diary by Edward Mullany

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There is, of course, such a thing as a muse, but it does not come to you, as I think many people suppose, or have been led to imagine, but rather you go to it, where it always is, not in a place, or a location, but in a realm that is interior to yourself, and that can be accessed wherever you happen to be, whenever you are ready to access it, provided you have some quietude and calm, and perhaps a gentleness of spirit, which is not to say a timidness, or a love for the sentimental, though this muse does not give you anything except the very feeling of which it is made, and which is never exhausted, but which you must transform, by way of your talent, and the medium in which you practice, into an expression that could be no one’s but yours.  

diary by Edward Mullany

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I once saw a documentary in which a submarine equipped with a special camera descended to the deepest part of the ocean, where the water seems pitch black, so far is it from any source of light, though even here there were creatures swimming about, looking for food, and trying to avoid becoming food for something else, so that I began to wonder, after the sub had returned to the vessel on the surface, and the man who was doing the voiceover had begun to talk about a different subject, though still about the ocean in general, whether any of the crustaceans or jellyfish they’d shown were still alive today, after the program had aired, and, if so, what they were doing, for they’d have no idea that myself and other people had been watching them, and had thought about their lives, and that, in a way, this broadcast had made them famous. 

diary by Edward Mullany

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I recently mailed a postcard to a friend who lives in a different country, and on the back of the postcard, where there is space to write whatever you feel like writing, I made a few remarks about the painting that had been reproduced on the front, though when I realized that I was running out of room, and that there were other things I wanted to say, I began to print the sentences at a smaller scale, so that the handwriting became cramped, and not as easy to read, though before I put a stamp on it, and dropped it in the mailbox at the end of my street, I read back to myself what I’d written, pretending it was me who’d received the postcard, and not the somebody to whom I was going to send it, and I discovered that what I’d written was legible enough, and figured that my friend would be able to comprehend my meaning, even if she had to guess at a word or two, or look at the lettering closely before distinguishing the shapes and the punctuation.

diary by Edward Mullany

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This diary is what you might call sui generis, meaning, of its own genre, though to say so of a work is usually left to the critics, or at least to the reading public, rather than to the author of the work itself, in this case me, though I feel no hesitation in breaking with this custom, even if to do so causes me to seem presumptuous, or more confident than I ought to be in my ability to judge my own work, as one of the reasons I undertook this project was to rid myself of the need for critics, or, anyway, of the desire to be noticed by them, not because I’m against them, or because I think there is no role for them, but in fact because I am one, or count myself among them, whether I am one or not, insofar as the faculty that is most evident to me, in my work, is not the imaginative, or the lyrical, though both of these might be present to a degree, and would be present for certain were I primarily a poet, or a writer of fictions, but that which I’d call the comparative, or the differentiative, which seeks to distinguish that which is true from that which purports to be true, but isn’t.

diary by Edward Mullany

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But enough about poems. What I really ought to be talking about is life, so that I can see, as my thoughts reveal themselves on the screen in front of me, as I type them, what those thoughts are, though I’m not certain I’d know where to begin if someone said to me, ok, now go ahead, speak, for one’s thoughts are often obscure, even to one’s self, and so deeply buried in one’s consciousness, and so dependent on other thoughts, which likewise are dependent on others, and so on, that what shows in their expression, as one gives them utterance, is not their totality, but only as much of them as one is able to grasp, and pull to the surface, as if one’s mind were a plot of land whose root systems cannot be fathomed, and in whose soil some things grow because they have been planted, and other things grow because they were there before the ground was even tilled, and yet other things grow because the seeds from which they originate were carried by a gust of wind that arrived from a long way off, and happened to deposit them there, which isn’t to say those things don’t belong, but only that their provenance must be traced if one is to establish how one ought to feel about them, let alone whether one ought to abide by them, or act on them.

diary by Edward Mullany

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There’s a book of poems I’ve never read, but that I sometimes think of for its title, The Tears of the Blind Lions, which I like because of the image it evokes for me, and for the way it makes me wonder about these lions, and ask myself if their tears are in response to their blindness, meaning, are these lions sad because they cannot see, or have they been blinded by their tears, so that their vision ordinarily is fine, and they aren’t without sight in any permanent sense, but only temporarily, due to the water streaming from their eyes, or have they, in a third scenario, already been blind a long time, and are accustomed to it, and are weeping for some other reason, one that has nothing to do with their inability to see, but that is separate, and unknown to us?

diary by Edward Mullany

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If it were possible to write a novel in which there were no characters, but only a setting, with weather and the elapsing of time, so that, in order to maintain a reader’s interest, the writer would have to make do without any conflict except that which involves, I suppose, the resistance shown by objects to their own deterioration, the way a table must settle under the weight of a pile of books, for example, or how a fence on an acre of farmland begins to sag so incrementally that no one notices until the fence can no longer be righted, and eventually must fall, or be toppled…yes, if it were possible to write such a novel, without any conflict but that which I’ve described, though I’m not certain that what I’ve described is even conflict, as both a table and a fence are manmade, and thus are imbued with a resistance that isn’t their own, but rather is that of the design dreamed up, or intended, by the individuals who put the materiality of these objects into their current form, so that they might not be resisting anything, these objects, but are merely abiding by gravity, or the conditions of their molecular structure…but yes, if it were possible to write such a novel, where no characters could be found, not because characters aren’t interesting, but rather because they don’t comprise everything that is interesting, I guess I would try to write it.   

diary by Edward Mullany

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One tends to hear less about Milton’s Paradise Regained than one hears about his Paradise Lost, just as one tends to hear less about Dante’s Paradiso and Purgatorio than one hears about his Inferno, even though, in the case of both poets, it is the work in its totality, rather than in its parts, that conveys the fullness of the artistry of that poet’s project, and of that poet’s attempt at dramatizing truth, which makes one wonder, I think, about the inclinations of human curiosity, as evidenced by what history has shown to have taken hold in the public imagination, which seems to want to be plunged, at least in these instances, in the wisdom found in literature that features the diabolic in all its falsity and ruin, and yet with a sort of grandeur, rather than literature where that same diabolic is felt, or represented, but is given less stage time, or is portrayed in unequivocal defeat.

diary by Edward Mullany

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This morning, after I’d made coffee, but before I’d sat down at my desk, where the computer is at which I write, I stood at the window that looks out over the courtyard between the building I live in and the buildings on the other side, and saw, in the window of an apartment across from mine, a person who happened to be doing what I was doing, standing and looking out, with a vacant expression on their face, and a mug of coffee in their hands, as if our lives just then had decided to align, or had been made to align by way of what we were doing, though this person didn’t notice me until after I’d noticed them, at which point I lifted my head at them, and smiled, and was happy when I saw them smile back.

diary by Edward Mullany

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I once undertook to illustrate Dante’s Inferno, but I got no further than the opening canto, which ends while the poet is still above ground, at night, in the woods, before the shade of Virgil has led him through those gates that open onto the plain through which runs the river Acheron, whose boatman has the duty of ferrying souls to the opposite shore, where can be found the path that descends, among rocks, into the first few circles of the underworld, and that eventually leads to the City of Dis, where, within walls made of iron, demons run amok, and one can hear the cries of the unrepentant, though when I asked myself why I quit where I did, and put my pens and paper away, instead of continuing, I could not find an answer, so that I began to realize, as the days went by, and my mind became occupied with other things, that I wasn’t ready to illustrate the book, even if I wanted to, and that a time might never arrive when I would be.

 

diary by Edward Mullany

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And here is a photo of me on a trail in the woods in the northern part of the state, turning to glance over my shoulder at the person who is taking it, and who has just said my name to me, aloud, so that I will look back at her, the way I am doing, making my face visible to the camera, though after the photo has been captured I will turn again, the other way, so I can watch where I am stepping, and she, also stepping, will see only my shoulders and my backpack and my bum and my legs, though after a while we will stop, or she will catch up to me, or I’ll turn to say something to her, about the trail or the view, or a memory that I think will make her laugh, and we’ll see each other’s faces again.  

diary by Edward Mullany

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Someone once told me, when trying to describe to me how poetry is innate to the French language, that the French word for potato is pomme de terre, which means apple of the earth, a phrase that caused me to smile when I heard it, and to say it to myself several times, aloud, because I liked it so much, for what seems to me its lyricism, though I suppose there is nothing unusual about it, and that, as a usage, it makes sense, or is rational, insofar as the fruit that we identify as an apple, in English, were it to grow in the soil, as opposed to on the branches of a tree, would call to mind that vegetable we’ve named potato, though the two foods would still differ from each other in taste, one being sweet, and the other being hard, or starchy; and yet, for me, as well as for that person who told me about it, the phrasing remains poetic, though of course poetry isn’t opposed to that which is rational, anyway, but only to that which is false, rather than that which is strictly untrue.

diary by Edward Mullany

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My friend, who is also a writer, had too much to drink the other night, and, in a diatribe that began as she observed the people around us, inside the bar, and that ended after she and I and her other friend, who was visiting from out of town, and who was staying with her in her apartment, and who thus could see her home, had left, and were walking along the sidewalk, on our way to an entrance to the subway, so that we could return to our separate neighborhoods, said that the problem with the world is that the old and the powerful, wanting to maintain what they have, grow stale, and in spirit are as good as dead, while the young speak too easily of revolution, as if they themselves are incorruptible, though after we’d boarded a train, and she’d fallen asleep on her friend’s shoulder, so that her friend and I, on opposite benches, had regarded each other across the aisle, and had smiled once, dumbly, before looking away, as we didn’t know each other well, and couldn’t think of anything to say, she woke for a minute, and raised her head, and said in a bleary voice, as if she could recall what she’d told us, and felt the need to amend it, if only for her satisfaction, and ours, that she was not a pessimist, and did not exclude herself from those she would admonish, but in fact believed that to love one’s neighbor, as one would love one’s self, was what one should do in any situation, political or otherwise, although she knew, she added, that this was easier said than done, that life was more complicated than a single phrase could suggest, and that she herself fell short of what she’d called for anyway.    

diary by Edward Mullany

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I was watching the movie The 39 Steps, and, because I hadn’t reached the part where the meaning of the title is revealed, and thus didn’t know what it referred to, despite the fact that it had been mentioned, or alluded to, during scenes in which dialogue had occurred, so that it had caught my imagination, which had been colored by the mood and the atmosphere of the story, I kept picturing these steps as existing at the end of a corridor, in a stairwell that wound upward in the dark until it reached a door that was closed, and locked, and that did not have a handle by which one could open it, but from beneath which came a sliver of light that indicated a room or a hallway was beyond it.

diary by Edward Mullany

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When I was nine or ten, and living in a different country, I once wrote the words, “To whoever finds this, I hope you are ok,” for a school assignment in which we’d been asked to compose a message, in ink, on a sheet of loose leaf paper, that we folded many times, into a square that was small enough to fit through the mouth of a bottle that we then corked and were told we could toss into the ocean, once we’d taken the bottles home with us, which I did, the following afternoon, though the tide was so strong, on the shore to which I’d brought mine, that the bottle kept returning to me, on the waves, instead of floating out to sea, where I’d hoped it would be carried, so that finally I left it there, on the sand, where I’d been standing, as if it had never been mine, and I’d had nothing to do with it.

diary by Edward Mullany

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A few centuries ago, I would’ve been keeping this diary in notebooks, using a quill, and a pot of ink, and no one would’ve been reading it, for they would’ve had no means by which to find it, unless they’d shown up at my lodgings, while I was there, and had asked if they could see it, though that would suggest they’d have known that I was keeping it, which would’ve been unlikely, as I can’t imagine I would’ve told them, unless I’d started talking about it one night, at the tavern, after drinking too much ale, or unless I’d asked the village crier to announce it, or unless I myself had written about it, on parchment or a scroll of paper, and had nailed that parchment to the door of the town hall.

diary by Edward Mullany

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I like in the Bible how, when an angel appears to a person, one of the first things it says, before it says anything else, is, “Do not be afraid.”

diary by Edward Mullany

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This is a drawing I did for my previous entry, where I described the story about a man who gets a haircut, but I decided not to use it then, as it seemed too literal, so I’ll include it now, though I don’t have anything to say about haircuts, except that I get them now and then, at a place I go to down the street.