It is odd how people come and go, even me. Everything changes over time, and we go where it benefits us to go. The hardest thing to face is the essential solitude of every human life, and yet the aloneness creates our freedom. I can see Teri’s face in my mind’s eye, the receptionist for the agency. This somehow becomes symbolic of my fortunes since the time of the pandemic. The church pastor flipped his wig and preached about demonic possession in the same breath as mental illness, which was a very serious mistake as far as I was concerned. After the memorial service for my friend was such a disaster, my mind was made up to walk away from Our Redeemer. Pastor’s misconceptions are incorrigible, unfortunately, and he won’t listen to anyone else. I believe they stem from a phobia of biology and the facts of science, which seem to pose a threat to his ironclad spiritualism. Indeed, this would put him in a very difficult position regarding theology and philosophy, an unavoidable contradiction. So his only recourse is to stick his head in the sand and deny the truth that consciousness comes from brain function. I find it ironic that Pastor’s phobia is the very contrary of Freud’s alleged phobia of metaphysics. This accusation came from Carl Jung after the two friends split over the disagreement.
Quarter of six.
Today I get to stay home and relax and rest up before Gloria comes again Saturday morning. The freedom I’d desired for such a long time was actually freedom from the church. Thank goodness I’m no longer involved with organized religion, and the only “spiritual leader” is myself. In my journal I compared my mental strife with religion to a great whirlpool like the one in Poe’s “Descent into the Maelstrom,” and like the old man, I was jettisoned out of it safe and unscathed. Yesterday I read in Carl Jung where he said that human naturalism is a dangerous thing, as we see from the brutality and decadence of the Roman Empire, but I’m not buying it. He also said he didn’t care for rationalism, and the Enlightenment was a fraud. Now I’m convinced to go back to reading Bertrand Russell. The comment from Jung about human nature is similar to Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan: without the restraint of a strong Christian government we’d be at each other’s throats. But there’s no way to prove the state of nature for human beings. Stripped of all civilization, what might a person do? Go out for ice cream?
Quarter of seven. The day is coming on slate blue. I don’t need to go shopping until later today. Life is pretty good to me, so no need to question it.
Wee hours Sunday.
While I was reading Twain yesterday I came across a passage where Hank Morgan claims that there is no nature, and everything that makes us human is the product of “training.” So then I put this together with Twain’s general concern with freedom, also comparing it to the blank slate theory of John Locke and the rejection of human nature by Sartre. The idea is that Jungian archetypes and instincts predispose people in particular ways, which means people are subject to fate. But when you eliminate heredity of these things and subscribe to the tabula rasa, it renders the individual totally free to create his own essence. What is exciting about this is that Twain discovered the concept fifty years before Sartre, but Locke and the Enlightenment came before even Mark Twain. I suppose freedom as an abstract exists in the air and pops up occasionally here and there or is diffused from place to place by word of mouth. Twain further says that freedom always begins in blood, as with the French Revolution, although the author and the narrator are two different people. Is freedom attainable by a peaceful means? Surely personal happiness is possible, but not without taking some risks. Like Huck Finn and Lt Henry, we take our chances on the river if we want to be free, and farewell to Jungian psychology.
The title theme to Untamed World, a tv show from the late Sixties, returns to my mind like it was yesterday night. This is what reading Jung can do to me, though it doesn’t feel bad to bring back the archaic, both in macrocosm and microcosm, like the tadpole to the frog. I suppose the psyche does contain all of evolution in itself, as the embryo of a chicken looks no different from a human embryo. My dog just lapped his water down to the bottom of the dish and poked about in his dry food: animal logic is not far removed from that of people… And yet progress of the individual is good, and the idea we call freedom of the will. I guess the question may be, Towards what does the individual person progress? You leave your mark on history and politics, hopefully to push the envelope of freedom and justice a little further. This is the spirit; then when everything is done, the materials of your body are recycled in the circle of life. It is the whim of fate whether your words are remembered, to say nothing of your deeds. So what is the point of it all? “Rejoice, rejoice / We have no choice / But to carry on.” And not to forget that love is coming.
Nine o five.
Just when I think I’ve succeeded in being independent and free, I rediscover the truths of psychoanalysis. I read somewhere in Joseph Campbell that higher education is like a nurturing mother on which some students try to depend forever. Taking a step further, my obsession with books suggests a very similar thing: dependence on the mother. Now I wonder why this is. Could it be that my real mother was an inadequate parent, leaving me still needy and unprepared for life in the world? This situation can conceivably produce both schizophrenia and alcoholism in a grownup child. But psychoanalysis doesn’t indicate a prognosis and course of treatment other than mass doses of psychotherapy. It seems to me that a person who has the illness, if she is insightful, must undertake her own healing process and not rely on healthcare professionals. I guess that’s what journaling is for… I once had a copy of Symbols of Transformation by Jung, his first really independent study, marking his break with Freud. Sometimes I feel that my life experience lacks depth and quality of feeling. I’m actually torn between two directions, to climb higher or to dive deeper. This is the condition of the Capricorn sea goat, if I put any faith in the zodiac. The danger of depth psychology is getting the bends and not knowing up from down.
Ten twenty. I’m just enough of a weirdo to buy a new copy of the Jung book. As if in reply, the same smoke detector just started pipping at me again in the hallway… I’m looking into Jung because I want to, not because I was forced. Probably I shunned him for so long due to forcible indoctrination, but that’s over with and now I’m coming back around.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.