Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012.09.22 — Opal Whitelely and Kyra Sedgwick: a Fushigi*

This morning I experienced a small chill of weirdness after resuming my perusal of The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Rediscovered Diary of Opal Whiteley. Another totally weird fushigi. I began the book last night, after it had been returned to me in the afternoon by BV, who loved it so much that she read it twice, back-to-back.

I have no time to read, right now, as I just finished Debt: The First 5000 Years and have my course Banks Skanks to finish writing. But something about M's description of it and BV's reaction to it, perhaps, contributed to my being drawn to read it before I resume with Three Day Road, which has been making me feel guilty because I have ignored it for so long after NR's strong recommendation.

The biography that introduces the book by Benjamin Hoff is fascinating and captured my attention right away. But it was late when I started reading it and so put it down after about fifteen pages or so to go to bed. I resumed it this morning to the chill from this innocuous passage:
Late one September afternoon, her money almost gone, [Opal Whitely] entered the office of the prestigious Atlantic Monthly, in Boston. The magazine had recently begun to publish books under its own imprint, and someone had suggested to Opal that she talk to its editor.

The editor was Ellery Sedgwick, one of the most respected men in publishing. He glanced through the book. Finding little in it to interest him, he told Opal that he must decline. But then, intrigued by her personality, he questioned her about her background. As she talked, his interest increased. He asked if she kept a diary. She said she had. He said he wanted to see it. Opal, nearly at her breaking point, began to cry. She told him it had been torn to pieces.
He asked her if she'd kept the pieces. She had, but they were stored in Los Angeles. He told her to send for them without delay. They soon arrived — "crammed in a hatbox," he was later to recall (p 29).
[For a more detailed and beautiful rendering of this encounter from Sedgwick himself, visit The Diary of Opal Whiteley — Introduction by Ellery Sedgwick.]

What had caught my attention was the name Ellery Sedgwick because, Thursday night / Friday morning I had the following dream:

I have an important meeting; or perhaps, the emphasis is more a meeting at an important place. I find myself driving along narrow roads, that have tracks for wheels, and the grass has been allowed to grow quite high between and outside of them. The place I am visiting is like an old American university styled after the British schools, with lots of stone and gothic windows and the like. There is water all around the castle-like place, with small inlets that the road follows.

At one point, and I'm not sure how I get there, I am in a richly appointed room with the actress Kyra Sedgwick. (I have been a fan of Sedgwick for many years.) The room was like an ante-chamber to, perhaps, a large library or study. We talk about my business there, and she is a part of it in an important way, but I've now forgotten all the details. I remember that she wore a brilliant red dress, knee length, with a kind of fold of cloth that crossed over from right to left. (I went looking for an image that matches it, but the closest to the look was that of a coat of some kind.)

When I leave, I become aware that I can drive the car into the water, and I would be safe. A part of me became aware that I was in a dream, but I did not become fully lucid — just lucid enough to know that the water would not be able to hurt me as the car proceeded to sink. Unlike my more typical lucid prompts, I did not become fully lucid with the clear thought "OMG! I'm dreaming!" and the immediately proceed to fly. Instead, I simply knew that I could move through and/or on the water without drowning or sinking.
That's all I remember of the dream. What stood out was Sedgwick, because I rarely dream of celebrities. The last celebrity dream I remember was with Sean Connory in his Bond role. And that was at least twenty-five years ago.

And why the name Sedgwick stood out as the editor, aside from it being of course a relatively unusual name (in my experience), is that I remember having read a mini-biography of Kyra Sedgwick a few years ago. From that vague recollection I was convinced that this Ellery Sedgwick was related to her. And, as I had inferred, they are. From the Wikipedia:
Kyra Sedgwick was born in New York City, the daughter of Patricia (née Rosenwald), a speech teacher and educational/family therapist, and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist. Her father was Episcopalian and of English heritage, and her mother was Jewish On her father's side, she is a descendant of Judge Theodore Sedgwick, Endicott Peabody (the founder of the Groton School), William Ellery (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), John Lathrop (American minister) (1740–1816), of Boston, Mass and Ellery Sedgwick, owner / editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Sedgwick is also the first cousin once removed of actress Edie Sedgwick, a niece of the writer John Sedgwick, a sister of actor Robert Sedgwick, and half-sister of jazz guitarist Mike Stern.

Sedgwick's parents separated when she was four and divorced when she was six; her mother subsequently re-married Ben Heller, an art dealer. Sedgwick graduated from Friends Seminary and attended Sarah Lawrence College. She transferred from Sarah Lawrence to the University of Southern California, graduating with a theatre degree.
I have emphasized Sarah Lawrence College above because the object of my penultimate blogged fushigi, Zoë Keating — see Zoë Keating, Regina Spektor…" — also was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

And, come to think of it, Spektor's name also ties to The Singing Creek where the Willows Grow because Whiteley claimed throughout her life to have seen and communicated with the spirits (specters) of nature as Nature expresses itself in all its fauna and flora. And I am reminded of what the Caddy's of Findhorn called nature divas. These are essentially the same as those Whiteley describes, and like Whiteley some members of the Findhorn community in the 1970s were able to communicate with these nature spirits. See the interesting book The Magic of Findhorn and also Findhorn Foundation. [Aside: I met one of those people at an all day workshop in the late 1970s in Washington State, when I was around seventeen years old.]

2012.09.23 Fushigi Addendum

Last night I had a peculiar train dream. It's been a very long time since I've even had a train dream. The largely stopped when, during a lucid dream I found myself standing on a train track in a city station with the train bearing down on me. Because I was lucid, I new that I couldn't be hurt, and so instead of leaping in fear and frustration from the track onto the loading platform, I stood and hollered 'Yahoo!' as the train roared through me. It was fantastic.

Well, last night I found myself in an industrial area, with the layered tracks of a small shunting yard. The tracks were behind a tall fence. (Now that I'm writing this, it reminds me of a recent site visit I did for work, at 21 Water Street. Industrial track area, with layers of track behind a fence.) Anyway, I was walking, and I had the thought that perhaps the reason people get hit by trains is that their mind freezes in a kind of slow motion panic and they find that they cannot move. It was then that I heard the train, and began to move. I then realized that my mind was refusing to move me properly, that I had indeed become frozen on the tracks because my mind had found a way of fixating on being unable to move. In a panic I remember having to choose between being between the moving train and the fence, or away from the fence into the rest of the train yard. With a kind of mental gasp or wrenching I made a choice and the train did not hit me. I did not become lucid.

So, this morning I resumed The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow and read the following;

One: The Road beyond the Singing Creek, and the Railroad Track with Shining Rails

By its side goes the railroad track. Its appears are not so nice as are the appears of the road, and it had got only a squeaky voice. But this railroad track does have shining rails — they stretch away and away, like a silver ribbon that came from the moon in the night. I go a-walking on these rails. I get off when I do hear the approaches of the dinkey-engine. On this track on every day, excepting Sunday, comes and goes the logging train. It does to the camps, and it does bring back cars of logs and cars of lumber. These it does take to the mill town. There, engines more big do take the cars of lumber to towns more big (p81, 84).

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