Letter dated May 18, 1993
Following my visit to Joshua Tree
I was impressed with your recent letter to me, so impressed about what
this desert meant to you that I copied it out into one of my journals,
printed it. You know, a kind of wobbly calligraphy. (Have you ever thought
of taking a course in calligraphy through Coastline College or elsewhere?
Coastline used to have a full range of classes, from beginning Italic
to advanced, taught by very fine teachers. No credit need be involved.
One evening a week usually. Some morning classes, I think, as well. You
study each letter, find out how it is formed, etc. I took some classes
there in Old English and Roman and one at UCLA in Italic that I liked
a lot. You even form friendships of an especial kind doing that. Calligraphy
is a special blend of meditation and craft. It calms one down and is creative
all at the same time. I mention it to you because your printing is already
so beautiful and controlled. At least I always enjoy seeing it.) I began
to study calligraphy through the work of Lloyd J. Reynolds. He taught
at Reed College [in Portland, Oregon]. (He is dead now.) He taught a generation
of major American poets. I even have a letter from him in his Italic script.
Now for your questions: we buy the blue Good Earth tea bags, but if you
prefer decaf., why not the brown? I have not tried it, but there shouldn't
be much difference, should there? I am glad you like it in whatever form
The significance of the gateway [in our yard]? That is more complicated. Savya
wanted it built because she read somewhere about the power of such a form.
She is less interested in it than I am now that it is up. First, I see
it as just an ordinary gateway that any ranch might have where you enter
even though it is not a literal entrance way.... The gateway...is...something
of a lens on the desert so that if you stand back from it and look into
the desert it is as if the frame focuses the energy of the desert for
you. Or at any rate for me. It is very powerful. But it is also literally
a gateway into one dimension from this dimension, the dimension of the
desert and its power while on this side is the power or energy of ordinary
reality. I am very aware of crossing a line when I walk through the gateway.
I have changed dimensions in a manner of speaking. The white flag says--it
is an American Indian design--The Earth is Alive, which should be a reminder
to anyone who passes that the desert, this desert is alive and everything
So I am very happy you share our enthusiasm for this desert, this Joshua
Tree. I am grateful that we made it here, we made it this far. The summer
is coming on now, the heat. That is okay. Even occasional smog from LA.
We are where we are. Our hearts become as wide and as open--we hope--as
this endless mirror, which is alive.
Love, Daralee. May all continue well for you. Thank you for the pictures.
Yes! Love, richard
Pictured above is the gateway at the Lee
residence, referenced in the letter. The white
banner atop the beam says "The Earth is Alive."
(Photo by Daralee)
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