Light after Obscurity

Eleven forty. I’m so glad that Trump has been ousted from the White House and justice allowed to prevail. Things had gotten unbelievable for those last two years of his presidency, and even stranger that a lot of my neighbors supported him. I still hesitate to talk to Karen now, knowing how she feels about Democrats and civil rights. I don’t care if what I say is unpopular on WordPress now. There was never an excuse for the crappy attitudes that nearly toppled this country into anarchy and the rankest injustice. I feel that now we’ve been delivered from four very dark years. If there’s a time for dancing in the streets it is right now, today, in broad daylight, and pity those who persist in wickedness and error. When a crucifix is indistinguishable from a swastika, the world is in deep doo doo. I believe there’s such a thing as an absolute right and wrong, and before this year started, we were leaning way toward the evil side. Most people won’t see what I mean until later, but hopefully not when it’s too late. 

Simplify

Wee hours.

I couldn’t get much sleep for some reason. I’m both depressed and anxious at once, and my thoughts are all dark and confused. If people could be content with science facts alone, then they wouldn’t need a personal reason why things happen as they do. But instead, we always cry why me, or why do bad things happen to good people, and so on ad nauseam. The error of this consists in the values of good and bad. These are man made ideas based on what gives us pleasure or pain, but religion raises them to spiritual absolutes, totally fictitious and despotic. Life is not as dramatic as we make it out to be. We are very vain creatures, thinking the world orbits around our interests. The word for this is anthropocentric. It is only human beings who say that they are made in the image of God. We deny our relatedness to the animal kingdom, as we always have since the time of Charles Darwin. We believe we are exempt from evolution. We and modern apes are not descended from a common ancestor, according to public opinion. Still, the law of parsimony suggests that the simplest answer is the one that science has given. Everything else thrown into the picture only muddies what ought to be crystal clear. There’s nothing else besides cause and effect. No good and no bad, so theodicy makes no sense. Thus the drama is greatly minimized and the paranoia goes away along with the idea of praise and blame— of being judged and condemned. 

A World Unseen

Three thirty in the morning.

Occasionally I am haunted by what happened early in my recovery, when my mental health was quite poor. I’d be awake 24 hours a day, and during December 2017 I read a raunchy little novel by Dawn Powell titled Dance Night. Those memories are miserable, yet sometimes they are necessary to my continued sobriety. I guess the worst part of it was desertion by my family, although at first I had my brother’s support. You always lose someone by the personal choices you make— and gain a few others. In this sense, every one of us ultimately lives their life alone with their freedom and responsibility. A grim thought, but probably the truth. I keep intending to read my Nietzsche or something else existential— even Dostoevsky would be interesting. On the other hand, I do pretty well at just winging the philosophy. 

Every decision I make cuts away something, but also certain people in my life. I could be putting myself in danger with the rock band because of the A&D factor; additionally with their ideology of rock and roll rebellion. I don’t know what I’m getting into. Supposedly music expresses no opinion, and yet it’s a language of its own, saying something spiritual that may be either good or perhaps not so good. The virtue of the music is only observable by its effects on the hearers for better or worse. All the time I feel myself slipping away from the church the more involved I get with the band. In a world unseen, there’s a struggle of light and darkness for supremacy, and the choice again is up to me. To begin with, it’s good to be aware of the situation. From there, I can make an informed decision. 

The Iceberg

Nine thirty five.

Polly called me an hour ago. She never got over the sickness of last week and had to go to the emergency room Saturday evening. A doctor at the hospital told her she had probably passed a kidney stone and the pain of this made her nauseous. All the tests they ran came out okay. She said her oldest son hadn’t been spending much time with her in this adversity. I urged her to call me during the week if she feels lonely or bored and maybe unwell still… Meanwhile I had what felt like a small stroke last night. I thought I was going to pass out or even die on the spot. Being honest, I haven’t felt good in the past couple of weeks, maybe for psychosomatic reasons. Life all around me has really sucked ever since the November election, when people behaved their worst under pressure. There’s no excuse for the BS we’ve allowed to thrive as if it were acceptable. If I had a rocket ship and a lifetime supply of oxygen I’d fly to the moon where I could be by myself. But no. “Every mistake we must surely be learning / While my guitar gently weeps.” We’ve forgotten our history, and we are paying for our stupidity. Is the pen really mightier than the sword? Are books stronger than rifles? Is knowledge power? Then we need to do something wise to save ourselves. There’s no one else who can do this for us: no invasion by extraterrestrials, no Second Coming of Christ— nobody. It’s like the ending to Lord of the Flies: who will save humanity from its own wickedness?

Confessions

Noon hour. People don’t communicate with each other like they should… The poems I wrote after my dad’s death grew more pornographic and doubtful about my orientation. Was I just a pervert, maybe a victim of rock and roll music? Sometimes I wish I could drink again and forget what a degenerate I am. It takes the pain away for a while. I remember a day in January 2002 when most of the band Blueface came to my house. That was fun and heartwarming. I used to drink a lot and do the whole rock and roll lifestyle except I wasn’t promiscuous. I looked at porn, that was all. But I was on the same page with the band, whether it was evil or whatever. They connected it with the devil, uncomfortably for me, and it worsened my delusions. The lifestyle dichotomized experience into a Christian good and evil. The band actually wanted to go to hell. I didn’t want to believe in either heaven or hell, but to just be my agnostic self. I recall the day at Borders when I picked up The Riverside Milton, kind of an editorial blunder. I doubt that it’s in print anymore. But I bought it and began to read Paradise Lost, thinking of Satan as a hero.

One o’clock. The magnetic pull of summertime activates old memories of the gigging life and how rock and roll affected my mentality. Is it really desirable to play rock music again? It’ll be good to go to church Sunday and purge my dark thoughts for a while. Out with the bad, in with the good. I feel tempted to drink beer in the summer sunshine, get loaded and do something with music. But I won’t do that. This mood will pass, like everything. I’m really a thrall to my memories, triggered by the seasons and the weather… I can remember the feeling of being shit faced drunk. It was wonderful at first, but then it became unpleasant because of withdrawals. The year 2011 was so much fun, especially in the fall when Kate and I exchanged gifts and so many emails. But what a chore for my body to push all that fermented fluid! Poor liver and pancreas, stomach, kidneys— everything. Alcohol gave me a foretaste of heaven, but it was false, merely a release of endorphins in the brain. Over time the heaven turned into a nightmare of hell. I finally stopped drinking because my stomach couldn’t hold the liquor down anymore. I was wasting my money.

A Regret

One twenty. The clouds are burning off. Sometimes it feels like nothing is going right. I know that’s too extreme. At least something must be going right. In fact it’s only one or two things I don’t like, and these color everything else dark. If I could drink without consequences then I’d be tempted. But I can’t even do caffeine. A tiny bit of chocolate, maybe. I had some thoughts about good and evil this morning, from a religious point of view. The devil exists only as a social taboo, not as a real being. Evil thoughts and deeds come from a deeper place in the brain, a place we mostly shun. I wonder why my supervisor’s job ended? One participant of the agency looked at him and proclaimed, “I don’t like you, you’re the devil!” He in turn judged her to me for having drugged her way into schizophrenia. He was being absurd because he used to be a meth addict. He was the most addle witted person I ever knew. The guy was actually pitiful for being so insecure and cowardly. He never learned how to think, or maybe lost the ability… We had an occupational Black Friday at the end of June or July 2008, so that’s why I remember my boss right now. It was every man for himself, with a lot of treachery. I was ashamed especially of the street hires who made trouble for the participants. I worked with the lowest of the low. There was one participant I should have defended before she lost her job. I should’ve gone to the CEO and told her exactly what had happened, but I didn’t have the balls. Mary Alice seemed like such an ogre to me instead of a human being. I lacked the self respect to go and face her. I was just a peon in the scheme of things. But the one who should’ve lost his job a long time ago was my supervisor…

Darkness and Light

One thirty. I restrung my new Fender bass and played it for a while. Aesop really hates the noise and lets me know it. He is quiet now. I feel weird today from my meds, sometimes on the brink of death it seems like. Each time I go to sleep could be the last. Images and feelings of memories flash and vanish like lightning, not lingering long enough for me to elaborate on them.

Here’s one. It was near Christmas of 2014, I think, and I was reading from the Kindle that Kate had gifted me that fall. The essay was by David Hume, and I remember how I looked for support for my idea that people are blameless because they don’t have free will. I was probably drinking that night. I also examined a book by Herbert Spencer titled The Data of Ethics, again trying to rationalize drinking. The truth is that I could barely read anyway from being drunk, so what was the point— except the ability to drink depends on the ability to rationalize it. When all the reasons are gone, one can no longer force himself to abuse alcohol. That was no way to live and use my head. My mind had converted to just a rationalizing machine, and this and getting drunk made me feel better temporarily. But I couldn’t see the light that was so obvious to sober people. And even though I’m sober now, I still have to get my act together in certain ways, like cooking and cleaning. Sometimes CBT can be manipulated to justify bad behavior and absolve the perpetrator. If anybody can do this, it’s me. I was the king of rationalization, and still have the capacity for it. But you can rationalize yourself right to death if you’re not careful… I wonder why I didn’t sleep last night. Was it only because of Aesop, or was there a deeper concern?…

Marc the guitarist was another clever rationalizer. Very wily and too cute. He could invent lies at the drop of a hat. To think that I could have been a martyr for his kind of rock and roll. I remember the feel of those drunken nights, bar hopping from the Samurai Duck over to Black Forest to check out his friend Casey on drums. Or seeing something bizarre on Spike TV while Marc talked with me over a beer before a gig. I wasn’t wholly convinced by his words. At 36 years old, I was still very young. Part of me wondered what I was doing there at the bar. My mother was gone, but I imagined that she would approve of my involvement in the music project. This happened before my first recovery. On a different medication, I saw clearly the contrast between darkness and light, and I was flirting with the wrong side of the dichotomy. I didn’t really want to be a bad boy, but the good side seemed oppressive to me as well… When would I ever be free from religious extremes? Finally CBT taught me about the gray shades along the continuum of black and white. And yet it still appears that there’s always a good and bad side, the light and the dark. This polarity is Christian and also Aristotelian. Either there’s truth to the excluded middle, or my poor schizophrenic brain is deluded.