A while ago in my journal I wrote about the incongruity of finding myself in church. It would be like my dad showing up for worship the morning after a night at the Elk’s Lodge. He was a confirmed skeptic on the issue of Jesus Christ. You either believe in him or you don’t, as even Jesus said himself, though it seems rather Calvinistic and unfair. But ultimately I have to just accept the fact. If I’m a goat and not a sheep of the fold, then it’s better to live with this knowledge in peace. A goat must be good for something after all. By the way, the other day I met a woman with the same birthday as me: January 4. What are the odds of something like that? One in 365? And her colleague was named Destiny, with the letters transposed… For some reason my mind has been turning towards mysticism in the past week or so. I suppose it’s a function of getting older, but not necessarily more feeble witted. There’s some truth to “seek and you shall find.” What you look for determines what you see… Aesop is sleeping the sleep of sheer exhaustion, but it’s good to see him so relaxed. His breathing is slow and regular. The music in my head is a recording I made during the summer of 1986, back when my dream was to be a pop star. Yet in their own way, every individual is a rockstar by virtue of their very existence. Trust yourself.
Quarter after eight.
My dental appointment is this morning, but for some reason it doesn’t worry me. During the small hours I did some speculation on how my life’s peaks go in cycles of 12 years. After some fumbling around with my search engine I discovered that Jupiter takes 12 Earth years to complete its orbit of the sun. It is also known that Jupiter brings happiness and prosperity, hence the word “jovial.” Is this information just a coincidence with my experience?… Aesop is staring me down regarding his breakfast at eight thirty… If my insight is right, then next year should be the next peak for me.
Or perhaps the time of jollity has already begun?
I feel much better now than I did before four o’clock today. I knew I felt well enough to play my G&L bass, so I did that for an hour or more, and then I sat down and analyzed my feelings in writing, concluding that therapy is not for me. It was like throwing a millstone off my shoulders, and immediately I felt better. I think I’m capable of navigating my own ship. Sometime this month I want to take my other bass guitar to a technician for modification. I have the part I want to install already: a Di Marzio Model P hum bucking pickup with ceramic magnets. I love these pickups for their milky tone and high output. I hope the weather cooperates next week so I can walk over to the bank to cash my check. This will be my transportation money. I think everything will work out just fine.
Until now I’d forgotten how I love January, and you know, it doesn’t matter if I get mystical with the zodiac; I might take a peek at my new astrology book, indulge my curiosity and contemplate the thing called fate, even like Thomas Hardy, once my favorite novelist.
Five thirty five.
I had an unexpected dream just now: I was a “jumper,” just like the ones in Hollywood cop movies. I got myself into an elevator shaft and climbed it to the top, where I was just about to throw myself down when a rescue team cut through from the outside with a saw or blaster. After I got out, my parents took me and my nephew to dinner in a convertible. The nephew let my dad know how much he hated him, and he just smiled and drove on. He was probably stinking drunk.
By now the snow on the ground has melted nearly away, with little shreds of it left on people’s yards and roofs. I donned slip on shoes rather than the lace up running shoes with better treads and made my daily trip to the market. There’s not very much to report about my experience this time. In general I’ve been speculating on whether I can discard my superstition about astrology, and what will be the outcome of doing this. It’s like the choice between fate and free will— even like the old song by Rush. I think the zodiac is just a human fiction, something for us to wrap our lives around to give them sense and meaning. But when it is ruled out, the meaning is up to you to provide. The character of Edmund in King Lear is right about the “excellent foppery of the world,” even though you’re not supposed to like him. Shakespeare and Milton both subscribed to astrology, but this doesn’t mean that we should. They lived four hundred years ago, so what did they know? This year I will think differently about my birthday, and try not to refer to my horoscope and wax mystical on my destiny. I’m not a teleological thinker; life has no predetermined goal for every person to fulfill. Is this heresy or is it good rational sense? The power to make decisions resides with us. This is where it belongs, and not in the lap of the gods or the influence of the planets, moon, and sun. This sets the tone for my 55th birthday and the whole subsequent year.
Nine ten at night.
I think maybe I missed my calling in life: I should have been a clinical psychologist and helped people with their problems. But first I had to surmount my own stuff, like the schizophrenia and alcoholism. By far the alcoholism was the deadlier disease. And it’s possibly the kind of thing that runs its course until you come to an impasse of choosing life or death. The spirit of intoxication is really the devil in a bottle, or perhaps it’s the Grim Reaper with scythe poised over your head. Who else carried a sickle in mythological tradition? It was Saturn, the Roman agricultural god, known to the Greeks as Cronus, father of Zeus. According to the tradition, Saturn showed the Romans how to make wine. The name of Saturn was probably related to the name of the devil for Hebrews, but the only evidence I have for that is in a book of astrology by Ronald Davison, and he gives no sources for his claim… So much for impressionistic thinking on alcoholism. Now I’ve lost my train of thought.
I was just on Amazon and ordered Parkers’ Astrology, a book that was recommended to me by a bookseller friend about twenty years ago. The copy I bought from her I ultimately threw away because of the superstition that was prevalent in 2009 or so. But today I feel free to come and go on the topic of the zodiac. It’s a fascinating thing, the way it puts mythology into practice, assigning meanings to the planets, which in turn exert an influence on human fates; unless it’s all a self delusion. Still, astrology is an art that has been around for a few thousand years. In a nonspecific way, even Thomas Hardy subscribed to the fatalism of the stars, whether provident or improvident, and he wrote his novels so persuasively, compelling you to believe his worldview. But the greatest confrontation with fate is to read Ancient Greek tragedies by such playwrights as Aeschylus…
It’s cloudy this morning, yet the clouds are light and colorful, not gray and dark. Michelle the store clerk wore a mask with an astronomy theme: very pretty. She said she has quite a collection of masks. The general vibe at the market was low key, relaxed and easy. I bought four pounds of Dog Chow for Aesop; it’s expensive but it’s his favorite. There were two other customers besides me, a woman and a guy, both in their thirties or forties. Occasionally it hits me with a shock that I’ll be 55 in January. Bad enough that I’m a half century old, but the clock is still running. Hopefully the hourglass isn’t nearly empty; do I get another turn of the glass? As Paul Bowles put it, How many more times will you see the moon again? I could reply to him, How many more times will I read The Sheltering Sky? This reminds me of my old workplace years ago, where people were not allowed to think for themselves. Once I brought in a copy of the Bowles novel and lent it to a coworker who read it, but she lost the book somewhere. I believe she liked it, though… Almost time to feed Aesop… Another coworker opined to me that Bowles led a decadent lifestyle— without having read any of his stuff. This guy wore starched shirts and suspenders and touted Mark Twain. I wore sloppy sweatshirts and jeans and did my job as well as anybody. Some of the more educated people at the agency liked me. And I still think there’s nothing wrong with my choice of reading material.
Ten thirty. My life is ruled by a different force than most people: it’s the old Titan Cronus, father of Zeus, old Father Time by association with the planet Saturn. I’m just a Capricorn goat, which I sometimes forget controls my fate. Hopefully on my deathbed everything comes out in the wash and I rest in peace like the majority of people… The cooler climate today puts me in an odd state of mind. I can recall many things at will, from when life wasn’t so rosy, and yet it had a lesson to teach. Right now it’s super quiet in the room, and no sound across the street where Roger is working on his hobby. Silence is golden, as it is said.
Just a report from the wee hours of the night. I’ll be honest with you, it’s pretty terrible here. Aesop can’t stop panting and I can’t stop sweating. Outside it’s 75 degrees now but there’s no breath of air; inside it’s 86 degrees still. The forecasters are saying 111 degrees for Sunday. The worst part of this is that the summer is only beginning. Unlike you, I can’t be in denial when things are bad. I do what I can to help the situation but I don’t lie and say everything is peachy. Acceptance just is what it is. Pretense is against my nature. However, on a lighter note, I’ve thought on what the Age of Aquarius might portend for humanity today. A few weeks ago I rode with a cabbie who told me his first record in childhood was the 45 rpm of Hair’s “Aquarius” which I also remembered. Well, we’re twenty years into the Age of Aquarius now, and Capricorn progressed to Aquarius is supposed to see some changes in character.
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars ✨
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!
I have another story about the same song. On the blackboard of a classroom in the Knight Library during spring term of 1989 someone had written the full lyric to “Aquarius.” A student sitting nearby saw it and assumed it was Shakespeare! So of course I corrected her.
It may be worth some astrological research to learn more about the effects of the new age on human behavior currently. As you know, my constitution has a weakness for the zodiac. And by the way, the Seventh House is Libra, the sign of peace and partnership, symbolized by the scales.
I was at the store looking over the frozen foods when I heard “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears come on the radio. I listened along and then I realized it was the album version with the incredible trumpet solo by Lew Soloff. I mentioned it to Michelle, but she didn’t know how to respond. But for me it was a kind of inspiration, and in spite of everything else that goes badly, I feel that my life still has cosmic meaning and purpose, as guided by the “stars.” It is difficult having Saturn for my ruling planet, yet it motivates me in my perambulations east and west along Maxwell Road and elsewhere in the city. I shuffle on the sidewalks like an old bum, hearing music in my head and muttering things to myself, though I’m an intelligent old bum.
The BS&T song this morning makes me rethink my music projects, even if the issue of alcohol is one that will never go away. I just hope I’ll have the wisdom and strength to resist the temptation in the future to drink. It’s a gray and overcast day so far today, so maybe it won’t get as warm, and I can make my trip over to Bi Mart without any trouble.
Two o’clock in the morning.
Due to drug issues, practice with the band was mostly a disaster yesterday. However, I’ve decided to forgive my friends and give them another chance. We did manage to do a little Led Zeppelin, namely “Four Sticks.” I just sort of played by instinct, covering both the bass line and the synth part in a kind of musical Impressionism, hoping someone would follow. The original of the song is so beautiful, with John Paul Jones on bass and synthesizer, so elegantly gliding along. We also played around with “The Mincer” again, an old King Crimson classic… It’s good to play a Jazz style bass again after a long time with Precision Basses. But they all sound majestic… When I have doubts about my involvement in music, I sometimes take recourse to the zodiac for support of my self image. The real events of my life don’t make much coherent sense. I’m aware of how my sister thinks about rock and roll: it’s just impertinent rebellion against God and mainstream culture. She and my mother disagreed on this point, and it always puts me in a difficult position.
Quarter after six. So I resolve the conflict by appealing to my horoscope, according to which my ruling planet is Saturn, another name for Cronus, the father of Zeus in Greek mythology. I don’t know how music got to be related to Saturn, nor literature, but it’s true… A half hour ago I listened to “Four Sticks” on YouTube. It was just as I remembered it, except I’d never paid attention to the words before. The cumulative effect is quite breathtaking, music and lyric. Like a Keats poem or something. It transports you to another dimension.
Seven o’clock. Dawn breaks outside. I want to stay home from church today and read my Goethe; maybe listen to some music and play my bass. I feel rather rejuvenated, knowing that I’m sober and how this really benefits me. My life feels purposeful: I am an instrument of the planets, not just a biological organism.
I’ve been sleeping a few hours, and I woke up overheated and maybe dehydrated. I had a number of dreams about the zodiac and the element of Saturn in my horoscope. Somehow, the image of the goat and the similarity of the name Saturn to “Satan” all melted down to the same archetype, I imagine. Traditionally, the devil was depicted in the form of a goat, just like the fauns, satyrs, and the earth god Pan in Greek mythology, and the main idea of the goat was lust and procreative power. Before Christianity took over, goats were sacred to the wine god Dionysus. There was nothing particularly bad or wicked about the goat in antiquity. All of this reminds me that I have a book on the cult of Dionysus in my stuff, written by a Jungian scholar. It might be good. Did you ever read Bacchae, a tragedy by Euripides? Perhaps it is of more interest to me. About fifteen years ago I read it to compare it to Christian tradition, and the parallels between Jesus and Dionysus were rather startling. Both were arrested and brought to justice, and both rose again in the end. Both were too powerful to be conquered… Mythology and its relation to astrology, and the whole subject of symbolism, I find fascinating. It delves into an interior reality of the unconscious, though I think the last word still hasn’t been pronounced on it. The field is still wide open for new scholars and new discoveries.
Well, the mystery of Victoria and her family goes on. This morning I found a thank you card on my mailbox for the chocolate, again from Victoria. This game of note passing makes me imagine strange things about the situation in their home. Maybe Diana is another Republican sore loser like Roger and Alice? I only know that Victoria graduated from the University of Oregon in psychology and wants to be a therapist. Meanwhile, her mother is uneducated and resentful of people who go to school and succeed in something. Victoria probably knows I attended the University a while back, and also her dad is a fifth grade teacher who went to the same school. And then there’s the matter of my political sign outside for Black Lives Matter. Still, all of this is circumstantial evidence and pure speculation on my part. Yet the cards she gave me are very real; I’ve put them up on my bookcase.