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.

No Boogeymen

Quarter of seven.

Behind the clouds, the sun is just making the horizon. In order to be free, first believe in freedom. Liberating myself from my past required belief in liberty. I just realized that my old psychiatrist presupposed Freudian ideas, and these things kept me mired down a long time. He sometimes evidenced a belief in ulterior motives and slips rather than accepting accidents as accidents. Since then, I’ve fought to disabuse myself of Freudian determinism and his tripartite model of the mind, especially the unconscious. The more I can make the mind an integrated unit, the better. There’s no reason to set up an impulsive boogeyman in opposition to the conscious ego, though it’s the classic paradigm as old as Plato. All the more reason to discard it. People believe in Freud and Jung just because other people do. It’s a tradition handed down by the generations, often unquestioned and untested. The sky won’t fall if you should try something different. The past is a bucket of ashes. Give liberty a chance.

The Underdog

Nine o’clock at night.

I had a dream that a T. Rex killed my dog. Aesop went up against him fearlessly to defend me but the huge lizard chomped him down. Obviously I was sad afterwards. I wonder what the dream means. Does the dinosaur symbolize something, maybe the monster of society or of life itself, and my dog represents the brave but puny individual whose valiant fight is futile? The story ends up the opposite of David and Goliath: the underdog, against tremendous odds, loses the battle. What are they battling over? Still, Aesop’s self sacrifice to the T. Rex kept me alive a bit longer, so his death was not vain. One more observation: the name “tyrannosaurus” means “tyrant lizard.” Thus, the real tyrant could be anything you can imagine: the Church, or perhaps a group of unjust politicians trying to topple democracy. But usually when I think of something threatening, it’s the menace to liberal scholarship and to education as I remember it. And of course, “Aesop” is the fabulist and moral teacher of antiquity.

Tower of Babble

Wee hours.

I don’t remember what I wrote about in my journal in the evening… wait; I recorded a dream from the morning before. It was about being a rainmaker, also one who can stop the rain from falling. The conclusion was personal responsibility for my alcoholism as opposed to conferring authority on another human being. Another way of saying this is the cliché, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” I just woke up from a dream of my brother making one of his trips to the coast, and I refused to go with him on a drinking spree. So instead he took our mother with him… The amazing thing about human life is the way we can choose a paradigm like indeterminism from determinism, or freedom from bondage, and our actions will be done as if the belief was true. The truth is that every theory is constructed of words, which as easily can be deconstructed and disbelieved. Thus I reject psychodynamics, the traditions of Freud and Jung, for their determinism, and embrace Continental philosophy that has its roots in Cervantes as far as I can tell. Is Don Quixote crazy or sane? For one, I opt to pronounce him of sound mind… With words, you can write yourself a prison cell or rather a pair of wings to fly on. You can analyze or you can build yourself a tower to heaven. Language really has that power.

Keeping the Dice

Eleven thirty five at night.

It was a day of autumnal mildness and gentle breezes, the sky clear and a deep azure, while people in their cars came and went to visit friends in houses in my neighborhood. Also it was a time when I was visited by old memories of college, particularly 1989, the year I studied Joyce with an expert professor. What I remembered especially was the humor in Ulysses. And later, in the springtime, I had Chaucer with a hilarious teacher and we all laughed our brains out at the bawdy jokes in The Canterbury Tales. The following summer, I flew back to Michigan to see my brother and his pregnant wife, and he and I would watch the standup comics on HBO and likewise have hysterics. I was 23 and hadn’t been hit by real adversity yet; this would come in another year and a half. After that, it became harder to laugh at myself or at the absurdities of everyday life, thinking that a lot of humor is denial of what gives us pain. The boss of my job said, “If we weren’t laughing we’d be crying,” but I solved the problem by getting out of that situation. 

I chose a life for myself that allowed me to go slower and easier, like the old song by CSN titled “You Don’t Have to Cry.” I went from a Type A personality to Type B, doing things at my own pace because there was no other way I could live. “You are living a reality / I left years ago / It quite nearly killed me… In the long run / It will make you cry / Make you crazy and old before your time.” The main thing I had to learn was how to manage the guilt and shame feelings, and basically tell my family to go to hell. The other thing was to teach myself a new language that liberated me from my family’s dynamics. Today they have no power over me whatsoever. What I did with my life was absolutely necessary to my sanity and relative happiness. And now I’m in the process of scraping the church off my shoe.

Everyone has options, more options than they acknowledge to themselves. It’s like when Michelle left her dead life in Eugene to take a job in Wyoming: a clean slate. She gave up the victim mentality and took control of the dice herself. The jaws of uncertainty lurked ahead of her, but she moved fearlessly forward.

I wonder what I’ll do after the church fiasco is blown over. 

The Mind

I wrote in my journal that the one mind I always have to deal with is my own. I also thought it might help me to focus on concrete things outside of my head, just ordinary objects. Maybe I would have benefited from getting out of the house. I needed a reality check, though sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. I actually did get up and move into the family room, which helped me a little bit. Right now I feel relatively fine. I just had a nap with some dreams that made no sense. The older I get, the more artificial seem the workings of my own mind, even like a cyborg or whatever. The human brain is a wonderful thing, but it has limits. Some of the stuff my mind does can blow me away, even though it is considered psychotic. But the cliché things we attribute to our minds, like telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and all that Stephen King stuff, is probably baloney. Someday I might be proven wrong about that.

I’m pretty sure, however, that my delusion of time travel was just a delusion.

The human mind has strong desires and wishes, often exceeding the boundaries of what we acknowledge as reality. These desires are expressed in dreams; but sometimes the need is so strong that they intrude in our conscious processes, resulting in delusions and hallucinations. I believe that human beings all desire to be free, like Cervantes when he wrote Don Quixote from a prison cell; nor is freedom itself a fallacy or misleading fantasy. So much has been written about it over the centuries, and nations founded on it, and great social movements inspired by it, that it’s unlikely to be just a chimera or impossible dream.

But then I’ve always been an idealist and a dreamer of big dreams. There aren’t enough of us.

Hardy Har Har!

I had a close call with alcohol this afternoon but talked myself out of it again. It’s a mistake to believe I have any control over my drinking. If I start to do it, then I really am “powerless” over alcohol. The way I see it is, I only have freedom and power as long as I don’t drink: my freedom consists in sobriety itself. To drink is bondage.

The best demonstration of this is the novels of Thomas Hardy. So I dug out Tess of the D’Urbervilles, intending to read it for the first time. His belief in fate hinges entirely on alcoholism if you read his books carefully. I love The Mayor of Casterbridge as a perfect example. And I’ve read Jude the Obscure three times. Jude’s undoing is alcohol and his first wife Arabella, a curvy little bitch who works as a barmaid. But the role of alcohol is clearer in his earlier books. Tess was his penultimate novel to be published, and might be better than Jude. So anyway, by reading Hardy I’ve figured out an antidote to the idea of fatalism, which is simply to avoid alcohol— or maybe not so simple.

For a Rainy Day

Quarter of six.

I spent a restless night. I slept a little here and there and had a bad dream about my parents: they wanted me to sell my basses to compensate for some other expenses. Perhaps they wanted me to go to school. It was a bad dream because I was subordinate to them again, riding in the backseat of their car and being told what to do. But without autonomy, a person never knows who he is; thus independence is vital to your growth and wellbeing. I’d rather be my authentic self and make dumb mistakes than a servant to anyone else and be perfect. And who’s the judge of whether you do right or wrong? If grownups save their children from error, then who will save the grownups from the same thing? It’s silly to be an overprotective parent. Eventually we all have to stand on our own two feet, for good or bad. Just now, a police car siren goes off, but I only shrug and mind my own business. So my dream was a bad one; the return of my parents was like prison for me. People deserve to live with dignity, freedom, and power over their own future.

Quarter after seven.

I hardly ever go to Bi Mart anymore, even less on foot. I used to walk a mile anywhere I wanted to go. A few times I went as far as Santa Clara Square for physical therapy on foot. What’s up with the difference today? I don’t want to spend more money than I have to; but there’s something more. Dunno. Maybe money is mobility and poverty is staying put. Still, selling my guitars is out of the question. You got it, keep it.

Home, Sweet Home

Ten o’clock.

The next day it rained. Gloria is here now, doing some cleaning work in the kitchen. I feel pretty tired but a little anxious too. After one o’clock today I expect my loveseat to be delivered here. My prospect of playing music with others is looking less and less realistic, unless it’s just with the church. I don’t have much in common with the people who play rock and roll. Meanwhile my mother’s dream for me gets less relevant the longer she’s gone. Maybe I dreamed it for myself as well. I’ll hang onto my bass guitars just in case. My magnolia has one flower on it to symbolize the off chance to realize a dream. Down the hall, Aesop is scratching at the door to protest being shut in. He wants to be with me— or does he simply want liberty? Like the prop plane I hear flying overhead outdoors: free as a bird on the wing.

Eleven o’clock. Gloria was having a low energy day so she went home a bit early, and now Aesop gets his wish. The swallows in the chimney sound happy, as even the mourning dove does outside my window. It’s a day of cheerful domesticity and independence.