Eleven o’clock at night.
Everything’s in a state of decay, so that a better leader is needed, not necessarily in politics but some humanist writer or other artist is called for. Where is Neil Peart when we need him? I feel motivated to take up my reading of Twain again and reflect on human dignity to try to pull us out of despair. A few lines from The Exorcist occur to me. Father Merrin says that the demon’s strategy is to “make us see ourselves as animal and ugly.” So the antidote to this is to deify the human form, as the Greeks succeeded in doing in the transition from Egyptian religion to classical mythology and beyond to philosophy, where we see the rise of civilization with Aristotle… The human race should aspire to building a new Tower of Babel to touch heaven and unite the world’s languages as one. In the beginning— and the end— is the word. Faith in logos will be our savior, though we have to do it ourselves.
Quarter after five.
Life in recovery is an adventure. Nothing is ever predictable, so when I get dealt crappy cards on a given day, I just have to accept my feelings, however dark they may be. But the deck of cards is influenced by the ones I play, and sometimes it doesn’t get shuffled very well in order to randomize what I get. I still would like to read the Oration on the Dignity of Man, only about 35 pages. The nobility of humankind is a great theme for when you are depressed and need an inspirational boost to get through the day. I particularly don’t feel like genuflecting in abject humility to some higher power, so maybe DDA is not for me. Somewhere along the line I got off the track, probably last December with Laurel Hill. I’d rather just be myself. And would this be such a crime? Who really likes to be led through brainwashing programs that try to persuade you of your helplessness? I don’t believe this at all. Maybe I listened to too much Rush when I was growing up, but you could do a lot worse.
Quarter after six. I think I’m going to cancel my ride to DDA for Thursday afternoon. I’ve never been a fan of the Twelve Steps. By now I’ve had enough of that nonsense. It is just plain unhelpful to me towards recovery, and I’m not even sure I agree with the term “recovery.” I either drink or I don’t drink, and this is good enough. I’m sick of being told what to think and what to do, so now I’m taking the dice out of their hands. The best game in town is the one I create.
Nine twenty five. I feel kind of lousy right now. I didn’t sleep well, either. Walking back from the market I ran into Patty, and she got my name right this time… I feel that my life is being encroached upon by those who think they know what’s best for me, when I would prefer to live my life in peace with no interference. Just set me free and let me be. I can tell Misty about these feelings at the agency this afternoon. I really hate being told what to do, and this situation has gotten out of my control… With a PCA, I’ll be hiring someone to prod me about my shortcomings, and as I consider this, it doesn’t seem very logical to me. Plus I know that I’d really resent being browbeaten. I hate feeling guilty or ashamed for what I am; it only leads to depression and likely a relapse to alcoholism. There are so many catch-22s in life, but the worst thing is when your freedom is denied you, and life feels like an exercise in obedience and conformity. But I refuse to feel ashamed of myself. Pride and dignity are so important to the wellbeing of any human being. Plenty of people will try to take this away from you. So don’t assist them in doing that. Otherwise it’s very difficult to reclaim your power.
Quarter of eight.
In an hour I have to be ready to go to the cancer institute for my blood work. I’ll feed Aesop before I go. I don’t know much this morning, have no insights to offer. Just another cloudy day, dark and gloomy. Thoughts go by in a stream, associated by meaning, sometimes by sound. I don’t record all of them… Human behavior is rather disappointing. I see a lot of cowardice in this pandemic, and some trying to take advantage of the situation. I just play the bass guitar and hope to make the world a bit more beautiful.
Quarter of noon. I saw a diversity of people at the institute: Black, Hispanic, and Asian were mixed with Whites, but you still have to be careful of what you say about race, etc, one way or the other. It’s insane. I wonder if I might’ve hallucinated the redneck truck with Confederate flag plates a few weeks ago. Also the blue flag that said, “Trump lost— lol.” Both of these sights were very temporary, there and gone in a day. The stress of the times could’ve made me more susceptible to psychosis, like the sightings of flying saucers after the end of WW2.
Speaking of the postwar era, I recommended a book to a friend for inspiration: On the Beach by Nevil Shute. It presents an optimistic view of human nature in a crisis. The characters know the fallout is coming, and they make the best of the situation. Instead of rolling over like a dog and begging for mercy, they respond with intelligence and dignity. A movie was made of it as well… People seem lost at sea in “unprecedented” times, in need of guidance and assurance, yet our literature gives an idea of how we ought to act. Wallowing in depression and self pity is not righteous, as some people think. Let’s be smart about this and do the right things.
I got as much sleep as I could, then finally resigned myself to getting up for a while. I read a depressed post by a fellow blogger and tried to leave a comment. Now it spurs me to think: what are the most inspiring words anyone ever said to me? Off the top of my head I would cite “Free Will” by Rush. Second to this I would say Don Quixote, and “Existentialism Is a Humanism” by Sartre; and maybe Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola. Anything that lifts humanity from the primordial slime, both collectively and individually, is a great thing. I can’t agree with those who recommend groveling before an angry God. To kneel in humility to a so-called superior defiles the nobility of the human spirit. We are meant to walk upright, not on our hands and knees like a beast… One more inspirational work: The Crucible by Arthur Miller. To be a martyr for the truth like John Proctor is the acme of man’s pride and power. The essence is integrity, and standing up for what you know to be true. When the rest of the world has ingested wormwood and gone insane, and if you’re the last sensible person on earth, you have only yourself to steer by. Against the odds, the individual still owes it to himself to be honest. And he will come out victorious, free, and happy who adheres to his truth.
Five thirty five. But there’s a flaw in my logic above. John Proctor ends up dead! He gets hanged for his truth. The example I should have used was Howard Roark in the book by Ayn Rand. Never trust the poet. Trust the tale.
I seem to be quite discontent with my life as it is today. I guess it’s just the absence of pleasure that gets me down. I keep saying what a gray existence this is, how colorless and insipid, and essentially unhappy. When this depression hits, I take recourse to a past when I had more pleasure. Basically, I feel unloved. Loneliness eats away at my very soul, and the November weather doesn’t help. I might be happier if I could drink beer, yet even this is illusory. I’m an epicurean living in a stoic world, a complete fish out of water. My parents lived that way all their lives, selfishly sucking the most pleasure out of existence that they could. I look around me and see no other way than hedonism. To be a hedonist without pleasure is indeed a meaningless life, and that is life without alcohol for an alcoholic. But I know that for me there’s no moderation in drinking, thus I am stuck with anhedonia. As we move into the winter, the memory of my mother returns… I don’t know. I’m just a wreck.
Occasionally I take comfort in the idea of individual freedom. But freedom in the world of the pandemic seems like a delusion, because we’re all chained together in the same condition. In fact, as I consider it, personal liberty is precisely what my life is missing today. There’s too much focus on sociology, the study of society and culture. This may be coming from the church. The libertarian influences on me have deserted for a while, but I know that freedom is my inspiration and not the chains of collectivism. I suppose I have a disagreement with my church, and maybe I need to change my lifestyle accordingly. I’d like to revive my ideas of Renaissance humanism and restore my reverence for the beauty of the human form. Religion has corrupted my image of humankind as a noble thing: heroic and strong, pure and honest. The individual molds society, not the other way around. The greatest human being is the one who can stand trial against the world and win.
I’ve been to the store. I forgot to mention my bottle returns to Vicki, so I’m out 30 cents. If I remember tomorrow, I’ll tell her then. She’ll believe me because she knows I don’t lie. Someone had brought in a bunch of sandwiches from the deli, so I bought roast beef and cheddar. This will make a good lunch today. By the way, the black ants in my kitchen have disappeared. I guess they got tired of being jettisoned down the drain with tap water.
I feel strong and independent this morning, like an equal human being. Our humanity is very important, as I wrote to my pen pal earlier today. The pride and glory of being human has gone out of our religion since the days of the Renaissance. I totally admire Pico della Mirandola for his Dignity of Man. By contrast, today’s definition of human is whatever makes us weak. I believe that being human is a grand thing, and we can take a lesson from Ancient Greece as long as those old books are available. Not to mention the poetry and essays by Renaissance scholars themselves. I still owe Castiglione a read through his Book of the Courtier. Also Sidney for The Old Arcadia. Anyway, the humanism of medieval Christianity doesn’t exist anymore. Modern day religion promotes the image of people as humble and groveling before their God. That just doesn’t appeal to me, and never really has.
Aesop’s breakfast is up in a few minutes. The sky is cloudless and we’re probably in for a hot day. I don’t plan on letting anyone get me down today. It isn’t worth it to feel ashamed for anything. Hold your head up and get on with it. Others will respect you for that.
Two ten. It used to be that my ear for bass playing depended on having gear identical to my favorite celebrity bass players. I finally decided that this was a fallacy, for I am just myself and not someone famous. Why pretend to be somebody else when I pick up a bass guitar and start to play? Now I’d rather sound like myself. When I used a Music Man bass back in the day, people would compliment me, but I said it wasn’t me they were hearing, it was the instrument. It sounded familiar to them, being a popular bass on the radio and television in the ‘90s. By using one, I was just being an imitator of what was cool. Now I need to figure out a new way of playing the bass, and make it my voice that people are hearing… The afternoon heat is forcing my eyes to close, but my brain still feels okay. Marci from the pharmacy called and said my Vraylar is a special order and will be ready at noon tomorrow.
Four fifty. The indoor temperature has reached 80 degrees. I lay down on the bed for a while and let my mind wander. Feared I would pass out, but so far so good. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow… I love the notion of the dignity of man, how with the intellect we can overcome being animal and vegetable and be divine. Psychoanalysis does the opposite of this, strips you down to a defenseless brute, basically dehumanizing you. Because, after all, the only weapon and shield people have is their God-given reason, and this defines us as human, even as Aristotle said 400 years before Christ. What is the point in disabling a person’s reason? Most people reject Freud nowadays, and I have to agree. Whatever promotes the rational faculty is a good thing, because the essence is freedom and happiness.