Wine into Water

Nine thirty five.

I’ve been to the store and back in the rain. The wind made it hard to use my umbrella, so I ended up putting up my hood and just shivering through it. Didn’t see much of anything new for the trip around the bend. A book I ordered of Paul Verlaine is delayed a couple of days, no explanation why. The deeper I go into Western literature, the farther I have to go to find my way out. I feel like pulling the plug on all of it and following nature, the world of ordinary things. The thing that puzzles me about Baudelaire is his jump to metaphysics from everyday reality, spontaneously addressing prayers to the devil and so forth, just assuming the existence of such beings. It seems naive to me not to know the difference between material and spiritual, and yet he uses the term “ideal” freely. Maybe I’m the one who’s naive? And maybe the natural world I seek doesn’t exist… The rain keeps coming down. On a good day I’d say it was a shower of fine wine from heaven. Today is rather blah; the rain is merely water, the sky a vapid gray.

Ten thirty.

The City of Eugene finally sent out a team to pick up the leaves at our curbs. This is just ordinary stuff. Lord or Lucifer had nothing to do with it.


L’hiver banal

Two forty.

I played the bass for about an hour. In the process, I stumbled over the chords to “Walkabout” by The Fixx, an old New Wave band, and I began to detect a thought pattern behind my creativity. The thrust of the song is self examination to determine your personal beliefs. It kind of goes along with my observations of Baudelaire’s poetry last weekend, regarding the discovery of novelty, innovation— invention, whether it comes from heaven or hell. My only disagreement with him is that he never thinks outside the Christian mythos.

Meanwhile, my brain keeps returning to a scene from Bartok’s Mandarin, where the chorus starts to sing, low at first and then swelling to a scream, and finally decaying in a weird wail… 

I still don’t feel one hundred percent. The virus I had seems to linger, affecting me physically and mentally. The weather this afternoon is as insipid as it was yesterday, gray and breathless like a cadaver, while the funereal fog creeps in to make specters of the trees across the street. All in all, macabre and surreal, complementing the mood of the Bartok ballet. And in some degree, the echo of Baudelaire. 


Nine o’clock at night.

Everything consumes time. I’ve never been good at managing my time each day, or keeping a rigid structure. I could read my book right now, but it takes time that might be better spent writing my mind. I found it bizarre how Baudelaire is spiritual in a dark and wicked way. Is that healthy? To put down anything in words is to make it more real… But it isn’t just bizarreness: familiarity with “the devil” can happen in substance use, as it once happened to me during the years I had a job in an office. On Friday nights I’d get ripped and watch old Polanski movies, King Crimson concerts. I seemed much younger then, and I guess fifteen years does make a big difference. But the mystery to me is why I waited so long to take charge of my life, jerking the strings away from “Satan Trismegistus.” Now I know it’s really possible to do this. Stay away from the booze and everything is doable. The best way to keep sober is never to start drinking in the first place… The very last time I drank beer, I was sick and couldn’t keep it down. I’d have two beers and then throw them up. Finally, with a Miller High Life in my hand, I said that everything was different now. And I realized that nothing else mattered but life itself. I knew that a way would open up to me, though it would take some sacrifices. What you gain by it is integrity: purity, wholeness, and health. 

Sunday Poetry

Quarter of eleven.

Though I skipped church today, in my mailbox I found a note from Lisa attached to a more general letter to everyone in the parish. This makes my day. I slept lousy last night, still worried about my therapy sessions: will they go the way they have in the past? But I know the bottom line is what makes a person happy, not distressed and traumatized. Positive thoughts are what they are, and negative is negative. This is all you need to know to keep yourself on an even keel. When you feel unhappy, then you know something is wrong with your situation… It’s very cold out this morning, and shrouded by haze (why don’t they call it fog anymore?). The trip to the market was unremarkable. I’m in the mood for anything French: maybe Baudelaire, without too much pressure on myself to get the language perfect. It’s hit and miss from day to day; my comprehension varies. I’d like to understand what he means by the Ideal. And why does he talk about the “gulf” in his poetry?

Quarter after one.

I still have a little virus the symptoms of which come and go. Yesterday I felt fine all day, but now I feel weird: dizzy and a bit congested in the head. I sampled some poetry of Baudelaire in French and was struck by its darkness and despair; it also evokes substance abuse and glorifies it with poetic imagery like eating the lotus. The poet praises novelty and discovery, regardless if it’s divine or infernal. It was good stuff, but I’d appreciate it better if I were not in recovery. Maybe good poetry is good no matter what the message? T.S. Eliot thought Baudelaire was very great, even though Eliot was a Christian. He was objective enough to recognize the quality of the poetry and the genuine suffering of the poet. But no doubt his French was far better than mine. People worked harder at literary craft a hundred years ago. Also at music.