I find that it takes a certain amount of interest in some given thing to write even one paragraph about it. Lapses in writing are not necessarily a sign of disinterest, however. Experience itself can take up all the time that might have been spent writing. But when you can garden, why use gardening time to write? The experience of heat and bugs, blood and sweat, the sight of the endless battles between various forms of life slugging it out in, on, and above the soil, the stupendous importance of vagrant thunderstorms, can easily overwhelm the urge to punctuate.
This summer I visited family and friends in Honolulu, and spent a week in South Kona as well. There could be no better company on earth. We stayed in an airbnb house steeply pitched over a black pebble beach, looking west.
Sometimes we take things for granted—"A Defence of Poetry" is a fervid and rambling document, a stream of thought, which resembles in some ways a psychedelic re-rendering of the Declaration of Independence. In the course of his human events Shelley wanted to disband the European past as he understood it, and to this end he held a number of truths to be self-evident, which did not stop him from stating some of these truths specifically anyway.
Shelley proposed cultural revolution—including sexual revolution—and exalted liberty in the abstract as the highest motive imaginable. In some ways "A Defence of Poetry" is, or was meant to be, a watershed document not unlike the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming freedom of thought and expression, social liberty and equality, in almost hallucinogenic terms. It was radical then and it is really just as radical now.
I'm going to be completing another book in the category of “endless fun” soon. Its working title has been “Astral Bodies” since 1973 but I don’t think that will be its final title. It feels like I have rewritten "Astral Bodies" 24 or 30 times anyway, if not more, and it is still such a hoot to me that I have no actual motive to ever finish it. But I have been selfish enough, I guess. "Astral Bodies" is a memoir of 1969-1973, telling the tale of some freakish years. It is full of selfish people.
Of course not all selfishness is bad. Enlightened selfishness or self-centering is a worthy goal of consciousness. “Know thyself,” a maxim said to have been inscribed above the forecourt at the Temple of Delphi, has been attributed to at least 7 ancient Greek sages, according to Wikipedia. And it is likely a much older thought than that. Some have suspected that the more one knows about oneself, the less self remains—and that if we came to truly know ourselves, the process would turn us into someone other than we were—we would then be someone else. This has always sounded like tremendous fun to me, but it may be that some of us have less to lose than others by indulging in such exercises.
That is partly what the temporarily-named "Astral Bodies" appears to be to be about. In the original draft of 1973, I selected the 1969 to 1973 time frame because that was when the story was. Over the years since, the period from 1969-1971 has revealed itself to have been practically a generational spacetime discontinuity, almost a fairytale “before and after which” moment such as would not recur again in American culture until 2001, complete with terrible tragedies and senseless acts but also with considerably more hope and optimism than many folks like to allow themselves to feel in 2016.
The 20th century had to end before I finally realized that in "Astral Bodies" I was once again writing a historical novel—even if I had to wait for history to catch up. Remembering those lost times from an almost laughable distance, I find myself thinking it would not be a bad thing if the people of the present could flush away their fears and recover some of the old sang froid that characterized those years.