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…

Friday Night

Quarter of three. Emotional experience can be a great thing, but using emotions as a guide leads me back to paranoia. And paranoid delusions are not fun. So that schizophrenia is exaggerated emotional reasoning, and everything that cognitive therapy is not…. My bass practice went better today. I played harder this time. More like rock and roll. I just remembered what a great player I was in 2002 with Blueface. I was a drunken animal, but a serious musician. Today, I’ve been trained out of psychosis and drunkenness, so I experience music differently. I’m not even emotional anymore. I’m more or less “normal.” Certainly not the superman I used to think I was.

Quarter of five. It’s been sunny and warm all day today. It will stay light out for another four hours. I like this much better than the gloom of December and January.

Six o’clock. Now I just wonder how emotionalism as a mode of thinking gets started. It could be our natural state, but we’ll never know because from the crib we’re always surrounded by people. Jungian psychology assumes that being in accord with instincts is healthy for human beings. But my personal experience has suggested just the opposite: it fans the flames of psychosis. The only therapy that helps me is CBT, whether we call it inspired by the Enlightenment or science or whatever notwithstanding. It works.

Eleven o’clock. Postscript. How do we know what is instinctive for humanity? Perhaps emotionalism is less natural than reason and sense information?

Revival

Six o’clock. Damien was here and we talked after he was done. At the same time that he was working, the mail carrier brought my Goethe book and left it on the porch. Things were kind of coordinated this afternoon, like synchronicity. I opened the package and sat down with the book, examining the quality of the translations and editing. It is a thing of beauty. The Introduction looks very well done. I wonder if my malaise is caused more by the lockdown and loneliness than medication issues? I’ve been going stir crazy, so restless for people to talk with. Damien is a smart guy who builds race cars. He described me as being a bit out there, like himself. He said that most people in his age group have no clue. Said he was in deep with economics. He strikes me as a person with keen insight into the way of the world… The splendor of the new Goethe book rekindles the enthusiasm I had for books in 1994. When I turned it to the opening pages of Faust, I saw a resemblance to my own life and personality. The thirst for perfect wisdom has motivated me since my illness set in. Today, in the luscious spring sunshine, I’ve had an awakening, a revival of my college experience. There’s no one else to quash it, either.

Once and Future

Ten o’clock. It was April when I started my first recovery, in 2003. Some of my memories of the time are positive. I was 36 years old, so I felt a lot younger and more resilient. On Labor Day of that year, I loaded my 83 Fender P Bass in the back of my truck and headed out to meet JP and Dave for the first time. It was a beautiful afternoon. We hit it off pretty well right away. Dave played guitar and JP was on drums while I plugged in my bass and did my best. I still have the cassette tapes of our jams. They were quite good, actually. JP kept my want ad from a few months before and called me out of the blue. I don’t know that it was an act of God or anything like that, but it worked out well for a while. Looking back, I can see how my paranoia was a problem. I would have benefited from cognitive therapy at the time. As it was, my sensations were very raw and in the prime of youth. A good feeling was a good feeling, period. I felt before I thought. I trusted intuition, like any Romantic. And really, there were many of us Jungians running around town in 2003. What was wrong with that? I lived that way for the whole decade. Everything felt so much fresher that way. Colors were more vivid and vital, and I could really smell the seasons year by year. Smell the sunshine, smell the rain. It makes me want to throw off the yoke of cognitive therapy and regress to the way I used to know. If only it could be so. This afternoon I’m going to play my new Fender bass and listen for echoes of how it used to be— tomorrow…

Bartok

Six o’clock. I feel agitated and can’t relax very well. Can’t convince myself that I’m in charge of my life. If this house is really mine, then why aren’t I free to come and go? The lockdown is getting me down. But the danger is also from within, for I fear a relapse into drinking. Any way I could relax would be welcome, but I’m afraid that my brain desires alcohol. In that case, I’m at war with myself until my support network is back in place. And this of course is my church, Our Redeemer Lutheran. Possibly the best thing to do is to listen to some music. Soothing classical music would be very nice. I found a Cd of Bartok’s string quartets that I never realized I had. This new music could help me restructure my mind for the present day. I’m very curious about it now.

Eight o’clock. The Bartok was great! I only listened to the first disc of two. I liked the No. 3 string quartet the best. After some incubation, a little of the music should swim back to me and keep me company. While I was listening, I thought a bit about theories of the unconscious and other ideas that were around when Modern art was made. Jungian psychology encouraged composers to dig deeper into the human soul, and lately I’ve been missing this depth. The experience of music brings the unconscious to life for me. Human life is supposed to be organic and whole, not chopped up and mechanical. People need things like fairytales and ballets to keep the soul alive. And there’s something more to nature than just morality. Romantic and Modern art express the very sap, the blood of nature and life. Art breathes just as trees and people do. It does more than educate: it gives pleasure and satisfaction. It makes you feel good.