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.
Six fifty at night.
I made it through Friday, at least till sundown. I lay in bed, half dreaming that I was writing a poem and playing my bass in Whitmanic style, something Civil War and romantic. It was a day of pain and stress, with a crowd of old feelings and memories flooding my mind at once. Likely the highlight today was fingerpicking my new jazz bass, playing songs I used to do with The Owls before my dad passed. The instrument sounds great and surely contributes to my nostalgia for the late Nineties. By dint of a magic spell I can thrum the past into the present day. My notes weave a web, a fabrication of old times that lasts as long as I keep it up. But alas that the music has to stop, the sounds decay away, and the gray prison of reality come back to dominate. Only if we make music together can it wholly transcend earthly existence and make heaven a real place. Instead, we each play different songs with the headphones on. When will we get it together again?
Quarter after seven.
Sundown. There’s probably a nice view of the red sunset somewhere, but here it’s blocked off by houses and trees. Two hours ago I saw a huge bird of prey lift off from a tree limb with the wingspan of a vulture, right in my backyard. The blue sky fades to gray in the east behind my head. A moment ago, Aesop saw a cat fight across the street from us. The smaller, lighter colored cat chased off the bigger one while my dog barked in a frenzy. But hardly a person could be seen all day on my street.
Again it’s this insularity I’ve observed among modern humans: people are islands to each other, preferring intimacy with devices to others of flesh and blood. The consequence of this is fragmentation and a loss of communication among people: ultimately, we can’t call ourselves a community when we don’t speak to one another. Occasionally the Old School has good insights to offer to the younger generation. This is one such observation.
I walked to the store in a mixture of rain and snow, unseasonable for April, at the first light of dawn. The main thing on my mind was how I felt cut off from the church and maybe from the rest of society. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which made me think of Easter next weekend. I’d also been considering Thomas Mann and perhaps finishing The Magic Mountain. If I had the money to tithe to church, then I’d feel more comfortable about attending, but as inflation has it, I just can’t swing it right now. Well phooey, it’s probably money pounded down a rathole anyway, but still I get awfully lonely for friends. I can’t read a Shakespeare play without relating to the outcast character, the one who is often illegitimate and an egoist; someone exiled from the cosmic dance and order of things. I looked out the window and it’s snowing and raining at the same time. I’m dreaming of a white Easter. My friend in Texas reports temperatures in the nineties with gales of wind. Even the weather is all mixed up and fragmented from place to place. This calls attention to the need for unity and mutual understanding, but of course there’s always a remainder to the quotient. Some pieces just refuse to fit together.
Thinking about going to church today. I might be able to make it. If it’s not Pastor Dan, then I can go a little bit later, as long as I’m there by ten o’clock. I keep forgetting that it’s Halloween today. It doesn’t seem very relevant to anything or to me. It’s not supposed to rain at all today, but it’s pretty chilly outdoors. The time is going rather rapidly; before I know it I’ll be out on the road, pounding the sidewalk. I can always hear more than I want to. Right now someone is making noise on my street.
Quarter of noon.
Service was pretty good today. Now it occurs to me how fragmented our culture is these days, mostly because of people like me who are honest and follow their own truth. I saw a funny Halloween decoration at a neighbor’s house: a headstone with the name “Metta Physik.” But this is exactly the problem I have with religion, that is, metaphysics or the supernatural. Without evidence, the spiritual stuff falls to pieces. So it’s probably better if I don’t go to church; just stay home and read my books of analytic philosophy or something else realistic. This is more responsible of me than spoiling a worship service with my presence. There is one argument, however, for metaphysics that gives me pause. It’s that our sense of right and wrong hinges on the spirit, and that with no Lawgiver, everything is permitted. You find this point in The Brothers Karamazov, and the amorality in the story leads to a murder. Dostoevsky is a thinker to reckon with before you dispose of religion altogether. Probably the world needs a good dose of his writing right now, and I might go back for another look at Karamazov, even after I thought I’d exhausted its possibilities. It brings up the serious question, What is existentialism all about?
Eight fifty five.
I went back to bed before dawn and had ominous thoughts and one nightmare. I’m not in a rush to go get a Snapple tea. It can wait. I have to get ahold of the RideSource person and do my assessment as soon as possible.
Ten o’clock. Finally I got out to the store and also spoke with a few people in the neighborhood: Karen, Jessica, Roger, and Colin. The hot topic is still mostly Covid. Colin just got a new job working from home and plans to have another kid. He said he doesn’t trust anybody to be an expert on the pandemic. He and Roger were talking football when I came and sort of killed their conversation. Lolo the dog walked up to me and I petted her. I thought about giving her a snack from my shopping bag, but figured that Aesop wouldn’t want to share. Probably I had other reasons, too. I don’t have a lot in common with the neighbors on my street. Or maybe I am a little bit of a hermit? The street is still wet from the overnight rain. A Canada goose wings overhead, a lone honker, destination unknown.
Quarter of eleven. I left a voicemail for my sister. In five minutes I’ll break open the snacks for Aesop and start thinking about having lunch. Even hermits have to eat, I reckon. And the trash pickup has just arrived.