Amiable Affection: Tally

Excerpt from Chapter 9, Tally: An Intuitive Life, All Things That Matter Press

Paul Johnston (PJ) the Bohemian artist in Washington Square Park

Paul Johnston (PJ) the Bohemian artist in Washington Square Park

PJ was working on a piece called Love. He hoped to have it ready for the New York Small Press Book Fair.

… This booklet took a long time to type and print…. PJ asked me to type it and I did, very slowly, because I found myself opposed to the words and ideas.

I told him, “It’s too full of generalizations and I don’t like generalizations.”

He answered that he had ended it with a new definition of love. I went back to work, curious.

At the age of 72 or 74, the writer began to work on the idea of the future of love, after feeling and professing a strong delusion of love and romance for more than fifty years. People were not fooled, after all. Not because the delusion was not the greatest invention of its time, in all the world, but because the concept could not stand the helter skelter of civilization. As the idea of romantic love became more popular, and valuable, it was exploited and the exploiters made it sex and made it ridiculous for even greater profits.

He engaged in “ensearch,” his word for studying his stream of consciousness, for the answer. This study of his stream of consciousness would lead to universal truths.

A year and a half after this, he came to a new understanding: the world’s hope for survival depends on a new concept—amiable affection.

He said he had not been able to know the true worth of a woman when he was young and so full of hormones he could not relate except sexually. He had not been able to know or love a woman until he was older, “past middle age and with a heart condition, practically a eunuch,” although he remained emotionally and mentally sexually active; only then had he discovered the value of knowing a woman.

This gave me an amazing sense of relief in our relationship.

…It seemed The Company was working out for our mutual benefit, and would find its form in time.
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Stream of Consciousness

Chapter 6 Tally: An Intuitive Life, All Things That Matter Press

I arrived just as PJ was on his way out, locking his apartment door.

“I just called you at home to find you weren’t there,” PJ said. “It’s a case of intuition prompting us into action.” He pocketed his keys in his bright orange shorts.

We stopped at the drugstore and walked to Washington Square Park. He talked about the changes in sexual mores and the history of marriage, including his own, concluding, “It’s necessary to be emotionally uninvolved with people.”

“Isn’t it possible to control the involvement so that only what is good in the relationship remains?”

“That’s what I mean,” he said. “But then there would be no emotional involvement.”

Wow. What’s that?

After a moment’s reflection, he said, “Except perhaps affection. Amiable affection.”

I smiled, thinking, where did PJ fit into my life? PJ was over the hill, but he was still a handsome man. Walking down the street, we might have seemed a May-September couple. And that was all right with me. Let people think what they will.

PJ chose a bench in Washington Square Park. We were sitting 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.”

“That’s not like your style.”

“No, it’s not exactly like my style.”

I could tell he was hurt.

“My style is a more suggestive one. In recent works, I’ve been working on the idea of asking the reader questions. Once in a while, instead of making declarations. In other words, I build up to a statement that has to be proven, and I ask the reader, is this not so?”

“You said it was inferential writing?”

“They said it was stream of consciousness. But it isn’t the same stream of consciousness I write out of. You see Joyce, presumably, according to his critics, was quite conscious of his style and what he selected.” PJ continued, “Now he had a predecessor named Robert Burton. Burton was an 18th Century, or late 17th Century, writer, who simply got all the classics and extracted from them anything that would apply to the idea of melancholy, for his book, The Anatomy of Melancholy. I read that long before I ever read Joyce.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. It was a beautiful day in the park. “It’s about melancholy.” Time to tell him I suffered from time to time from severe depression? No.

“It’s really a very uplifting book. Because it had so many classic quotations and citations and so on. And Burton kept it running with a style of his own. He would leave off longer discussion about one subject and go into another one. But Joyce, I haven’t any idea how he really worked and I don’t compare myself with him because of 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.”

“What do you mean, your stream of consciousness is not the same as Joyce was writing from?”

“I don’t know Joyce’s well enough. All I know, after Ulysses was written there were a lot of hack critics around New York and London. They started picking it apart and telling where Joyce got his material from and claiming such and such a passage was influenced by a prior writer.”

“Have you read Finnegan’s Wake?”

“I couldn’t quite read Finnegan’s Wake. It was decidedly a different book. I enjoyed Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but when it came to Finnegan’s Wake, he lost me.”

It seemed to me it was stream of consciousness, overflowing with archetypes and images. In a performance by an Irish piper at the Poetry Celebration, Finnegan’s Wake came tumbling out like notes, pure sound, the way thoughts and images meld in dreams or streams of consciousness, an amber world of old and new lit by a passion for words.

“I’m conscious of my style now as I’m writing more than ever before,” PJ said, “but it’s still a very free style that I play with as I go and I love it.”

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Tally on The Story Reading Ape’s website

A short biography and notes about Tally: An Intuitive Life appeared in November 2013 on  The Story Reading Ape:

Tally is the story of Paul Johnston (PJ), and his relationship with two young poets: Erin Yes and Rogue. PJ lived in Greenwich Village, NYC, most of his adult life. This book is a chronicle of his life, and these friendships in his last years, taken from his letters and writings, and audiotapes he and I did together.

The name Tally comes from an early conversation in the book, when the poet Rogue first introduces Erin Yes to PJ. In PJ’s garret Rogue and Erin see the remains of a rich life: books, film, artwork, theater and dance flyers, photography, music, and photos of family and friends. Rogue says to her: “I’m drawn to old age because I want to know how it all adds up, or doesn’t add up in the end.”

In the beginning, Erin simply wants to help an old man whose sight and hearing are failing. She becomes intrigued by some of his ideas: how an intuitive program is built up in childhood, how we deal with guilt and innocence, what leads to amiability and hostility, and how we can adjust our “intuitive self-guidance.” Rather than rationalize or justify our motivations and actions, he believed we had the ability to honestly (that is, without defensiveness or righteousness) evaluate our intent, behavior and its consequences, and make a change that is positive and remain, or renew, ourselves as innocent, amiable human beings.

With Erin’s help PJ publishes some of his writing and hosts parties in his artist’s loft. He tells her that they are “together in amiable affection.” As PJ struggles with illness and old age, Erin becomes ever more deeply involved in the often difficult, but also rewarding, friendship with this eccentric Old Man.

For more, click here.

Note: Book Promo was November 16, 2013 – but check Amazon to see if there are any new discounts! Tally is part of Amazon’s Matchbook program which means that if you buy the print book, you get the Kindle for $1.99 (send one as a gift).

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)