Oxymorons

Eleven o’clock.

Well now I’m getting lonely for someone to talk to. I had my lunch already because I was ravenous as a side effect of my medication. I’m also kind of dopey from the same thing. Maybe I’ll make another trip to the store just to see some people today. “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do…” There’s nothing on my slate really until church on Sunday. Some people charge their battery by spending time alone, but I’m just the opposite. It might be okay to read a book, however. Goethe sounds good right now. Maybe it will inspire me with a new idea.

Four fifty. I went to see Karen about getting a haircut tomorrow morning. She caught me up on what has been going on in her world. It sounds like some of her former employees have stabbed her in the back and been dishonest with her. I don’t want to be involved in any cat fights among these people; I only wanted to get a haircut. The stories I’m hearing are all very irrational and even crazy, and they would be avoidable if those people used more sense… I guess that’s why I usually stay away from the salon these days. I really don’t like insanity. Perhaps this makes me a walking oxymoron, to be a schizophrenic person with a great deal of reason and sense. It is a paradox. But it’s sad to see others who are less fortunate struggling to keep afloat on tides of lunacy and heartbreak, clinging to a spiritual life preserver that is not watertight, repeating the same mistakes and bad decisions time and again.

Six thirty. At the store, the radio was playing “One,” the same song I quoted earlier today, as by a fluke of meaningful coincidence; but which was it, fluky or meaningful? Maybe it depends on what you pay attention to. Human experience is full of maybes, but also little miracles if you are watchful for them. Someday this house of cards may collapse to expose the City of God that dwells in and behind it, of which we’d only caught glimpses in the cracks before. 

Lost Illusions

Eleven forty.

I used to be better at perceiving subtexts in everyday speech than I am now, for a couple of reasons. One is that I take a good medication for weeding out nonsense. Secondly, I realize that most people don’t employ Freud’s techniques of dream analysis anymore, because truly they get things out of context like a person with schizophrenia. Nor does anyone read the fiction of Henry James these days, which was from the same Victorian era of innuendo and suggestion… I get so tired of my uphill fight every day. I’d much rather make myself disappear in a state of drunkenness… and for some reason I just remembered a tale from the Arabian Nights: “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad.” Thirty years ago when I first fell ill, the idea of The 1001 Nights represented to my mind a kind of secret knowledge encrypted in symbolism.

Quarter after seven. In a way, I was actually kind of right about that. Much of the Nights is fairytales and folklore that can be analyzed in a psychological way. But if I were to read something like “The Ebony Horse” again, the unconscious content would probably be lost to me. Just out of curiosity I should try it. It’s possible that the thing we call the “unconscious” is really just a fiction and a sort of swindle created by people like Freud and Jung in the past century. I’m not usually a cynical thinker, however… Well it’s the next morning and I should go to the store before my appointment with Rebecca.

Eight thirty. Right now I miss my mode of thought from working days about 15 years ago. I met with my coworker Alice a few times at a Mexican restaurant called Mucho Gusto in the Oakway Center and we’d talk about my job and my future. Those late mornings were often beautiful, and once we walked over to Borders Books and Music for a look around… My mentality then was more Jungian, but now I see that it wasn’t well suited to reality and social interaction. Kind of like going around in a perpetual dream state, which though pleasant was not realistic or practical. I think it’s better to be able to communicate with other people and be understood. If the unconscious is indeed a fact, then right now the truth of it is unavailable to me, perhaps sadly. So I might verse myself again in Arabian tales and the Brothers Grimm to enrich my experience of life and feel something larger than my ego; to feel something period. It’s another nice day in July, a day to be enjoyed. 

Crossing the Bridge

I noodled about on my bass guitars this afternoon; no guitar today, and I missed doing that. But I was kind of tired. The Nietzsche I’d read was infectious and put me in a different state of mind: quite proud and narcissistic to an unrealistic degree, a mode of creativity and not necessarily very technical or analytical. And, as opposed to objective, it was very subjective and emotional. Overall it was a Dionysian mood rather than Apollonian, and to understand this distinction you almost have to read Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. But I think this mentality is useful for my project of guitar playing, if I can access it at will. How strange that would be! Picking and choosing the bucket of information in my mind, like when I read the French language again. Possibly I’ve been trying to do this deliberately to cross the bridge to another reality in my brain’s experience. It’s like shifting from the left side to the right side of the brain, which I hadn’t done for a couple of decades. I imagine there’s a whole personality associated with those schemata, those sets of ideas in my consciousness. And I’ve been trying to jar the information loose by the reading I’ve been doing. An old song by Jefferson Airplane comes to mind: “Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall…” I don’t know why. But it’s about encountering a different world, like attaining to the Sublime, or simply uniting two halves of the same person. The city mouse and the country mouse.

Now I think Nietzsche must have been a pretty amazing person. Another thinker who tapped the right brain was Carl Jung, as you can see from his dream interpretations, striving for wholeness, and his principle of synchronicity. I always thought my mother dwelt in her right mind, because her language was so irrational from a certain point of view, and also she held the phone receiver to her left ear instead of to the right, for processing by the right hemisphere. When I was a child, I grew up learning to think like my mother. This changed only after my first three years in college, where I became a rational thinker.

Home Quiet

Eight thirty five.

The trees have all changed color for the fall. I saw two skirting the market parking lot with burgundy leaves. On my own street, I turned and gave a backward look: much red and gold on either side. In addition, the leaves are well into the process of falling. It’s predicted to rain early this afternoon, continuing into the night. I plan on going to Bi Mart after one thirty today, but I think I’ll call a taxi. Round trip should cost about twenty dollars. That’s what money is for. If you don’t spend it, then it just sits there useless. In itself, money is a valueless fiction. I noticed a new publication on Amazon this morning: the Black Books of C.G. Jung. I felt tempted, but then I remembered why I’m leery of his stuff. He tends to be ethnocentric. For this reason, I always prefer the mysticism of American writers, specifically Emerson. He was passionately abolitionist at a time (the Civil War) when it really counted. Emerson also could be humble in his quest for wisdom, always open to new possibilities and input from people.

Nine twenty five. It definitely felt like rain on my hike to the store. The gray clouds boiled and swirled overhead. There isn’t much light outside for the overcast. It’s the kind of day for staying home and being quiet. Tomorrow I have physical therapy again, with Erin. I neither dread nor anticipate the session. I had some strange dreams last night, inspired by a book I almost bought. Because they were unpleasant, I canceled my order when I got up today. I met with nobody when I made my trip. At eight o’clock in the morning, it’s a ghost town. But I did see a handful of cars at the espresso shack drive thru. There were a few signs of life. And then there was Vicki… 

Paradigms

Two twenty five. I forget why I started reading the Sartre play yesterday. It isn’t very life affirming or romantic. The situations are extreme and no fun at all. People are popping each other off right and left. I don’t think I’ll finish it. Too grim, like Norman Mailer or something. I might take a nap now. I didn’t sleep very much last night.

Four thirty. Until I was about 24 years old, I never had any Romantic thoughts. That was when I was introduced to Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous, and the effect of those doctrines was not healthy for me. But once I had discovered his theories, I was stuck with Jung for another 20 years. Finally I took cognitive therapy seriously and began to apply it to my life. My mind had been in the habit of “splitting” everything into dichotomies, or pairs of contraries, like Aristotle with the law of excluded middle, only much worse. I was 39 years old when this was happening. After I turned 40 I began looking for the shades of gray. I learned that predicting the future was impossible, and how to avoid magnification and personalization. Eventually I mastered all of the cognitive distortions. Now it seems I’m sort of waiting around for the next movement in psychology. Something will doubtless come along. Hopefully it’ll be more accurate than the previous two trends. I heard some talk of phenomenology being absorbed into psychology two years ago, something along the lines of Sartre and existential psychoanalysis. There are no new ideas, just new terminology for the old ones. I guess I’ll finish that Sartre play now.

The Muse Returns

Wee hours. I love El Salon Mexico! Hearing it in my head is pure bliss. Copland is one of the great composers, and so North American. Sometimes music comes my way like a coquette, and other times she gives me the cold shoulder. Such is the muse of inspiration when you are past your prime. In her absence you fill the gaps with reason and ordinariness until she comes again, a moonlit goddess, Diana herself. Why didn’t the Greeks make Artemis the goddess of music as well as the moon? Instead, Apollo was assigned the job of both sunshine and music. Perhaps like Midas I have donkey ears, being unable to judge between Apollo and Pan in a music contest. And what is wrong with the pipes of Pan?… My ad on Craigslist has attracted one bite so far. Very good news. And maybe my coy mistress, music, will visit me again and take me for a Jungian ride as she did in my thirties. Or will it be an Emersonian ride, something all American and proud of it?

Friday Evening

It always appalls me how people fail to understand simple determinism. Material causes and effects go on around us all the time, and our minds are subject to the same thing. People seem to believe that magic works. No, I won’t go to church Sunday because I don’t believe in the prayers of intercession. What is there to intercede, and how does it do so? It’s just a trick of the imagination. Every clan of people has a witch doctor of some sort and a belief in magic. I just don’t trust religion to solve our problems, though it’s a huge institution… a huge illusion. I can understand how Ayn Rand felt about superstition, and her reaction to the intellectual trend of her day. And I agreed with her for my first two years in college. Her philosophy was built on science mostly. On certainty. Objective reality was absolutely real and true, and that was the starting point of Objectivism.

Four thirty five. Waiting for the mail now. My life was a wild ride after my parents passed away. Too much religion in the world around me, rank superstition. Right now I don’t believe in Jung or Campbell, or anything based on human subjectivity. We are not such stuff as dreams are made on. But this opinion is rather unpopular these days, when people relate to the world from their emotions instead of from reason and science.

Quarter after nine. It could be that Ayn Rand excludes religious feeling from her philosophy due to the country that she emigrated from, Soviet Russia, where people were expected to worship no god but Communism. She arrived in the USA a stranger to religious freedom and remained that way all her life. I guess I can identify with her because my parents lived without religion one hundred percent. Until I was 24 years old I was an unbeliever, so it makes me wonder why I started having mythological delusions at that time. My old psychiatrist used to assert that there was nothing significant about this condition. Interestingly, his father also came from Russia, the same godless place… For a long time, my parents and everyone I knew were agnostic. I had one Christian friend who found himself in the same network of friends. Now it’s all backwards for me: I don’t know anyone who’s not religious. My milieu has changed completely, partly because I don’t use alcohol anymore. And this is its own kind of cause and effect.

Twilight Zone

Ten ten. I caught myself inclined to a delusion, a fallacious thought. At the store, there were three vagrants hanging out against the storefront. I passed them and then let Vicki know that she had loiterers outside. Time went by, and at home, I went into the kitchen and found about a score of black ants by the sink basin. My delusion said the ants were bad karmic fruits for having informed on the vagrants. But it was a fallacy because the ants were already there before I went to the store; I simply didn’t know about them. I think that a lot of karmic ideas are based on a failure to be objective. I doubt if there exist moral causes and effects at all. The only causation is material and physical, like dominoes; and this process goes on whether you’re looking at it or not. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head, yet we infer that the objective world exists around us. If we didn’t, no one could cross the street safely or drive a car with good judgment. Of course reality exists when we’re not looking at it, and time is a constant for all phenomena going on around us… Sue from church just called and asked me if I would come to worship on the 14th. I said sure. She was taking a count of people so we can plan the event. We’ll be doing this sooner than other churches, for whom it won’t be until July. She called just as I was writing about the fallacy of karma and excessive subjectivity: is that synchronicity or was I right about time and objectivity? Enter the Twilight Zone music…

Another Letter

Eugene has a large hippie population that gets into The Grateful Dead, Khalil Gibran, and The Celestine Prophecy. I even met a woman named Celestine. But no, I haven’t been lured in to read it myself, mostly because here it is such a cliche. I don’t care much for hippies, and they don’t care for me either. Their little culture is very exclusive, and if you possess anything of value, they look upon you with scorn. Remember that Ken Kesey lived in my area, that is, Springfield, the sister city to Eugene. He and his Merry Pranksters were disrespectful of anyone’s property, and would either steal it or destroy it given the chance. These people took over the stage at one of my disco gigs. It was the CD release party at the Hilton, New Year’s Eve 1998. Kesey at midnight strode in and sang Auld Lang Syne. Chris saw him coming with his Pranksters and told me to hold onto my bass. It was an unlikely meeting of disco and hippies, since the attitude of the former is quite materialistic and greedy. More fitting to call it a crashing by the latter. I was only a thirty year old babe in the woods, sheltered at home with my parents. Looking back, the sociopolitical scene becomes very clear, while at the time I was clueless. So I guess The Celestine Prophecy wouldn’t be high on my list.

Inadvertently, however, I went through a long phase of Carl Jung, and his influence is strong on the Eugene Downtown community. Or it was, anyway, until cognitive behavioral therapy pushed the Jungians to the margin. As of August 2009, the Friends of CG Jung Library still operated Downtown. I never did go there to look around, but a counselor recommended it to me. Now, the place seems to be defunct, and the person who maintained it only does the Jungian thing out of her house. The AA people used to be very enthusiastic about Jung, but today I don’t know any AA members at all, except for Pastor Joe from the church. Evidence based psychology has done rather a hostile takeover in Eugene, as I’ve been awake enough to witness over the past two decades. My personal phase of Carl Jung happened in the 1990s mostly, and continued into the 2000 decade, finally replaced by CBT when I met Kate in 2011.

It’s kind of fascinating to survey all these trends in people’s thinking and behavior, and how it all relates to socioeconomics in a given region. I doubt if disco is still a big thing in the area. Retro was a phenomenon of the 90s.

Tardes de Miercoles

Quarter after one. I was going to ponder intuition as a method for gathering information, but I don’t know where to look for precedents except for Poe and Emerson, where my interest was first sparked. I could search engine for ideas, but I think I’d turn up a lot of scholarly articles, even some that are pay per view.

Three o’clock. I guess Jennifer did pass away. Lenore received two baskets of sympathy flowers. The delivery driver tried to leave them with me because Lenore was not home. Her boss at Kirkland Flowers said it was okay to leave them on her front porch in the shade. Is it only a coincidence that my sister used to work for Kirkland? It’s a beautiful June afternoon, like one I recall 18 years ago. At that time, my mind was not conditioned by evidence based therapy. It was more Jungian and traditional, and less filtered by logic. Dunno; it was just odd to hear the doorbell ring and see this young girl with flowers for Lenore. She drove all the way from Springfield, and my imagination supplied the rest, creating a synchronicity that may or may not be accurate. Ultimately, one chooses to believe or disbelieve, but for now I’m undecided…