The Koan of Love

Five fifty PM.

Funny how I realized how much I’ve lost my faith in Christ’s new commandment. Should I go to church to pick Pastor’s brain, or would this do any good at all? I think I just haven’t been hearing him during his sermons the last few times. Like King Midas, I’ve been given donkey’s ears for my deafness to spiritual things. If I did pick his mind, then I’d be misguided because the meaning of religion is not located in the head. It resides in the heart or the soul; anywhere but the reason, logic, or whatever it’s called. Christian love is a simple thing yet unreachable by logical analysis, as Dan has already told me. No amount of reasoning, however much and with what quality, can arrive at a conclusion like Christian love. I guess it’s something you find in your heart… or you don’t. Like the heart of the Grinch, maybe it can grow three sizes bigger. But it can’t be helped along by reason. To a rational mind, it’s the deepest mystery, a baffling phenomenon, and I’m like Mr Spock trying to figure it out— what can’t be figured about. Instead it’s to me what a zen koan is to a Buddhist beginner. Total nonsense. Perhaps if I quit making sense…?

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Having a Look-around

One ten PM.

I feel tired but also at peace for the moment. It’s funny how a good thing here or there can make your day. It’s very quiet in my house and outside there’s a little wind in the maple which happens to be turning gold. I saw it through the music room window as I was making noise on my jazz bass. Green and gold against the grays of the sky create a splendid scene while the oak tree goes to rusty burgundy. I don’t care if it rains now, though it makes the mornings lethargic and sluggish combined with the dark background. Halloween must be a week from today but I never hand out candy, especially now with my dog so aggressive. I may have a little remorse for my church absences but I really prefer going to the agency, where I can be more natural just hanging out. I believe tomorrow will be fun, and I get to make a little trip outside my usual stomping grounds. And more and more of the music I heard last week floats back to my mind at unexpected times, but beautifully. 

The Sugar Pill

Quarter of nine.

In my journal I’ve been working out the problem of horror versus beauty in the corpus of Edgar Allan Poe, though I barely know where I’m going with it or why it’s on my mind. I’m a little shy about sharing my discoveries because I’m not a professional critic, just an amateur with a Bachelor’s degree. But the twin themes of grotesque and exquisite do go hand in hand for Poe, perhaps as flip sides of the same coin. Somewhere I got the idea that beauty is the savior of humanity, especially for the very poor like me and like Edgar Poe himself. And I was thinking that beauty is the good, and the ethic is aesthetics alone, the sugar coating without the pill. Ugliness is very easy to come by; it’s everywhere you look. It is misery and suffering, the stuff of poverty and hunger. Naturally the pauper’s delight will be the sight or sound of something gorgeous and ideal, however ephemeral and elusive the vision. Beauty may be a tantalizing mirage, but is it any the less true? Or maybe the most beautiful things are invisible, like the intellect and rational love. We know and refer to these things without sensing them.

Benedictions

Seven o’clock.

This time I walked to market under the bright stars and directly overhead the small crescent moon shone at the meridian. Lenore’s car is still gone and she left her dog to fend for herself. I hear her barking at night occasionally. At the store, body language tells the whole story. I must have winced yesterday when Lisa’s mouth was so foul, because today she commented that sometimes profanity is not warranted, especially in the workplace. I never claimed to be a saint, though people have said that bad words sound wrong coming out of my mouth. Oh well. Aesop was overjoyed as always when I told him I brought home his chicken strips. Outdoors, the streetlight is on yet, while the daylight is just coming. In some places there will be thick fog.

The ocean breezes cool my mind

The salty days are hers and mine

Just to do what we want to

Tonight we’ll find a dune that’s ours

And softly she will speak the stars

Until sunup

Language can curse or it can bless. Either way, it creates the world we inhabit. With this responsibility, we are wiser to beautify life and go for paradise.

Intimations Post

I realized something a minute ago. I don’t daydream very much anymore. That is, it’s nothing hypothetical, a pure fantasy that I weave out of nothing. I’ll have reveries from memories of the past or I’ll make guesses about the future, but I don’t dream up scenarios for the pleasure of it anymore. I suppose I don’t see the point or the relevance of this these days; my youth is used up, totally exhausted, and I’m left with my old age, a withered old fart.

I’d kind of like to get out of the house again today but there’s nothing I really need from the store. It’s quite beautiful out right now. I think it was yesterday morning when I saw the full moon 🌕 waning in the western sky on a backdrop of blue. In only a few minutes it dipped below the rim of the trees and rooftops, denying that it had ever been there: so you are left to doubt your own senses for having witnessed the spectacle. The moon was the only remarkable, otherworldly thing I saw that day. The rest was quite humdrum and drab and very ordinary, showing a poverty of imagination for beautiful things and possibilities because our minds are so fixed on grubbing for material satisfaction. All’s not gold that glitters; and precious gems as well could be so many worthless rocks that clot the streets like the ones in Voltaire’s El Dorado. But this little sermon will still fall upon senseless eyes and ears— at least until the next full moon comes around.

…while the marketplace keeps buzzing with business of people blind to the love that lies dormant someplace out of sight…

Apuleius 2

Quarter after six.

Genealogy 

I’ve ordered the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, the second volume. I saw some really tasteless editions on Amazon by insignificant publishers easy enough to weed out. I wanted a copy of the story of Cupid and Psyche since the one I had was lost in the fire.

The birth of pleasure I believe is a very important story because of how my parents lived. The myth is probably older than Apuleius but I’d have to research it to know for sure. He was an ancient Roman, so he came after the Greeks. Cupid is an invention of the Romans, hence the story is essentially Roman and not Greek, ie not Epicurean: although I found the story in Marius the Epicurean, the novel by Walter Pater.

The birth of pleasure would be kind of like my own life story. I am the fruit of the union of two pleasure lovers, and quite thankful for that. The genealogy of beauty and pleasure is a fascinating thing; I owe it to my mother to read the book by Irving Stone before the beauty passes away forever. Perhaps it’ll be handed down from me to you and never perish… 

Apuleius

Beauty Savior.

Life may seem like a struggle between the poles of animal and human. But apart from the tension of psychodynamics there is radiance far greater that reclines on a couch neither terrestrial nor celestial, sipping sunny nectar as elegantly as Helen of Troy. She is perhaps the daughter of Cupid and Psyche whom we know as Pleasure. Or she could be a star more sublime; but either way, she surpasses everything for perfect loveliness and grace.

Better than TV

Ten o’clock.

We’ve been to Bi Mart and also gotten breakfast across Silver Lane from it. They were selling televisions for around $200. If I wanted to pay a cable bill each month then I’d probably consider it. It seems like a good way to kill time when that’s all you want to do. On the other hand, it’s just pollution for your mind. Some people say you have no control over what you see when you watch tv, and it’s a passive activity— not like reading a book. My main objection to it is the incredible noise it makes, and my dog would hate it as well. So I guess I’m not buying one… I saw Judi at Bi Mart and the cashier was familiar but I don’t know her name. I got dog food, PineSol, and tall kitchen bags with yellow drawstrings: $26 all together. Again today it’s sunny and the sky is a rich cerulean. I’ll probably go to church tomorrow morning. Gloria is working very hard at the vacuuming. I’m quite lucky that the PCA process has worked out for me. A lot of people who tried don’t get the service that I’ve gotten.

Eleven thirty.

I never did go to the corner store this morning because of doing too much caffeine yesterday. There’s still plenty of time to go there if I want to later.

Three o’clock.

And then, I took a nap and had the most beautiful dream of a gorgeous brunette, kind of like Misty, who kissed me. This dream was like something from a literary work by Goethe or Joyce, where the focus is on passion and romantic love. After that I got up and walked back into the very unromantic world of streets and sidewalks, yet with the gossamer dream still clinging to me to dazzle the view around me like a trillion diamonds. 

Blind Man’s Vision

After midnight.

It’s a night of ineffable dreams.

A blind man I used to know from church wrote me to say that God and religion are two different things; and, he inverted what I’d said about seeing is believing. His statements probably affected me more deeply than I had estimated. They stirred up something in me just at the time of my birthday of recovery. I don’t resent this intrusion, really. He served only to open my sealed eyes and look upon the world afresh like an involuntary vision of a Romantic poet.

Perhaps this revelation to me is untimely, but I accept it in stride and move with it. It’s not like I don’t understand his message: he struck a chord that can either jar on the ear or lull it with sweet harmony.

The blind man invites me to reexamine everything I’d thought was settled and set in stone. The truth is that the truth can’t be captured between the covers of a book or chiseled into stone tablets. It’s a fluid thing like water, or breezy like the wind.

City Life

Quarter after seven.

The city installed a cable on N Park to monitor the speed of drivers nearby Randy’s lot. They ought to do that on Maxwell Road, where the limit is 35mph and people actually go 50mph or faster. I didn’t see the moon this morning, though I did the last two days. “Wake up in the morning with a good face / Stare at the moon all day / Lonely as a whisper on a star chase / Does anyone care anyway?” An old Queen song by Brian May. The world needs more beauty instead of the industrial ugliness I see around me every day. To witness something pretty, I have to raise my eyes to the blue and wish upon the moon or the morning star. But this is the curse of the suburbs. The psalm goes that the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want. I ought to be content with my daily bread. And yet so much is still desired. When the reality isn’t very attractive, this is the time to make poetry and pull humanity out of the gutter. “…Some of us are looking at the stars.” Remember that you shall not live by bread alone, but the gospel we need is beauty.

“Look in thy heart and write.”