Thursday Thoughts

Nine o’clock. Today is starting out rather blah. I read that 2020 was the hottest September ever on record, and a clear sign of rapid global warming. I don’t know what to add to this.

Quarter of eleven. My next appointment for physical therapy is Monday at five o’clock. It’s only 1.3 miles away, so I’m thinking I might hoof it rather than take a taxi. According to the maps, it’s exactly a mile to Bi Mart from my house. At 9am it was 44 degrees outside, which was colder than I expected. But I still went to the store without a coat. The sun wants to come out. I’ve been thinking about the cultural differences between Europe and America, and how I decided to plug into my own nationality over three years ago. Was it a choice or was it necessity? I can’t figure out which place is more of an island, the United States or the one across the pond. However, I tend to agree with them that we’ve lost our minds over here. My America is in the grip of a sickness, sort of like what happened to Thomas Mann’s Europe a hundred years ago. We are all in an Alpine sanatorium, trying to get well from our disease— of racism and other injustices. Some people refuse to see it as it is. Even my sister is a white supremacist. It’s a disease that will consume us and spell our doom unless we get wise very suddenly.

Noon hour. I found some little black ants on the kitchen counter, so I did what I could to deter them. They hate white vinegar, and will usually go away if you sprinkle some around where they hang out. The partly cloudy sky is cerulean as it’s supposed to be, though I know the wildfires are still not totally extinguished. Karen’s friend Jean is very unwell with shingles. She showed me two pictures of her face, taken when she came to the salon. Dunno; the news today is a mixed bag of good and bad. I wish I could make the bad go away by drowning it with beer, but then life is supposed to be a problem, a series of hurdles to jump. I can’t imagine being a prehistoric man, fighting tooth and nail for his survival every day from dawn to dusk. We still have our struggles, but they have just gotten more complex, possibly more sublimated and psychological. I wonder how a thing like money was invented. Capitalism is simply a sublimation of the primitive fight to stay alive. Our imagination hasn’t progressed all that much; life is still a competition for food, clothing, and shelter. And then there is the Western religious tradition, which seeks to reverse the primitivism through loving and giving. This impulse to altruism marks humanity apart from the natural Darwinian world… I wonder when the next food pantry takes place? 

Voice of Reason

Five o’clock. I ordered two more books by Ayn Rand, but direct from the publisher rather than from Amazon. Free shipping. One title, The Voice of Reason, reminds me of a coworker I once knew named Raejean. I don’t know if she ever read the book, but I think it’s possible because she used the phrase to me in a conversation. She was kind of a Vulcan, but for a few years, so was I. I wore an engraved dog tag that said “Reason” around my neck. I had a little obsession with the idea of “practical reason,” a term I borrowed from Aristotle, for as long as I was working. I converted myself into a robot and worked my job for as many years as I could. The abstraction of Reason was my totem every day until it broke down. Maybe it would have kept going were it not for my growing addiction to alcohol. Being a machine was okay with me up to a point. But eventually I wanted my freedom of thought restored to me. Or maybe I only wanted to drink my life away? I wonder if I’ll ever want to be a robot again. While it lasted, being a cog in the machine wasn’t so bad. It gave me a paycheck every two weeks, and I had a vehicle to drive around. The best part of it was that I could eat all the fast food I wanted. I was a frequent flyer at Carl’s Jr. They had one burrito item, grilled chicken seasoned with cumin, that I was crazy about… Perhaps it was just the alcohol that sabotaged my working life. How can I prevent this from happening if I decide to work again?

Vocations

One ten. I commented on a blogger’s post a bit about industrialism gone wrong. Dr T— and my sister shared the view that everyone must work at jobs we hate in order to be worthy people. His work ethic was best expressed in Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Supposedly, it doesn’t matter what job you do as long as you do it with quality. I couldn’t disagree more. Of course it matters what you do for a career! Every human being is born to be something. It’s just that in a capitalist system, people are pressured to give up their natural vocation for the sake of making money. I loathe Robert Pirsig’s book. Instead, take a look at Ayn Rand’s Anthem, where the nameless but numbered protagonist is elected to be the city street sweeper. Eventually by thinking outside of the box he revives the wisdom of antiquity and names himself Prometheus… There has been method in my madness from around the time I read The Fountainhead thirty three years ago. By an extended effort of sheer will, Howard Roark pushes through his dream of being an architect, and does it all his own way. So I still believe in big dreams, and I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way, because nature has a purpose for every one of us. The key to success is persistence. Never give up. The way nature works, every sentient being is born with a dream, however our capitalist society may try to crush it. Or maybe the problem is not the system of government, but the way people perceive it as inevitable…

Ode to Coke

Ten o’clock. Coca-Cola is the ultimate Western drink. How many thousand Cokes did I swill down when I worked at Sweep? It is the essence of the workplace. It sparkles with Aristotle and Ayn Rand, the rationalism of the nation. It is not the One without a second, but is very dualism itself. Something about those kola nuts… and the caffeine keeps you awake at night. Dave the repair tech cracked to me, “Drinking on the job again?” I had a one liter going. What else can I say about Coca-Cola? The stuff of smiles and keeping the world company. Harmonic convergence at Christmas time. As American as the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder. Polar bears and Santa Claus. Coke is the unknown ideal. Knock one back and count those twenties. Laugh all the way to the bank. Where arithmetic is addiction. Nothing like shanti, or the peace that passes understanding. Not one iota like God. Except for “in God we trust” and the eye in the pyramid. E pluribus unum. Coke: catch the wave…