I am hard on myself. Some take that as a positive sign. Self-knowledge calls for severity, and I am always willing to go to the mat with that protean monster, the self, so perhaps there is hope for me. But I would like to go further. My feeling is that you can't be known thoroughly unless you find a way to communicate certain "incommunicables" -- your private metaphysics. My way of approaching this is that before you were born you had never seen the life of this world. To grasp this mystery, the world, was the occult challenge. You came into a fully developed and articulated reality from nowhere, from nonbeing or primal oblivion. You had never seen life before. In the interval of light between the darkness in which you awaited first birth and then the darkness of death that would receive you, you must make what you could of reality, which was in a state of highly advanced development. I had waited for millennia to see this. Then when I had learned to walk -- in the kitchen -- I was sent down into the street to inspect it more closely. One of my first impressions was of the huge utility-pole timbers that lined the street. They were beaver-colored, soft and rotted. On their crosspieces or multiple arms they carried many wires or cables in an endless falling relay, soaring, falling again and soaring. On the fixed sag and flow of the cables the sparrows sat, flew off, came back to rest. Along the sidewalks, the faded gray cement reflected red at sunset. There were automobiles that rode along the street. We didn't own a car when I was young. My parents purchased an old Pontiac when I was seven years old. I knew people by their faces -- red, white, wrinkled, spotted, or smooth; smiling or violent or furious -- their eyes, mouths, noses, voices, feet, and gestures. how they bent down to amuse or question or tease or affectionately torment a small boy.
God appeared very early to me. His hair was parted down the middle. In my fertile imagination God had a full head of hair, although my father was bald. My image of God was a correction of my father, I suppose one could say. I understood that we were related because he had made Adam in his own image, breathed life into him. Anyway . . . this was the world. I had never seen it before. Its first gift was the gift of itself. Objects gathered you to themselves and held you by a magnetic imperative that was simply there. It was a privilege to be permitted to see -- to see, touch, hear. This would not have been impossible to describe to an intellectual, though most people might find these ideas esoteric and odd. The intellectual might reply dismissively that Rousseau had already covered the same turf in his Confessions or his Reveries of a Solitary Walker. I don't feel like having these first epistemological impressions anticipated or dismissed. For fifty-two years I have seen reality under these same signs. I have the feeling, too, that I have to wait for thousands of years to see, hear, smell, and touch these mysterious phenomena -- to take my turn in life before disappearing again when my time is up. I might have said to someone once, "It was my one turn to live." But I doubt that anyone hearing that phrase would understand the full meaning of that sentence and I probably had to surrender my wish to make myself fully known by describing my intimate metaphysics. Only a small number of special souls have ever found a way to receive such revelations.