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.
Quarter of eight.
I feel distracted by the zodiac again, maybe only because my birthday is coming. From the Dictionary of Symbols I just read two entries, on Capricorn and the goat. It upset me last summer when so many church sermons dealt with the sheep and the goats, implying that the goats would not be saved. It interests me that goats were associated with the Greek god Dionysus in antiquity, and that the Greek word for tragedy means “goat song.” Before the rise of Christianity, the symbol of the goat was not a bad thing. My own horoscope shows three luminaries in the house of Capricorn: sun, Mercury, and Venus, all in a row. Now I’d like to research Dionysus more, and maybe the goat god Pan. I read Bacchae by Euripides once long ago, fascinated by the parallels to the Jesus story.
Nine ten. I met only one other person on my walk back from the store, a nice looking blond woman with a ponytail. I guess it would be rather silly to imagine our fates being controlled by distant planets, the sun and the moon, whirling around us in a geocentric plan. And yet this is my logic kicking in, and even astrology describes me as rational and skeptical. Today is the day of our jam over at Mike’s house off of Maxwell Road. I’ll try to keep realistic expectations of the music and go with the flow. “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft a-glee.” Therefore it’s better for plans to be flexible. The weather forecast says it won’t rain today, but I’ll keep checking it periodically. Nothing is ever predictable, so who can really ponder a thing like destiny? Seems as if fate itself could be rewritten.
This morning has been kind of busy. I called Polly and we talked for an hour. Next, my case manager from Laurel Hill called me to schedule an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Her name is Misty, and I like her very well. Then I went to the store as usual, where I saw Michelle and I bought a few things. I passed Darlene’s old house coming back and spoke with the new occupants. The mother of the family said she really likes the yellow color of my home. She asked me about the fire I had a year ago last March. Finally she said she and her kids were getting ready to roam the neighborhood…
It’s very warm out today; almost 60 degrees, and mostly cloudy. It won’t rain again until later this afternoon. This weekend was rather blah. The mail brought me the blank books I’d ordered, so I opened them and began writing in one of them. The content that came out was quite curious, a throwback to old times. Right now I feel comfortable in the present moment, with a Genesis song looping in my head. “And the changes of no consequence / Will pick up the reins between us…” “The old man’s guide is chance.” The song is nearly 50 years old, yet remembered by at least someone. The past is present. And so soon the present is past. The rest of the day will probably be uneventful, but future contingencies can’t be forecasted. I made a joke to Polly about the Christmas star phenomenon, that it could portend chaos on Earth. Like reading Shakespeare. Astrology was once taken very seriously. Which reminds me to read my Paradise Lost…
I’ve just about had it with everything. What makes a person happy or unhappy? For me, it certainly isn’t money. The richest tycoon in the world might not be happy if he’s alone. It’s supposed to be 94 degrees today. We’ll survive it. What makes people happy is community and togetherness. Something snapped in my brain after the last service I helped with. It was the injustice of the Last Judgment and the whole idea of the Second Coming. Christians actually wish for it to come, but I want life to go on as normal. I think that is the issue that forced me to make a decision. I may be un American in rejecting religion. Dunno. It seems very stupid of us to reject science. A while ago I thought of the struggles of Ayn Rand in this country. She hit a wall with American intellectuals, who were inclined towards mysticism. I should take down my book of her essays and give it a read. Maybe then I won’t feel so alone.
One o’clock. So much ambiguity surrounds certain kinds of morals, yet some people are so complacent in being right. They get the answers from a book or from a church— or from their heart, but everyone’s heart is different. I suppose it’s my having Moon in Scorpio, but I crave a passionate love before I die. Lust is the sin I can’t overcome, ordained by my stars. The world seems to forbid it. Obstacles are everywhere I turn. Still it requires more grit and courage to fulfill my dream. So much for reason and science when I resort to the zodiac for reassurance. My birth at the time that the Sun was in Capricorn and the Moon in Scorpio has resulted in quite a singular personality. Or is this merely a way of shirking responsibility for my identity? Sometimes I wish I knew how to cast a horoscope using an astrolabe and all the traditional tools of the astrologer. But one still has to take free will into consideration. I don’t know. It’s just another strange day in a strange new age.
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?
More sunshine this morning. I still haven’t run my errand to my old junior high school. It can wait. Forty years ago is a long time. Everything will have changed. The only real time machine I know of is alcohol. With sobriety, time moves forward exclusively. I feel kind of tired. I want to be filled with something, probably beer. I think of all my books with a sense of futility. There’s no way I’m going to read them all. Aesop needs wet food, and I want a Coke.
Nine thirty. Karen flagged me down to say that Darlene passed away last night. The funeral is Tuesday, and we are going to it together. I only have to show up at the salon Tuesday at ten o’clock, then we’ll hit the road to Springfield. After the service, Karen and I will have lunch someplace… She thought it was merciful that Darlene won’t have to suffer through another six months. It’s true that her quality of life would have been not so good. I don’t know what else to say about it.
I ran into Melissa at the market. She now works as a personal caregiver, a much better job than making sandwiches at the deli. She told me she has a two year old boy. Life goes on. I felt rather bad earlier this morning for being a logical person, not someone emotionally driven. I’ve been a Vulcan for as long as I can remember. I joked to Cathy in the store that I had calculated the total of my purchases in advance to equal 15 dollars even. Maybe that’s why therapists don’t like me very much. If I resort to astrology, the fact of my rationalism makes sense, for I am a Capricorn. The house directly across from Capricorn is Cancer, and these two signs implicitly understand each other. Heidi is a Cancerian. So was my mother.
Eleven o’clock. It’s a beautiful day, and the birds are singing in response to the sunshine. Nature isn’t aware that Darlene passed away, or if so, it rejoices that she’s in a better place now. For me, it’s kind of a relief knowing that her struggle is over. The sunny day is a reassuring sign that all is well in spite of everything. Life goes on.
Nine o’clock. Went to the store okay. I think Charlie is here. Beth said I’ll be moved in by the 8th for sure. Floors to be done this week. I’m not very convinced. Aesop was happy to get his dry food. I bought a Coke and two cans for lunch and dinner. Hoping for a nice email from Suzanne. But the rest of the day will be pretty dull. I could conceivably take a stroll over to Bi Mart or something, just to look around. Would I be doing that for nostalgia? “Looking back with pain.” It would be a longing for Kate and the beers I used to drink: for pleasure, basically. But the present is not without satisfaction. And the joys I have now are earned by the work I’ve invested myself in. I love to write and make music, even as my horoscope describes. Capricorn is an earth sign, rhythmic and involved with the bones… It’s impossible for me to work and drink in the same week. When I work again, it must be done sober. Alcohol was fun ostensibly but came at a huge price long term. I love having fun, of course. Nothing could ever correct that about me. To call me epicurean would sound too serious and technical. Perhaps “playboy” is more apt? And yet I’m serious about fun. The song in my head is “Missing” by Arcadia. The friend I miss may be alcohol, almost like a human relationship. Kate was wonderful, but not the only fish in the sea. Not the only playmate for me.
Six thirty. Sleepless and dysphoric. Caffeine again. The sunrise should encourage me. Yesterday it was grenadine and worth a picture as I trod towards it, but I’d left my phone at home. My new shoes were heavy on the asphalt, clopping along in rhythm. I’m just a saturnine Capricorn, goat footed and sure on the rocks. The job of the tenth house is to crystallize the mentality instigated by Aries. We bring up the rear, make sense of the times, and immortalize them. I might make a good historian. I was a decent archivist. When my life is incoherent, I take recourse to the stars, resort to my birth chart to reorient myself. I let things drop and just accept what is, because it can’t be otherwise. I feel the need to forgive myself for being me. What else would I do? Distort myself to be somebody’s poster boy? Something tells me I’m doing all right. The day is breaking cloudy with no rain. In a few minutes I’ll tramp over to the market for Aesop’s cans and something for me to drink. I might avoid Coca-Cola this time…
I feel inclined to go back and finish The Prelude. I love Wordsworth’s poetic voice, so pompous and commanding— majestic— in his eloquence, as if truly inspired by an invisible spirit. The breath of heaven, as he calls it. And this literally is the meaning of “inspiration,” a being breathed into. So that, almost, Wordsworth is not the author of his poems, but rather God is, or some lesser angel. In Jungian language, it comes from the collective unconscious, the most impersonal and objective component of the psyche, common to all human beings. Greeks called it the nous, Emerson the oversoul, but these are multiple names for the same thing. One may choose the term they like best.
A moment ago I pondered the stars, considering that there are two approaches to knowing them. One is astronomy, a hard science. The other is to name the constellations the way people have created them, mapping out the human soul on the heavens and worshiping it. My brother scorned the zodiac as stupid, but you know, I can judge that for myself now. It may be my brother who regrets his ignorance of the soul as time ticks down. Eternity is always there, existing outside of time. I pray for my brother to see beyond the physics one day and find the bliss he has missed.