Dystopia

Quarter of seven.

At midnight I dug out my CD of Three Friends by Gentle Giant and spun it. The music brings back the time of being housed at Residence Inn on Club Road… I just saw the news headlines, all of which was bad news. Oh well. There must be some good news somewhere. Yesterday evening I finished reading the treatise on The One by Plotinus. I think it’s basically an ontological argument for the existence of God, sort of like saying that nothing can be made from nothing. All of the world of being depends on The One for its existence. I feel like reading the rest of Les Miserables, but the actual achievement of this is much harder. Victor Hugo is great, except he digresses a lot and throws in a lot of confusion… I can’t seem to write a good letter to my friend in the Southwest anymore. It’s very frustrating to communicate with ghosts.

Eight o five. Sometimes I just don’t give a shit about anything, and I defy anyone to pick a fight with me. Today is one of those days. Satisfaction is very far away. But then, the mood you’re in creates your reality. You think the way you feel and the converse. When you catch yourself being negative, you can stop the spiral by looking for positives. There’s one stressful thought behind all my negativity, and it’s about taking out the trash. I should probably just call the office of the disposal service and tell them my situation. There’s nothing else like clear communication between people. Just be honest and good will result. The only people who will punish honesty are those who are themselves very dishonest. By far the majority of people tell the truth, however, so you can trust them.

Nine twenty. I’ve left a voicemail for my sister and then I called the garbage people. The weather is cloudy and smoky. There’s an old punk song that goes, “This ain’t no f—g picnic,” and that just about says it all. 

Educated Guesses

Nine ten. Besides Michelle, I was the only geek wearing a mask in public today. Everyone else ignored the mandate from Kate Brown, or maybe hadn’t heard the news about it. I met with more signs of life this time because I went out later than usual. People greeted me with a good-morning on Fremont Street, face mask or no. I saw Jessica in the store and said hi. She is shy and not very friendly, or perhaps it’s because I’m a guy… I left a voicemail for the PT people to cancel my appointment. My pretext was very reasonable: the heat is just too much for me…

I would like to do some more reading in Goethe today. I wonder if I should dig out the massive volume of him and pore over it? There’s always more to learn, even if people generally have discarded metaphysics and magic: mysticism in a word.

Ten o five. Across the street from my house, Roger keeps busy on a tinkering project, his head not in the clouds, but his mind on the matter. Of course I could be wrong about that. He might be wool gathering— or in his mind, inventing the greatest thing since the wheel. A perpetual motion machine will be reality even as I make guesses about Roger’s thinking. Somewhere, a mad scientist is creating life in a test tube, no zygote or cloning; just from the substance of life and a little electricity.

Eleven o’clock. The prospect of lunch calls me away. Reality bites. 

Pumpkin Eaters

Seven o’clock.

I went to the store super early because I judged that I was free to do so. As I was on my way down my street I heard Aesop barking and crying for some reason; maybe he thought this was unusual for me. There is free will and then there are expectations from others. I saw one Black man inside the market and another guy in a motorcycle helmet. At the checkout counter nothing was extraordinary. I bought four pounds of Dog Chow and two Snapple teas. Michelle might’ve been a little paranoid. Coming home I passed an older couple who greeted me good morning very cordially. Kat was just opening her garage door when I was rounding the corner and said hello. Rather stupidly I showed her the dog food and she said you can’t do without that. I never know what to say to Kat. Her values are probably quite conservative, but you never know until you break the ice, and then you’re taking a risk. People are often not what they appear to be. I have another neighbor who keeps his wife in a pumpkin shell, to allude to the old nursery rhyme, and I always feel so sad for her. She could be having a lot more fun with her life, and meanwhile the decades fly away like sand off the desert dunes. Life can be an open and generous thing, like a bird on the wing, if we only seize opportunities as they are offered. Life also can be deceptive, a thing of duplicity, so again appearance may not be reality. 

Barriers

Eight thirty five.

Life is hard. It might be easier if we could survive without a thinking brain. If necessities grew on trees. We could dream our lives away like the Lotus Eaters. Never have to worry about sailing home to face hard realities and responsibilities. Instead, for us there’s no escape… I got a lousy sleep last night, so then I was up early. Finished business at the store and spoke with Michelle. She vented to me about the cost of healthcare and things she can’t afford… I just fed Aesop and I received a text message from Ron: “Psyched for Saturday.” I agree, it should be a good time. I just hope my body holds out; I’m not a spring chicken anymore. For just one day I’d love to have peace of mind. The weather is dry at least, with skies of lavender gray. January is usually a strange kind of month. Hopefully some of the oddity will go away in time.

Nine thirty. What’s really weird is the way life’s events seem to converge around me. Everything I do is a response to pressures from without. I said goodbye to Kate four years ago as I conformed to the spirit of the age. Who knows what might happen after today? The phrase “spirit of the age” was first used by Percy Shelley and his friends during the early 19th Century. They didn’t know that their historical period would come to be called Romanticism… I hear a mourning dove hooting in my backyard. What is he saying in bird language? But my neighbors are eerily silent. This could be a long day… 

With a Beatles Tune

Two o’clock. I put Aesop outside and picked up more of my empty Snapple bottles. They’re in the garage now. The weather is beautiful this afternoon. Why can’t we just fast forward to New Year’s Eve and forget about the religious holiday? Am I the one who has a blind spot or is it everyone else? All the while, my book of Victor Hugo beckons me to read more.

Five o’clock. Twilight outside. I rested in bed for a while, and the sun was in my face as it declined in the sky. Clearly I miss alcohol, but there’s no recourse to the way it used to be, so I must adapt to the present circumstances. The biggest hurdle is the church. Or maybe it’s my attitude toward the church. I can’t decide what to do. Yesterday afternoon I had some odd thoughts about good and evil while I was poisoned by caffeine, sort of like religious delusions. Very uncomfortable. Caffeine is a wild card drug, always unpredictable… Philosophy is getting that much closer to religion in my experience. I’m coming near to a definitive answer Yes or No. And I wish S— would agree to meet with me in person someday. Today she told me she was not sure it would ever happen. The lyric to “Hello, Goodbye” occurs to me. I even played the bass line to it the other day. Now I think I know why. 

Family Hopes

Five thirty five. Well, the weather has been beautiful today. And seeing it through sober eyes must surely make a difference from times in the past. Erin and Lisa, the receptionist, were both very friendly to me today. It tends to give me a new opinion of Santa Clara, or maybe the medical offices in the Square form a pocket in an otherwise “red” zone. Or perhaps my first assessment of River Road north of the Beltline was a fallacy. Which indicates again the dangers of generalization. People are people everywhere you go, diverse and various. I am more open now to letting my family pick my brain if they are curious about things. I believe that it’s possible for all of us to adopt an objective point of view, to not be passionately committed to just one side of any given issue. In this way, there can be a free exchange of ideas and the potential for growth and greater understanding. The only obstacle to this mutual comprehension is alcohol abuse or some other extravagance. In other words, the truth and happiness we work for mustn’t be compromised by a lie in any form. Mendacity and delusion always pose a threat to the good life. Of course no individual is perfect, but at least we can work on progress. 

Faceless: a Letter

I can’t read people’s minds, and nobody seems to be communicating what they’re thinking; but after revisiting my email to you regarding the last time I was in church, I begin to suspect that my reaction to the sermon was significant. And Polly also believes in a biblical apocalypse. I just think it’s bizarre how no one is talking about it. WordPress is a ghost town lately. I feel a little like Prufrock right now, except my soul is probably marked for the same fate as Baudelaire’s. Prufrock was exasperated because people don’t say what they mean, or show their nerves in patterns on a screen. But does anyone out there feel the way I do? Should I be worried? If indeed I’m the only one who expresses the same feelings, then I find it very irksome.

What do you really think in your heart of hearts about eschatology? I’m interested to know, and with a growing sense of urgency. And why aren’t people talking about it? If anything, this should be a time for everyone to come together and solve our human problems— and move on to enjoy our lives as if the world has no end. Why aren’t we doing this? We scarcely make eye contact with each other in public, if there’s such a thing anymore… But no. Christianity is such a strange thing. There’s a song by Steppenwolf called “Rock Me” with this chorus:

I don’t know where we come from
I don’t know where we’re going to
But if all this should have a reason
We would be the last to know
So let’s just hope there is a promised land
Hang on till then the best that we can

I don’t know, Suzanne. I feel like stripping naked and going streaking in the streets. Maybe then somebody would react. We’re becoming inhuman, and someone has to do something.

Meanwhile I guess I’ll listen to my Steppenwolf music.

Aesop

Wee hours.

Aesop and I get along much better when I communicate with him. I can tell him verbally what is going on and he is reassured. I swear he knows how to count the minutes. During a bass practice, I will give Aesop the countdown in the minutes remaining, and he understands. Then, after it’s over, I give him a treat. He is easily the smartest canine I’ve ever owned. The way we’ve figured out a life together is a bit unconventional, yet it’s very rational and works for us. I hardly think of Aesop as just a dog, for his intelligence makes him a personality in his own right. He responds to situations and judges them on their own merits. His breed is Australian cattle dog, but to me, he is simply Aesop… Probably this noon hour I will make a special trip to Bi Mart for his treats. And I will let him know where I am going in advance, and how long I’ll be gone— and he will comprehend. Then he will wait patiently for me to return, never disturbing my stuff around the house. In my life, Aesop has gone from a curse to a veritable blessing the longer I am in recovery.

Sympathy

Wee hours.

I had a terrible dream sequence of persecution by my parents for something sexual. They were bent on kicking me out of their house. Then I woke up and remembered they are dead. I got up and took my medication and let Aesop outside. He saw the possum again and tore off after it… Percy Shelley believed in what he called sympathy, or what we might call human community. It wasn’t enough for people to enjoy life singly, but rather we should do it together. This is kind of what I’m thinking now during the pandemic. We need to find a way to communicate in spite of the situation. There’s no sense in shivering in fear and dread. Which is the worse fate, to die of the virus, or to die spiritually as the human race?

For Keletso Chris

The following comment “could not be posted” on Forgotten Magic: Lifestyle Blog. I encourage readers to go see what Chris is up to.

 

I really like the last phrase, which came as a surprise to me. The word “fairytale” connotes a lot of things. For some people, fairytales are a good thing. Without tales of some kind, culture falls apart. Maybe the fairytale is a double edged sword? It just hits me as complex, though perhaps unintentional.

What is it going to take to get South Africa where it ought to be? Keep posting, Chris. You are an important spokesperson without realizing it. I hope you are doing ok through the pandemic. As it is said, all things must pass.