Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999
Subject: Hejinian: "deen" ?

Although I've known other books by Lyn Hejinian for years, and have
taught My Life, I have just lately read Writing Is an Aid to Memory for
the first time.

One thread that particularly fascinates me are her "half-words," so to
speak. That is, she punctuates the book with truncated words, or
fragments, such as "ness," "scription," "porated," "brating," etc. The
"rule" is that it is always the first syllable that is deleted. It's as though
the fragment were the left-hand-justified tail-end of a word hyphenated
at the other side of the page (obviously).

Here's the problem. There's one -- and only one -- such "nonce" word
that for the life of me, I can't figure it. It is "deen", in section 36:

an ordinary person depending deen

I wracked my mind and finally gave up. I could not think of any word, as
for "mena" or "nishment" or "sume", that would complete "deen". In a
final gasp, I checked my rhyming dictionary, which lists words
backwards from last letter to first. And there is, in fact, a single word
which it gives that ends in "deen": "dudeen". A dudeen is a short
tobacco pipe made out of clay.

The thing is, I feel that "dudeen" is out of character with the timbre of
vocabulary Hejinian uses throughout. True, there is "cladding," and a
few other rare words but, for some reason, I don't feel satisfied that
"dudeen" is the answer that completes "deen".

Is there anyone steeped in Writing Is who can contribute some insight
into this minutiae? Anybody out there who knows Hejinian (Rae?) and is
privy to such a detail? An isolated case like this would alter my entire
take on the book, . . . so I ask.