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7 April / Indianapolis

A flat bone-colored plain with sparse trees growing out of it like public hair from brown wrinkled skin, the grey sky above it through which moved a few grey clouds like trucks along the grey road....

A terrible dinner in a public dining room at a U-shaped table, with thirty or forty teachers. Apparently no one reads in Indianapolis and the teachers had the discouraged air of vegetarians trying to convert to cannibalism.

9 April

Anyway I had two mornings undisturbed in which to work. Afternoon two to four talk with students. Dinner, then my lecture on the thirties. It went well but really I was completely without confidence. Somehow I have in my own mind no contact with an audience when lecturing. It is as though I were behind a glass screen gesticulating, and everything I say somehow keeps them attentive but is almost meaningless to me. When I am reading poems I do have confidence or at any rate can become absorbed in the problem of trying to read them effectively. After half and hour I broke off and said I would answer questions. Rang B. and told him how appalling I found Indiana. He said, 'It is the most awful state in the union.'

From Journals 1939-1983, 354-5. This was in the 1976-9 section, precise year unlabeled.

I think he exaggerates.

I like what he says about lecturing, as I feel that way sometimes--particularly when teaching something I cannot get into myself, and when I can't make it conversational. Even when I do feel connected to the students, my performance is opaque: I cannot really control what I do. Those higher levels of self-awareness must be shut down in order for me to act.

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