Somehow I did some rethinking of happiness and freedom— all that utilitarian stuff. I thought, what if happiness is just a mirage, or at best a transitory feeling; and the only real peace of mind comes from nirvana, or just letting go of mundane desires? I always thought that Buddhism made good sense. The logic of it is very sound and watertight except, is the experience of life really suffering? The Sanskrit word is “dukkha.” This is the starting premise of the religion, and a condition that requires alleviation, like a sickness, and Buddhism is the cure.

More generally, and more personally, I was thinking about Jeff my brother and his relentless chase after material and carnal pleasures. He has no sense for spiritual things, so, the only kind of limbo for him is being close to nature: hiking, fishing, photography, and watching wildlife used to give him the greatest peace. There’s probably a better word for it than “limbo.” It’s a sublime space that people enter, like the experience of music in Schopenhauer’s philosophy. The constant grind of everyday life, the endless pursuit of desires, wears us down so that we need a respite, a reprieve, like an oasis in a desert. Anyway, I wish my brother could find his peace. I think his best bet is to go with his naturalist feeling and to get away from civilization as much as possible.

Thanks for reading what I just put down above. And returning to Buddhism, it’s an interesting religion. I have a few books on it and I might go review the information. I also mentioned Schopenhauer, whose chief work in philosophy I still haven’t read, though it’s a very powerful system of thought and worth knowing. In addition, I think it’s very timely for the kind of society we live in today, where the focus is entirely on greed and material gain.

In some ways, my brother is a microcosm of a larger societal problem, though to a ridiculous extreme.


Spice of Life

No one in my family does much thinking. I get a strange sense that Polly is hiding something from me. She doesn’t care now about alcohol abuse. The whole family shuns me— so what made L— drive by my house one day in October?… It seems like an accident that we started talking again. Polly may regret it too. I just scheduled the ride to my Monday appointment. And I thought of how my family is too proud to accept help from government services; but not me. I don’t share their redneck pride. I don’t understand it. When people need assistance, they need it. Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, but my family will never acknowledge it. The best thing I ever did was to disown them. The sun has come out for a moment; good to know it’s still there. Tim told me that K— isn’t close to his family either. Tim himself is divided from his family over politics. I told him that my family has no curiosity for bigger things. He said that was a shame… One thing I can say is that I enjoy interaction with people, especially when they are intelligent. The exchange of ideas stimulates my brain and motivates me. The rest of the family is apathetic about what makes life interesting. It’s like they’re not even alive, let alone joyful. How could I possibly cut myself down to their level? Life has loveliness to sell! The world is a big place, and often wonderful. How can anyone be so bovine, so boring; so disinterested in new ideas? So totally unintelligent? Life is not about chains; life is about freedom and happiness… Ranging through the boxes of my stuff, I found my copy of The World as Will and Representation, a book I needed while I was in the trailer. I think I will start reading it now, bearing Moby Dick in mind. There are many books I’d like to read all at once; digest them all and have instant enlightenment. But there’s still time to go over them one by one…

From an Armchair

Quarter after two. Writing is a good thing. It gives us a voice when we need power over our lives. It overturns oppression and liberates all who believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. Sometimes writing is good just for clarification of our feelings and thoughts. With insight follow growth and change and direction. My favorite writer is still Emerson, despite his detours and wrong turns of thought. To write is to think; the two are inextricably linked. I had a professor once who missed the connection. But if your thoughts are unclear then your writing will communicate incoherence. I am thankful now for my mental clarity, courtesy of the medication. The mind is a great synthesizer, putting theses together for processing, then spitting out a product, creatively changed. The raw materials we feed the mind do not resemble the result. The same for writing: what you read will come out transformed.

But what directs the process? What constitutes the self that integrates information and shapes it as it wills? Indeed there is a Will that shapes our thinking a certain way, one that desires and approaches, and fears and avoids. With no Will there’s no aim, and the thinking and writing we do will be aimless and disturbing. The Will may be subconscious and revealed latently. The more the words produced, the more the Will emerges. It is the Will that summoned us to write in the first place…

I wonder how a fairytale like “Hansel and Gretel” originates? It is just like a dream, the perfect childhood fantasy. Destroy the witch in the dark forest and take away the treasure of precious gems and metals, for this is psychic energy and potential. What use does a dreamer have for literal loot? But psychological riches are beyond compare. And so from Emerson to Jung we trace the evolution of psychology from wandering words to the concrete entity termed the collective unconscious. What will be the next stage in the development of human thought? Whither is psychology going? Only historians in times hence can say…

The Sea-goat’s Family

Henry James was quite a genius for identifying how language in its subtlety operates between people. It’s also called innuendo. The subtexts are not irrational, but they do involve desire. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Christian mythos is just the milieu we have to work with. The truth is more like Freud and his predecessors. Schopenhauer was a great discoverer. Melville turns his philosophy into a play. Harpoon the white whale and make sex go away… but it refuses to be killed. It drags down the whole ship and leaves but one survivor to tell the tale. Melville links the whale to Satan, some infernal force. It is actually normal psychodynamics… I’ve been close to having florid psychosis irrupt when zeroing in on the truth. The biological clock seems to be a matter of life and death. Procreation is the aim of all life. A fancy way of saying I want to have a kid.