Having a lousy day so far. I called up D— and canceled my dental appointment for next Tuesday, kind of wincing when I did it. I feel badly about it but I didn’t want to get sick again, just in case it came from the cleaning. The phone call was very awkward but I got it done. Gloria is coming in about 15 minutes. My finances look pretty shaky right now and I hope I can pull through long enough for something good to happen. Poor Aesop knows something is wrong at home. I’d feel a lot better with a little money in my account so I’m not living above my means.
Ten o’clock at night.
A while ago I wrote down my feelings in my journal, particularly about what happened early this morning on the phone with D—. Now I simply chalk it up to doing the prudent thing, never mind that it’s in my own best interest. Any normal and smart person would do what I did by dropping out of that dental service. Maybe the charitable thing to do is to suffer at the hands of incompetence, and maybe this agrees with the Golden Rule also; but the clever person avoids trouble. My brother used to say that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I’m less cynical than he is, yet sometimes a little skepticism is healthy. And then again, I ponder my need to justify my behavior today. I broke the Golden Rule! Another way of seeing it is to call it a teleological suspension of the ethical… Will the ends justify the means? Perhaps I’m Machiavellian for doing my deed. Still I doubt if the stars in the night sky would communicate the answer. No absolute is forthcoming.
What would you have done?
Nine twenty five.
The cold I caught a week ago is nearly gone, though I still have mental fog and floaters in my vision. Gloria brought back my book on Australian aborigines, having read the whole thing. I sit here, convalescent, while she vacuums the carpets and hardwood floor.
She’s gone again till Tuesday, and on my end, I feel very weak and still sick. But my thinker isn’t busted, at least not yet. The rain began in earnest about an hour ago, so now the scene has a silvery sheen mixed with the verdant flora; it’s a blur of green and gray. A while back I thought of the understated style of Paul Bowles as it relates to the indifference of nature and the cosmos. The gray ambiguity is everywhere with us, but it’s also up to people to define our existence and form it above the shapeless chaos. The microcosm, man, has decayed because the universe no longer makes sense. But it’s really the other way around: we have to exalt what is beautiful in ourselves and paint the Void with it. I’ve dreamed something like this before. The idea is nothing new since the time Faulkner started writing almost a century ago… The rain has ceased falling temporarily, but the meaning of it depends on my imagination. And a collective imagination can make the difference between the Pit and a life worth living… I frequently feel tempted to bend my steps back to church. But this means subordination to the pastor’s vision, and he is only a mortal like everybody. It’s so hard to know what to do. Just keep writing…
Seven thirty five at night.
I really didn’t want to be sick, but there’s no bargaining with this circumstance anymore; a fact is a fact. I tried to reason it away as just a mouth infection, but it’s acting like a typical head cold, from the sore throat stage to nasal congestion, etc. Okay, so I was an idiot. Now I just hope I won’t be too wretched the next few days.
How easy it is to blame everyone and everything, including the stars, but yourself for bad luck. Putting responsibility off of yourself is the excellent foppery of the world. And yet Shakespeare puts these words in the mouth of Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, and the misbegotten miscreant with no place in God’s orderly world. I don’t know whether to agree with the Bard’s opinion or subvert it with his own created character. As the centuries rolled on, dramatists turned the focus away from nobility and towards ordinary individuals: indeed the individual, rather than the group, became the point of interest. So then, heroes like John Proctor of The Crucible were made possible, and even before that, Nora Helmer of A Doll’s House. Still I’m stuck on what to do with Edmund the bastard: perhaps he should have written Shakespeare into existence rather than the reverse. Maybe nobody would’ve known the difference anyhow. Which would be the more foppish today, the cosmic dance or Machiavellian plotting? Maybe we made a wrong turn after Shakespeare…
Quarter of ten.
I was off to a late start this morning; I simply slept in a while. One thing I keep telling myself is the difference between fantasy and reality. And it’s the reality that counts for more. We’re having rain showers today, so I took my umbrella on my walk. The FedEx driver waved when we passed on my street. Just now a little tune by Jethro Tull appears out of nowhere, with exaggerated moralism: “And the jackknife barber drops her off at school…” I ran into Melissa, a former employee of the market, while I was there. She says that her four year old boy is a dinosaur expert and can inform you all about them, and correct you when you make a mistake. At the time I was shopping, I sneaked a peek at the price on my old poison of choice in the beer cooler: $10.49 before deposit. But I was only curious and not seriously tempted. “There’s no problem that a little alcohol can’t make worse,” said my next door neighbor five years ago… A few factors have conspired to make me think of Aqualung, the classic prog album. It gave alcoholics a bad reputation, perhaps, even with these lines: “Aqualung my friend / Don’t you start away uneasy / You poor old sot, you see it’s only me.” I guess I’m sensitive to criticism like this. It’s much easier to judge others than be in the hot seat yourself. Everyone needs a taste of their own medicine occasionally… The showers have ceased for now, and in a symbolic way also. My five year birthday will be sweet.
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.
I must’ve slept five hours this evening, and I dreamed about my mother, a little sadly. I’ve got a song in my head by Wang Chung, but if it’s significant to what I’m thinking, then I have no clue what it means. It hasn’t been a great day; kind of a time for feeling doubt and regret. A very old song by Petula Clark ends with the lines, “To question such good fortune / Who am I?” And I think this is the same question I ought to ask myself. Now is a time when, as I keep saying, good things are falling in my lap. The system is taking excellent care of me, “So why on earth should I moan?” Is it only because other people on WordPress are jealous and envious of me? It reminds me of second grade, when the kids would jeer at me when Mom picked me up after school, and then she took me out to ice cream at Dairy Queen. We’d get the cones, usually dipped in chocolate. Other times she’d take me to the store to buy orange creamsicles. And you know, I don’t regret that one bit! The other kids probably went to an empty home and let themselves in with a latchkey.
Jealousy is the oldest and most wicked feeling in human experience. It’s what motivated Lucifer to revolt against God and start the war in heaven; and with his miserable defeat, he became Satan, the leader of all the demons in hell.
Therefore I have to say screw other bloggers on WordPress for being conservative capitalists, or whatever drives them away from my blog. And that being said, I’ll think about posting this message to my domain.
Two o’clock in the afternoon.
I don’t really know what I’m writing for. Since I left the church, there’s been no one to argue with, so my own beliefs go unchallenged. Now at peace, and with the weather halfway decent, I could take a little walk over to the market to get something tasty and fun, like ice cream or a bag of Doritos and chunky salsa.
It feels odd to be wiped clean of everything philosophical or theological, leaving pure aesthetics. I have no more fight left in me, but also nothing to fight over.
Three o’clock. The clouds are gigantic over the little community. I suddenly think of how my parents used to read light fiction, stuff on the bestseller list that they didn’t have to ponder much. While they did that, I read heroic fantasies, but nothing headier than Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy. My mother said we were living on the surface. I reckon there’s nothing wrong with that. Her hero was Michelangelo, along with Shakespeare and Poe: whoever she considered original. And yet she never read that kind of thing. Instead it was historical fiction and romances mostly, like John Jakes, James Michener, and their imitators. My parents both read Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, and Lawrence Saunders.
If the unexamined life is not worth living, then still I won’t say my parents were unworthy people. They gave me everything they had, so how could I be ungrateful? This was a disagreement I had with the church. Who’s to condemn others for being thoughtless hedonists? It strikes me as a very profound problem, itself like something in a Camus book. Not to mention that it’s one of the Ten Commandments…
Quarter of eight.
On my way to market I stumbled over a pair of mallard ducks on Fremont Avenue. It was raining a little, flooding out the earthworms, in turn attracting the birds that feed on them. If I’d had some bread, I would have given it to the ducks, but all I could do was admire them… Once again I’ve read an attitude from someone that goes on the moral warpath. But the reason we have morality is not for condemnation of other people, nor of ourselves. I guess I’m just a pacifist, but even Jesus says we should love our enemies and everyone else besides. He says to the accusers of the adulteress, “Whoever is without sin among you, throw the first stone at her.” And because none of them is innocent, they can’t do this. It’s a simple concept called hypocrisy, yet a lot of people don’t get it. Nobody has the right to feel judgmental towards their neighbors. Those who live in glass houses mustn’t throw stones. I’ve always liked the quote from Spinoza as follows: “Things are not more or less perfect according as they delight or offend human senses…” It is not for human beings to judge the rightness or wrongness of their fellows. And when we do sentence a person for a crime, it is without a sense of moral outrage, disgust, and so on.
I see a lot of ugliness in the world and very little beauty since this year began. I don’t presume to understand why that is, but people ought to be able to fix it anyway just by making beautiful things. Above the human form there’s nothing more beautiful and perfect, but it’s because we degrade it that we’ve lost our touch. Human beings are not animal and ugly, so why do we despair and deny each other the love and beauty we’re capable of?… The sun is about to clear the rooftops across the street from my house and I see blue sky this morning. I think it’s a two Snapple day today. Aesop is in one of his moods since yesterday, but because he can’t talk, it’s indecipherable to me. I’ve got no plans for today but to make a trip for the daily groceries and to wait for Damien to come and do yard work around midday. With heaven and hell at our disposal, we give a lot more of the second to one another than the first. And this to me is the greatest mystery of human existence.
I got a nasty surprise in my mailbox this morning: a green notice saying “vacant” with a brief explanation that my mail is on a ten day hold for not emptying my box every day, and a request for me to call the post office. My paranoid imagination tries to make more of this than there is to it. They simply drew the wrong conclusions from the fact that there’s no car in my driveway… Or maybe they really are punishing me? But I seriously don’t think that people are the instruments of God’s will, to either reward or punish others according with his pleasure. This idea is very superstitious and unreasonable.
Nine twenty. I got it straightened out on the phone… The high clouds outside make the sky look white. At the store a while ago I heard L— using foul language with a customer who probably knew her. I thought it was weird for a clerk to swear like a trooper with the public. I guess I don’t care for her very much. She is not like Michelle by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a rough old blackguard. I’m tempted to generalize and say that society is going downhill at a rapid rate since the time I quit going to church. And I am just a camera eye for everything going on. I feel inclined to dust off my Riverside Chaucer and review the “General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales. From the Knight on down to the last two characters shows a steady decline in morals that may be compared to our times today.
Noon. It turns out that the mail carrier really is being bitchy with me, without saying anything about it to me before. The unreason of people nowadays is rather breathtaking. Is it from the pandemic or what? Why are people acting so childishly and rudely to one another, and cutting no slack?