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Save the Liberal Arts!

Six forty.

They expect rain at seven o’clock this morning. I feel pretty miserable with this cold in my head, but I try to work around it.

I went to the market as I usually do in the morning and saw nothing extraordinary. No rain came down, though I prepared for it with an umbrella. I returned to my accustomed raspberry Snapple tea this time after two days of orange juice, and it has rejuvenated me a bit. I was pondering something last night: just because you can grasp an abstract idea, does that qualify it as valid? Does an aptitude for metaphors mean that reality actually is a shadow of the spirit world? Why do we have intuition— or is this merely a word and not a faculty? And then another part of me tells me to shut up, as these questions are useless child’s play. It is childlike to ask questions to infinity. So what is philosophy for, if it raises more questions than it solves?

Seven fifty. Then again, life without inquiring spirits would be pretty dull. It would hardly be life at all when all opinions were readymade for you to adopt for your own. Unfortunately, this is the future we face unless we turn it around. I believe that we’re better than mindless automatons in this country. Don’t defer your logic to spiritual leaders and politicians who are no more informed than you are. I visualize a world that is one big peripatetic school, a place of free and original thinkers living full lives, happy as only human beings can be.

Innocence

Two o’clock in the afternoon.

I have a happy little tune playing in my head, something from a compilation 8 track tape that was titled Instrumental Gold. My mom gave it to me when I was an eighth grader, and I still listened to it into the next year of school. It makes me think of lost innocence, or perhaps the innocence is invincible, even though we read Lord of the Flies as a class. The question of human nature was my motive for reading Shelley again. I desired to know if humankind is perfectible, and if love is the way it can be achieved… Today there is sunshine through the haze, but overall the weather has been very unusual for May. I hear a lot of talk that denies human responsibility for climate change, but scientists have warned us of this outcome for 35 years or more. Nobody wanted to believe it, and the media downplayed it. Contrary to people’s Ptolemaic ideas, the earth and human life on it are not at the center of the universe. We tend to be vain and presumptuous about our own importance. Indeed, this is what we’re brainwashed with everywhere, and because it flatters us we accept it. I knew someone who thought that human beings are a cancer on the face of the earth. And maybe misanthropy is going too far, but we need to be aware of the facts about ourselves and the world we inhabit. If science and poetry could join together with a common goal then we might see good fruits.

Pedigree

One twenty five in the morning.

“Consider yourself one of the family… it’s clear we’re going to get along…”

To use plainer English, I relate to the misfits in Shakespeare because I feel that an outsider cannot buy, beg, borrow, or steal his way into a religious organization, like me trying to find a place in the Lutheran church. A person must have a pedigree in order to fit into the big Christian universe, but I was brought into this world out of wedlock, fathered by a man who had been adopted after being abandoned by his biological parents… It is all well and fine for the human race to organize into Christendom or a Shakespearean aristocracy, yet my heart bleeds for others like myself, the outcast renegades and rebels with all odds against them. A small thing like alcoholism is a drop in the bucket next to the spiritual alienation that people like me experience. Surely the “redeemer” for the elect is different from that for the reprobate? I reckon time will tell. We may not have long to wait.

Edmund (with a Cold)

Seven thirty five at night.

I really didn’t want to be sick, but there’s no bargaining with this circumstance anymore; a fact is a fact. I tried to reason it away as just a mouth infection, but it’s acting like a typical head cold, from the sore throat stage to nasal congestion, etc. Okay, so I was an idiot. Now I just hope I won’t be too wretched the next few days.

How easy it is to blame everyone and everything, including the stars, but yourself for bad luck. Putting responsibility off of yourself is the excellent foppery of the world. And yet Shakespeare puts these words in the mouth of Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, and the misbegotten miscreant with no place in God’s orderly world. I don’t know whether to agree with the Bard’s opinion or subvert it with his own created character. As the centuries rolled on, dramatists turned the focus away from nobility and towards ordinary individuals: indeed the individual, rather than the group, became the point of interest. So then, heroes like John Proctor of The Crucible were made possible, and even before that, Nora Helmer of A Doll’s House. Still I’m stuck on what to do with Edmund the bastard: perhaps he should have written Shakespeare into existence rather than the reverse. Maybe nobody would’ve known the difference anyhow. Which would be the more foppish today, the cosmic dance or Machiavellian plotting? Maybe we made a wrong turn after Shakespeare… 

Wonder

Seven forty.

The weather this morning is fine, but I’ve got a sore throat from my dental cleaning last week. I want to stay home and take it easy for a day or two, as I feel wiped out lately. Sometimes I feel that it’s not fair for people to push me into situations and things that I don’t want to do. After a while of complying with the wishes of others, there’s an anger and resentment in me that goes from a simmer to a boil until the kettle blows its top; and meanwhile nobody ever knew I was feeling that way. So it’s really better to address how you feel from the beginning than to build up a grudge over time and let it explode later.

A mourning dove out front makes its cooing sound, a little like an owl, but owls are nocturnal. I just canceled an appointment that was set for this morning. All that I asked for was a little time to rest and recuperate, and it looks like I’m getting my way. While the sun is out, the sky bears a whitish complexion like a haze or something. Aesop my dog just had his breakfast and I plan to get some reading done today. I’m wondering if free will and fate can coexist on the same dimension and be valid at once. I only know how it feels to look at a tragedy by Aeschylus: you feel so small and overawed by natural forces we don’t understand, which shape the events of our lives. To the Greeks it was a big mystery, a feeling people today can share in with ineffable depth of amazement and incredulity. This is the religious sentiment. I also ask myself if pride and humility run along a continuous pole. Yesterday I considered getting out my book of Parkers’ Astrology from curiosity, yet I realize again that the zodiac is a weakness of mine, a silly superstition that pops up now and then. Although it would be neat if horoscopes were really true and accurate. The room is as silent as a sepulcher, broken only by the whine of my tinnitus. It should be a pretty nice day. It seems I planned it that way. 

Grammar Rules (or Does It?)

Quarter of ten.

I begged Gloria for a light duty day since my dental ordeal Thursday morning and the long day yesterday. So now she’s mopping the floors while I take a siesta on the loveseat, languidly writing a desultory note to myself. The weather is rather lemon.

Eleven fifty five. The clouds have blown away to make a bright sunny Saturday. I was thinking that if humanity has free will, then anything is possible with our lives, including breaking bad habits like alcohol abuse. Independence is essential to everything we do, and often no one’s opinion matters but your own. Contrary to what people tell you, you are capable of thinking for yourself… I might go bash my four string war club down the hall a while, make a brash brutal rock and roll racket on it for my daily catharsis. Or I could read Richard Wright or Mark Twain. It’s possible to do both today. But I think I’ll be considerate of my dog’s anxiety and spend the day quietly. Even this, however, is a personal choice from a few available options. I merely looked before leaping… Everyone anticipated this beautiful weekend, but now that it’s here, I feel very tired, sore, and somewhat dodgy and daft. I think I’ll delay making a decision.

Three twenty.

I ended up both reading and playing the bass, and both were fun. Outside, the quality of the sunlight feels rather obscure and filtered; maybe dark and sensuous. Church happens tomorrow, but if I went, I’d know my reasons were insincere, for I’m not a true Christian. I feel tugged in several directions. But what’s done is a done deal. The future presents options; but “when you look behind you there’s no open doors.” And there is no would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve: only what actually happened; what you did. Everything else is a trick of grammar.

Midnight Mass

Midnight.

I woke from dreams of my garage just now, mingled with the image of my dad’s ghost. I felt violently towards him and I would’ve attacked him in reality. So much of what he did when I was a child was heinous that he deserved retribution. I grew to just hate him and didn’t make peace with him until after his retirement, which coincided with my dx of schizophrenia. Now I wonder why my mother had such a positive talent for picking losers to marry. My dad took the cake for all time assholes. But at his core he was a complete coward and weenie, like all bullies or men without balls. Incongruously, the music in my background is “Strike Up the Band,” an old disco tune by Chic. Whatever was happening with my life, or however dire it was, the music would keep playing obliviously, in benign indifference. It almost seems to say that life for the unconscious goes on no matter what the external circumstances. The soul has its own agenda and it operates in Dreamtime. Where this and reality intersect is something like a peak experience, perhaps a sublime deja vu. We have all been here before. Likely we’ll be there again.

Mates

Quarter of nine.

Today’s weather turns out quite pleasant. You can see blue heavens and the sun, and even a gibbous moon in the southwest, so faint it looks like another cloud. Two squirrels played together on the trunk of a tree outside Steve’s house. A scrub jay screeched and a Canada goose honked in solitude an hour after sunrise. The lavender rhododendron is blooming, and there are buds on the pink one and on the rose bush. My dog Aesop has had breakfast and a snack of doggie pepperoni. For her 30th wedding anniversary, Lisa said she’s taking a three day holiday to the coast with her husband. I said hi to my neighbor Jeff but he didn’t hear me, being absorbed in some job. Crossing N Park took a little time, as I had to wait for five cars to pass. A solo recording by Pat Metheny begins in my brain, “Fallen Star.” It’s very beautiful but very sad, and it reminds me of loneliness. Perhaps it’s a loneliness that everyone feels deep in their soul. It takes the union of woman and man to be whole and perfect, as Lawrence wrote in a poem I read many years ago. Once we were self contained, but became separated into two sexes. This isolation is torture…

Love of Music

Quarter after ten at night.

I’m awake since having lots of dreams of the collapse of civilization tonight, and when I got up, my conscious thoughts ran to The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Now I’m trying to clear my mind entirely and start over again… During the day I played my modified P Bass two different times. At once, the instrument is a war axe and a highly sophisticated piece of technology. In neither light is it quiet and subdued by any means. I did a great deal of shredding on it, eventually slowing down to pound out a few Rush tunes from the turn of the eighties. It makes me emotional to revisit old songs like “Cygnus X-1,” a throwback to happy times as a drummer jamming with friends my age for the summer of 1982. They were no older than 16 and ready to go pro in the L.A. music scene, but my parents protected me from such a future and ensured that I’d finish my education. My path with my friends crossed again in another 15 years for the disco gig. I’m not sure what I learned from that experience, or even how I feel about it. Music as expression and music as a business are different things. Robert Fripp advised young musicians to stay out of the industry if they really love music. From what I’ve seen, I’m inclined to think he’s right.

Jackknife Barbers

Quarter of ten.

I was off to a late start this morning; I simply slept in a while. One thing I keep telling myself is the difference between fantasy and reality. And it’s the reality that counts for more. We’re having rain showers today, so I took my umbrella on my walk. The FedEx driver waved when we passed on my street. Just now a little tune by Jethro Tull appears out of nowhere, with exaggerated moralism: “And the jackknife barber drops her off at school…” I ran into Melissa, a former employee of the market, while I was there. She says that her four year old boy is a dinosaur expert and can inform you all about them, and correct you when you make a mistake. At the time I was shopping, I sneaked a peek at the price on my old poison of choice in the beer cooler: $10.49 before deposit. But I was only curious and not seriously tempted. “There’s no problem that a little alcohol can’t make worse,” said my next door neighbor five years ago… A few factors have conspired to make me think of Aqualung, the classic prog album. It gave alcoholics a bad reputation, perhaps, even with these lines: “Aqualung my friend / Don’t you start away uneasy / You poor old sot, you see it’s only me.” I guess I’m sensitive to criticism like this. It’s much easier to judge others than be in the hot seat yourself. Everyone needs a taste of their own medicine occasionally… The showers have ceased for now, and in a symbolic way also. My five year birthday will be sweet.