Journal, Life

Reading tonight notes from a journal written in the year after John died.

Careful notes.

Quick notes.

Notes for a lecture.

Notes from a lecture.

Thoughts, dreams (troubling dreams), worries, hopes, dreams (hopeful dreams).

Drawings, maps, dreams:

With a woman. She’s not very attractive, but because she wants me to I begin to caress her stomach and then her breasts. Finally we take off our clothes, both excited. Once inside her I find her so loose I can hardly feel anything. Still I thrust until I am about to come. Then I pull out, still erect, still excited. As I lie there she picks up a huge polaroid and takes my picture. Then she walks over to the door and opens it. In walk five or six of my students. They are witnesses she has brought, and they see me in unequivocal adultery. She has planned this so she can blackmail me. Before I know it she escapes and I am left with the students. I tell them something about my relationship with my wife that appeases them somewhat. The woman has taken something of mine, but she has also left her purse, so she will have to come back.

The journal is bristling with notes, including ideas for a book about John, who has just died, and a book about standing as metaphor.

Those two books at the heart of this year’s work. 20 years later.

Entries from the trip from Land’s End to the Orkney Islands.

My mind was buzzing, my emotions strong.

Shit, I say to myself while reading it.

What am I doing now?


8 May 1992

[opposite a page with a drawing of Avebury’s standing stones]

“A Walk with Richard Long”




uniformed school children

a skirt over chubby legs







figure on top of Silbury hill




white cow

130 feet

“Don’t Climb Fence”


heavy steel harrow




good boots

Roman road

high grass

car park




long, uphill path

West Kennet long barrow

115 strides long



small flat stones (anti-megaliths)

votive offerings: wild flowers, crossed sticks, remains of candle, carrot

wind so hard it makes barbed wire sing

no sidewalk

trace of path in grass

white-and-grey bird feathers

traffic, too close


[does Richard Long risk his life on roads like this?]

West Kennet

thatched cottage


motorist gives way and waves

a line of stones in a field full of sheep


step in fresh sheep shit


wisp of wool

round barrows on horizon

another hiker, with beard and backpack (Richard Long?)

dead sheep


stone circles

sketch from hill


About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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2 Responses to Journal, Life

  1. mikerol says:

    “Leaves her purse” – the symbol for the vagina: YOU sly dog you! She is going to “come” again? No, you are ctd. adulterous no matter that all your students berate you and how you look to the rest of the world. This appears to have been the time in your life when your marriage was/ had become joyless if I connect the timelines? x m.r


  2. Scott Abbott says:

    Sly, if sly, subconsciously. And yes, that was the beginning of the end.


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