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Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Masochism -- Credo XII (b)

I need to emphasize that this CREDO is a reflection on my perspective at the time! I do not wish to give an unfair portrait of Douglass Howell. Here are a few facts:

He was 1sixteen years older than I. He was born of American parents who divorced. He moved to Genoa when he was six with his mother and lived in Genoa and Florence. His mother was a friend of Isadora Duncan, Ezra Pound, even Mussolini.

Douglass was taken around the Laurentian Library in Florence by Guido Biagi, fostering his love of handmade paper.

We met by chance(!) in 1946 in NYC, and married three weeks later. When Timothy went to Stanford, he met a cousin of Douglass’s, the family genealogist. Turned out the Howells and my Grandpa King’s ancestors came from the same little village in Oxfordshire, Marsh Gibbon, which in 1967 still had a population of only 200 souls!! Went there in 1967 with youngest daughter, Jennifer.

He was an eccentric genius, highly skilled, and focused 100 percent on making the finest handmade paper extant. His motives for marrying me are obscure, but I think the cruel episodes probably erupted out of immense frustration at the interruptions to his one goal as an artist. He had deep psychological complexes and was subject to outbreaks of rage and violence, but he did his best to support us with years of engraving wedding copperplates for Cartier. He was socially introverted, and would sometimes sit in the cellar in the dark.

He could not receive love or smile without a frown. But he did his best to support us, and I must have been a terrible disappointment to him at times, though in the end I worked to support him. But there were bright spells as well. He just refused any authority, a negative father complex. After the divorce, years later, we became friends and he respected my books and certainly taught me a lot in those years of daily lectures!

Astrologically, the combination of our charts was excruciatingly karmic but, in the end, we worked it through.

It is horribly unfair to only hear one side of a story. I wish he could tell his! He seemed unable to receive love. We all tried. You can Google him for his achievements. Just remember that my accounts were based on my projections but from the artist’s point of view, his suffering must have been even greater than mine. He died at eighty-six, a split, gifted, and tormented soul. If anyone could reach him in the end, it was our daughter Beth and perhaps the generosity of my beloved husband Walter.

I could not eat supper or sleep without adding this.

love,
ao

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