By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
She taught us bastrika, hollow tank, air swallowing and many other exercises and postures . . .
I must admit that the exercises, which we practiced daily for about three weeks, made me feel wonderful. My insides felt like a well-packed suitcase . . .
The Swami, when he heard of it, was highly disapproving. He told me that the breathing exercises produce hallucinations, and that he had seen people in India who retain a boyish physique up to the age of sixty, but are complete idiots in consequence. "What is the matter with you, Mr. Isherwood," he asked severely, "surely you do not want Etarnal Youth?" I was silent and hung my head -- because, of course, I did.
December 14, 1949
I think there is no doubt about it, I'm going through the "change of life." Gerald Heard put that idea into my head the other day, and I take it on as a sort of reassurance -- for I'm really alarmed at the state I'm in. (This despite what I told Gerald: that one of the chief benefits that remain to me from the Ivar Avenue [monastery] days is that I have learned not to be alarmed by any mental symptoms, however violent and odd.)
Certainly, my mind is softening, weakening. I have so little coordination that I putter around like a dotard. I'll go upstairs to find a book, forget all about it, pick up something else, start to bring it downstairs, leave it in the kitchen and then hunt for it for hours.
Then there is this constant sexual itch, which never seems to be satisfied -- or very seldom -- because it is accompanied by a certain degree of impotence. And there is a hyper-tension, worse, I think, than I have ever experienced.
And so I fail to write. I put it off, and put it off, and I do nothing about getting a job, and I drift toward complete pauperism, with nothing in sight. I am lazy and dreamy and lecherous. I hate being alone. I don't exactly want Billy [Caskey] back -- at least, I certainly don't want him the way he was when he left. And I am fundamentally unserious in my approach to other people. I don't believe in myself or my future, and all my "reputation" is just a delayed-action mechanism which only impresses the very young.
Well -- there is only one answer to all this. I've repeated it a thousand times already, and I'll repeat it till I die: just keep right on trying and struggling. The situation is very bad but not hopeless. After all, you did get that thing about Klaus Mann written. That was something. Don't be scared.
June 30, 1950
Troops have been sent to Korea . . .
Party at Salka's for two Peruvian dancers and a guitarist -- Yma Sumac, her husband and a cousin. Their bird cries and slight, arresting, mock serious gestures. As a group, they were incredibly beautiful. The slant-eyed Yma and her cousin, balancing so lightly on their little feet, and uttering sudden wails of mimic despair. And the boy behind them, very close, and thrusting forward with his guitar; so that they seemed to be continually advancing upon us with the compactness and drive of a little military formation. The boy had a soft waxy skin and wet-black eyes that had the quality of introversion; they didn't bulge or roll. The dances had an airy uncanny birdlike authority: you got the feeling of the uncanny jungle and the discontinuous, abrupt movements of the birds. And also the sense of tradition. They appeared to listen for it, pick it up like a wavelength and then relay it, quite impersonally, without comment.
Chaplin, [his wife] Oona, Iris Tree in a converted sari, Friedrich Ledebur with a bored, tennis-playing maharajah, Hedy Lamarr very pretty and ungrand, John Huston, Ivan Moffat serious, or rather poker-faced, appalled by all the imitations he would have to give, Natasha [Moffat] verging on insanity, very beautiful, John Houseman, Ella Winter etc. etc. etc.
I have written all this and said nothing, really. But I must go on writing this record. Things will emerge.