It rained this morning, not heavily. Enough to be heard indoors a few times. I walked to the store before daylight, taking care not to slip or trip on the wet street. Visibility was pretty bad and I relied upon the streetlights to see where I was stepping. But it wasn’t raining during the trip. At almost nine o’clock I called Polly to get that out of the way and we talked for about ninety minutes. She’s getting braver about her religious talk, so I’m more inclined to avoid her after this. I don’t know if I encouraged her or not. I just said I’d gone to church last Sunday and that opened the door for her. Frankly I’m quite confused on the whole thing, and it confuses others when I vacillate from one position to the other. I don’t think I’m well. I can’t choose a side and adhere to it— and there’s even the delusion that Armageddon is coming upon us, the ultimate battle of good and evil before the last judgment by Jesus Christ. But just regarding my family, I believe that Polly may end up alone with her religion unless she finds herself a church to participate in. I feel that unfair demands are being made on me by Polly. This is very hard on me. What she understands as her reality is what I experience as a delusion. It’s hard to tell how much is her and how much is myself. I can’t separate out Polly from what I am when we discuss Christianity. If I told her the content of my psychosis she would believe it was real. It’s entirely possible that she is just as loony as I am.
Quarter of eight.
The rising sun is muted by what is probably wildfire smoke. Yesterday’s high temperature was 97 degrees… My informal research into Tolkien on one hand and Edgar Rice Burroughs on the other concerning attitudes towards “power” led me back to Machiavelli and his condemnation by the Church. The things I found kind of overran my circuits and pitched me into psychosis, though they had a valid basis in the history of ideas. It’s just that no one wants to know the theological nuts and bolts of these old notions of power and self-will. And the truth is rather ugly. But my brain has been baking too long in the summer heat and a respite is called for. I think I’ll stay away from every church of Christianity. I’ve heard enough sermons. We are after all merely human beings and biological organisms, and the religious stuff is secondary. It isn’t true that in the beginning was the word, or else everything is upside down. The Age of Reptiles is older than the time of Moses, but we get this backwards and make the Bible logically prior to natural history.
Here we go again. I’d better leave off while I still can.
Quarter after seven.
I stopped and chatted with Kat for about ten minutes on my way to the store. I asked her about the for sale sign I had seen in her yard. It was not a hallucination: they plan to sell the house, and meanwhile they are building their own home that will be ready in December or January. Then I suppose the “ghost truck” with Confederate flag plates next to Derek’s house had been real as well— and the times are as crazy as I am… I have an appointment for a lab today at the hematologist.
Somehow, my brain started playing “Josie” by Steely Dan. I was thinking of the lines ending in “live wire” and “eyes on fire,” and then I heard the bass line by Chuck Rainey: so utterly cool with Becker’s rhythm guitar, like something untouchable and perfect. I guess there’s nothing more I can add to that…
I got in touch with my sister at last. Sure enough, my fantasies had all been bogus and everything was fine. Ed has recovered from Covid and is returning to work tomorrow…
It’s a beautiful morning, actually, and the Nietzsche book sounds enticing. Earlier, when I passed the house of Kat and Corey, the for sale sign I’d seen yesterday was gone as if by magic or the action of little elves during the night. So I began to mistrust my senses: maybe the sign had never been there and I just hallucinated it? Perhaps I was deceived by a trickster or evil genius? Greater people than I have doubted their sanity when working on a discovery; Descartes and Emerson, for instance. But now I’m inclined to believe the sign was real and my senses were reliable. Reality and the doubts about it are strange things. When reality dissolves and delusions take over, the experience is just like a dream, powered by strong desires and wishes for what ought to be real. But actual existence falls short of the ideal that some people crave. It’s much like reading the second part of Faust, full of the fulfillment of wishes as money growing on trees, your heart’s desire being within your grasp. Is this feeling truly madness, especially if many people share the same ideal? It is a nowhere utopia in which everything is perfectly right and good. If we could only externalize the dream of a perfect paradise, then certainly we’d have it made; until the Jaques figure messed it up, saying, “Yeah right.”
Two twenty in the morning.
I admit that playing my G&L bass pulls up certain psychological things for me, some difficult thoughts and feelings due to having owned another such bass before… I now remember a truth about an acquaintance I used to know, a successful Nashville music producer today. He was a user and manipulator of people to get from one place to the next in his career. We had a dark history with each other. Why would I envy him now? He stepped on a lot of people and broke a lot of bones to get where he is. His religion was a total sham. Maybe religion is intended for those who need it. As I think about it, perhaps it’s a delusion for me to want to be where I feel I belong. The picture of the old disco band was not as rosy as I contrive it today. A sinister cloud of darkness hung over the band in a moral way. Those people were dishonest and shallow… The ladder of success is no ladder to heaven. At the foot of it are heaped the casualties kicked off by the ones a rung higher. Is it sour grapes to say that blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth?
Five thirty. I took the plunge and ordered the bass I wanted! And the guilt and fear were all my responsibility. I overcame those feelings and did what I wanted to do.
Ten thirty five. I’ve been lying in bed torturing myself with thoughts of egoism versus altruism, and now I finally understand why. It’s because I went through the same thing three years ago when I was first getting sober and the medication hadn’t taken effect yet. Today has been like a flashback to that time. Maybe the weather contributed. It was sunny and warm all day. Another item is that my big Plato book arrived this afternoon, as iconic as the philosopher himself… I took the plunge on the G&L bass— so now will I go to hell for selfishness? For this was the delusion I had in 2018. Some accident of the atmosphere brought it back. It was also in April of that year when I had a big breakthrough against the same delusion and started making music again in spite of my illness. It was kind of like Huckleberry Finn taking his chances with hellfire for doing what he wanted to do. Yet isn’t it right to do what is pure and authentic of yourself?
Eleven thirty. It started with a red SX bass I bought in November 2016. It arrived damaged in shipping and then it just sat in a chair for a year and a half. One day in April I worked up the courage and motivation to pick it up and play it, defying my dog who hated music. This went okay, and a few days later I had my neighbor drive me to Guitar Center to get the instrument repaired. The victory of this was that I’d really wanted to play my new bass, and now I was finally doing it. The take home lesson is that people don’t know what they’re talking about when they condemn egoism. Of course you have to do some things out of selfishness. It’s impossible not to. And to this day I disagree strongly with Twelve Step programs for their overemphasis on abnegation.
Quarter after eight. Sheryl from church texted me a while ago and said it would be nice to see me for the Easter service. So I replied with my reason for not coming to church as often anymore. Interesting; she said she misses my singing voice. And I do have some fond memories of singing with our choir a couple of years ago. The people were so nice and we had a lot of fun together. The only relationship that went kind of sour was the one with Pastor himself, and that’s a regrettable thing for me and the others… I am still very excited about my band. I thought our rehearsal yesterday was the best one ever so far. It seems to me that the three of us feel more comfortable with each other now; we’re becoming better friends, so the music flows a bit more easily than before… It’s another partly sunny morning. The sunlight splashes down and dapples the magnolia tree in my backyard. About two weeks ago I spotted a raccoon jumping into the same tree and settling there in the lower limbs. Even at the time, I thought maybe I was hallucinating; it was so surreal and bizarre to see. Since then I haven’t seen the raccoon again, thus maybe I really was deluded. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night / Removes the colors from our sight / Red is gray and yellow white / But we decide which is right / And which is an illusion?”
Sheryl just texted me back; she’d assumed that my absence was due to Covid. But no, it was the sermon on demonic possession that alienated me from church, at least temporarily. I’m going to stay home today except for my daily trip to the market on Maxwell Road. I had an exciting day yesterday and need a rest today.
Ten o’clock. As with most Easter Sundays, the neighborhood has fallen very silent, and the silence is rather disturbing to me. It is the silence of the tomb, of death, and maybe of intellectual poverty. It is the quiet of oppression, perhaps, when nobody dares to speak their mind. My closest neighbors behave very strangely, not very amiably with each other or with me, keeping to themselves and basically being quite self centered. I find this is true of many conservatives: they’re paranoid and care only about what is theirs. They scoff at people who don’t have a home or a job; people who are unfortunate. They figure that it’s tough luck for them; we got ours, so screw the people who have nothing. Such a selfish attitude, and essentially asocial. How can my neighbors be happy with such narrow views and feelings? They cloister themselves in their homes and watch tv all day… The book of Plato I ordered was probably delivered to the wrong address, but do you think the erroneous recipient will bring the package to me? No one practices common courtesy around here. Every house is an island on my street, and finders keepers, losers weepers… I jumped to a conclusion. The computerized Amazon chat assistant said the book probably hasn’t arrived yet. But this is another example of the dehumanization of society. “It’s so hard to stay together / Passing through revolving doors / We need someone to talk to / And someone to sweep the floors.”
One forty. Campbell or Carnap: which way do I go in my reading? Either way, I couldn’t stay in that mode forever. I had a friend who was so literal that she couldn’t understand figurative language, especially metaphor. I indulged her for six years and finally I rebelled against her anti poetry and embraced transcendence. Liberating myself this way, I could contemplate sobriety and imponderable things like God. Now I don’t know how much sobriety hinges on the supernatural, but I think it helped me get started. Probably in May 2018 I was very optimistic for the poet’s union with the sublime, deeming that Mallarme was the best path to revelation. Was I merely deluded? I don’t feel the same today that I did three years ago. The medication eliminates metaphysics as easily as cognitive therapy or logical analysis. More so: you only have to swallow a pill to make faerie go away. It’s similar to the red pill in The Matrix. This raises the question, Do we choose the reality we want to live in? Red pill or the blue?
However, this gives people the wrong idea about schizophrenia…
Everything you hear from the media sounds like a scare tactic. It uses fear to control us— because it works. I’m sick of playing this game. I’m not the only one who feels that way. The guy I heard yesterday in the waiting room was whacko, and yet the feelings he expressed were universal. Who is the tycoon in charge of all this? Surely he is jerking our strings, making us put on a mask in perfect uniformity. But now I sound like a whacko too. Everyone says how crazy the times are, but no one knows who is responsible. Maybe it’s just human nature to want to blame somebody… I remarked to Michelle that the market is running out of food. She said there’s a shipment coming in Wednesday. I guess Raj hasn’t been satisfied with the Portland distributor, so he switched to another one. Michelle said it didn’t make any sense. Anyway, I got my run to the store done early to beat the heat. Hopefully the forecast is inaccurate… I heard more weird conspiracy theories in church last night, regarding the postal service. The madness has to stop somewhere. Somebody with some sense must sort it all out for us. Frankly I’m tired of the church group as well. We’re all equally ignorant about what is happening, so stop dreaming up things. We should mind our own business and just hang on until a better day.
Seven thirty 🕢. I’m in the waiting room at the institute. My taxi ride was with Deluxe and not Budget, thank goodness. It’s supposed to be a very warm day today. I have a view out the window of hills and trees. I’m alone here. I wonder if Joann still works here. I remember her from seven years ago. A recovered alcoholic.
Eight thirty 🕣. I feel great. No phlebotomy today. Those days are all long gone, and I don’t really miss them. Wendy is very nice. The alcoholism was a disease that sort of ran its course, and now I feel free as a bird. Waiting for my taxi while the world wakes up. It’s still rather cold outside. I’m sitting in the breezeway outside the institute.
Nine o’clock 🕘. Home again. I guess I’ll go to the store now… Now it’s time for Aesop’s breakfast. Things are just getting back to normal— or the new normal.
Quarter after ten. A guy in the waiting room bent my ear with his conspiracy theory of the pandemic. He sounded just as loony as I do sometimes. Something about a scheme to depopulate the world and make a potful of money for a few. I could follow his arguments just fine, but they didn’t quite ring true. I hope he was feeling all right. I guess I just looked approachable and receptive, so this guy opened up to me. I know I’ve sounded equally crazy when talking to people. I was very unwell in January 2008 when I spouted junk to my PCP about Satan replacing Jesus as the champion of the oppressed and poor. I think I’d gotten the idea from reading a little Baudelaire, but I’m pretty sure that the poet didn’t intend anything like what I was saying. I was very sick, and I realized it. I don’t know what my PCP thought of my bizarre speech.