Quarter of four in the morning.
Aesop has an appointment with the vet at eleven o’clock. I’m just getting myself mentally prepared for the ordeal, yet I think it’ll go okay. I woke up to the sound of The Beatles singing “Nowhere Man.” Particularly I heard George’s guitar solo in the middle of the song, so ingenious for their time, ending it with the little harmonic E. I’m actually thinking about putting on Rubber Soul to listen to the whole album… One of the things that impresses me about people today is how solipsistic they all are, rather than sharing a common experience together. It’s the difference between Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, the first advocating privacy and the second promoting love and universalism of humanity. The whole world is wearing earbuds, listening to different tunes from each other, when we would stand much stronger if we joined hands. It seems to be a consequence of technology. Kind of ironic, because the internet was designed to link people around the world for a stronger global village. We’ve used the technology to withdraw into ourselves and avoid contact with other people, especially the ones in the same room with us or at the bus stop. It’s more convenient to socialize with machines than real humans, and somehow more gratifying. As I say this, I also notice that I’m saying it to my iPad. It’s just another way of living in a dream.
Clouds; Outdoor School
Quarter after nine.
Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I opened up Mallarme to read some, but the vocabulary was far beyond me and it would take a lot more work to interpret a single poem. Also I lamented the fact that my French writing skills have atrophied. I should take a class and brush it up. I might feel younger if I practice the language again and access that bucket in my brain… It’s Saturday and yet the market was doing a good business before nine o’clock. Mostly guys as usual; I saw one woman. I felt kind of glad to get out of there with such a crowd. Then I looked around me at the clouds, walking along the storefront, which appeared almost blue with cold. They dwarfed human cities and human affairs, having about them an inscrutable quality, alien and other. The only thing stranger than clouds by day is clouds at night. Or maybe, to me, the French language itself.
Quarter of eleven.
Gloria and I had breakfast at Carl’s Jr, passing the new high school that now looks quite finished on the exterior. The dark gray brick walls give it an ominous vibe, and the whole place is enormous and intimidating. It’s like Mordor as opposed to the Shire, a wicked thing of mass production and industry, a factory for producing citizens. It’s nothing like the Outdoor School of Tagore a long time ago in India. It isn’t even like my own college where we had poetry classes on the lawn. The personal touch is missing, and nothing much of nature still remains.
I’m wondering why the music has died. With the rise of the internet and electronic devices, people have become less human and social, which means they don’t make music together anymore. My iPad is so smart that it anticipates everything I’m going to say before I say it. D.H. Lawrence could’ve foreseen a world like ours, with the machines out of control and human beings subordinate to them. He’d be disgusted that we let this happen… Now we depend on the machines and keep using them for our convenience. I think live music is a casualty of the machine dependent age. It brings out the Luddite in me, though The Buggles saw the same thing in 1979 when they made The Age of Plastic.
Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far
Short of some cataclysm, it’s impossible to go back. But if I had a Time Machine, you know I’d go backwards like a shot.
I am the backwards traveler
Ancient wool unraveler
Singing songs, wailing on the moon…
We’ll be wailing on the moon
Ten thirty five at night.
I woke up from my nap at nine o’clock with a desire to hear Burt Bacharach once again. So I found the CD in a stack of them and played it, thinking of my last love interest six years ago. What I really miss about her is not only her intelligence but the full range of her emotions, like a piano keyboard. She was not a severed head at all but could actually feel something. Since we separated, I’ve met many people who are impassive and cut off from their feelings, the things below the neck, that come from the heart and the gut. This stolidity might be the result of being too religious or maybe immersion in this age of electronics and cyberspace. People are becoming more mechanical than the machines they use, but the only ones who can change this condition are human beings themselves. “As long as we see / There’s only us / Who can change it / Only us to rearrange it / At the start of a new kind of day.” A few people lately have said what I’ve been saying for a long time: we need to get back to basics and experience life like biological beings again: emotional beings. Get ourselves back to the Garden, as it were. We are stardust and golden. It’s time to turn away from our apocalypse.
Seven o five.
Maybe it’s time to give blogging a break. I want to be more in touch with people in the flesh here locally rather than intimate with gadgets. I have a Luddite’s dislike of machines that I learned from reading Lawrence half my life ago… I don’t see any fog through my front window, but strips of lavender and pink cloud. It’s a beautiful sunrise like grenadine progressing to salmon with purple smudges. Today promises to be better than my crap day yesterday.
Nine twenty five.
I walked through the foggy morning to the market where it surprised me to see Doug behind the counter. I have no idea what the situation is, and maybe it’s none of my business. I got in and out of there and didn’t say much to anyone. Again I observe how the store has become less personal and human than when Belinda owned it. Now it’s an economic enterprise, a game of numbers and quantities above all else. The customers themselves are numbers as well… On my way there and back along Maxwell Road and N. Park I went very carefully, keeping my eyes open to the traffic. I dunno anymore. Everything seems so desolate and lifeless— dead, like the Ireland of the James Joyce story. We need an infusion of humanity in our lives, but we stubbornly persist in error. We’ve made a desert of the places where we live, refusing to love each other, rendering ourselves robotic and heartless. I’ll be looking forward to Groundhog Day, which happens to be Joyce’s birthday, and the anniversary of the publication of Ulysses a hundred years ago. They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Perhaps the centennial is a test of this proverb.
Six o’clock in the morning.
It is a morning kind of like yesterday morning, with the difference that today is my birthday. It’s raining out in the jet blackness. I don’t remember when my appointment with Rebecca is, but it’s supposed to be this morning. It interests me how individual behavior gets channeled according with social pressures, even if you are self aware. You can only fight the trends for so long, then you surrender and say okay, whatever. Or perhaps I’m wrong about that. If the world told me that I couldn’t write human interest stuff anymore, then I would probably rebel. We seem to be getting farther away from humanity and closer to money and machinery: anything quantitative over qualitative, and I feel there’s something unnatural about that. Is it an American thing? Now more than ever we need to be humanized and made to feel like unique individuals. I hate to see the demise of philosophy and everything that makes life worth living, because when there’s nothing to live for, existence has no meaning, and the universe might as well vanish away.
I was just looking at the A— News headlines, and trashed the email before I could get halfway through it. Funny, a song by Ralphe Armstrong of Mahavishnu Orchestra comes to mind: “Planetary Citizen.” And I’m thinking that there are multiple ways a person can be a member of society. Sometimes it’s a fight to carve yourself a niche, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Which reminds me of the poem “Root Cellar” by Theodore Roethke, where life is shown to be irrepressible (“Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath”).
Quarter of eleven.
The rain continues. It was 38 degrees when I ventured out to the market for the daily foodstuffs. Once there, I ran into Lisa the hair stylist who used to work for Karen. She said she was on her way to work and asked me if I was ready for the holiday. I answered that I don’t do much for Christmas and let the matter drop. But I had already told Heather I would play music with my church on Christmas Eve, and that’s something, I guess. It’s kind of ridiculous when people try to dictate to me my own worldview as if they were right. Christianity is one way out of many of looking at reality, not the only one. We are all discouraged from using our brains for ourselves, and I find this very offensive. It seems to be a growing trend in the United States to defer all judgment to a spiritual leader or whatever; someone who does your thinking for you when we ought to be capable of doing that on our own. It’s a sort of mental dictatorship. We’re being bullied by the Church and we don’t even realize it. People work at their jobs and are told to keep their mouths shut. If you have a problem, you’re supposed to see your spiritual leader for the solution. It’s beginning to look like a George Orwell novel. Even my iPad tries to put words in my mouth.
We had a really good practice this afternoon and got quite a bit done. I took my blue Fender bass and felt very comfortable playing it, which makes a big difference to the way rehearsal goes. This bass also cranks out a great tone. I think I’ll use it all the time after this. The other guys played better than usual, too, and Mike and I smiled and winked at each other while Ron would take a very long solo or something silly. We were basically indulging him and being gently deprecating, or saying, Well you know how Ron is. We have two or three really strong numbers that we can use for playing in a gig, and we’ve got plenty of time to work up the others.
Yes, instinctively human versus a consumerist society. I was just thinking of how it’s difficult to be free and human in a culture that has us so utterly pegged. It’s the sentiment of Pink Floyd in “Welcome to the Machine,” by now a lugubrious and kind of stale song, but it gets my point across. Everything you can dream of has been already thought of by the monster of society, so, before you can express your feelings on this or that, you’re in a certain category of people in the eyes of the government and whatever shapes our destinies. My observation is not an original one. It should have been obvious to me long ago. I suppose it’s a cynical view, and perhaps rather defeatist to see human life as a mass production run, like being on the assembly line or shot through the chute. When our lives are set up this way, at the mercy of a culture we can’t control, is it even possible for us to express something new and independent, original and real?
And how has the band changed me… and do I like it. Mostly it’s just the fact that we’re a trio of guys, more or less the same age. I feel that I’ve been bonding with them, for better or worse, but I think our project could lead to something good in terms of a career for me, and I love doing music anyway. It started out as just having fun on weekends, but I believe it may grow into something more serious and disciplined.
Right now, I don’t feel that the band has been a bad influence on my mentality. I might’ve gravitated away from the church even without playing with Mike and Ron, just as a function of time. And by the way, my sobriety feels very secure, though I should never be complacent.
Overall I feel pretty good at this writing.