Five o’clock 🕔. Last night I went to the front door and found the new book of Montaigne that I had ordered from Amazon. I opened the box, revealing a beautiful fat hardcover, denim blue with a cloth binding and creamy new paper, complete with a nice dust jacket. I opened it to a random page to see the typeface, and likewise it was gorgeous, though perhaps a bit small. I think I can manage it, however, with my dollar store readers.
I hope that Tori, Eduardo’s wife, doesn’t have Covid. Last night she had a fever and we had to postpone recording the service. She’s being tested for the virus in the meantime, and then we’ll know what to do.
The music in my mind is from a recording I made around Halloween in 1985. It was entirely synthetic, using both analog and digital keyboards along with a drum machine. I had a lot of creative energy when I was young. It seemed to be endless because life was still a mystery with a long prospect ahead of me. In fact, I hadn’t even begun to analyze the truth of human existence, but rather took life for granted as a springboard for creativity. Only later did I learn to dig deep into the substance of life’s very being. This analysis has been inexhaustible for all these years, but also it removed the mystery from creative activity. I began to figure it out after my first love affair over a year later. The motivation behind my music composition was Freudian libido. When I told my girlfriend about this, she understood what I meant…
Nine o’clock. Except, the word I used was “love.” Freud uses it too, but in the sense of desire. It’s not the same thing as Christian love… Again I don’t know why 1989 keeps recurring to my mind. It must be relevant somehow, but as yet I don’t see the connection to today. I suppose it’s something I just have to work through. Right now the sky is gray and overcast, the street a little wet.
Quarter of eleven. Karen insisted on giving me a chocolate donut to take home. At the store I ran into Patty, for the first time in months. She was bundled up in a dark blue parka with a hood, anxious that it might rain. I wasn’t bundled up, but I had my umbrella with me. I got the benefit of the doubt on a pricing discrepancy and saved about a dollar and a half on my burrito. Michelle is always very fair in such matters. I feel good right now, even though haunted by ghosts of the past… Tori just tested negative for the coronavirus. I had a feeling that we were overreacting to her fever…
Six thirty. I should analyze what went wrong today. Why was I thinking I was gay? I have a Platonic impulse and an Aristotelian. Plato is deeper, I believe. He is round, Aristotle flat. But Aristotle is proud and upright. There must be something in my past influencing my present. It’s been a weird day ever since I got up this morning. I only know that I had physical therapy yesterday, and probably something about it set off queer thoughts today. Time will tell why. Maybe some of the exercises Erin put me through suggested sexual stuff to my mind, even humiliating things. And no, I don’t think I like it, even if it’s just me. One more session, I reckon, then I’ll discontinue the program. Physical therapy is not my kind of thing.
Eight o’clock. I wonder what gives me such a strong attitude of pride, and why is it often wounded? I hate being put in a compromised position by anyone else. A position may be literal or figurative, physical or mental. I hate to be degraded or demeaned by people or situations, likely as a result of abuse somewhere in my past. And it’s awfully easy for new people to come along and abuse me even more. I’m just not the type for therapy for that reason. I’m more inclined to go off by myself and lick my own hurts…
The same old questions concerning sexuality occurred to me again when I rolled out of bed. Perhaps that therapist only tried to help me? It’s true that I laid my soul bare to her and made myself quite defenseless… I think there’s a truth that goes deeper than Christianity, and Freud might have hit close to the mark. Isn’t it better to leave no stone unturned? Why live your whole life without knowing the whole truth? Often, culture is an obstacle to self knowledge. It is better to know. Culture also throws extraneous trappings onto the truth. This may be a passing mood, but for now it obtains… Outside comes the predawn twilight, the glimmer before the dawn. Bars of sunlight will shine down and create our prison of self consciousness and restraint. The social world will wake up and hold you responsible to your contract. But how much more can we smuggle into the light of day? And doesn’t everybody feel the same way?
Two o’clock. It looks like my Dell laptop is about to ship because the transaction has reappeared on my bank statement. I bet it will arrive Friday… Is Sigmund Freud the truth or is he just another school of thought? Overall, my college education was very Freudian, and so subtly that I didn’t realize I was being indoctrinated. I think every university has a platform. Very strange to see it now, and to see it demolished. Freud is just one more discarded image today. Likewise, my education is dated. Some parts of it are salvageable, but the central thrust of it is defunct… Now, considering myself, can my worldview be adapted to the present day? Or will I wander around the dock as the last Freudian who missed the ferry boat?… Imagine if I’d been brainwashed with something else when I was young! It could have been anything… I’ve looked around at the books in my library, scowling to think of how I was duped. And then, what happens when every doctrine has been fully eradicated from a person? Do you have the philosopher’s ideal? Maybe just a vegetable…
Two twenty five. I forget why I started reading the Sartre play yesterday. It isn’t very life affirming or romantic. The situations are extreme and no fun at all. People are popping each other off right and left. I don’t think I’ll finish it. Too grim, like Norman Mailer or something. I might take a nap now. I didn’t sleep very much last night.
Four thirty. Until I was about 24 years old, I never had any Romantic thoughts. That was when I was introduced to Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous, and the effect of those doctrines was not healthy for me. But once I had discovered his theories, I was stuck with Jung for another 20 years. Finally I took cognitive therapy seriously and began to apply it to my life. My mind had been in the habit of “splitting” everything into dichotomies, or pairs of contraries, like Aristotle with the law of excluded middle, only much worse. I was 39 years old when this was happening. After I turned 40 I began looking for the shades of gray. I learned that predicting the future was impossible, and how to avoid magnification and personalization. Eventually I mastered all of the cognitive distortions. Now it seems I’m sort of waiting around for the next movement in psychology. Something will doubtless come along. Hopefully it’ll be more accurate than the previous two trends. I heard some talk of phenomenology being absorbed into psychology two years ago, something along the lines of Sartre and existential psychoanalysis. There are no new ideas, just new terminology for the old ones. I guess I’ll finish that Sartre play now.
I let myself be talked into doing the food pantry today. One thing I notice is that I’m more committed to recovery than I am to rock and roll. If music is not done intelligently then it’s not worth doing at all. In fact, I’ve already done that sort of thing, and it goes nowhere… I think I’ll go to the store at around seven thirty. I’d like to get some ice cream and a soda before I leave for the pantry. It’s important to relax and let go, try not to control things too much. Not to plan ahead or worry about it. Trust that all shall be well. This is faith enough. It gets you through situations.
Seven forty. Been to the market and bought some food for me. The neighborhood is very quiet this morning. I contemplated letting go and letting nature, or whatever sub cortical structure animates my legs. I suppose “nature” sounds more poetic than “nervous system.” I still haven’t popped the plastic on my Fitzgerald volume. To read This Side of Paradise would be reading my own history. I’m not sure that my college past really matters anymore. Life itself is a continuous learning process… Another thought: maybe Freud was ultimately right about some of the defense mechanisms we use, but not all the time. Sometimes I can tell when a person is using “reaction formation,” or saying the opposite of what they mean for reasons of decorum. I can see how they are trying to convince themselves of something, when the truth is just the contrary. In the end, it is well to trust your own insight. Every new situation is different and demands presence of mind… At nine o’clock I will leave for the church. I’ll feed Aesop just before I go. He’s okay with me leaving him if it’s in the morning. That’s what he’s used to.
Quarter after seven. It’s weird to think of friends I had three decades ago and the context we shared. They were profane in word, but their deeds belied this. I was simply my honest self with them, which I didn’t realize was kind of risky. Burke compared me with another one of his nerdy friends, and that was fair enough, except I was smarter than Duane. Btw I ran into the latter at the Fairgrounds in August 1997. He was doing the sound for our gig. Afterward he told me my Stingray Bass “sounded like God.” That’s all I remember. I’ve pretty much lost contact with that network of friends. I last heard from Chris in the summer of 2012. I was in lousy shape and couldn’t get together with him. My subsequent decision to quit drinking sort of dissolved those old friendships, just as it severed me from the family. How long did I contemplate this recovery? Maybe longer than I thought. I knew what I would be sacrificing to be sober. But also what I could gain by it.
Quarter of nine. I’m waiting a little while to go to the store because I want to say hi to Karen and the girls. The salon doesn’t open until ten o’clock, and since Tuesday I’ve been making my trip earlier. Today is the solstice and the first day of summer. I haven’t heard anything from Mike or Ron regarding a practice this weekend, so I doubt that it will happen. The morning is cloudy, again reminiscent of Junes I remember in my youth. They seem like yesterday, and yet there’s no one else in the room. It’s a bit like reading Marcel Proust, invoking old memories as though they were the present. Often they invoke themselves. Bubble Yum and Pepsi and a Conan book. The interesting part is how these memories can dictate overt behavior subconsciously. The less conscious you are, the more you are a victim to old patterns. But there’s hope if you stop and think, and look before you leap.
Quarter after one. This is another day when I feel quite strange and rather alien to myself. I don’t know what to expect next. There may be revelations. I read a little bit of Roethke and thought it was very good. Also from a box I recovered my copy of Unamuno, which I had believed to be lost, plus a novel by Iris Murdoch. I even found my old astrology book by Ronald Davison, one of the best on the subject. Sometimes older books are closer to the kernel of the truth than more recent writing. Equally fascinating is The Dictionary of Symbols, compiled by Jean Chevalier, full of rich mythology and folklore and information from astrology.
Quarter after ten. The rain and thunder caught me dreaming about some haunted hospital or twisted old house as in a tale by Lovecraft. It was a different kind of day, poking through boxes concealing mystery and imagination, unlocking the secrets of the soul, teaching them to speak like the Raven. Mostly I was inarticulate during the day, but now the night and the lightning loosen my tongue. And why not expose the gems and precious metals held inside these boxes, these compartments of the mind? Allow them to breathe in the light of day, smuggling them out piece by piece? The thunder answers something muffled and nonverbal. If it could talk, what would it say? Perhaps I could build a machine for translating the language of nature. Like in a Nordic tale of Sigurd, half forgotten, where he eats the white snake and lo, he comprehends animal speech. The same story reappears in The Brothers Grimm, an oral tradition passed down eight or ten centuries. Why shouldn’t these old stories teach us about nature from within our subconscious? How could the beautiful be other than true?
Five o’clock. My mind was assailed by self doubt about an hour ago, and then I looked through some of my blog posts. What I perceived was me being a fugitive from the truth of myself, ie that I may be gay. Well, what if my church proved to be supportive even if I was gay? I’ve told myself many times that it is no crime. I wonder what my dad would say about it? He was a psychological mystery, never expressing what he felt. But he was usually fair minded on the important things. I don’t know. I didn’t care much for him growing up. He was a terrible coward and weenie of a man. Pushed other people down to make himself feel superior. Called me a chickenshit when I was only five or six years old. It made him feel good. No, I hated my dad’s guts, never mind how he tried to make up for it later. He never apologized for any wrong he did to anyone. He was a complete fuckhead. I’m glad he’s dead now, but he did a lot of damage to me when I was young. Mom didn’t like him either. She told me that I would be twice the man that he was. In some ways I suppose that’s true. It depends on how you define being a “man.” Morally, my dad was a disaster. But the worst of it was his cowardice, and the cruel way this made him treat people. Dad was a real piece of work. He really needed to be told off by someone, and if he could be resurrected, then I would be the one to do it. Hell. I guess I forgave him because I knew he felt unloved by his birth mother, who gave him up for adoption. Dad felt that he didn’t belong in this world…
Ten ten. I caught myself inclined to a delusion, a fallacious thought. At the store, there were three vagrants hanging out against the storefront. I passed them and then let Vicki know that she had loiterers outside. Time went by, and at home, I went into the kitchen and found about a score of black ants by the sink basin. My delusion said the ants were bad karmic fruits for having informed on the vagrants. But it was a fallacy because the ants were already there before I went to the store; I simply didn’t know about them. I think that a lot of karmic ideas are based on a failure to be objective. I doubt if there exist moral causes and effects at all. The only causation is material and physical, like dominoes; and this process goes on whether you’re looking at it or not. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head, yet we infer that the objective world exists around us. If we didn’t, no one could cross the street safely or drive a car with good judgment. Of course reality exists when we’re not looking at it, and time is a constant for all phenomena going on around us… Sue from church just called and asked me if I would come to worship on the 14th. I said sure. She was taking a count of people so we can plan the event. We’ll be doing this sooner than other churches, for whom it won’t be until July. She called just as I was writing about the fallacy of karma and excessive subjectivity: is that synchronicity or was I right about time and objectivity? Enter the Twilight Zone music…