Whole, 1971-72; Literary text; 280 plus pages; Complete but fragmentary; Oakland; Age: 19 to 20; Early adulthood; Writing as release and exuberance.

First page of the manuscript; Mss_0021_01.

PDF: Large image

Loose pages; Typescript; Good condition, paper fading somewhat;

Prose and poetry; Vivid imagery, drug-induced; dream accounts; philosophical musings; other texts;

The page has several notations on it in addition to the original typescript. These include a fountain pen note about the number of pages in this section and the date added when the materials were being sorted in the 1970s; the date marked in pencil on the upper right corner, near the encircled page number, was contemporary with the composition, while the page number came at the same time as the groupings and sections were assigned. The mss number is from 2008, when the initial scanning and listing of the manuscripts was undertaken in Charlottesville. These include

Related mss:   Poems;   Whole, duplicate, including Poems 1972.

Generative writing, unfettered, unstructured, floods the pages of the manuscript I titled “Whole”. Composed during the first two years in Califormia, it is an aggregate of writings held together by by their chronology and their radical break from the late adolescent texts that had persisted through the end of the Amy writings. No more stories and narrative structures, or intensely constrained writings of characters or emotional struggles. All that was left behind, replaced by an unfettered the rush of words running after each other with an associative abandon that brought figurative and abstract language into mutual play.

Within the manuscript, the pages are grouped according to whether they are poems, accounts of dreams, prose texts, or a sub-category I termed “cosmic” writings because they contained ruminations on multiple dimensions of space-time and points of awareness of consciousness within them. The sentences have an ecstatic flow to them that had more to do with drugs than sex. I found eroticism difficult, and sexual pleasure inaccessible, having had so little experience I came slowly to any understanding of how my body might respond. But the sensual pleasures of thought and/in language were readily accessible. Writing was sheer release and also productivity.

I was living in a beautiful, brown-shingled house in Oakland during this time, with a group of Berkeley students studying English, philosophy, or ecology. Our daily routines included lots of marijuana, rock music, and occasional hallucinogens. We drank very little, but smoked and listened to music in the evenings, lying back in bean bag chairs and engaging in stoney conversation. Release into easy delirium and semi-dream state became a regular pattern.

I spent much of my time in those years learning to draw, working hard at the training of eye and hand that would serve me well ahead. But writing was a free space, undisciplined and exploratory, without any institutional or disciplinary accountability. For the first time, I was simply composing, using the words and phrases for their own expressive power, as things, not representations of other things. No longer in the service of a tale to be told, or an account to be recorded, or an issue to be worked out and wrestled with, the language performed its own alliterative and suggestive provocations.

Previous Next