You are arrested by her size, and by her voice. Jane Rule is tall — six feet tall. Her voice is deep — it is frequently mistaken for a man's. But she has not, as many tall women have, slouched and stoop-shouldered her way to an ungainly approximation of some man's idea of "the body beautiful." The woman who welcomes us into her home this wet August day in Vancouver moves confidently, impressively. The voice is rich, sonorous, often playful. She laughs easily and hugely, shares confidences, anecdotes, puts us at ease in this house overlooking rain-swept Vancouver bay. The windows are large; they fill the rooms with a soft gray light, a sense of order, a sense of clarity. Only some strangely aggressive abstracts on the walls create eddies of disturbance in the afternoon.
Jane and Helen Sonthoff have been lovers for twenty years. They both teach in the English Dept. at the University of British Columbia and live together in this house and on Galiano Island. Soon they will move there permanently, and leave the city for good. Helen brings out their photo album; we spend the latter part of our afternoon looking at their island home, their friends, a barn raising, a series of the two of them seated warmly, romantically together in a friendlier autumn light than this day's.
Why did we interview Jane Rule? She is a Canadian who has written a book that proudly proclaims, in its title, the sexual identity of both its subjects and its author. Lesbian Images: a rare event in Canadian publishing history. We wanted to know what this woman was like. We found she is not all we would have her be — a fact that will no doubt delight her. We would have liked to have found an anger less tempered by a genial understanding of the forces that oppress us, an ambition to involve herself in the common lot of gay people from a vantage point less remote, less sheltered than the writer's desk. We wanted a fellow traveller.
Yet we forget sometimes the heroisms that have made our own voyage possible. Jane Rule would not want to be thought of in those terms. She distrusts heroines. Yet it is those sometimes quiet, sometimes noisy moments when one says "yes, I am", refusing to let others speak as if one weren't there, that define the heroism of our common lives. And it is the sum total of those moments that create our dignity as gay people. Jane Rule has said yes from the beginning: said yes when it endangered her career, said yes when it meant the ordeal of having to face her parents, said yes when it meant her novels would be refused by one publisher after another. That is a rare enough quality among us who have the support of a fledgling community. We should remember what she has done. And what the honest and intelligent gay images in her work may yet do.***Tell us a bit about your early life, and why you decided to come to Canada.
I came to Canada when I was 25 on an absolutely beautiful August day, and I decided that this was a lovely place to be. I'm now 44 and I just never went home. I discovered that in Canada in the mid-'50's there was a great deal more to do for someone who was trying to write and earn a living. There weren't a huge number of PhDs or people who knew how to play games on the radio. What I've done for twenty years is to teach for a year or two and then take off for a year or two, so essentially I've earned my living as a teacher. But I've never been involved in the academic world in terms of climbing up the ladder or making a career out of it. I still teach at the university here with nothing but a BA. That's now unusual. It wasn't in the '50's.Were you a writer even then?
Yes, I had known I wanted to be a writer from the time I was about 15 or 16. The whole problem was to find the time because of course you had to eat too. I knew perfectly well that the kind of writing I was going to do was not going to be commercial. And I never wanted it to be. Therefore there was going to be a long apprenticeship before I could make a living at it. Were you "out" as a gay person before you came to Canada?
I don't suppose I've ever been "in". I've never made an issue of being or not being, and for people who wanted to handle it, fine. If they didn't, they would just have to figure out ways to deal with it. When did you first realize you were gay?
I suppose in my mid teens, but I think nobody defines herself at 15. You recognize kinds of emotions you feel and concerns that you have. Looking back now I suppose I would say that I discovered I was "sexual" at 15. And most of my sexual interests were with women. I couldn't possibly have moved in terms of a heterosexual relationship — not because physically it's something that I couldn't cope with, but emotionally and socially. I was raised as a "southern woman," but I will not behave as one! And yet ... I find it much more difficult than some of the younger women I know to say to a man in the house: "For god's sake get your own glass of orange iuice!" I just wouldn't dream of doing it — and that's probably because I don't have to live with men.In the introduction to Lesbian Images you mention that in your late teens you read The Well of Loneliness and were very moved by it.
Moved by it? Scared to death! Not identifying, but thinking: "My god, is this what people finally grow up to be if they feel drawn to women as I do..." Of course, it took me years to find out why I found it so horrible — because Radclyffe Hall was about the biggest male chauvinist pig you could find. The whole sense that there's a power structure in human relationships and there's got to be one who dominates and one who's passive: someone who's more important and someone who's less. I still hear women say all the time: "Well somebody's got to make the decisions." And that seems to me alien to how you live with someone else. The Well of Loneliness is a heterosexual book in terms of political structure. Were there any other aspects of your teen years that affected you?
Well, at the age of 12 I was 6 feet tall. I stopped growing at 12. I've just been with my nieces and my 11-year-old niece is now 5'9''. Watching that 11 year-old who is still very much a child trying to cope with the world treating her as If she were 16 or 17 really brought back to me what it was like to operate in a world that dealt with me as if I were an adult. That was a very strange experience that took a lot of sorting out.Was your first sexual experience a lesbian one?
Yes. I knew the woman that I loved very well, and the sexual evolving of that relationship seemed absolutely natural, important and lovely. How old were you then?
Sixteen.Have you had any casual heterosexual experience, or were you ever married?
No, fortunately not. I had been involved with men, but not at all happily. Again, not from the sexual side, but from the social side. That was as much my fault, given the background I grew up in. I didn't want to be in that kind of relationship, though I thought I should. I suppose we all, at one time or another, think we should do what people think we ought to do and we take a crack at it and it turns into a bad idea for everybody. When did you decide to write your first novel, The Desert of the Heart?
When did Desert of the Heart decide to write me! That's the way every book happens. I finished it before my 30th birthday so it was finished in 1961 It went to about 25 American publishers all of whom refused it I can remember one reaction was "If this book isn't pornographic, what's the point of printing it ... if you can write in the dirty parts we'll take it but otherwise no..." So I took it myself to England and the first publisher to see it there took it Then Macmillan of Canada and Seeker & Warbura brought out an edition together and it was almost a year after that that an American publisher picked it up. Perhaps you could give us a few more details on the kind of reception it got from publishers...
I think most people simply felt it was a subject they were afraid of and unless it were sensational... I can remember when it was finally taken in the States. I was in the offices of the World Publishing Co. and the editor was Mr. Helen Gurley Brown, the husband of Helen Gurley Brown (incidentally, the only book that I was ever embarrassed to buy in a bookstore was Sex and the Single Girl. I quit reading it at the best chapter when you're being advised what kind of beautiful breakfast to prepare for the man you hadn't expected the night before... and there might have been some good recipes...) Anyway I went to call on Mr. Helen Guriey Brown in New York City and he gave me a pitch that was just unbelievable: "This book is sensational! You want to know why it's sensational?! "Because it's not sensational! Now we're gonna put you on the Johnnie Carson show and we're gonna do this and we're gonna do that..." I said: 'it's no good; I'd throw up." And he said: "You must do something more sincere than that to attract attention." Then he told me about his "little woman" who had been shy of television, but now he just couldn't keep her home. I could understand why. I fled from that office after twenty minutes, and I went into the Hilton Bar and ordered three double martinis and got absolutely smashed. The waitress finally brought me a sandwich without my asking for it and said: "Eat this you hick if you're gonna have one of those emotional scenes in our bar." I ate my club house sandwich and slept it off, left town and I've never been back to New York. I never went on the Johnnie Carson show or any of those things. I've never dealt with publicity at all except in terms of people who are serious about what they are doing. Even with Lesbian Images which I feel more responsible about. I was, after all, commissioned to write it, and it's my one public service message to the world. But I won't talk to anyone who hasn't read the book. And that eliminates about nine tenths of the people who want to talk to me. I was surprised earlier when you mentioned that editors seemed to want you to put the dirty parts in. Were there any changes that editors demanded in Desert of the Heart, before it could be published?
No, actually there wasn't even any proof reading, which was too bad. It needed it. The only person who proof read it was the English printer and he had only one question. At one point, one of the characters, Evelyn, says "my husband and I" quite self consciously, and then says "feeling like the Queen of England in her Christmas message". The printer had underlined this, and had written in the margin: "Is this offensive to the Queen?" I wrote underneath "No." And that is the only critical exchange I had about that book.Is it at all autobiographical?
Not really. People try to build this sort of thing up. My family lived in Reno (where the story takes place) for some time. I never did because I was away at college but when I went home on holidays my little sister used to drag me off to see historical sites so that I had a fairly strong sense of its history. It seemed to me that when I wanted to write a lesbian novel about a lesbian experience, this kind of setting gave me all kinds ‐ well, obviously too much — imagery. I went overboard, but it was fun. I've always been fascinated by the clubs. I hate them; I'm not a gambler. When I went to Reno to research the novel I was carrying two cards. One of them said that I was special education advisor to the dean, because he had told me that this was the quickest way to get into the archives. And the other one said that I was a change girt at Harold's Club and it was a police clearance card — fingerprints up to my elbows. I had these two cards along with my button which said: "Harold's Club introduces Jane". I worked there for six nights as a change girl from 7 at night until 3 in the morning. On the 4th night the floor boss came up and said: "If you keep this up we're going to give you dealer training!" My mother said: "It's because you're six feet tall and can reach across the board." Which was true. Tell us about your second novel.
I wrote my second novel, This Is Not For You, because I was interested in doing a study of a person who really couldn't cope with lesbian identity. I have known a lot of people who really had a difficult time with their sexuality when they felt it was primarily lesbian. I wanted to write from the inside of that person's head. It seemed to me that Desert of the Heart was a romantic novel and one that didn't really deal with the social problems of being homosexual in a heterosexual world. When I say that, I don't mean that I set out to write a novel in order to solve a problem. But I really wanted to get inside the head of someone who did accept church teaching, did accept the sense of negative responsibility. The whole book is a letter addressed to a person who has already gone into a silent order and who has been in love with the narrator. The narrator has refused to be involved in that relationship, and the entire book is a justification of having refused the relationship.
The hostile reaction to that book from the lesbian community was just incredible. Because it was first person, people were tempted to identify the writer with the main character. No one could be farther from the main character than myself. In a way it was a kind of freedom to realize that I could use every rationalization in the book, because the heroine really does try to convince herself, and she doesn't succeed. She's a very proud, very intelligent woman, and at the end she's saying her suppression of her lesbianism is a good enough solution. The irony in that statement is supposed to ring loud and clear. But people read it as my statement about lesbianism and that is very hard and angering for me to deal with. Even people I knew reacted this way and I thought: "Look here, I've been living with Helen for twenty years and she's not in a nunnery!"
I think it's a good, strong book. It came out at a time when people were looking or positive assertions about lesbianism and I think this is a positive assertion. But it is basically the study of somebody who said "No" and the heartbreak and limitation of that refusal. The thing that amazed me was that the heterosexual press loved the book. Except that they were troubled that the main character was so arrogant and cold and they wanted to like her even better because she was morally so true and good. Of course that just sent me right up the wall. They missed the irony, and so did the gay community, and I thought why does it have to be my natural mode ...
As far as I'm concerned, This Is Not For You is a very serious book. The irony of it is a tragic irony, not comic. But the gay community read it as a self-satisfied statement from the main character. Of course the main character is trying to make it a self-satisfied statement, but given all that's happened and given where she is, it's a grotesquely sad position.When did it come out?
In 1971, and it was five years old then. The publishers looked at it and said "You're perfectly right. The title's dead on." One of the reviews was written by a nun because there was a nun in the book and she ended it with: "No, this is lot for me, and if you think it's for you, dear reader, beware!!" That
sold a copy or two.You mentioned that the reaction from the lesbian community was very hostile. Were there no gay women who perceived the central irony of the novel?
In the generation I'm in and the one above me there are a great many more people wandering around who have said "No" and locked up their lives. This seemed to me something to explore, this seemed to me tragic. I had countless letters from older lesbians who said "I so identify with that main character and I'm so appalled that I do." That group of people really heard the book for what it said about them: "There you are shuffling your feet too and hurting all kinds of people and clinging to a narrow self-righteousness that doesn't make an sense." But didn't it bother you that many people did misinterpret what you had to say? Do you not feel responsible for whatever human sadness might have resulted from it?
I think there was human anger, and that's a healthy thing. I think that it probably alleviated human sadness where that was a response to it. Looking into it as a mirror, but saying it doesn't have to be that way. Anyway it's absolutely ludicrous to ask that we make a world in which all people that are homosexual are heros. I think it's a bloody bore. I'm sick of heros in any case. We've had those. They make wars. The request for a narrow, positive shined-up, spit and polish image of homosexuals just bores me rigid. But there is a short story in Theme for Diverse Instruments ("Middle Children") that's about a lesbian couple and it's a very happy story...
Yes, I call it my "Ladies Home Journal story for lesbians". Ladies Home Journal wouldn't publish it of course, but I really thought it was time to write a larky, easy "aren't we lucky" sort of story. I was also teasing readers because there's one moment in that story when one of the women bursts out crying and says "we' just too different; we aren't kind anymore". I'm sure the reader is waiting for some terrible final admission that this is after all quite awful. Instead, it's: "we're so happy we're being mean to our straight friends and we've got to stop doing that. It's not kind." So they end up babysitting for everyone in order to compensate for all their happiness because they don't want to be smug about it. It was fun. A bit teasy too. To say to people: "I know you're expecting this to finally fall apart because it must." But nothing disturbs the serenity of those two. Except their sense of not wanting t be smug.Have you ever wanted to write propaganda?
No. Propaganda is so negative a won that it's hard to handle. But it seems to me that the kind of writing that has been done about homosexuality is so negative and so hideously biased that it's time to be fair-minded. What I hope is that Lesbian Images is a fair-minded book. And by now, fair-minded book on homosexuality is propaganda. But I feel it very important in fiction that no idea take over because then the people are less real. How does that affect the way you're approaching your current novel?
A friend of mine has just finished reading the manuscript — it's called The Young in One Another's Arms — and said: "Except for the fact that gay lib will hate it, women's lib will hate it, black lib will hate it... it's a great book!" The characters, all of whom are very young, face many of the questions raised by the movement and they don't always behave as we would wish. The black guy is gay, and he is really hung up on James Baldwin. And he shouldn't be by now. James Baldwin is a really middle class, bail-out character. No black man should care about Martin Luther Kind either. And he happens to. Absolutely delightful character. Very loving. And he knows that he's all wrong for where he is. Lots of the characters are like this, and they feel to me realer than shining examples of any kind of liberation because I think we're all whole people and our politics are often at odds with our behaviour. And that doesn't make us wicked people. Do you feel a writer has an obligation to the movement representing the 1 minority group to which she belongs?
The question of a gifted writer getting hooked up with a movement is very clear in James Baldwin. He began as someone trying to be an establishment writer. In Giovanni's Room, an early work, he made it very clear that the characters were white. He didn't want to earn his way back as a black writer. I think people in my generation have not wanted to make it as, say, a 'lesbian writer' or a 'black writer.' In fact. anybody who is not a heterosexual male wants to avoid being labelled. Now, as the movements come along, that's a pretty ugly position to take and James Baldwin certainly turned right around. He joined the civil rights movement and lost a great deal of creative time as a result. But I think morally he felt required to do so. And then of course he also got involved because he's a homosexual. I think that the movement has taken over James Baldwin and we've lost a great artist. He may do more social good in what he's doing and anyway he's a human being who has to follow his own choices. But I do think it's a conflict.Do you really feel it's one or the other? Either your artistic career, or the movement?
The time the movement takes if you're really going to give it your attention to it is all
the time. James Baldwin is still writing a book occasionally, but he has not produced a body of work. And the work he has produced has been more and more influenced by political statements. But I think the greatest function of literature is to teach us beyond political sense to sense our common humanity. A literature written with the needs of only one group of people in mind is for me a narrow statement and less "political" in the huge sense; that is, less educative. I don't feel hostile to what James Baldwin is doing now, but I don't think that he's teaching us nearly as much now that he's begun to teach, as he did when he was writing simply from the deep insight that he had as a human being... Why did you write Lesbian Images?
I wrote it because Doubledav asked me to write it and because there were books coming out that I thought were bad.Did you encounter any problems with the publishers this time?
No. They were very good. I said I would not sign the contract unless it was absolutely understood that I would write the book the way I wanted to write it and that the basic assumption would be positive. The only difficulty I had was in getting permission to and I didn't in some cases. The Collette estate threatened an international lawsuit. However, there were other people who were very cooperative. Willa Cather's estate was completely helpful.Did your colleagues and students react to someone who was now an open lesbian writer?
There's very little to say because there's been very little reaction. I think it's been a subject that's mortally embarrassed people for so long that if they can avoid it, they will. I certainly didn't go around shoving my novels in people's faces and asking what they thought of them. I occasionally write for Redbook and Chatelaine — it's usually when taxes come due and I need some money. And almost always when one of those stories came out one of my colleagues would come and say: "I really enjoyed your story in Redbook. I picked it up when I was at the dentist's the other day." (Nobody in the English Dept., of course, has a subscription to Redbook.) I would get responses of that sort, but never about the books unless those people were also personal friends of mine.Wouldn't that disappoint you, or make you angry?
No, in a way I like living a private life, I used to fantasize that I could live in a place where nobody within 200 miles could read anything I'd written. I don't particularly like talking in detail abut my work. It's done; it's over for me. I expect to get pretty tired talking in detail about Lesbian Images. Have there been any social occasions when you might talk with colleagues or students about lesbianism?
No, not in any official circumstances. On occasion, in the Writing Department when a story raised the question it was I discussed. And the students, I'm sure, were not under any delusions as to what my sexuality was. But though my students might approach me with their problems, they certainly wouldn't ask me any personal questions. Now when I was in consciousness raising groups with the women's movement that sort of thing happened more often. I think it's I because I have a rather formal address in dealing with students. Perhaps that's unfortunate but it's who I am. Tell us more about your experience with lesbian and feminist consciousness raising.
I suppose I use the term consciousness raising very loosely because in Vancouver none of us had any experience with it so we all got together and simply talked. I think I mention in Lesbian Images that there was one night when the topic of lesbianism was raised and everybody in the room did
want to deal with it as "them". I simply said: "No, we can't. There are lesbians in this group and it's not easy for a lot of people to deal with, but it has to be dealt with in the same way everything else has been here — and that's by saying either 'I' or 'you.' And I am perfectly willing to say 'I.' I was the only one in the room who could.That's when a number of women came up to you after, wasn't it...
They came over later that night and some of them said they felt as if they'd deserted me and left me out there being Vancouver's only lesbian as usual. Others said I was trying to flush them out which I was certainly not trying to do. I think that's a very deep personal choice, complicated by a lot of different things. I would never put somebody in the position that Kate Millett was put in for example: having to publically claim bisexuality at a time when she didn't want to and shouldn't have.How has the growth of the gay and women's movements affected you?
I think because of my age I don't associate my own growth with either the women's movement or the gay. I greeted both of them with great pleasure and certainly feel much more at home in the world since they've been operating. But my own work required me to move honestly before they came along. I was writing short stories for The Ladder in the old days when I was the only one in the whole magazine who used my own name.
The experience of people claiming sexual identity when there is a movement involved is in some ways very supportive and very good. On the other hand, it seems to me if you take your courage from a group and then find that group is not as supportive as you need it to be, you're in worse trouble than if you wandered around alone and had to solve that problem for yourself. What do you feel about the relationship between the gay and woman's movements?
Of course, there's a great deal of hassle as to where a woman should be vis-à-vis the two. The gay movement is male dominated, and very uncomfortably so. Mind you, the women's movement is heterosexually dominated which makes it very uncomfortable for a great many lesbians. I think a lot of lesbians feel that they have to have a movement of their own — otherwise they'll be trounced on by the majority in each of the other movements. I suppose I don't myself think that any movement takes up my entire interest. Nor do I feel that my primary commitment which is to art, is a result of personal ambition. I feel it is a calling, and is to be sewed first. And if it has a good fall-out in the direction of people understanding other people better and therefore perhaps living a little more lovingly — that's great.Do you think that work that is both honest and informed can have bad fallout?
Yes. I think, for example, of poor old Goethe stuck with people committing suicide all over Europe after he brought out a romantic book about a young man who killed himself for love. I know that it is bewildering to me, in a much less melodramatic circumstance, to deal with the number of people who read my books and therefore feel that because I can understand them it is necessary for me to do so. I've had people come up to me and say: ''I've read your woks and therefore have realized that I'm a lesbian and now you've got to cope with me." In terms of numbers it would be impossible even if you thought you should. How do you feel about being involved in the more public aspects of movement work — marches, meetings and so on.
I've never gone on a march or been at a mass meeting because human being in large collections terrify me out of my mind. I think a great deal of my moral choosing has to do with my nervous system and always has. One of the peculiar things about being a writer is that you choose to be one because you're most comfortable with your back to the world. Now many writers have been turned into performers, and some writers are good at it. But a great many more are like me; people who think best given a slow, silent pace, and say what they want on paper rather than articulating it off the top of their heads.
I think my not being involved in any demonstrations simply has to do with my not wanting to put my body on the line anywhere. I remember one woman saying to me when there was a lot of conflict: "Now what we ought to do is body trust exercises.'' And I said: "Listen, I don't trust you in your head, and my mind is a much safer place than my body. My body is a frail instrument, and I take good care of it. If I don't trust how you feel or how you think, doing body exercises is not going to do a thing for either of us. It's a silly game." I'm very self protective in that mortal sense. I don't like to be in automobiles; I'd just as soon not be in cities. The whole political movement is one that I don't deal with simply by temperament.
The biggest audience that I've ever been in that I felt responsible for was when Kate Millett came to speak here. I took her up on to the platform, and looked out at 1700 people jammed into a room that should have held 800, and I was hard put not to recognize a face I knew. It was me most beautiful experience I ever had. To look out and see that many people, and know that she was in human hands, not in the hands of the mob. And she was amazed. It was the first meeting that she had done in a year when she hadn't been badly trashed. People had really come to listen — perhaps to disagree — but to be with her and to hear what she had to say. On being "out". Many of us feel that it makes no difference what effect the revelation of our gayness might have on straight people we might know. If It hurts or embarrasses them, too bad...
I do think it's a very healthy thing to get to the point of realizing that if somebody you care about is going to be hurt by the fact of your sexual orientation, that is their problem. And it's a problem. I feel enormously sympathetic to, just like a broken arm. And I would be perfectly willing to help. But I'm not going to think it's my problem. What are your feelings about monogamy in relationships?
I can't imagine being in favor of it or against it as an idea, I think our sexual lives are extremely complicated, and our choices are usually not based on politics. I think there are hazards to any choice. and I sure as hell don't know which one is right, even for me.I was tempted to ascribe to you an attitude in one of your stories — "My Country Wrong." The narrator feels that casual sex is fine for everyone else, but that she can't handle it, and needs the security of monogamy.
I'm not that character by the way. But I hope that's a very shrewd characterization. She says to herself: "This is perfectly ridiculous. Here I am with a young woman and this is a meaningful encounter for her. So why am I sitting around saying 'No' to it for no reason at all? It won't affect my life, and saying no might be very hurtful to her. What kind of morality is that?' I do think that every question of how a relationship is defined is one that can only be answered by the people involved... again this is probably a novelist's answer. Choices made by people on the basis of ideas really don't take into account the enormous emotional concerns that have nothing to do with ideas, and which, in fact, get in the way of ideas all the time. There are problems in whatever choice you make, and I think they're based on need, not politics.Yet politics might lead a couple struggling with monogamy to realize that the struggle is unnecessary and that the ideal is a false one...
I think one of the sad things about our moral state at the moment is that we have lots of negative morality and no positive. Nobody is really for long term relationships. Everybody knows ad nauseam how very difficult long term relationships are and how many of them go on the rocks. Or should have if they didn't. But I don't think we yet have enough experience to know what other ways there are to live that are less destructive. Many of the attempts to live outside a monogamous relationship have been very destructive — why shouldn't they be with all the guilt tripping that's going on. A bit like the gay experience. It has sometimes been negative because we've been repressed, because we've been given a very narrow place to live. I would mistrust anybody who went around saying that because monogamy has oppressed us all, we must stop and do something better. But then I object to a model that says we have to be sexual f we don't want to be. Of course, there is a great deal of emphasis now on the importance of personal relationships, and if you suppress that aspect of your life in favour of your work, or your art, then you're strangling something important in you...
That probably sounds very different to you if you're a man. Women have been taught all their lives that nothing is more important than serving and loving other people, and if they happen to be singers or writers... well, that won't do. They must serve their husbands and children. Create a peaceful space so that their husbands can be great and their children can grow up to be wondrous. To say that to a man can be a revelation: "You mean I don't have to spend my entire time pushing and shoving and being an impersonal person; you mean I really can care about personal relations...?" Given our upbringing, it's a revelation from a male point of view, and an oppression from a female point of view. And both of them are valid. But the sex difference is huge. If you have never been allowed to take yourself seriously and be interested in your own work, then to be told the liberating thing is personal relations... you listen to a woman who has four kids! Have you ever been a religious person?
No. I've always been interested in comparative religion. But as an institution I've always found it lunatically repressive. Though I like theatre, and I've seen some very good theatre in churches, I went to Westminster Abbey and got mistaken for Eleanor Roosevelt's grandchild and got put in the same pew with her and that was really fine. Only my mother was horrified. Of course, she's a Republican. Again, for people who find the metaphors of religion significant and useful, I see no reason why they shouldn't use them. It wouldn't appeal to me. But then again, I'm a loner. I don't really feel I have to be a member of anything but the community of human beings.