I’m finally sick of Western thinking. The dualism of Aristotle and of Jesus have made me quite crazy, so now it seems necessary to move to the Hindu concept of the One. A person can go nuts splitting and dichotomizing everything in existence. I blame Aristotle first for his Law of Excluded Middle, and then Jesus for his countless parables including the Divided Household. In both cases, objects of thought are bifurcated to either/or situations, when what is badly needed is unity, as you can find in the Upanishads and the school of Ravindranath Tagore. You can even see it in the work of Joseph Campbell, seeking the oneness and commonality of everything: its universality and togetherness. Maybe the real world doesn’t work that way in the West, and it’s just a pipe dream of college campuses. Still, I think it’s an ideal to work toward if we want something like peace and joy for ourselves. The West doesn’t have all the answers. I just hope we haven’t forgotten the traditions of the East, lost in all the hullabaloo of the 21st Century.
I’m sick of all that nonsense. It’s like an epidemic of schizophrenia, the splitting of the mind. Society suffers from an illness. Who will be our doctor?
Clouds like fish scales have moved in overnight. I got two Snapples and a little peanut butter bone for Aesop. Saw a heavyset woman walking two small dogs, and I passed a skittish cat in front of Kat’s house. Now, my house is exceedingly quiet; the only noise is my tinnitus, a whine in my ears from too many music gigs… Maybe all the music was a waste of my time, because you can’t have the music without the culture. I consider myself a nice guy and probably unsuited for rock and roll, especially when I’m not drinking anymore. I feel myself split between so many polarities. Can we blame a philosopher like Kierkegaard for his either/or principle? Or perhaps Aristotle for the Law of Excluded Middle? Too much of life is forced into a scheme of black and white. Even Jesus Christ had a distaste for lukewarm people, saying you run either hot or cold. Dichotomous reasoning is embedded in our culture, but not necessarily in nature. Sometimes I want to shoot spit wads at Aristotle for being a clod.
Quarter after eight. Aesop doesn’t like his science diet food today. I spent thirty bucks for twelve cans of the stuff and he’s turning up his nose. But with all the things that are going wrong lately, I know that not everything is crap. Life is full of mixed blessings. Whatever else happens, I’m still sober. If the world is coming to an end, I’ll be clearheaded to witness it and write about it.
Nine twenty five.
It’s almost time for Aesop’s breakfast. I feel rather edgy this morning, perhaps because of my back pain. The oak tree in my backyard has begun losing acorns all over the place, as it does every year. Heather at the store told me today is her clean and sober birthday: three years. She said she feels really excited about that.
Summers are always a bit difficult for me; they make me feel impulsive and vulnerable to my emotions. Aristotle taught that emotions are not trustworthy, so people should put on the armor of reason against them. I think that’s rather extreme, if not impossible to pull off. Probably emotions are closer to the natural truth of life. Masking them with reason is to be contrived and artificial— and then again, feeling and reason may prove to be a false dichotomy. I have a weakness for dichotomous thinking, always trying to determine either/or situations, when the wise person marries opposites together so that black and white blend to gray.
Anyway, the sun dominates the blue sky and the high today should be 90 degrees again. Across the street from me, Roger is puttering with a project while the mail carrier just brought me a package… I did some research online regarding The Winter’s Tale, and now I’m resolved to read it again for the issue of art and nature. Also, I’ve only read The Tempest once, so it’s on my reading list too.
Quarter of eleven. Another thing I see is that my rose bush is blooming again, though it makes more sense to call it my mother’s rose bush, since she planted it and because even in my mind it symbolizes immortality for her sake. Whatever may come and go, this rose bush endures everything, just like the generations of people and their brainchildren over the expanse of time. Some say that life is a frail thing, others that it is unstoppable: I agree with those who say life is very strong.
One thirty. I restrung my new Fender bass and played it for a while. Aesop really hates the noise and lets me know it. He is quiet now. I feel weird today from my meds, sometimes on the brink of death it seems like. Each time I go to sleep could be the last. Images and feelings of memories flash and vanish like lightning, not lingering long enough for me to elaborate on them.
Here’s one. It was near Christmas of 2014, I think, and I was reading from the Kindle that Kate had gifted me that fall. The essay was by David Hume, and I remember how I looked for support for my idea that people are blameless because they don’t have free will. I was probably drinking that night. I also examined a book by Herbert Spencer titled The Data of Ethics, again trying to rationalize drinking. The truth is that I could barely read anyway from being drunk, so what was the point— except the ability to drink depends on the ability to rationalize it. When all the reasons are gone, one can no longer force himself to abuse alcohol. That was no way to live and use my head. My mind had converted to just a rationalizing machine, and this and getting drunk made me feel better temporarily. But I couldn’t see the light that was so obvious to sober people. And even though I’m sober now, I still have to get my act together in certain ways, like cooking and cleaning. Sometimes CBT can be manipulated to justify bad behavior and absolve the perpetrator. If anybody can do this, it’s me. I was the king of rationalization, and still have the capacity for it. But you can rationalize yourself right to death if you’re not careful… I wonder why I didn’t sleep last night. Was it only because of Aesop, or was there a deeper concern?…
Marc the guitarist was another clever rationalizer. Very wily and too cute. He could invent lies at the drop of a hat. To think that I could have been a martyr for his kind of rock and roll. I remember the feel of those drunken nights, bar hopping from the Samurai Duck over to Black Forest to check out his friend Casey on drums. Or seeing something bizarre on Spike TV while Marc talked with me over a beer before a gig. I wasn’t wholly convinced by his words. At 36 years old, I was still very young. Part of me wondered what I was doing there at the bar. My mother was gone, but I imagined that she would approve of my involvement in the music project. This happened before my first recovery. On a different medication, I saw clearly the contrast between darkness and light, and I was flirting with the wrong side of the dichotomy. I didn’t really want to be a bad boy, but the good side seemed oppressive to me as well… When would I ever be free from religious extremes? Finally CBT taught me about the gray shades along the continuum of black and white. And yet it still appears that there’s always a good and bad side, the light and the dark. This polarity is Christian and also Aristotelian. Either there’s truth to the excluded middle, or my poor schizophrenic brain is deluded.