So my internship ends tomorrow. I can't really bring myself to believe it. I've become so comfortable in the little closed and completed world that I've been reading about. Everything in there is knowable and interesting. Everything has already happened and waiting to be discovered.
For that reason I prefer to read about all the ups and downs of the lit mags from the 60s and 70s than deal with my own. I really should be sorting out the selling of ad-space in Bewilderbliss issue #2, but instead I've spent the day with my head stuck in the very curious English Intelligencer and the absolutely wonderful Cambridge Opinion.
I'm even interested in the adverts in these other magazines. Especially those in Prospect! It's 50 years since it was set up and I love to flick through the adverts for things in a version of Cambridge that's so different to the one I know. There was one (in Cambridge Opinion as far as I recall) for Gardenias guesthouse, which I'm guessing was the forerunner of the wonderful Gardies, source of so many late night kebabs. Another advert was for an indigestion remedy, the copy was so dated, it was something like 'It may seem like a good idea to hurry your meals inbetween lectures or over you essays. But it's not good for your digestion!' Below that was a picture of a neat-looking young man with a nice suit on and a perfect parting. I love that world. No, actually I love to feel nostalgic for a world that in reality never existed, but in my head is so delightful and proper. In that world, gentlemen wear buttonholes every day and they ask ladies to dance or escort them home.
The Cambridge Opinion I was reading today was Issue 14, the one that Elaine Feinstein edited. In it I've finally found where all her correspondence with the beat poets came out. There's a really wonderful piece she's written on all of them, and she quotes a bit of Ginsberg that really seemed to express its ideas so perfectly. It's about people:
'who cut their wrists three times successively
unsuccessfully gave up and were forced to open
antique stores where they thought they were
growing old and cried'
Another exciting thing I've discovered in my archiving is that the dozens of letters from some bloke who signs his name as Alan are actually from Alan Sillitoe. He has some really beautiful things to say about writing. One that I've made a note of because it seems significant to me and my problems with writing is:
'It takes real imagination to show reality and truth. You have to be capable of eating your own heart.'
I feel entirely inspired by my work with the archive. Now I just need time to get away and really intensify it all. I need to get away from worries about ad-space and uni work and anything that keeping me from being honest and real. I really don't know how Elaine has managed to be a writer on top of all her work on magazines and her huge amount of correspondence and raising three boys. I feel exhausted and spread too thin just trying to keep up a fraction of that. Well, I am going to the launch of her new book with Carcanet soon, so I shall have to ask her.
Finally, as a result of working with the archives I've had to expand my library. I've just purchased the Bananas anthology and a book of the Tsvetaeva-Pasternak letters that I mentioned in a previous post. It's probably a good job I'm finishing work there tomorrow or I'd bankrupt myself with new books....I say that as though that isn't the normal situation, as though I've never spent my last £3 on a book rather than food.