Quarter after one AM.
I saw an article on Apple News about loneliness and isolation as the Surgeon General reported it. In my sleepiness I thought it was aimed at me, but I caught myself being paranoid and taking offense. I still find that there’s too much emphasis on traditional Jungian psychology and not enough on the realistic approach, namely cognitive therapy. The second is very practical and helpful but the first just isn’t. Maybe folks want to believe that God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world— if they are thinking at all. And maybe today we face the same problem as the Victorians: which way to turn on theology. I see parallels of the present with the end of the nineties decade. Times were more or less godless, so that humans had only each other to depend on, and the nature of the cosmos was a big unknown. Was the universe a friendly place or not? People were like the crew of the Pequod in Moby Dick: the world on a crazy whaling voyage… My personal life was very dependent on my parents before they died. After that, I turned to alcohol to depend on. Life has been a long process of growing towards independence and liberty. It’s a goal I may never wholly achieve. It is perhaps the common goal of all human beings. But what we do when we possess liberty is still another issue.
I feel okay now. It’s funny; the fall season hit me hard at first but now I can remember many other years besides the crazy ones around twenty years ago. I went through a very long period as a Romantic and mystic but probably in fall of 2009 I started to move away from that. Around that time I bought The Illustrated Jane Austen in six volumes and began thinking like a common sense realist… Reading Whitman again makes me sensitive to the mystical stuff as before. Maybe I’ll stop it and read something else.
The sun went down a half hour ago. The experience of the living godhead is a very strange thing to me. I don’t know if it’s even real or just imaginary, some ventriloquy of the human mind. When you get into a zone of energy, especially with a group of people doing an activity like music or sports or something, then it seems magical and quite powerful. It’s been a long time since I felt anything like that with people. I think the mystical power is a human power that we can give off and share together— or contain and withhold it from each other. I believe that’s what is happening right now: people are very self absorbed so that the experience of spirit doesn’t happen currently.
Even John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath writes of the human spirit in an Emersonian way. It’s a power that originates with us, with humanity. We kind of project it outside of ourselves and then we depend on it; but this gives us more confidence in ourselves, our decisions, our enterprises. I’m paraphrasing what he said in East of Eden.
I guess it’s up to us whether we want to awaken the spirit of God again. William Blake said that the Poetic Genius and man are the same thing. The Romantics saw it all along. Jon Anderson of Yes sings the same ideas. He suggests that heaven is something that human beings create by the power of imagination; but heaven is no less real for this reason.
We are responsible for the future of our spiritual life because it dwells within ourselves in the first place. So that what Jesus said is true: the kingdom of God is within you.
Quarter of seven.
First I canceled with Gloria this morning and started out for the store, but then I remembered that they don’t open until seven on weekends. So now I’m waiting to make my official trip. A mourning dove hoots emphatically what morons we are. I believe the dove really is the Holy Spirit as it descended upon Jesus when He came of age. But my brain has been baking in the heat for a week, so anything’s possible. Any mirage in the desert looks good.
Everyone is talking about the heat. And my backyard is like an aviary this morning. I don’t put out bird feed, either, yet still they come. Also the squirrels: they hoard acorns from the oak tree. Often I forget that it’s all life, all of the wild species around us, as valid as humans are. The Canada goose flies alone over the neighborhood. Aristotle said that human beings are political animals, but why aren’t animals allowed to vote? Socrates said that the countryside had nothing to teach him of philosophy. Maybe philosophy is overrated.
Though I’m not watching them, I know I hear a family of house sparrows on my back porch. That old birdhouse is a wreck, yet they keep returning there to lay eggs and raise nestlings. Most of the noise is from the babies clamoring to be fed. It seems late for mating season but everything is kind of messed up. The little prop plane over my head aspires to be a bird, and almost succeeds. Some dreams need revision as they hit the wall of reality.
My dog is hungry.
Before the dawn.
Yesterday the high was a hundred degrees. We survived it, but a reprieve would be awfully nice. They tell us not until Monday. It’s like marking time; you can’t do much when it’s so hot outside. All this hoopla over the invention of a little thing called the internal combustion engine and consequent greenhouse gases. It wouldn’t necessarily be a regression to barbarism to do away with it. My brother once said that Native Americans “didn’t even have the wheel.” Spoken like a true technocrat. But what they did have was a harmonious relationship with their habitat. They belonged to the land, not the reverse of this. Ownership of the land was an alien concept to them. They were as moral as nature, while whites are less moral than nature. Our Bible makes nonsense claims about inheriting the earth, etc etc. The fact is more like what the Indians believed. What kind of sacrifice is the internal combustion engine? Rather, it would be our salvation. Meanwhile we sweat out the heatwave, praying for good decisions. These are worth a prayer.
Nine twenty five at night.
There is still twilight in the night sky, very slowly fading out. I’ve had a four hour nap this evening. Tomorrow perhaps I can play my bass guitar and make a pleasing sound. There are so many great books I want to experience again or for the first time. Can you go wrong with Shakespeare? I feel like I’ve become some combo of characters in one of his plays. If I’d thought I was like Edmund of King Lear, then there’s as much resemblance to Cordelia the soothsayer. For me, honesty is not so much a principle as an artless mode of coping. It is simple and practical to tell the truth because it avoids trouble and complications down the road if you lie. I’d be honest in saying that honesty doesn’t always pay off short term, but then lying can be a disaster for more than just yourself. In the end, it benefits you to tell the truth. The most unflattering truth ultimately is better than an attractive lie, especially regarding the ecology.
The hardest thing for people to accept is that human beings are biological organisms, and as such, mortal. How does a fact like that help us? Maybe we’ll never get beyond the selfish greed for eternal life. I honestly don’t know the answer, but by accepting responsibility for our ecology, we further the future of the whole species of humankind.
Cordelia was not a flatterer but an honest person. And we are like the old king who doesn’t want to hear it.
I tried to take a nap, but lying in bed, I could only hear echoes of the Steve Khan music I’d listened to very early this morning. Now I feel wooden like a zombie or some undead person. I’ll avoid Dr Pepper after this, for it kind of poisoned my system. Just before seven o’clock tonight it cleared up, giving us two hours of sunshine. Hearing Khan’s music vaguely recalls Ulysses to my mind; I was exposed to both as a senior in college, when also my mother had cancer and needed surgery. After Joyce I started reading Sons and Lovers on my own time, a beautiful book by D.H. Lawrence, back when our minds were not enslaved by a brainwashing god and government and it was okay to think and feel something human.
Much more recently I read Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf, who raises the question of whether the beauty of the world would endure or rather perish, and what will it take to preserve it. This is still an issue today, for those of us with open eyes and a feeling heart. While the world seems to be dying, we let the humanities fall to ruin: the things we used to live for that were worth living for. Woolf was undecided on this question, but I’m sure she wished for the beautiful things to last perpetually, like the trip to Greece to see the Parthenon at the end of the novel: a fitting climax and perhaps a statement of triumph for the works of humankind. So now, who’s going to write the next Jacob’s Room to answer the same question for our time?
They expect rain at seven o’clock this morning. I feel pretty miserable with this cold in my head, but I try to work around it.
I went to the market as I usually do in the morning and saw nothing extraordinary. No rain came down, though I prepared for it with an umbrella. I returned to my accustomed raspberry Snapple tea this time after two days of orange juice, and it has rejuvenated me a bit. I was pondering something last night: just because you can grasp an abstract idea, does that qualify it as valid? Does an aptitude for metaphors mean that reality actually is a shadow of the spirit world? Why do we have intuition— or is this merely a word and not a faculty? And then another part of me tells me to shut up, as these questions are useless child’s play. It is childlike to ask questions to infinity. So what is philosophy for, if it raises more questions than it solves?
Seven fifty. Then again, life without inquiring spirits would be pretty dull. It would hardly be life at all when all opinions were readymade for you to adopt for your own. Unfortunately, this is the future we face unless we turn it around. I believe that we’re better than mindless automatons in this country. Don’t defer your logic to spiritual leaders and politicians who are no more informed than you are. I visualize a world that is one big peripatetic school, a place of free and original thinkers living full lives, happy as only human beings can be.
Two o’clock in the afternoon.
I have a happy little tune playing in my head, something from a compilation 8 track tape that was titled Instrumental Gold. My mom gave it to me when I was an eighth grader, and I still listened to it into the next year of school. It makes me think of lost innocence, or perhaps the innocence is invincible, even though we read Lord of the Flies as a class. The question of human nature was my motive for reading Shelley again. I desired to know if humankind is perfectible, and if love is the way it can be achieved… Today there is sunshine through the haze, but overall the weather has been very unusual for May. I hear a lot of talk that denies human responsibility for climate change, but scientists have warned us of this outcome for 35 years or more. Nobody wanted to believe it, and the media downplayed it. Contrary to people’s Ptolemaic ideas, the earth and human life on it are not at the center of the universe. We tend to be vain and presumptuous about our own importance. Indeed, this is what we’re brainwashed with everywhere, and because it flatters us we accept it. I knew someone who thought that human beings are a cancer on the face of the earth. And maybe misanthropy is going too far, but we need to be aware of the facts about ourselves and the world we inhabit. If science and poetry could join together with a common goal then we might see good fruits.
It’s still overcast today with a few drops of rain. I’m curious to see how hot it’ll get this summer but there’s no hurry. I’ve gotten tired of the world news every day. In fact, I’m quite tired of people in general, the way we always refute each other’s identity and desires, like a constant negation of who we are. You have to just roll with it, though you also have to create your opportunities. It’s a matter of being up for it, and lately I haven’t been. Maybe someday the stars will line up in an auspicious way for my happiness, but it isn’t today, for me or for anybody. We hunker down in fear and uncertainty, magnifying the depression with our attitude. No one is being very heroic like characters in great literature. At a time like this, people could learn something from reading Sartre’s plays, but instead they flounder aimlessly, not knowing that they are free. The same thing goes for me as well. It’s not the will of God that drives the world. We are not pawns in this game, but rather agents who freely create our circumstances. Biblical prophecies are the ones that we ourselves fulfill because we don’t know any better. People are equally free not to turn fiction into fact. Becoming aware of this is the first battle. There is no blueprint for the human future.
You asked me if it’s difficult to sell a musical instrument for a fair price and the answer is yes usually. As soon as you walk out the door with a new instrument the value drops by half.
Right now I’m not so concerned with my musical future. Frankly I don’t think it’s going to happen again. There’s no end in sight to the pandemic. Also I can’t afford the cost of a vehicle to get me to rehearsals and gigs— and I don’t want to drive a car anymore anyway. I like the feeling of being a pedestrian, I guess; and when I don’t drive I don’t contribute to greenhouse gases quite as directly. The expense of a car is more than I want to pay. Either way is inconvenient, with or without a car, from a different perspective. Society has to figure out how it wants to solve the problem of transportation with regard to the ecology over the next ten or twenty years— if it even happens. Probably we won’t be hauling around a lot of stuff from place to place anymore, and the internet will make rock and roll obsolete along with the same old rock instruments. The people who make rap music and post it to SoundCloud or whatever are the wave of the future, no matter how I kick at it and how untalented they seem to me to be. I’m just being realistic and honest with myself. You only have to look around to see where things are going. The Age of Dinosaurs is really over with. There will be no more stadium rock in this world except as a memory, a thing of history that few people will recall. Rock is irrevocably dead. And rock instruments will be found only in a museum someday soon. This is the wave of the mainstream; although, I can imagine a scenario like Fahrenheit 451 coming to pass, where a small band of intelligent people break away from a culture headed for World War 3 and preserve what is good for the human spirit, namely music and books. It could be like a New Romanticism, people living in the woods and committing wise words and beautiful things to memory for posterity: it’ll be a culture of Poetry.