For two nights now I’ve skipped my medication, though I couldn’t tell you why exactly. In the middle of the night last night, I dreamed that I met Ron my old supervisor again, and he was quite friendly and benevolent. He sat in a chair with someone else, maybe Sandy or Amy. At first I saw the back of his head, a big round head like a basketball with black hair, and I thought, That’s Ron. It’s interesting how a dream tends to idealize people. Another time I had a dream about Vicky from the little market, in reality a sassy little vixen who lost her job due to her mouth, but my dream made her very pleasant and even nice to be around. I dreamed that she got a better job as a banker or something like that, something more respectable and profitable than store clerk. Thus, what a dream does is to fulfill a wish and make people more or less perfect. The truth about Ron was he was an alcoholic and a few other things not so rosy. Actually, the truth is neither all good nor all bad. It can be tough to choose between real and ideal, or a waking perception and dream. The reality has warts and the ideal has gossamer wings to fly. It makes you wonder how the human mind came to be a colonizer of dreams in one mode and a passive receiver of impressions in the other. And which one is more adaptive and advanced than the other. Probably the opposition of both modes is indispensable for a healthy human mind.
In one of his books, Jung says there are two kinds of thinking, directed and undirected. But I don’t know if he covered the issue of why the unconscious is so romantic or why the ego sees things mostly as they are. Freud may be more specific on this point, though he saw it all as biology and the drive to survive and reproduce.
Tonight I’ll probably take my medication again although I hate how it blocks my emotions and feelings and dreams, the stuff that makes people human and life worthwhile, depending on your values. It’s like a shotgun approach to blocking the delusions associated with schizophrenia, and it works a little too well. Kind of like feast or famine, and never a perfect balance of reason and imagination. Indeed I think the majority of people are emotional thinkers, and maybe that’s why their judgment is unrealistic usually. I think Jane Austen describes it very well in a fiction like Sense and Sensibility. Marianne is the sister full of passion, but her perceptions are often inaccurate for that reason. I think Austen favors Elinor for her level judgment and common sense. The other one jumps to extremes and categorically blesses or condemns the people she meets. All in all, the book is like a study in cognitive therapy.
My friend in Texas lost someone close to her yesterday evening. In general, no one seems really ecstatic with their life right now. But when I went to the store yesterday afternoon I caught sight of Deb, who apparently had recovered from surgery recently. She looks good. I didn’t have a chance to talk with her because she was talking to someone else and I didn’t want to interrupt. Today it’s sunny and the sky is more white than blue. For a long time we hardly saw the sun at all. I am thinking, what usually happens in the middle of April? We already had Easter. In May there’s the Mexican Independence Day, and Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are not far off… I feel pretty tired and it’s getting to be a par for the course, so I cut myself a little slack for being older. One of the doves outdoors calls in a hoarse hooting: do the mourning doves mean anything symbolic? They’ve been hanging out here for a decade. Any meaning I attach to them is imaginative. Carl Jung said to a client, “Here is your scarab.” It was a little beetle rapping at the window while the client had been talking of a scarab. There are different ways to interpret this. I don’t usually go for mysticism, though I know Jung still has a huge following. Psychology as a social science leaves me kind of cold. For a while, though, I was an avid fan of fairytales and folklore, right after I became ill long ago… I don’t know if the doves symbolize something or not. It probably depends on whom you ask.
Sometimes I’d like to revive old memories and live in the past, but the present is a hard fact to try to deny. Things could be better than they are, but they can also be a lot worse. Make the best of the status quo, I guess. My main complaint is how lonely I feel without my parents and old friends; even my brother and the psychiatrist I fired. I didn’t go to church today. I can’t relate to those people very well anymore because I’ve lost my faith in the Christian tradition. My faith was always pretty flimsy anyway.
A lot of people still swear by Carl Jung. I looked on Amazon the other night and his Red Book and Black Books had five star ratings. People must see something in him that I miss. It sounds like a bunch of quackery to me, and smoke and mirrors. It’s like waiting all night on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to show up, and nothing ever happens. No sound of reindeer hoofs on the rooftop, no jingle of the sleigh. Nothing at all. The desire to believe can be very strong, but reality still doesn’t budge.
At least, they call us psychotic if reality does yield to our wishes. I have personal experience with this. So they put us on drugs to block the experience of religious things like the Resurrection, etc etc. And they call it a disease. But when the world is delusional with the same stuff, the diagnosis is much trickier. It gives me nausea and a headache.
Four twenty five AM.
A solo on the Stick called “Soliloquy” by Larry Tuttle has haunted me for the past week, even though I don’t play that instrument. Thus it means something symbolic and deeper than the literal dimension. I intended to read “Alastor” by Shelley again but so far it hasn’t gotten done. As I was just waking up I thought of the snake eating its tail, a symbol of eternity, no beginning or end. The small hours of the night are a time of limbo without a sun to give it temporal reference. The black night outside offers no consolation but a dubious companionship— and here comes my dog, who heard me sneeze. And this detail does add a sense of grounding and being supported in spacetime. Perhaps it takes two perspectives shared to create reality, regardless that Aesop is not human. The clock meanwhile advances at a creeping pace. “I’ve been waiting for the hands to move / Time moves so slow / How come 24 hours / Somehow seems to slip into day? / A minute seems like a lifetime / Baby when I feel this way.” I think of the Jungian world clock, something from a dream; and the number 12 is the most perfect because it’s the product of 3 x 4. On the other hand, maybe Jung only jerked our leg, and it’s the commonplace that really has any meaning? Still, Ouroboros the serpent swallows its tail during this timeless time, looking a bit like the world in embryo…
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.