The New Normal

Quarter of seven.

It’s very quiet in the room since turning off the fan and closing the windows. Indoor temperature: 72 degrees. The bedroom actually got chilly last night. A bit ago I ordered a popular biography of Ayn Rand. Amazon gave an excerpt from the first chapter, and that convinced me of its quality. I hadn’t known that she was Jewish; it could explain her antipathy for religion and mysticism. In that case, I feel more sympathetic toward her life and her struggles. In my youth, I met a bunch of people who hated Rand with a rabidity that seemed instinctive and unreasoning. Now I only want to understand why. If it came from a streak of antisemitism, then I think it was unfortunate. Culture is weird that way, like a “murder” of crows. Single out the outsider and ritually peck her to death. Personally, there was something about Ayn Rand that appealed to me, and that is equally mysterious…

It will seem like a long morning because I have to wait for more food supplies at the market. I should go at around ten o’clock. My first deposit came in this morning, so I’m ready to pay my monthly bills. Today I feel a little more accepting of the “new normal.” Things change, sometimes irrevocably. I’m thankful for the good friends I have, especially my pen pal who writes to me faithfully every day. And I look forward to the next food pantry, where I’ll see my old friends again. These people keep me getting out of bed every morning. They also teach me something new all the time. Music: Images for Orchestra by Claude Debussy, the fifth movement. It comes up along with the rising sun.

From a Letter

I reread the “Proteus” chapter of Ulysses, and have decided that it really is art, not to be dismissed as madness. There is a coherent line of thought to it in connection especially with the sea and how “the sea is a great sweet mother.” Stephen takes this idea and amplifies it with biblical notions of everyone’s umbilical cord going back to Adam and Eve, and Eve had no navel, as he says. The thinking he does is so big and complex that it appears lunatic, but I think the main idea is that all humanity is interrelated like a great big family. And this thought is indeed a very big one, and beautiful too. Further, if you read the whole book and start to think about it, Joyce really proves that the Catholic Stephen and the Jewish Poldy Bloom are paradoxically related like son and father. The conclusion to draw from this is that there is no excuse for antisemitism; or anyway, we ought to stop and consider the truth of this profound relatedness. The unfortunate thing is the extremely difficult way Joyce has chosen to present this theme, but then I guess that’s part of his art.
A note about intelligence: it is not a sin to be smart. My family condemns everything intellectual, but I’ve finally realized that it’s not anti religious to have a brain. This is a huge relief for me. In a way, my self liberation from family is like that of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce… Is it true, do you think, that a very high iq can border on insanity? Or is that just a platitude, a cliche; shop talk?

My Resolution

Six o’clock. I hope I can sleep tonight. Last night I had nightmares about J— from church. I couldn’t relax. J— has been particularly self righteous for his Christianity, and that never flies with me. I don’t believe in exclusivity or in setting up divisions between people; certainly not Christians and non Christians. I realize that I’m a secular oddball, a person in a peculiar situation, hence my views won’t be representative of many. But I’m standing firm on how I was raised. My beliefs are second nature, and I cringe when I hear J— bemoaning the perfidious Jews or telling a racist joke. But I fear that I’m in his line of fire. I forget what I dreamed specifically, but it concerned me being accused of heresy of some kind. Funny that I listened to Rush’s “Witch Hunt” yesterday morning, as that is apt for my current state of mind. I’m probably magnifying my perception, distorting it to unreal proportions. Dunno, but I felt uncomfortable last night. There must be a way to ease my troubled mind, but deep down I’m not afraid of anybody. I’m a 53 year old man, and my resolution this year is independence and self respect at any cost.

Religion

Quarter of four. I ought to reread “The Divinity School Address” of Emerson. The hardest thing about the New Testament for me to accept is the schism produced when the Jewish people shouted to Pontius Pilate, “Crucify Him!” Is this history fact or fiction? It is the critical turning point of the whole Bible, but imo, so unfair to the Jews. We simply cannot single out a race of people for condemnation like this. And as for the supernatural and miracles, why are these limited to Judeo Christianity? Can’t miracles happen today as well, and without the mediation of Jesus Christ? Emerson: “The sun shines today also.” These questions are just honest, and could be asked by anybody. A child might do so. Could it be that the questions of a child might prevent another Holocaust?