Independence

Quarter of one.

As I get older, I also get slower to process information. For instance, I’m still arguing with someone for what he said six weeks ago, never mind the details. I want to call him names like stuffed shirt and hypocrite, but it wouldn’t do any good. January is coming to an end, and hopefully so will a few of my headaches. Everyone has an opinion and an agenda, which is fine as long as you don’t include me in your scheme. A few people I’ve known are live and let live, but there are many more who want power over you, to dominate and control you. So that I’m ready to leave it all behind, because I’m not about to surrender to another person’s will. No white flag or throwing in the towel. I don’t care who’s on your side, whatever phantoms you have up your sleeve or at your beck and call. I don’t believe it… It’s been a while since I read Emerson, whom I admire for his independence. America is cool in some ways but it’s also very difficult here for freethinkers and people who can imagine a better way of living and getting along together. Dream on, I guess. And yet I feel that conditions will come to a crisis. Someone will come along who tells us all to shut up. This will happen especially if we don’t exercise our right to free speech and writing. As it is, they’ve got us reading just one redundant book. 

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Consciousness

Thanks for feeding back on what I wrote yesterday. I think it was the influence of Coca-Cola! But today I had two Snapples and afterwards I felt pretty lousy, so I took a gabapentin and went to bed for a few hours. The old proverb is true that you are what you eat— simply because the brain is a physical thing and every thought proceeds from brain activity. This is what I believe, anyway; there are some who will deny it, saying the mind is unrelated to the body, arguing for a sort of dualism of spirit and flesh. I think their position would be very difficult to prove. It’s a throwback to Cartesian thinking four hundred years ago. Descartes identified the pineal gland as the location where the soul interacts with the body— since proven false.

I’m thinking specifically of Pastor. He is quite paranoid about the facts of biological psychology, the physiology of the nervous system. Perhaps his belief system could fall if my point about materialism were proved to him. So it’s best not to discuss it with him. In biblical language, the personality is carnal and spiritual, but what I’m saying is the whole thing is carnal and the spirit likely doesn’t exist.

Culturally, people generally accept the soul or spirit. In ancient Japanese history, people would drive a hole in the skulls of their dead before burial to let the soul escape. I guess to most people the phenomenon of consciousness is a divine mystery, something imponderable and sacred for the reason that they don’t understand it. A lot of philosophy has been written about it. Sartre actually turned perception around to make the mind logically prior to what it perceives, in the same vein as “I think therefore I am.”

Mind over matter and matter over mind. Idealistic philosophers often eliminate the existence of matter totally, so only the mind is real. Maybe I’m getting a little tired of philosophy. The evidence points to nothing but the physical state of existence, and this is realistic and probably the truth. Philosophy is the most useful when it approximates science, in my opinion.

But then again, you wonder about the ramifications of materialism for freedom of the will…

I had a very brief dream that I had a book in my hands, open to a chapter titled in big bold letters, “FREEDOM.” Somewhere I might have seen this in reality.

Hooks

Quarter of eleven.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of good and evil and the Romantic and religious imagination; also about rebels like Jane Austen who wanted no part of Romanticism. I wonder why cognitive therapy has gone out of favor in our society; probably people figured out that it was atheistic, since no absolute means no God, and the shades of gray are too amoral for a Christian culture, as we seem to be today. I really admire Austen’s rebellion during her time and perhaps people now can learn by her example. She was essentially unromantic in the sense of imagination and spirituality: a realist who cared about things as they are more than a transcendent good and evil kind of scenario. I’ve probably hung out with churchgoers for too long, so it seems like the whole world is a Christian society. I’d like to get myself out of that situation; but when I rip the hooks out, they’ll take some flesh with them.

As You Like It

Five o’clock in the morning.

Every day is a challenge for me mentally and emotionally, especially when the holidays come around. To think that the illness all started with a mononucleosis bug when I was in high school is an idea that blows me away. To think that it could have been avoided if I hadn’t gotten the virus is so regrettable. But I guess everyone is damaged goods to some extent. We all have scars of battles won or lost. Often our misfortunes are unjust, the adversity unmerited, so the notion of karma doesn’t make much sense. I don’t like to believe in retribution or other spiritual laws. The events of life just happen like cause and effect. What else will science discover, given a chance? For some odd reason, people try to halt scientific progress and turn it around to Dark Age superstition. We make martyrs of those who would improve our knowledge. Something tells me it’s a biblical tendency that holds us back.

And yet, my life has turned out favorably to me, for I live in comfort and some degree of freedom, as if justice held sway. Or rather, life was flexible enough for me to fashion my own fate as I desired. And then I recall the ones who are less fortunate. Every situation can always be worse. 

Saving Freedom

Nine twenty five.

A gentle wave of nostalgia. Music from 1987, a long long time ago, though it feels like right now. I’ve got sparrows at my back door, same species, different individuals every year, like the swans in the Yeats poem. I should call my sister pretty soon because time is slipping away. Both of my siblings are over seventy now.

Wee hours.

When I was young, I strongly wanted to believe that humans are divine and free rather than animal and determined. I started taking a class in physical anthropology but wound up dropping out of the term totally. I still have the textbook we used. One of the first lessons was the Voyage of the Beagle and Darwin’s revelation of natural selection. A year later, I took psychology and came to be able to accept science, though it was very difficult for me because I still had the gnawing desire for freedom.

Is there any way that the ideal and the real can coexist and intersect? Descartes struggled with this problem, but there’s no philosophical hocus pocus that can permanently solve it. Sartre was the last thinker who tried to save freedom. Who’ll be the next? 

The Horseshoe Nail

I figured out that I feel quite stuck in my economic situation, with no car and a debt that’s growing. There’s a thing called house rich, cash poor that describes me pretty well. I don’t know how many people are in the same boat with me. But I reflected that it’s very difficult to be “free” when you live in dire poverty. It can be a double bind as well. Getting yourself out of poverty requires freedom, but being free takes some money to start with… I began to notice that this was a problem when I could no longer tithe to the church. And having no car precludes any shot at playing music in a band. It also means no transportation to a worksite if I had a job. It’s beginning to look like the nursery rhyme of the want of a horseshoe nail. The kingdom is lost ultimately because of this lack. There are even more complications in addition, like the fact that we’re moving to electric cars that nobody can afford, so it makes no sense to invest in a gas powered car now.
I suppose it’s kind of a joke to say I could live by my writing, and convert words to cash. Writers like Faulkner can attest that writing for money is not freedom of expression.
If prayers had power, I could use a miracle. I bet that we all could.

Noble Savages

Eight AM.

Reading about Newton yesterday made me think of my brother and his science brain. I think of how a great mind was ruined by the pleasure principle: however, my brother is human, not a computer or robot. And, what defines people as human is probably closer to sentiment than pure reason, hence why Rousseau rebelled against the rationalistic trend of the 18th Century, and the Luddites reacted against the Industrial Revolution, sneaking into factories at night and breaking machines. Any attempt to make people conform to pure rationality is doomed to fail because we are human, with all the human complexities. Maybe for this reason we have phenomena like madness and drunkenness in our society. These things are a desperate plea for freedom in a world of numbers and technology and ever diminishing humanity, where no one is personal anymore. The Age of Reason is alive and well today, while the only recourse for individuals is the noble savage, or the barbaric yawp of Walt Whitman: the howl of Allen Ginsberg. 

Frustration

Quarter of midnight.

Something Drastic 

I was thinking and writing about how the USA has lost its balls, and I’m one of those people with no balls. My sister, an ignorant Puritan, heads my family; but sick of this, I’m taking my cue from James Joyce and taking charge of my life— even if I have to leave the country and go to the UK to live. I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s time for me to throw off this paralysis and take my life seriously. No more Anne Bradstreet BS after this. No more “abstinence is the best contraception.” If I don’t take action, then my balls are forever pulverized by a system that’s lost its soul. The nation is seriously messed up, never mind who is to blame. I will free myself from this stranglehold or I’ll die trying.

And no, I don’t endorse Donald Trump or any political party. This is strictly personal, my own observation after years of life in this country.

I believe in the pursuit of happiness and the liberty to do this. 

Psyche

I really don’t like the beliefs and attitudes of my sister, but something gives me strength to fight her. Her own particular god used to scare me. For this reason I chose the Lutherans to start my recovery, because her faith was Baptist… If rock and roll is dead, then why do I still hear old Yes music in my brain? Or perhaps it’s better that rock music go away. Culture is still trying to understand itself. Right now is not a bad time to be alive. The worst that can happen is to be robbed of your right to free speech: to see the fall of democracy and representation. This just can’t happen in America.

Eight o’clock.

I had a dream that monarch butterflies were clustered into a wall outlet of my house, fluttering to find their way inside. For the Greeks, the butterfly symbolized the soul. This dream was very brief, like a vision rather than an episode.

Cold Coffee

Four in the afternoon.

I made a little run around the corner for something to drink and give to my dog. On N Park I passed a guy on his bicycle balancing a big half case of Pub Beer. He coasted by with a look of satisfaction on his bearded face, mixed with determination. But it was kind of cool on a Friday afternoon in September to see the varieties of freedom people opted for. I felt happy enough to try a cold coffee and get a rawhide chew for Aesop. Deb sold me three items and I also dropped in on Karen, who was busy cutting a guy’s hair. At one point I glanced up and down Maxwell Road and saw no cars at all. The general mood of the day is insouciance.