Eight twenty five.
I paid my utility bill this morning. It was very low again due to the summertime. It amazes me that fall is almost here. I’m thankful that people treat me with respect these days, and actually care what I have to say. My relationship with my family is changing for the better. But I still prefer WordPress to Facebook; it seems a more intelligent platform because you have to be able to write… Today I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to be perfect. A song comes to me, “Walking on Air” by King Crimson. It makes me want to learn to play my Stratocaster better. But there’s that pressure again. Maybe I’ll just listen to the CD and admire Adrian Belew. If I do pick up my Strat today, I’ll be languid about it. I won’t expect too much of myself. I want to enjoy the experience and not be frustrated.
Quarter of eleven. I bought some mint ice cream and shared two dollops with Aesop. The conversation at the salon turned political again, accusing the other side of being political and hateful. It was typical redneck philosophy. I didn’t stay very long because I didn’t agree, and it was awkward for me. Under my conservative clothes I’m still an educated person. People can bray their ignorant opinions and I won’t say anything to their face, but as long as this is my domain, I will write about it. The same people are the ones who hate Mexican immigrants and refuse to learn Spanish to accommodate them. It was always an atrocious attitude. We treat nonwhites very shabbily, and at some point justice must be carried. I’m tired of seeing red everywhere I go, and I’m not the only one… Now I want to play my guitar for a while.
Turned to Stone
Humanity with fear is paralyzed,
Unable to enjoy a single pleasure,
Dissatisfied to even shed a tear
As if a Gorgon stared us into stone.
Medusa, hair of snakes, in spirit form
Sends out a signal petrifying all,
Revenge against her slayer Perseus.
But Perseus, the favored of the gods,
Is not asleep, and armed with sword and shield,
Is ready to behead her as before,
Releasing everybody from her spell.
So once again the world is free to feel
The joys and sorrows proper to its kind,
And more important, act accordingly.
Three thirty five. I’m not going to church tonight. I let Pastor know in an email this morning, and then I texted Roxanne. I wonder what the upshot of these times will be to posterity. We who are living through it sit around and scratch our heads. Nothing in our knowledge seems to add up. Our venerable traditions are unequal to the situation we face. I find the apocalypse prophecies especially inadequate, because at bottom, nobody wants to pretend there are righteous and wicked people. The objections I felt to the Last Judgment still stand. This is the real reason why I’m an absentee tonight. If one person goes to heaven, then everybody should go to heaven. But IMO it’s better to dispense with religion entirely and work together to save our natural lives. I like to envision a future of joie de vivre, as in the Picasso painting done after WW2.
Meanwhile, Rush’s “Madrigal” floats back to me, reminding me of a trip my parents took with me up to Victoria, BC. One evening, from the hotel we walked up the street to a restaurant with a glass enclosure where you could watch the chef grilling your steak on a big cauldron. I also remember buying a hotdog on the ferry and having a look around outside the cabin. The ferry was called the Coho, and it was black with red trim. On our second trip to Canada, we left the car in Port Angeles and just walked around Victoria. We may have taken cabs; I don’t recall. We shopped at Eaton’s, and Mom bought a teapot in the gift shop of the hotel. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Who needed heaven when Victoria was just across the water from Washington? I prefer to think that my parents went to Victoria when they passed away…
Near five o’clock. I picked up Hugo and read another 30 pages. The interruptions in the narrative are like Moby Dick, but the story is interesting enough to keep me going. Some of the prose waxes eloquently Romantic, and those passages are fun for me. I’ve read up to the point where Valjean finally meets Cosette for the first time. She is eight years old and a servant at an inn, or chophouse. Her mother, Fantine, has died, leaving her orphaned. The innkeepers are rascals. Hopefully Valjean can alleviate her situation before he is caught again and put back in the galleys. He has hidden his money somewhere in the woods, buried in a cache.
I really don’t like studying the Bible, so I guess that’s why I left Our Redeemer. Also I don’t believe that prayer achieves anything. It’s one thing to think and study, but to put into practice is quite different for me and rather scary. I’m a lot more conscious now than three years ago. I don’t subscribe to having one bible, period. Life is too big and broad to be covered by a single authority. It takes a whole big library to put it in perspective… I don’t have Christian delusions anymore, thanks to my medication. I wonder how my sister would respond to the antipsychotic? She told me once that her body wanted the cigarettes, which I thought was absurd. She was coming from a biblical place in her thinking about addiction. It just sounded crazy. Recently, I was seeing less of a difference between her religion and the Lutherans. Whatever the reason for my departure, it was inevitable.
Quarter of five (morning). I listened to five pieces by Copland and then most of Permanent Waves by Rush. It was all very wonderful. Appalachian Spring was poignant in some places, with touches of great warmth and sympathy in the strings… I don’t know why my sister and I can’t get along. Maybe she needs to keep her opinions to herself. She mustn’t force them on other people. She tried it with me because I’m a nice guy, meek and soft spoken. It is always a violation to try to dominate others. Unfortunately, Polly has only two modes: dominate or submit. She can’t relate to people rationally, adult to adult. And it’s sad because she won’t know the joy of sharing ideas and expanding her knowledge base. Her friendships have always been superficial, never intimate with anyone. She isn’t comfortable that way. Probably she will go to her grave lacking self knowledge.
Quarter after eleven. I avoided the online worship this morning because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. I’m only a humanist, not a holy roller. Every week it feels like I’m getting farther away from their beliefs. And as a humanist, all I see is their humanity, sometimes their inhumanity. The experience of psychosis is extremely unpleasant, and if my sister’s religion comes from the same place, then I cannot understand how she can live that way. It’s enough to say we disagree with each other…
I think a lot of people live with their heads in the Dark Ages. They haven’t seen the light of reason that shines on us like an invisible sun. It’s okay for them, but they ought to keep it to themselves. It’s a little like the difference between spectral Plato and sunny, muscular Aristotle. As if the latter singlehandedly dragged us out of the primordial ooze and still shines in his place for all posterity. The difference between night and day. Between mythology and mathematics. Aristotle is to me the Apollonian archer shooting straight. He is the letter A, while Plato is more akin to Pluto. He gave us logic and science, and vision instead of blindness. Aristotle is the full height of humankind.
Wee hours. I threaded my way through some boxes in the family room in order to get to my big Wordsworth. But now I wonder if reading The Prelude is really beneficial. Maybe the stuff about epistemology is merely self delusion? Is naive realism truly naive? These questions are as difficult as the human mind itself. And again they bring up the conflict between psychology and science. Neither side yields an inch in their struggle against each other. I would argue that science is superior because it has calculus for a method, even though my mathematical ability is poor. Can verbal language ever be as precise as math? The one is qualitative, the other quantitative. Perhaps these two approaches will battle with each other until doomsday. Sure, I can open my Wordsworth to The Prelude for inspiration and enjoy the poetic language, but it may not be constructive in the ordinary sense. It tempts me to write a defense of poetry all over again, as Sidney and Shelley felt compelled to do hundreds of years ago. How does poetry benefit humankind? What is the role of the poet in human life? And, how many poets could I petition to contribute to such a Defense of Poetry? Maybe everyone on WordPress could write a paragraph.
One o’clock. The freedom idea of Sartre’s philosophy is losing its significance for me. I don’t know what I believe right now. Abstractions don’t have much meaning anymore, yet I’m not a scientist either. I’m simply myself. I thought briefly of Sheryl again this morning: her assessment of me was absurd, and I despised her belief in masochism. So leaving her care was the right thing to do two years ago. I’ve learned more about myself just knocking about the community than from talk therapy. The sidewalk is a good teacher, for the beliefs of a neighborhood imbue the very pavement. And the values that emerge always are Christian in some form. It is the great code inherent in everything, and the revealed religion that existed prior to the prophets. Or maybe not, but it’s interesting to consider the Word to be out of our hands. The Hindu tradition likewise erased the footprints of its history, leaving the mists of legend. It makes it appear that the religion was given to humanity by God alone, and not just invented by us. As if scripture were prior to the natural world itself— and how do we know otherwise? The Old Testament dates back to the 1300s before Christ, long before the birth of science. All texts in the present are equally alive, so maybe the fossil record is the hoax of natural history? I’ve had this thought especially when feeling psychotic, but does that disqualify its veracity? I don’t think anybody knows for sure. The sun is shining in the blue sky dotted with little clouds. Imagination can mold clouds into humanly meaningful shapes. It can do the same thing with texts. What matters is the reader’s mind, and the reality that results from interpretation. Wordsworth suggests that people half perceive, half create their experience. I ought to finish reading The Prelude. We hold the right to build castles in the air. Sometimes life depends on the strength of a story.
How many roads… Bob Dylan singing sang
Before an individual springing sprang
From flowing stone he carves into a tree
Sequoia scraper bears the name of ME
Concentric rings for every growing year
A climb to solar heaven leaving fear
To creatures of the forest floor below
That in the umbrage scavenge what they know
Firsthand the redwood gets it from the sun
No mediating journalists may run
Between his branches and the azure ceiling
His intuition keener than a feeling
To manufacture energy from light
His sole creative purpose giving sight
In wooden pages bearing pretty words
The poetry of truth to all affords
I made a post about “God” before going to bed earlier tonight. It was unorthodox but honest, and a few people liked it. Another thought, rather new for me, is to realize that the world still acknowledges America as the greatest country on Earth. For many years I have espoused quite a reverse patriotism. Indeed I rejected the whole thing called nationalism and refused to watch the Olympics and such that fosters pride in your country. Neil Peart: “Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world / Than the pride that divides when a colorful rag is unfurled.” I don’t know when I started feeling this way. Perhaps as early as junior high school, when Mom introduced me to The Beatles and helped me write a paper on the United Kingdom. And then in high school there was a musical phenomenon called New Wave, a second British Invasion. I grew totally enthused with Yes and a lot of other music that was not American. However, I remember now that even my old friend Kate had idealistic notions about America. But what really gives me a lump in my throat is to hear Yes do the song “America” by Simon and Garfunkel! And to think that the band came from across the Atlantic to live in California. “We’ve all come to look for America.” I’m crying right now because it’s only right for America to be reunited with the motherland. I’m not talking about burning American flags and that kind of immaturity, but something much more profound and all embracing. It begins with Europe and America, then expands outward to the rest of the world, this spirit of globalism. This is my big political dream, to see world peace and harmony with no patriotism and no nationalism, no divisions, no borders. Yes performs “America” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiAdSUViGlU
…as I say, brilliantly.
So I think I’m still back where I started from. I’m not a xenophobe, a person who hates foreign people and things. To me, there is nothing foreign. And I wish for a day when the world comes together as one.
Quarter of midnight. I am halfway through the Salinger book. Something about Holden being an ancient, gray haired teenager is symbolic. Also his question of where the ducks go when the lake in Central Park freezes in the winter… It seems impossible to me that I was at Bi Mart 12 hours ago. The trip wasn’t really necessary but I wanted to go for some reason. I went in search of lost time, sort of reeling in the years. The only discovery I made was the natural flora that grows in the community and has always been here. Yellow headed dandelions, for instance. The nature around me reminded me of D.H. Lawrence and took me away from the age of technology and information. And industrialism was exactly what Lawrence kicked about a hundred years ago. He saw it as something that sterilizes human life, makes it dispassionate and inorganic. It’s hard not to agree with him.
Quarter after three. The scene in Sons and Lovers where Mrs Morel takes refuge in the flower garden after a fight with her husband is particularly to the point. Now I wonder what happened to the times of great writers like Lawrence and Joyce. Who will be the next big groundbreaker in letters? Who can do a revival of Modernism and be the new Modern Shakespeare? …Queen’s “Millionaire Waltz” sneaks into my awareness with joy… The revival really depends upon a reconnection with Mother Nature. If we can find her in our hearts and pull the dream out from within, the New Renaissance is accomplished.