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February 18 , 2011

I, Mary MacLane (Illustrated)


HALF INEVITABLY, half by choice, I write this book now.
I am at a lowering impatient shoulder-shrugging life-point where I must express myself or lose myself or break.
And I am quite alone as I live my life.
And I am unhappy—a scornful unhappiness not of bitter positive grief which admits of engulfing luxuries of sorrow, but of muffled unrests and tortures of knowing I fit in nowhere, that I drift—drift—and it brings an unbearable dread, always more and more dread, into days and into wakeful nights.
And writing it turns the brunt of it a little away from me.
And to write is the thing I most love to do.
And I myself am the most immediate potent topic I can find in my knowledge to write on: the biggest, the littlest, the broadest, the narrowest, the loveliest, the hatefulest, the most colorful, the most drab, the most mystic, the most obvious, and the one that takes me farthest as a writer and as a person.
I write myself when I write the thoughts smouldering in me whether they be of Death, of Roses, of Christ’s Mother, of Ten-penny Nails.
One’s thoughts are one’s most crucial adventures. Seriously and strongly and intently to contemplate doing murder is everyway more exciting, more romantic, more profoundly tragic than the murder done.
I unfold myself in accursed and precious written thoughts. I cast the reflections of my inner selves on the paper from the insolent mirror of my Mind.
—my Mind—it is so free—
My Soul is not free: God hung a string of curses, like a little manacling chain, round its neck long and long ago. Always I feel it. My Heart is not free for it is dead: in a listless way and a trivial way, dead. And my Body—it is free but has a seeming of something wasted and useless like a dinner spread out on a table uneaten and growing cold.
—but my free Mind—
Though I were shut fast in a prison: though I were strapped in an electric chair: though I were gnawed and decayed by leprosy: I still could think, with thoughts free as gold-drenched outer air, thoughts delicate-luminous as young dawn, thoughts facile, seductive, speculative, artful, evil, sly, sublime.
You might cut off my two hands: but you could not keep me from remembering the Sad Gray Loveliness of the Sea when the Rain beats, beats, beats [7]upon it.
You might admonish me by driving a red-hot spike between my two white shoulders: but you could not by that influence my Thoughts—you could not so much as change their current.
I am intently aware of my Mind from moment to moment—all the passing life-moments. The awareness is a troubled power, a heavy burden and a wild enchantment.—
Also what I feel I write.
I am my own law, my own oracle, my own one intimate friend, my own guide though I guide me to dead-walls, my own mentor, my own foe, my own lover.
I am in age one-and-thirty, a smouldering-flamed period which feels the wings of the Youth-bird beating strong and violent for flight—half-ready to fly away.
I am not a charming person. Quite seventy singly-used adjectives would better fit me.
But I have some charm of youth, and a charm of sex, and a charm of intellect and intuition, and some charms of personality.
I have a perfervid appreciation of those things in other persons. And my steel has sometime struck fire from their flint.
But always my steel has turned back drearily yet strongly to itself.

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