Quarter after nine.
I took a nap since five and now I can’t remember what happened before that. It’s coming to me little by little. From morning till noon went very well, and Gloria and I had lunch together at Lupita’s Tacos. At one point, Debbie from the veterinary hospital walked in and picked up an order to take out. We were the only ones sitting down to eat in the restaurant. The food was great, but it was Saturday, I guess. After Gloria went home I was alone again, and my mind turned to self scrutiny, which isn’t always good. Sometimes I’d just as soon quit being analytical and try to live in the moment. Convert myself to creativity, building things up instead of breaking them down. An insight here and there can be liberating, but dissection kills the subject… Tim is picking me up for church tomorrow morning: I just got a text from him and decided at the last minute… I’ll try not to ask questions for a while. The inquiries of why and how will eventually make anyone crazy. Outdoors, the windstorm rushes in violent whispers. Earlier today you could catch sight of the blue sky if you were looking for it. Otherwise it was a cloudy obscurity the day long. Welcome to winter.
I’ve just been reading Walt Whitman tonight, and I see how he would disagree with my attitudes where I talked about people and the moon. He sees the most ordinary things to be no less grand than the greater things. Everything to him is significant— kind of the way Hindus perceive life and reality. But also it was William Blake who spoke of seeing infinity in a grain of sand. Even as I write, I notice how I tend to define and limit the things I describe, putting them in tiny boxes, suffocating them. Whitman doesn’t do this in his poetry. And if I try analyzing it then I’ll probably kill it because that’s what dissection does to every subject and everything under the sun. Somehow his poetry promotes life rather than snuffing it or etherizing it on a table. Thus I wonder what is his secret. And it reminds me of Eiseley’s policy of description instead of analysis. It’s like taking a photograph and not shooting it down as a hunter does… I will benefit by reading a lot more than I have been lately.
Psychology is slow to catch up with modern philosophy, which started with Descartes in the seventeenth century with his cogito ergo sum, or “I think therefore I am.” Freud modeled his theories on ancient philosophy and drama, mostly Plato and Sophocles, and the psychological tradition followed his lead. Psychology is just now beginning to admit the contributions of more recent philosophy such as existentialism. Sartre was essentially a Cartesian in the way he started from the point of view of subjectivity, of individual consciousness. The ramifications of his thinking were the condition of freedom for all individual human beings. He denied the determinism of nature in the case of humanity: humankind was an end in itself, determining its own meaning and essence. Humanity is something special, according to his beliefs.
Existentialism is basically very unscientific and non rational, a theory that grows purely out of arts and letters and standing independently of religion and science. It belongs to the no man’s land of philosophy, as Russell called it, though he avoided existentialism totally in his History of Western Philosophy. Perhaps he was wise to do so? His analytic tradition in philosophy is a completely different animal from the speculative tradition: more aligned with science and realism, which leads you back to determinism again. Maybe this perspective is more sane than the hyperbole of freedom and responsibility: more logical and consistent. The most convincing point of view will be consistent. And maybe the Cartesian approach was wrongheaded from the beginning? So that the absurdists didn’t know what they were talking about. Life is not absurd to a logical person, someone grounded in reality and in the laws of physics: in nature.