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The Name of Action

Eleven o’clock. It baffles me to know that my brother, once so clever and socially apt, has now been exiled from the family due to lies and duplicity, and even stealing. Maybe he just has no respect for my sister’s family… I’ve eaten the cottage cheese for lunch. It feels like fall in the air today, with the climate much cooler and fresher after the rain. I feel pretty good; just a little guilty for the church situation. I can only imagine what Pastor has been thinking, and this only tells me about myself. All psychoanalysis reduces down to the self. It’s the same as reading a Henry James book. All the intuitive guesswork never gets you out of yourself, and this solipsism is the condition you have to live with. Maybe this is the only truth we can know— and it’s the point of literary Impressionism to always mediate the facts with a mind. Perhaps cognitive therapy is naive after all, because all truth is ultimately subjective. This is a hard datum to live with. But it gives validity to the old school of psychology… I kind of wish I had a job, though I wouldn’t want to be in a situation that would make me drink. The ritual for many people is to work and drink alcohol every week. Supposedly this is being a grownup. It is good to be free, however you define your freedom. For me, capitalism is more a bondage than a liberty. If I had to go to work, then I would probably drink again, and the whole endeavor would amount to suicide. I’ve done that before— and made it out alive. I don’t really know what to do with my life. I’m spinning my wheels just sitting here analyzing the truth, while life passes me by. They say that actions speak louder than words. Also, actions get more done.

Noon hour. Here it is already midday. I should do something with the time, like go buy some worthwhile food. Put on my bandanna and go raid the grocery store. But by now the checkout lines will be longer and more tedious. Tomorrow morning will be a better time. 

Reveille / Reading

Quarter after eight.

The neighborhood is nearly lifeless this morning except for the sound of birds and squirrels on the roof. I startled a gray cat at the end of my street, or rather he startled me. His color at first suggested to me some other animal species. Otherwise I met no one on my way to the little market. The radio was playing “Crazy Train” and it distracted me at the checkout counter. I was one of only two customers. Besides food items I got myself a bandanna for the coronavirus: two bucks. It still impresses me that most people aren’t saying what’s really on their mind. While Aesop was doing his business under the oak tree, I saw an acorn hit the ground like a gunshot and ricochet off under the apple tree. It fell from a lofty height and struck hard. Aesop continued, unfazed. To break the shopping monotony, I ought to go someplace else. The convenience store doesn’t offer much to eat. I have $77 in food stamps left to work with. I feel slightly adventurous, so why not seize the moment and amble off to Grocery Outlet?

I tried on the bandanna: it covers almost my whole head and looks ridiculous, yet I like it better than a typical mask. I’ll wear it in a spirit of fun, maybe even parody. The sky is overcast and there’s a little fog. Roger is awake across the street, one sign of life. Aesop is also awake and begging me for his lamb and rice dog food.

Nine forty. That’s done. If people don’t have much to say, then I guess I don’t either. But I was considering taking a look at The Portable Jung for review. And there’s some Joseph Campbell I still haven’t read. Or trace psychodynamic theory to its roots in Nietzsche. I yet remember some of the lectures I heard in college regarding individual purity and authenticity. But I don’t know how valid this concern is. Perhaps the unconscious doesn’t really exist? It could be a matter of faith, because there’s no hard evidence for it. Sometimes I get impatient with mere theories. They are often nebulous and poetic and founded on feelings and hunches. How about the certainty of this couch I’m sitting on? “No one would believe this of vast import to the nation.” Probably I’ll end up taking up the Nietzsche, but with a critical eye. 

20/20 (My Own Two Shoes)

Eleven o’clock. The rain has spent itself for the next three days. There’s a splash of sunshine on the ground. An old Mark Egan song, “Third World Wave,” dances in my head. I first heard it on local radio, so then I went out and bought the disc, probably at CD World here in town. It was located on 11th and Seneca, and finally closed forever in the spring of last year. I remember that the day after my mother passed away, I sat in my rocking chair and listened to Egan’s Mosaic. It was a compulsion for me to rock my chair while listening to music, a behavior that went away eventually, just as alcoholism did. I don’t know how it got started, but I was about two years old, jouncing to music on a rocking horse on springs. I suppose it kept me out of my parents’ hair. My dad obviously didn’t care for children, and Mom had too many problems of her own. Before I was born, their life together had overindulged in alcohol and lust. After I came along, they were stuck with responsibility they hadn’t planned on. Hindsight is 20/20. My birth and everything that followed it could’ve been avoided. But as it turned out, my existence forced them into some semblance of honor and respect, if not genuine love. Over time, we simply grew comfortable with each other. Meanwhile, my rocking compulsion persisted all the time my parents were alive. Finally it seems to be okay to have my own outlook on life; to be an individual in my own right. To walk in my own two shoes. 

Equinox

Quarter after eight. I’m preparing to go to the store, primarily to buy Snapples. I’ve been getting away from soda, out of boredom with the same old stuff…

I observed a few fallen leaves on the street. The blocked gutter at Fremont created a little pond, as usual. I heard more bird life than is typical; wonder where they’ve been all summer. There were lost coins on the pavement, and even a discarded Bandaid. In the market, Michelle was wearing a pink sweatshirt over her blouse; yesterday it was Snoopy and Woodstock. She is always kind to me. I saw Derek on my way back, and we exchanged a hello, nothing more. The vehicles were missing from his driveway, which seemed strange. I’m counting down the minutes to Aesop’s breakfast, as he begins to lose patience.

Nine forty. The damp street, as I plodded along, called to mind countless times I’d gone to church by a hop, skip, and a jump. I reminded myself that it’s been the same old me for the past three years. And yet, the self can be a vessel for big changes. And no one may ever be expected to stay the same forever. People grow and progress with the passing of time, and the natural world we know is changing too. There’s no revoking it. The universe that began as a mere point of light and exploded into diversity keeps expanding like a balloon, and everything in it gets farther and farther apart… I encountered only four people at nine o’clock this morning. Overhanging tree limbs dripped water on my head here and there. I’m ready for the fall season. 

Vendredi Soir

Four twenty. I finished reading Macbeth. Now let it incubate for a while. Also, UPS delivered my Mark Egan music. The thunder has come back, and the sky has gone quite dark. I finally scheduled my ride to the X-ray place, for Tuesday morning at nine o’clock. Even now, my lower back gives me a hard time. The sky looks ominous of some heavy weather. But the rain will do much good for the air quality and any fires still burning. It seems like the longer I stay sober, the direr life gets for everyone. I haven’t heard from anyone from church, either. I suppose they will film the service without me, and that’s okay. It has started to rain now. Occasional crackles of thunder. Sky is a very dark gray. I remind myself that the same weather is happening to everyone locally. My paranoia tends to believe I’m being singled out, much like Jonah or Job in the Old Testament. It’s a feeling of delusional guilt for something. But how grandiose is it to think that the god of the weather has singled me out for punishment? It’s a delusion of reference. Psychotic people believe everything that happens is about them…

Six forty. The Mark Egan was pretty good, and would be better if I could listen to it in a comfortable chair with the lights low. It kind of inspires me to do something similar; find a hand percussionist and guitarist and lead the project with my bass. We could go for an ambient sound, perhaps trance; simple and slow, and slightly repetitive. But it’s a long way off with the coronavirus. I could still text Tony the hand drummer and see if he’s into it. The whole point is to be relaxed and serene, and to do it for the sheer pleasure of playing music together. And further, to share the good vibes with people who want to listen… 

More dark gray clouds are moving in, though no more rain is forecast until midnight. It was good to read some Shakespeare. I don’t think Macbeth is supposed to be a likable character, but maybe we’re moved to pity and fear for him anyway. He certainly carries a boulder of guilt for his awful crimes. Why was he so tempted by the prospect of power and glory to murder people for it? And to be emboldened by hearing the prophecies of the witches— only to be deceived by a trick of language. Would anybody do what Macbeth did in his situation? I think the germ of his ambition existed before his first encounter with the weird sisters. So that, spooks or no, Macbeth was always guilty in his heart. 

Monologue on a Snapple

Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day. 

Vendredi Matin

Eight fifty.

It rained last night, thank goodness, so now you can see the sun and ordinary clouds. I walked to the store and bought a sausage biscuit with egg and cheese. These things lead me to inquire about nature and artifice, or nature and what is man made. During the Renaissance, people believed that nature is God’s art, and that human art imitates nature. Like Plato, they thought that our art was a process of making copies of nature, which in turn copied the spirit world. Some people believe the dichotomy of art and nature is a false one. I don’t know, but it’s very nice to see the natural sun and clouds again. I was also thinking of how the world is “too much with us” when we don’t drink or escape some other way. We are all bound together as current events unfold day by day. What impact does this have on human freedom? Are we like pilot whales who beach themselves following the leader? There’s a song in my head by The Police called “Truth Hits Everybody.” The nostalgia of forty years ago…

Nine fifty. Yesterday morning I began rereading Macbeth. Although the “instruments of darkness” are at work everywhere, Macbeth is still responsible for his ambition for the throne. A murder is just a murder, regardless of the activity of the devil. The prophecy of the weird sisters incites Macbeth to assassinate the King of Scotland, and the deception of the powers that be have set a trap for him— but still he should resist the temptation. Perhaps his will is weak. His decisions are easily swayed by external influences. I guess the bottom line is that Macbeth really wanted the throne for himself. He envisioned the dagger before him from his own wishes… What a gory play! But I think Macbeth was overall rather spineless. As for the element of the supernatural, I don’t really know. Some of it is purely his imagination, as when he sees the ghost of Banquo… I should be finishing the play today, and then I’ll do more thinking on it. 

Crossed the Bridge

Eleven thirty five.

I don’t want to believe in karma, so I guess I just won’t. No heaven or hell, either. I think I’ve lost Pastor’s trust. It seems that he hadn’t thought through the matter of the saved and the unsaved. I feel very lousy today. When do I ever feel good? I think I should forget about the church, seeing how Pastor is avoiding me. Don’t email him anymore. He doesn’t have a good line of defense against my arguments, so that it only hurts his feelings. I think it’s over with… Gee, he’s just a little church pastor. My brother used to reproach me for flashing my brilliance. Now I kind of see why. But then, where is an intelligent person supposed to go? I feel like an enemy of the people, doomed to be unpopular for the observations I make. Yet there must be a place where I belong, and something constructive I can do… It’s not as though my brain were severed from the rest of me. My deepest emotions are those of a very smart person. Well anyway, I think my problem with the church is resolved already. Now I have to figure out my next move. But first I think I’ll take a break for a while. 

Springfield

Nine o’clock. Yesterday, Polly told me that T— and R— are having another baby. I didn’t say much, but now I think of how stupid that is. The evidence of our demise is everywhere apparent, and still people are having babies. People don’t think! People are in Disneyland! I consider all the times when Polly has accused me of selfishness, but who’s being selfish now? Her little feelings of grandmotherly pride are absolutely thoughtless… My taxi is coming after ten o’clock. I dreamed last night that I retired my first car, which was quite symbolic. I parked it in some parking lot and then handed the keys to my dad. I was done with driving. Perhaps some aspects of my life are over as well.

One thirty. Darcy is concerned that I may have hip arthritis, so I have to go in for X-rays sometime soon. No appointment necessary. The ride home was rather circuitous because we had to pick up another passenger at RiverBend. We passed two different locations of Shari’s restaurant in Springfield. I remarked that the strip malls all look the same. Everywhere, it was smoky and it appeared like an industrial nuclear winter. Once I caught a glimpse of blue sky behind the smoke. No one really knows if it will rain tomorrow. After my arrival home, I walked to the store and stood in line to check out for several minutes. JR was cashiering all alone and it was the noon hour. I felt annoyed because they’re doing a lousy job of restocking food items. I got a Snapple raspberry tea and, when I got home, sat down and drank it leisurely. Aesop probably whined and howled in my absence. But now my big excursion is out of the way. 

Solfege

Six twenty.

At the crack of dawn I will probably go to the store for a soda and things to eat. And yet the ritual has gone so smooth. The groove has become a rut. What could break the monotony? Just about anything. I could go to Grocery Outlet and buy some banana peppers and some artichoke hearts. But this is for people whose taste buds are all in their mouth. My mother used to say that. I see the first light of day out my front window. The only hope now resides with instrumental music, music with no words. The sounds of music are feeling. Feeling describes; it cannot prescribe. It can’t moralize— and really, it is the moral that we need to get rid of, with everything we face today. The only poetry we need, a most blasphemous thing, is that of Edgar Allan Poe. To recite “The Bells” again over our gravesite is to be sublime. Poe made poetry for the music of it, for the sound, not the sense. His verse slips under the net of language and meaning. Music is the one art form to which the other art forms aspire to be. Walter Pater said this. Poe anticipated the Aesthetic Movement by a few decades, inspiring especially the French… People need something to make them feel good. To my mind, the greatest help to us right now is instrumental music. And the best that words can do is to strive to be music.