Wrangling Visions

I haven’t done any reading for a week or so. It would be easy to read a little more of Whitman, and yet it’s quite a labor for me afterwards trying to process it. Even my subconscious mind works on it like some kind of puzzle, creating weird dreams and thoughts. If I could ask Harold Bloom about his ideas as a critic and so forth, I would. It’s a complicated situation for me because I was never able to go back to college, so I feel exiled from the university and the campus; and also, Bloom happens to be dead. Thus, the answers to my questions are securely locked away in the mind of the Sphinx, forever a mystery. Time rolls on and everything will be forgotten, surrounded on every side by millions of years. I’m actually getting this idea from Sandburg’s poetry as well. His message is quite different from Whitman’s, by saying the past is a bucket of ashes and the future equally insignificant. Whitman claims he will be immortal through fame and his body’s atoms will continue to be cycled through nature after his death. It’s almost as if Sandburg scratched out what Whitman said about everlasting life.
I don’t know which attitude I like better, let alone which is the truth. I think Sandburg is pessimistic. But, he makes a point that is nearly indisputable in the wake of Whitman’s attempt at self deification. Both visions are very powerful and hard to reduce. They oppose each other, even though Sandburg admired the other poet.
Therefore I’ve been trying to figure out my readings in two different books.
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Human

Eight ten.

The sky was beautiful ninety minutes ago: partly cloudy with shades of lavender and rose. I must have been only half awake for my daily pilgrimage to Maxwell Road. “So breathe in deep / You’re not asleep / Open your mind.” Carl Sandburg wrote that nobody will be remembered in ten thousand years. On either side of us there’s a stretch of ten thousand years, a thought to humble the reader. Will anyone recall Moses in so many years? Chances are that no humans will exist to do the remembering… It angers me when some people pretend that “God” is on their side, making them superhuman. It’s even worse when they say their way is the only way and try to mess up your projects. These people should try being human for a change. Unless their blood is green, they are ordinary like you and me. Is it just an American thing? On this side of the Atlantic, people are put on the spot for their religious beliefs, but over there it’s no big deal… I daresay that when people no longer exist, then their god will perish as well.

Bucket of Ashes

Seven thirty.

It is just now sunrise. Another four days have gone by, which means I have to buy dog food again. At eight o’clock I’ll head out. As I said before, I no longer need a disguise. I’m a decent bass player but I’m not a rockstar; just a guy who has a skill. For our next practice I’ll use my kit bass, the one I built myself.

Eight forty. It’s super cold outside. A few other customers were ahead of me in line at checkout. I thought a little ruefully about the past, before the market became more sophisticated and mass production. It seems less personal this way, with computerized registers and the surveillance system, and the staff having to watch what they say. Less personal and less romantic. More regimented, like an assembly line or part of a vast factory, industrial and soulless. But I cleaned my mental slate, thinking on the adventure of the present and future. I began my sobriety with the attitude that “the past is a bucket of ashes,” and accordingly a kind of indeterminism that refutes Freud. This got my recovery underway. On Sunday morning we’re having church again, at a capacity for 26 people. In spite of everything, we must plow our way ahead with what is important to us. Nothing is more important to me than sobriety. On this, everything else stands or falls.

Nine forty. Each new day wears a different aspect, and no two days are alike. When you erase the past, anything in the future is possible, and determinism collapses like a house of cards. That is the meaning of freedom and positive change.