Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Umnak Island, 19 December 1944

My Cherubic Chipmunk …
I am enclosing a carbon of a first draft of a part of a chapter on a possible book on the Aleutians [published in 1946 as Bridge to Russia]. The material is mostly gleaned from “The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes” written by Robert F. Griggs for the National Geographic Society. Let me know what you think of it, hasta pronto.

The general idea that I have now is for a highly popularized account of the life and the land up here. It could be divided into five sections: the land, the sea, the men, the animals, the war. Each section would be a series of sketches, more or less like the one enclosed. This would leave the way open for a more ambitious project if the Guggenheim people get generous.

The next sketch will be on Bogoslof, the disappearing island.

Today brought more mail, including one for me. It was from Bill Fett, who seems to have found a home on Orcas. He wrote on pink paper, had parenthetical statements enclosed within parenthetical statements and left me with a feeling of considerable confusion. Also anticipation, for he says he is sending up something called “The Blue Flower” to me. He mentioned it in a postscript and seemed to think he had described it earlier in the letter, but I’m damned if I can find any mention of it, at least by that name. He is un poco raro, all right. I’d like to hear from you sometime, too.

I have just finished reading “This Simian World” by Clarence Day, who I am told had a rather interesting life with his father. It is his first book and is dedicated to the rather obvious thesis that we are what we are because we descended from monkeys rather than from other animals. In the forepart of the book he imagines the world if men had descended from other types of animals, and why other types failed to gain mastery. Parts of it are charming  ....

And this is the quotation from the title page:
“How I hate the man who talks about ‘brute creation’ with an ugly emphasis on brute…as for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my simian ancestry. I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees, and that my frame has come down through geological time via sea jelly and worms and amphioxus, fish, dinosaurs, and apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden.”   -- W.N.P. Barbellion
The news is on now, and the announcer has just told of “massive air blows” at Ulm and Bratislava [both Danube River towns that Rosa and Murray visited by kayak on their honeymoon in 1939]. I am very lonely and I need you very much….

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