I just remembered a book I started reading in fall of 2017, by Rupi Kaur, titled The Sun and Her Flowers. I only bought it because it was a top bestseller on Amazon and I was curious to know about current trends in thought. The main thing I observed was how the poet cut herself off from men altogether. But it doesn’t stop there. I also read Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich and found a similar attitude of isolation and radical privacy in the female protagonist. And just a few days ago I scanned some writing by Le Guin and saw how she blamed testosterone for war.
On my receipts from the veterinary hospital, the description of my dog no longer says “male neuter;” it says “castrated.”
Now, considering all the above, and the fact that I’m a guy, it puts me in a very strange position.
If you were a rational and fair minded woman, what would you say in response to these observations?
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. However, nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and beliefs, and persuasions, all hard things visible and invisible, never mind how knobby; as an ostrich of potent digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster, peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker. That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what just before might have seemed to him a thing most momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke. There is nothing like the perils of whaling to breed this free and easy sort of genial, desperado philosophy; and with it I now regarded this whole voyage of the Pequod, and the great White Whale its object.
Herman Melville, from Moby Dick, Ch 49, “The Hyena”
At last the mood of the day is mellowing out as I relax and kind of coast the rest of it. I haven’t thought anything very deep today, and my feelings were up hill and down dale, peaks and troughs from the time I got up this morning. I believe there’s something wrong with this situation, and maybe what began as schizophrenia has changed to a mood disorder like bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. I think it’s true that everything is in constant flux, even if we need something eternal and immutable to keep ourselves grounded and stable: the one necessitates the other. To be honest, I don’t feel so intelligent lately and can’t offer any wisdom; and besides that, I was never all that smart to begin with. It’s the first of the month and Pastor retires on the 25th, so as a result I feel kind of rudderless and lost when there’s nothing to respond to anymore. The biggest shock of all is finding that my delusions have mostly gone away. My life today is not like life 15 years ago. The present is inevitably the present; and probably every attempt to box up the facts of life or sandwich them in the covers of a book will ultimately fall short. The only thing like a true almanac is the body of work by Waldo Emerson, or more like a Declaration of Independence for American writers and thinkers. He was the pioneer, and everything else has been a postscript or appendix to the main messages of self reliance and firsthand experience.
Something happened just now that changed my whole mood for a day. It’s a very simple thing. I made a call to my pharmacy to request a prescription refill and dealt with an individual who was exceedingly nice to me and who made the process much easier. Her name is Laura. With some people you just have a certain chemistry and with others it’s more of a battle, and nothing can explain it save for the stars and planets or the vibrations of names and numbers. I think sometimes that the initial letter of a name can tell you a little about human interaction. In this case, “Laura” begins with L, whose number is 3 on the Pythagorean chart. The traits of the 3 are mostly creative expression and maybe emotive qualities. The R in Robert is a 9, meaning humanitarianism and the arts.
Is it all a lot of baloney? But even if it is, people need a way to make sense of life. We need a calculus of human and social chemistry to navigate the maze of this existence, and occult science seems as good as any method.
Quarter after eleven.
I ate a salad for lunch and then hit the street, carrying the little owl in a bag for Kim. On the way I felt dizzy and lightheaded but managed to get to the salon. I found out that Kim wouldn’t start work until noon; so I put the toy on the counter with Kim’s things and Karen said she would call her attention to it. I turned around to go home then. Roger is outside doing his pet project and I saw a team of Mexicans busy with some construction work. Actually they were just talking among themselves in Spanish and I felt like addressing them in their own language. But often it makes them a bit paranoid if you do that, so I thought better of it. I just said hi in English. I got home and ate a lot of chocolate to help with my dizziness, if that makes any sense. All the while, it’s a clear and sunny day and the temperature is very mild and pleasant. I think back to the times when my yard guy was a Mexican named Juan and his friend Geronimo fixed my truck’s electronic problem— and then wanted to buy the vehicle from me. I haven’t seen those guys since the politics got unfavorable for them, which is a sad story in itself. And sometimes I’d like to just drown my sorrows and forget everything happening today. Pass the chocolate…
Five thirty AM.
Daylight already this morning, and by six thirty it’ll be broad day outdoors like it was yesterday. I still haven’t popped the plastic on my new book of Dali; it’s so impressive it’s a bit intimidating to me. Am I just a denizen of the Maxwell community, and if so, how dare I aspire to something better? My existence is perhaps like pearls on a dung hill, and just as useless to the people in my surroundings. Everyone is so anti intellectual around here that I have doubts about the place of a person like me. On the other hand, I let this feeling defeat me before, over the same book, eight years ago. People readily condemn what they don’t understand out of fear. And around here it’s an epidemic of stupidity I’m up against.
I resolve to open the book and look through it before the weekend, damn the torpedoes.
Even my brother used to say “sell more books” for beer money, but what kind of “professor” tells you that? At heart, he is still a redneck with the rest of the family. Family and community have a nasty way of devouring the voices of reason and intellect that dare to exist in their midst.
Misery loves company, but joy must struggle to assert itself, and may live alone. If it is all just a fantasy, then still I’ll no longer beat myself up.
Five thirty AM.
I’ve about had it with my sister. I won’t call her on the phone this week. She claims to be a Christian, but there’s a good way and a bad way to be a Christian. Her interpretation of the Bible turns Jesus into a figure of hate instead of a loving savior. The Jesus that some people understand is a lover and a forgiver, and, like Gandhi, a pacifist (turn the other cheek). But my sister’s Jesus is a terrible judge of gay people and anyone else who doesn’t fit the mold.
Maybe Jesus is a dummy people manipulate to express their own values, their loves and their hates, to give these more power (my Jesus can beat up your Jesus).
I’ve heard some off the wall sermons in the past three years. The first ones I listened to were actually pretty good, emphasizing the qualities of love and forgiveness, exemplified by Jesus Christ himself. After Covid, something went wrong for my church. And today it’s weird to see a few members supporting the pastor. Generally speaking, it’s quite a mess, plus the story is different depending on whom you hear it from.
I haven’t been to church since January and can’t really say anything with certainty. As for my sister, bigotry is not my style.
I prefer to liken Jesus to a pacifist like Gandhi and maybe leave the Old Testament behind. I can’t agree with making him an agent of hate.
The whole thing is too complicated for words.
Here I am being intimate with a device again, like feeding numbers to a machine, data entry for future retrieval. Interesting how synthetic it is, and is the human mind really like a computer or more organic and warmhearted than cold circuitry and binary code? We only socialize with machines for the convenience. With technology and a lot of alcohol, you can build yourself your own Xanadu paradise, an impossible dreamworld that never has to end as long as your body holds up. A comparison might be the Hoffmann tale of “The Golden Flowerpot,” just without the element of machinery. The young student has two lovers, one real and the other a complete fantasy. When he has to make a choice between them, he finally picks the fantasy girl and goes to dwell in Lotusland forever. But there’s something very dark about this story that may not be obvious at first. It’s like the perdition of his soul… Such is alcoholism. Sooner or later you have to reckon with reality and the community around you, however poor in spirit or intellect it may be. This is a sermon to myself more than to anyone else, but hopefully with a didactic message to take home.
The question of what is real shouldn’t be a perplex. And if you were the student in the Hoffmann tale, would you know what to do?
I went to the little store just now, and again Lisa asked me if I was getting enough food to eat; so I asked her curiously if Suk would do anything if I answered no. She said she didn’t know about him, but she would do something… With Kim in mind, I bought still another Ty stuffed animal: a little white owl with a big funny beak and a clueless expression on its face. The Ty toys are one sign that some people still care about each other, even if our government is cold and corrupt and doesn’t give a damn for the citizens. In this regard, the USA now resembles the more authoritarian countries in the world and seems less like a democracy. The next vote will probably be a joke, down to the same old clowns, while people are not credited with having any intelligence at all. God help you if you’re the invisible person on the street. You just ask yourself what in the world is wrong with society.
My dog is very vocal for his breakfast, finally barking at me to feed him… Done.
In the market parking lot I saw a red Nissan truck with a canopy, 90s vintage, that made me think of my old green pickup which I couldn’t afford to maintain anymore: so I sold it to some drunkard for a humiliating price and now I’m stuck without a car.
You can’t have everything you want, so be happy with what you do have. And if you have something, by all means keep it.
And so Memorial Day winds down to a close. I never left the house all day today except to take out the trash and to pick up a package delivered today to my doorstep. It’s an incredible book of Salvador Dali’s art complete with critical text. I don’t know much about art but I take the liberty to dabble in it here and there. Most people can recognize quality in something like art and music. There’s something psychological running through it all, and if you know your psychology then you can feel at home with the greatest of artists, composers, or writers. It’s only if your soul is a wilderness to yourself that you may feel alienated from creative people and their works.
Also today I plugged in my Kiloton Bass and noodled around with it a while, thinking on how rock and roll seemed to be dying. In fact, I see everything spiritual in decline lately, so I wonder if it’s a good thing or bad. Perhaps someday the religious people will feel persecuted and denied their freedom of belief, like the story of The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. We’ll see how it shakes down, I guess. No one likes to lose their freedom of self expression, whichever side they take on theology or simply their spiritual release. It’s a human thing.
I feel kind of sad and low as I write this tonight, again like the emptiness and aching feeling described in the song by Simon & Garfunkel back in the Sixties. America still goes through growing pains, though I don’t think racism is ever the answer to anything. Some groups are anti everything. It’s a sad state of affairs when people rally around hate and use this as a source of unity and common purpose. There’s something very Antichrist about that; you only need to review WW2 for proof.
I just hang on from day to day, writing my stupid notes like some future historian…
Between seven and ten o’clock I slept, then got up when the sky had gone inky black with the nighttime. Sunday was a better day than Saturday, though it had its share of anxieties and worries; and maybe I magnify molehills into mountains, another irrational thing identified by a forgotten therapy. They used to tell me that it was okay to be imperfect; indeed, perfectionism would make you unhappy and depressed because no such thing as perfect exists. But as it happens, a useful tool, accurate and intelligent, got lost in the shuffle of human confusion if not intentionally crushed by the Church. Americans dislike a perspective of realism and reason, instead going with something fanciful and wild. I used to know a person who told me she was very ordinary, and her reality also was centered and avoided extremes to either side. She said her dad and her sister would often clash and have horrific fights. She learned from observation. I wonder why people today can’t find the gray area in the middle of the poles as we did ten years ago? The situation of the public grows more and more volatile and it’s a huge rack of confusion. If we could be guided by common sense; but no, we insist on the things we cannot see, chasing ghosts and phantoms and expecting Armageddon at any moment. The ones sitting down and shutting up nonetheless think what they think, and you hear it slip out in speech from time to time.
I’m just mulling over something my PCA said Saturday morning, an unfortunate remark that got my imagination spinning. I sometimes think we should call the whole thing off. Meanwhile, the church can keep blithering about demons and whatever medieval crap it can conceive. I long to turn back the calendar 10 or 12 years to a better, more rational time. And maybe it was all a dream in the end. And maybe I discovered a whole world in one person, the one who got away.