The Motels

Noon.

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.

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Hooks

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.

Christians

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.

ORLC

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.

Saying No

Seven fifty.

For some reason I felt better for getting out of the house a bit ago. I’ve been rather besieged at home due to my PCA situation. Sometimes I just want to be left alone… I spent $17 at the convenience store this morning. Not many people were out yet. I feel I want to break free from everything, like the old Queen song by John Deacon. Conceivably I could go buy a load of beer and drink myself to oblivion this afternoon. But if I did, then probably everyone would find out about it. How many ways do I know to fly to the moon? Occasionally I find myself in this position, tempted to get drunk, but knowing better what’s good for me. I don’t think I’m like some people who WTF their way through life, and yet I could really use a little bit of empowerment. Drunkenness is what you do when your life seems painted into a corner, or like a dead end. And when that happens, you need to rearrange your circumstances. Often it starts with saying no when you feel the pressure to say yes. It’s when you say yes too many times that your life gets out of control. It can even make you sick.

Nine o five. At last the sun is out, though it’s still partly cloudy. Time to take the bull by the horns…

Grammar Rules (or Does It?)

Quarter of ten.

I begged Gloria for a light duty day since my dental ordeal Thursday morning and the long day yesterday. So now she’s mopping the floors while I take a siesta on the loveseat, languidly writing a desultory note to myself. The weather is rather lemon.

Eleven fifty five. The clouds have blown away to make a bright sunny Saturday. I was thinking that if humanity has free will, then anything is possible with our lives, including breaking bad habits like alcohol abuse. Independence is essential to everything we do, and often no one’s opinion matters but your own. Contrary to what people tell you, you are capable of thinking for yourself… I might go bash my four string war club down the hall a while, make a brash brutal rock and roll racket on it for my daily catharsis. Or I could read Richard Wright or Mark Twain. It’s possible to do both today. But I think I’ll be considerate of my dog’s anxiety and spend the day quietly. Even this, however, is a personal choice from a few available options. I merely looked before leaping… Everyone anticipated this beautiful weekend, but now that it’s here, I feel very tired, sore, and somewhat dodgy and daft. I think I’ll delay making a decision.

Three twenty.

I ended up both reading and playing the bass, and both were fun. Outside, the quality of the sunlight feels rather obscure and filtered; maybe dark and sensuous. Church happens tomorrow, but if I went, I’d know my reasons were insincere, for I’m not a true Christian. I feel tugged in several directions. But what’s done is a done deal. The future presents options; but “when you look behind you there’s no open doors.” And there is no would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve: only what actually happened; what you did. Everything else is a trick of grammar.

“Something”

Seven thirty.

I guess I’m bound for church this Sunday morning, though my motive for this is obscure to me. Logic tells me there’s nothing before or after the physics, and yet my imagination can conceive a nameless something. Maybe it’s a meaningless thing, but doesn’t imagination have an evolutionary purpose? And when all efforts at philosophy fail, look at the practical consequences of belief or unbelief. Not just practical but ethical, as when the bastard brother in Karamazov kills the old man, reasoning that everything is allowed if there’s no God… People have the power to grant or deny God existence. Now you see him, now you don’t, according to our whim, and whatever’s convenient for us. I just miss those days in the autumn a few years ago when I’d go to worship service. There was no shame or disgrace in doing this. Perhaps I wasn’t so self conscious at the time, and maybe I wanted to believe… I gave Aesop an oversized cookie before his breakfast; he’s still chipping away at it as the sun illuminates my magnolia in back, and I contemplate giving my sister a call today.