i had wanted something that wasn’t a big process to get in and out of… we are going to have to be very compact or we will need the shell… and can we even get it in time anymore?…

… continue to be in a pretty good mood… holiday spirit and all that…

… realize that i haven’t had notification of S’s fruitcakes available for purchase… hoping it is not too late…

… HCR about the Ahmaud Arbery case… how justice was done in this instance, but about how close it came to justice not being done… it was one of the accused that made and then released a video, believing it exonerated the three of them… it was what finally brought the case out in the open and ensured prosecution… one moment of justice in a sea of injustice…

… this makes me think about my feeling that we are still a long way from justice on 45’s shenanigans and my despair about ever getting there…

First Thoughts, remembering Thanksgiving…

… a good Thanksgiving… in attendance, H and me, M, L, S, B, J, M, W, G, and L, a friend of B’s(?)… L is a star of the afternoon show… vivacious, outgoing, attractive… we learn later in the evening that they are gay and recently out of a relationship that, i surmise, didn’t end well… L and B have a very warm connection to one another and spend part of the afternoon rendering show tunes, mostly from Rent… in fact, show tunes figure prominently throughout the afternoon…

… we brought the dogs with us but had to leave them crated in the car as no pets were allowed in the rental house… the dogs were very cooperative though not entirely happy about the situation… we did find out that they will stay nicely in the crates in the car for extended periods of time which might be useful Christmas Eve in Florida when we are scheduled to go out to dinner…

… L brought herbs they grew in their garden and everyone got some…

… i find out M is concerned about extremism (on both sides) but believes the population in the middle will get things back on the middle track… this conversation comes up as the result of their statement about how scary The Sound of Music was to them… M is Jewish and TSOM is about a Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany just before they are hauled off to a concentration camp… i asked M if they worried about fascism in this country which is when the middle-will-rescue-us thought was expressed… i think that would be true if the voting machinery wasn’t being bent to favor the extremist right… i think there is a very strong possibility for an authoritarian government to arise, possibly even fascist… the extreme right which is currently stacking the voting deck is, in significant portion, a white supremacist extreme right…

… the food was the standard American Thanksgiving fair and possibly a little less well prepared than in years past, but we were in a rented house and so not in anyone’s natural cooking environment… it was good enough… there was turkey of course, mashed potato, mashed sweet potato, rutabaga (i think), bread stuffing, sautéed fennel and leaks, green beans almandine, brussels sprouts with pomegranate, gravy… for desert, pumpkin, apple and pecan pies… i found myself wishing for some vanilla ice cream to go with the pumpkin pie i had…

… M wanted us to do a recognition of the fact that the land we were currently having our dinner on was originally Native American land and taken from them by the European settlers… i had mixed emotions about it… land has been ceded by weaker populations to stronger populations since the beginning of time, and i am not only talking about people… as Bertrand Russel once said, the goal of every living thing is to turn as much of the planet into itself as possible… my broad view is that the Euro descendent white patriarchy sucks and that the sooner we kill it and bring forth the multiarchy the better… M reminds me of J… so in earnest…

… i managed to escape a big weight gain, partly because i had no alcohol (i had to drive us back) and partly because i took small portions of everything and didn’t have seconds of anything, though i did have way more cheese, pate and crackers than i should have before dinner…

… i got very tired during the afternoon… to the point i could barely think straight and had trouble remembering the names of the most common things i might be talking about… later, when we were home and i had a brief cat nap, my lucidity came back to me… will have to remember to sneak off and do a quick nap in future… i found myself wondering if Prevagen, an over the counter product marketed as a brain function enhancer, works and whether i should try it… i don’t generally have trouble with my memory early in the day, so i am thinking it really is a function of being tired to the point of not remembering things…

… during the day i find myself wondering if S has a drinking problem and B is a little too fond of L…

… a slightly awkward conversation with M who wanted to know what H and I thought of Dia Beacon… they apparently went their and found it didn’t do a very good job of making the art “user friendly”… they had been a docent in a Chicago Museum and thought that museums had an obligation to make art accessible… it was really difficult to talk about it across the table… there was so much to say in answer… i pointed out that there were the equivalent of docent tours, (which they had not taken advantage of), that i personally did not require translation of what i was looking at (though i don’t object to getting other ways of thinking about the art i am looking at) and that their experience was their experience, neither right or wrong… there is a lot more i could have said… i would have liked to have the conversation with them… of note is that to the extent i understand what M does for a living, it involves the design and implementation of user experiences on the internet… so, you might say, that is their thing and possibly of more interest to them than the art itself?…

… the drive home was in the dark and on the Taconic Parkway… i was concerned about deer, it’s the time of year they are mating and more reckless, and there was at one point a buck grazing just feet from the edge of the highway, cars whizzing by… that was the only deer i saw and we arrived home safely…

Life, A User’s Manual, Georges Perec

… the book opens up with an exposition on the nature of a puzzle, more specifically, the relation of the pieces to the whole and the whole to the pieces…

… a wooden jigsaw puzzle – is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analysed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element’s existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.1

… this reminds me of the concept of holons… the idea of self contained, self sufficient entities being also part of a greater whole that relies on the sum of its parts for its ability to be… in the puzzle example above, the parts can exist on their own as objects in and of themselves, but we recognize them immediately as part of something bigger that can be read as a sum of the parts… in the holon concept, the parts can be extracted and have the ability to exist without the whole, but the whole cannot exist without the parts… and in the case of a puzzle, if parts are missing the whole is damaged… incapable of moving forward with its full state of being…

… in reading about holons, i find out that the term was coined by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine

… i am made aware that puzzles can be wooden and hand cut, which i imagine is expensive… i do a search and quickly find a maker in NY… these are puzzles for the rich… the cheapest one is $900, the most expensive, $3200… i imagine they are exquisite, but really, aren’t there better things to spend money on?… i imagine it a sign that one has too much money…


  1. Perec, Georges, Life, a User’s Manual, Kindle Edition, Location 127 [return]

First Thoughts

… i was hoping for a turkey icon to label this day’s folder, but alas, there was none…

… we drive north with the dogs to hook up with L, M, S, B, and five other family members… 11 of us all together… the dogs won’t be allowed in the house (rental, no pets) so we will keep them in the car with regular visits to be sure they are ok… don’t really like this but don’t like leaving them home either…

HCR meter, instructive, maybe hopeful… she gives us the history of Thanksgiving, which, in the most tenuous way, does go all the way back to the Pilgrims and Native Americans having diner together in the 1600’s… however, it didn’t become a thing until the Civil War when, in the states of the Union, it became a way to remember the sacrifices on the battlefield and give thanks for the strength and fortitude being shown by citizens of the Union in their struggle to preserve Democracy…

… i made two versions of the fiskepudding yesterday… i am perfecting my technique… perhaps we will have some for Christmas…

… i dived down a rabbit hole on the fiskepudding… was trying to find some historical information but none to be had easily… then i moved on to pickled herring and a search for salted herring which is used to make pickled herring… i will look for it in the local groceries first… Adam’s might have it… maybe fresh market…

… such a rabbit hole this AM… trying to find recipes for fiskepudding, i buy two cookbooks, one on Scandinavian cooking, the other on Norwegian cooking… the Norwegian one has the fiskepudding…

… time to move on to other things…



Kitchen and Coffee Cafe

… cold this morning… i decide to stop at K&C at opening, 7 AM, it’s a bit of a madhouse… the Thanksgiving orders in the final stages of assembly… the tables all covered with bags of gluten-free baked goods… much busier than i expected…

… i open up Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan… she writes about Barrett Watten, Plan B

… i finish Shifting the Silence, read about Etel Adnan… she studied philosophy, became a painter, became a poet, became a novelist, a journalist… very accomplished…

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]