The Joy of Reading Your Own Writing and That of Others

Excerpts from Tally: An Intuitive Life, by Mary Clark, All Things That Matter Press 2013

PJ chose a bench in Washington Square Park. We were sitting on a bench beside one of the long winding paths between hedges, watching children playing on the grass, people sitting beneath trees, talking, holding hands, reading books.

“What was your favorite book?” I asked him.

Ulysses. I read it five times in all and each time it was a different book that I was reading. That was when I learned about inferential writing. It’s possible for the reader to pick up and use what he wishes and make it a different experience each time.”

And later:

. . . “the fact that for a long time, maybe three years, I was reading what I wrote more than I was writing what I read. And that’s a very thrilling experience, to detach yourself from the writing side of it, and begin reading the words as they come out.”

And later in the book:

“Added to my own experience and consciousness of it,” PJ said, “I have my lived my life with all the people in the universal stream of consciousness. Do you follow me at all? Just for instance, I was not James Joyce. I was James Joyce, but I was also all the characters that he wrote about in his fiction. Because I had read these things with penetration and made them a part of my life, all my life. All the things that I had read, all the things I had perceived, all the things I had observed and written about were my life.”

Tally: An Intuitive life is available on Amazon in print ($16.95 or less) and Kindle ebook ($5.99)

Is life a series of delusions?

Paul Johnston (PJ)

Paul Johnston (PJ)

In his Village habitat, PJ tapped his fingers on the papers piled next to his typewriter. “I’ve wondered if time moves so swiftly that we can remember only a tiny fragment of what happens,” he said. “Do we make a selection from these fragments, and if so, do these selections form a series of delusions with which we live throughout our lives?”

“That would explain my life,” I said.

Later, he wrote: “Time moves so swiftly that memory cannot retain an infinitesimal fragment and a person has to stop to make a selection consciously or unconsciously, evaluating by using an innate mental faculty, choosing what seems to enhance his inner security, but was only part of his reality, and so it was a delusion. This is the first in an uncountable number of delusions.”

“At the same time,” he said, “is it possible that each person contains all the memory of human consciousness from the beginning of human existence? How would that affect the perceptions of events, and the process of selection?”

These are excerpts from Tally: An Intuitive Life, by Mary Clark, All Things That Matter Press, available at Amazon as a print book ($16.95 or less) or Kindle ebook ($5.99). Purchase the print book and get the Kindle for just $1.99!

Beauty & The Book, Fine Editions and Cultural Distinction in America, by Megan Benton

This is an excellent book about the heyday of fine press printing in the United States. The author gets it right about the admiration certain printers, typographers and book designers, such as the iconic Bruce Rogers, enjoyed in the early part of the 20th Century. However, she has a single-minded focus on her hypothesis that fine printing was a harkening back to a grander past and catered to those who wanted to flaunt their social and economic status.

There was another important movement of the times, particularly after World War I. Some fine press printers were publishing the work of new and adventurous writers and artists. Egmont Arens’ Playboy magazine featured such newcomers as e. e. cummings, D. H. Lawrence, and Rockwell Kent. Arens’ Flying Stag Press published a portfolio of Kent’s drawings in 1924. His protégé, Paul Johnston (PJ), who also wrote about the history of fine printing, urged printers to publish the new literature. There is some evidence that PJ printed copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover after it was banned, and he certainly corresponded with Frieda Lawrence (his 1934 letters to Frieda Lawrence are in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin). This spirit of rebellion and enthusiasm seems lost in Beauty and The Book.

Benton assigns publication of the daring new literature to “private presses,” differentiating them from the work of fine printers, although she admits the line is blurred. However, and most notably, fine printers Albert and Charles Boni, as well as Bennet Cerf and Alfred Knopf, were publishing contemporary writing and art. Founded in 1929, Charles Boni’s Paper Books meant “to place good books, well-designed and carefully made, within the reach of any reader.” This venture included the fine printer Elmer Adler, writers Padraic Colum and Louis Untermeyer, and artist Rockwell Kent. The first “paper book” was Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

If she had expanded her vision a little, her analysis of the innovations of the 1910s to the 1940s would have added to the wholeness of the subject.

Review posted on Goodreads at:

Paul Johnston (PJ) is the subject of my book, Tally: An Intuitive Life, published by All Things That Matter Press in August 2013; available on Amazon/print and Kindle/ebook.