Prison Diary: Bateson’s Peripheral Visions

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Prison Diary: Mary Catherine Bateson:  Peripheral Visions

An Extended Consideration

by Alan Carl Nicoll

Copyright 2018 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Bateson

While I was at Fresno County Jail, it was a continual struggle to get worthy books to read.  As a result, over the course of two months I read Mary Catherine Bateson’s Peripheral Visions three times, with much pondering and writing about it along the way.  This document collects the best quotes and such from my diary of the time.  I have deleted many bare quotes (meaning, quotes I didn’t directly comment on) because I have not obtained permission.  Undated comments in [braces] are from this week.  One paragraph of this piece was used in my most recent “New Diary” post.

What do I remember of the book, ten years later?  Not a lot, just that it was very stimulating and informative, and, in a…

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On Reading Charles Bukowski

An old post (2018) that is more like an essay than most of my blog items. Charles Bukowski, popular after death as he rarely was in life.

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Charles_Bukowski_smoking

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

[Photo source:  Wikipedia]

I like to say and to tell myself that I was “influenced” by Henry Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Kozol, and other acclaimed and brilliant thinkers–see My Best Books for a long list.  But in fact I started reading Charles Bukowski before any of these others, in my teens, and found in him the antisocial antihero that I had longed for without knowing it, that others found in James Dean or The Wild One, a kind of savage, a Tarzan of the slums.  It was Bukowski (hereafter, affectionately, “Buk”) that nourished the social critic, the crank, in me, and prepared me for the more systematic and effective Walden of Thoreau that I loved and was corrupted by at seventeen.

I first encountered Bukowski in his book, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in my local bookstore; I bought it for the…

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“You Need an Angle”

This two-minute read from March, 2018, is worth bringing again to the attention of writers–a good lesson from Hemingway in the Paris years.

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Desktop2In clearing the top of my desk this late evening (pay no attention to the remote controls), I found a stack of pages from the diary I wrote while in prison.  As is likely to happen while I’m straightening up, I started reading.  I found the following, from July 4, 2015:

10:35 AM, reading Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.  The first chapter impressed me.  Five pages of intense, lumpy description full of lovely touches where every word seems so well fitted into the whole, like each a piece in a mosaic, that I could rarely find one that I would change.  A quote (Scribner, New York, 1964-2001):

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of…

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Diary, 1/24 to 1/25/19

I had asked Pablo to read a chapter in Kick Me (“I Survived the Worst Day of My Life”) and let me know what he thought: was it worth keeping in the book? Well, he read it and mostly didn’t like it, though he waffled around and later praised it, ridiculously. But mostly he just wanted to give me advice on how to write, and how to make it funny, and how to “improve it,” and so on. I wanted his reaction to it as a reader, but he wouldn’t let it rest...

Diary, 12/27 to 12/29/18

Browsing Amazon for philosophy books, I came across one called Practical Stoicism which makes me think that there might be room and an audience for “my philosophy book.” Philosophy books can become best sellers; at least, the “philosophy” books that Amazon has in their best seller lists. I had said to Pablo that I like to shop at Barnes & Noble because there I can find new books that interest me, but the Amazon lists, I see, can fulfill that function.

Three Oldsters on Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving last year. This year I’m staying home.

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By Alan Carl Nicoll

Copyright 2017 by Alan Carl Nicoll, All Rights Reserved

I spent a bundle yesterday on going to see Justice League, treating my one current friend, he’s unemployed, and buying “toys” from Amazon (for me), but if I eat at home alone, it looks like Progresso® pea soup for Thanksgiving.  So I go out, planning to make the long walk to Carl’s Jr.® for dinner, despite no Wi-Fi—I’d checked, and they were open.  I need the walking because my legs have gotten weak this year, but I’d take the bus if they ran on major holidays here.  Prediabetes, according to my neurologist.  Medicare.  God Bless Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Even so, the diagnosis cost me $300, with a bit owed yet.

Willie is old, fat, black, with a walker, probably an alcoholic, and he hangs out at the corner though he’s no longer homeless, he…

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