Autosuggestion (Day 56)
A day of two halves (which is more than you can say about the England-Germany match in the evening). First half was located in the walled Kitchen Garden of Kenwood House overlooking the city on a cold but azure day. I began reading about Sylvia Beach and the story of her Shakespeare & Co. bookshop in Paris. She has been on my radar for a good while as a potential publishing casestudy – she’s central to the Ulysses story as its bold and generous publisher and being as it’s my favourite book in the world, a natural for me. I was at the current (not entirely related) iteration of the store last Saturday afternoon when I picked up Beach’s account of its history under her direction.
The weird thing is that as I broached the book, written in the late 50s and published by the University of Nebraska, it emerged that Shakespeare and Company was opened without fanfare on this very day in 1919. I take it as a good sign.
I’ve already done research on Gertrude Stein, looking at her contribution to visual arts in particular, and on publisher Robert McAlmon but haven’t quite been able to pin down who the right subject is among the Lost Generation.
The low yellow light in my office du jour and the perfect blue sky was a delight and I stayed as long as my scarf, gloves and hat allowed. I concluded with a read of Ginsberg’s major poem Kaddish which I also picked up at Shakespeare & Co. last weekend and started reading on the quay just below the Beat Hotel.
On my return to the warmth of home I immersed myself in the world of Joy Division and Factory Records, watching the rest of Grant Gee’s excellent documentary, made with the style and care that characterised the best of Joy Division and the Factory phenomenon. I’m finding Tony Wilson an increasingly difficult subject as the disparity between his surface and his catalytic achievements which spring from his deep passions stretches your sympathy at times, as well as skewing a lot of what is recorded about him.
Tomorrow I’ll start having my first pass at drafting the chapter and see where that takes me. Unknown Pleasures will accompany this first assault…
To the centre of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank, searching for you
I was moving through the silence without motion, waiting for you
In a room with a window in the corner I found truth