“There Are Worse Fates”

Nine thirty at night.

I resolved not to overindulge in caffeine again at least very soon. I think I can philosophize myself out of it. The real underlying desire is for alcohol, and everything I do is a mask for this innate impulse. It’s like a weed that grows with you: you can whack it down to a crack in the floorboards, but it’s impossible to uproot it. Moreover it’s a thing that my family understands; all the males have the heredity for alcoholism… I just had a flashback to an old trip to the Coast with my brother. When we got to Florence we always stopped to buy a case of beer and some food before winding north on the Pacific Coast Highway to Yachats and Waldport. Now he is 70 and still acting like a 21 year old rebel, though it’s hard to say if he’s very dumb or very smart. I don’t know if alcoholism is a disease, especially with its historical roots reaching back to the ancient cult of Dionysus. Our culture of today sticks a pejorative label on drunken behavior. And maybe it’s an excuse to glorify it with mythic precedents and words like “Bacchic” and “Dionysian,” etc. Whatever it really is, my brother took the wager and went with Mr Hyde, when Dr Jekyll might have been able to invent the “reverse nuclear bomb.” And perhaps when you ponder it deeply, his fate has been a damn shame. The only question is, is “fate” the right word? 


Right Foot In

Quarter after eleven.

I just had a lunch of cottage cheese. Feeling kind of low right now. My sleep was troubled last night, so I got up before five o’clock and pottered the time away, waiting for daylight to come. In a moral and emotional way too, I’m waiting for a sign glowing in the dark to show the path forward with my life. I feel very tired. All these conflicting perspectives give me a headache. The music I hear inwardly is “Gypsy” from Fleetwood Mac, very long ago… It’s as though I could flip a coin and let that be my direction. Or consult the hexagrams of the I Ching. Go to an astrologer to cast my horoscope. Have my palm read. I never tried tarot before. Nor singing down the moon. Take the midnight train going anywhere. Roll the bones. Everything would stand an equal chance of being right on. I could be putty in the hands of the four winds… until the hurly burly is done.

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish

How many pieces do you wish?

One, two, three, four,

And you are not it.

Where the Road Forks

My day is going okay. It’s not very warm here either, and cloudy this afternoon. A little while ago I dug my old Aria bass out of the closet, plugged it in, and played it I don’t know how long. It sounds pretty good to me, and I thought that if I ever play with church again, the Aria might be a good choice. And last night I hooked up my old desktop computer and tried to boot it up. My efforts were in vain because the operating system had been discontinued by Microsoft, I found out from looking on my iPad.
Sometimes I do irrational things, even kind of absurd things, but the behaviors, though small, mean something symbolic. Yet at the time I do them, I have no idea why I’m doing them. After the fire that happened four years ago, my computer was stored away, and then it sat around unused until last night. Thus it took me four years to use it again. And I decided to fire it up purely on impulse. I felt driven to do it, without knowing what for.
Actually, however, I have a vague insight to my motives. Again I miss my old friends from when my life was much different than today. Even though I know what’s good for me, it’s still hard to choose it. If I could have it both ways, then I’d certainly pick both. As it stands,
Two paths diverged in a wood…
I guess it really is a kind of crossroads in my life, a place where the road forks. It’s like the recurring dream I used to have, of driving a car onto the highway and then trying to control it by remote while my body remains behind, off of the freeway. There’s a split. I’m trying to live two lives at once, but of course this can’t work. The car on the highway is out of my sight.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer…
Anyway, I think that’s what I’m dealing with lately. Life is never easy. I still have to choose one option and follow it as far as it goes.

The Motels


Again I feel tired and kind of lonely since talking with my sister on the phone. Sometimes we just don’t agree on much at all, and it wears me down. I had a different father from my siblings, which puts me on an island all by myself.

Quarter of three.

I was feeling low, so I needed to distract myself by doing something different. I played the bass for a bit and found myself picking out an old song by The Motels called “Only the Lonely.” I used harmonics for the synth chords, just simple diatonic fourths, and the bass line was easy enough. Presently I felt sad and pensive, remembering my mother’s own loneliness and need of a friend. When I was 16 I vowed to myself that I would be kind to Mom and be her buddy. The video by The Motels was often on MTV that autumn, causing me to stop and think, though a teenager’s thoughts are mostly nonverbal. At least mine were. And the emotions I felt were pain and pity even though the song was a little lugubrious.


Quarter of eleven.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of good and evil and the Romantic and religious imagination; also about rebels like Jane Austen who wanted no part of Romanticism. I wonder why cognitive therapy has gone out of favor in our society; probably people figured out that it was atheistic, since no absolute means no God, and the shades of gray are too amoral for a Christian culture, as we seem to be today. I really admire Austen’s rebellion during her time and perhaps people now can learn by her example. She was essentially unromantic in the sense of imagination and spirituality: a realist who cared about things as they are more than a transcendent good and evil kind of scenario. I’ve probably hung out with churchgoers for too long, so it seems like the whole world is a Christian society. I’d like to get myself out of that situation; but when I rip the hooks out, they’ll take some flesh with them.


I went ahead and ordered the book of Stevenson this morning sometime. I’d wanted to read a book today but I was really too tired to do anything much. I did some writing to myself and realized that, since last Sunday, I’ve been feeling rather unwell in terms of my illness. So now, I can make up my mind whether to go to church again or not. I don’t think it’s healthy for me to do dichotomous reasoning or the symptom called splitting. I was doing that on the dimension of good and evil, but real life is not so simple as that. In my right mind I don’t see myself as diabolical or possessed by demons or whatever. Dunno. Maybe my friends in church don’t believe it either? I guess that in order to know their opinion I have to ask them to their face. And maybe a few of them will demonize me and others won’t. It’s probably all in my own mind, but again I haven’t been well.

It’s true that one pastor a long time ago judged that I was demon obsessed and I needed a deliverance ceremony to cast them out! But he was a very radical kind of Christian. I think he was kind of a sick puppy, unfortunately… It had been about three months before I went to church again last week. Thus it was a bit of a shock to me to suddenly do it again.

Quite frankly, I don’t know where else to find friends I can hang out with. It’s not that the people are not nice to me; they really are good to me. It’s just a difficult thing, trying to balance myself between at least two different modes of thinking. And what do constitute a Christian way of thinking and acting, etc etc? And is that a good way for me to be also?

Lots of serious questions come up the more I ponder it. It will be a decision for me to make on my own: another serious step in one direction or the other.


After midnight.

I agreed to show up for Advent midweek worship Wednesday night at the little church on Maxwell Road. Something made me think of my old psychiatrist saying that humans are a cancer on the face of the earth, and the big decision I made to leave him in favor of an idealistic Christian church five years ago. The key word is idealism, and it’s not a dirty word. There are Christians and there are Christians, some more cynical than others, some of them anti intellectual, and so on. But I think there’s always something to be said for honesty with a dream. Cynics tend to be the biggest sinners because their attitude gives them an excuse to act accordingly. It’s not about moral superiority, however. Not about holier than thou. I think it’s a matter of a sincere wish to believe in something beyond the physics, a heaven we can all look forward to: and to defend the dream against annihilation. I keep remembering the lines from William Blake where Newton blasts the trumpet of doom for the future of the religious imagination. It may be really as simple as the real and the Ideal. Unfortunately I think I’ve been too much of a Newton. Maybe we all have. 

To Be a Better Writer

Aesop held a grudge against me ever since yesterday morning for using the phone a few times. He hates nothing more than that. It’s his worst bete noir and pet peeve of all. It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong with him, but now I know.
I made a post this morning that was simply realistic, just reporting on what I observed when I hiked to the store. The interesting thing about realism is its complexity and refusal to conform to our expectations based on systems of belief or whatever else we use to simplify experience. A faithful adherence to facts reveals lots of irony and contradiction, something like paradox. A paradox is a contradiction that only seems to be that way. Deeper analysis shows it to be the truth. Sometimes when I write, I can really nail this style, so it’d be great to refine it to a craft. Maybe this fall I’ll be able to concentrate more on being a better writer, perhaps getting away from the philosophical stuff. I might invest some time in reading Josep Pla’s Gray Notebook. I need an influence that complements the style I’m going for. It seems like I was pretty good at it a couple of years ago.
Today isn’t very remarkable otherwise. The sky is still smoky white, casting a brown light on the ground below. I’d consider a trip to the market but it’s rather gross outside. It can wait till tomorrow morning. I don’t know which title I might buy from loa yet. Something with good descriptive writing. Maybe Steinbeck?

Westward Pioneer

Quarter after eleven at night.

I’ve decided to jump ship to a different church and check out the music potential elsewhere than Our Redeemer Lutheran. There’s a Catholic church west of the store, beyond Bushnell and the Maxwell Connector but before you get to the bridge. It’s a place I’ve never been to before: all the more reason to go there. I’ve been stuck at a dead end for a very long time, so it’s time to change something, anything. Sometimes the way to progress is blocked by a single person, someone with some clout, for instance a spiritual leader. Then, the only recourse you have is to leave the situation and look for something more favorable. I think I deserve a better situation than the current one.

Rational Lies

Quarter of eight.

Today is still nice outside with some cirrus clouds west and south. It’s a Gloria day. Yesterday, the yard guy never showed up, so I wasted my time waiting for him. Last night I felt rather vindictive about it, saying I would give his cash to the church instead. And I do have that option, though if I did it, the blackberries would keep growing and I’d lose him for my yard man. There are a few ways to rationalize doing the wrong thing, such as saying the church needs the money, and it’s been very long since I tithed. But still, when I withdrew the cash I said it was earmarked for the yard work, plus I promised the guy that I’d have it for him. One should always do the right thing and never act out of vengeance or retribution. Therefore I’m keeping the cash safe for him for when he finishes the job.