Save the Liberal Arts!

Six forty.

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.

Narcotic Rain

Midnight.

It wasn’t a good day. My sister on the phone talked to me until my arm began to ache. Everything went south from there today. Now I believe that masochism is a reality in our daily behavior, as Freud pointed out a century ago, so the trick is to catch it and correct it. The enjoyment of pain is twisted and impure. A true reward is the experience of pleasure as pleasure, the real thing. Good is good, and negative is negative, but to a masochist the two are difficult to ferret apart from each other. Maybe none of this would have happened if I had never stopped drinking; if I still gave myself a foretaste of heaven. And yet that experience is a delusion of paradise, an artificial thing. Perhaps the question of happiness is a fairly involved philosophical problem that begins by asking yourself what is true happiness? It is especially hard to identify when nobody seems to give a damn about anything anymore. Everyone is numb as if we’d all sampled the same narcotic… 

I keep meaning to revisit Mallarme to see about his idea of a spiritual universe that replaces God with himself. Though my French is not the best, I’m quite sure of what he was saying on that score. And who would I be to say that Mallarme was presumptuous? I would be more presumptuous than he was. 

Pleasure

Quarter of eight.

Gloria is coming today at nine, but lately I’ve been feeling tired every day, so I’m not really looking forward to this. I don’t know of anyone who is actually clicking their heels these days. It’d be nice to believe in astrology, particularly the coming around of Jupiter to bring jollity. I wonder if it’s possible to conquer happiness as Bertrand Russell suggests? But it seems to be more like sunrise, sunset day after day. In this case we ought to appreciate the minutiae while they are still available to us. Dust off the Thornton Wilder book… The trip to market was pretty boring today. It’s Saturday, so the espresso shack wasn’t doing very well this morning. Lisa is always nice to me. My sense of things being larger than life is dwindling down to ordinariness. I realize that I’ll probably never be a rockstar, especially at my age. Even the local rockstars made it big one time, then spent all their money and faded back to relative obscurity. How do you get to be an icon in our culture? You have to be in the right place at the right time. It is best to set realistic goals, if you must have goals at all. And dust off the Thornton Wilder book.

Noon.

I feel tired and dizzy, probably from the Lipitor I take for cholesterol. My dog was amazingly good while Gloria was here. I was just thinking about the place of pleasure in human life, and whether it is the highest good, or if instead some people have it backwards. The work ethic is strong in some people. Others may be indolent epicureans, maybe alcoholics, and maybe they’d be smart to enjoy life. I always wonder what I am to do in the wake of addiction. Only time can sort this out. Nothing is very clear in the meantime. We just do the best that we can. 

Melodies

Noon hour.

Gloria’s workday for me is done now. I’m feeling a lot better than I did over the weekend. Last night I dreamed about M— for several hours, though I don’t know why or what my motive was. The dream was certainly not a bad one. The Prokofiev music I listened to recently floats back to my ear: very pleasant. I especially like when his spirit is playful and fun, sometimes uptempo. Often he will resolve a phrase with such a good feel to it, as if to say that everything is right and good. The second movement of Symphony No. 5 is my favorite, particularly a little melody in D major on clarinets, joined by a low string counterpoint, that concludes very pleasingly… Like a lot of days lately, the sun shines from a cloudy sky. My masochistic treatment of myself seems to be over with. I hope it doesn’t happen again soon. I had a great turkey and cheddar sandwich on a croissant for lunch: delicious. It’s worth it to reward yourself whenever you can, for this life depends on your perception alone. 

Spirit

Quarter after one in the morning.

Most people are rather ignorant, not realizing that Shakespeare, the Renaissance icon, was bisexual. Living in North Eugene isn’t much fun for a person who has some humanity and culture. Here it’s nothing like the Renaissance, where the people were fully human in a flowering of love, understanding, and beautiful things. Being human itself was a religious experience during Shakespeare’s time. If I had the strength, I would build the New Renaissance here on American soil and forget Jerusalem. Eternal life that is circumscribed is less desirable than a mortal life of liberty and happiness. The ideal thing is to be just what you are. As I’ve been saying for six years, people needn’t give each other hell when it’s equally possible to share heaven that lasts a lifetime… My brother used to tell me never to argue with an idiot because there’s no percentage in it. Today I see an epidemic of idiocy, yet I still fight my battle of words to liberate the human spirit from its prison of prejudice. 

Que Pasa?

Seven twenty five.

I’ve got “Tea for One” playing in my ear, the old Led Zeppelin classic. I slept badly last night, but I’m thinking that Freud was close to the truth about human beings. The clouds are gray and puffy in the east; maybe we need a good rain today. Something to wash away cares and worries. Memories from my childhood keep haunting me, though I don’t know how important they are to the present day. My experience with the church was just a veneering with doctrines. The situation now is unique: I am sober and also have a lot of free time for soul searching… Freud is depressing. I prefer to feel happy and free and proud of myself. Like being in ninth grade again, and having a skill I was very good at. But even then, I had latent feelings for people, but it wasn’t my fault. You are just what you are.

After nine o’clock.

I’m in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. The music on the PA sucks; very drippy and sad sounding. No one here seems very happy, and I’m already having a bad day. The receptionist was rather rude and cold. I don’t know. Something is wrong with the whole scenario. I’m so sick of going to healthcare appointments one after the other. My life feels controlled by forces I can’t perceive, by god and government, by the media and whatever else. I don’t have the freedom to choose what I do with my life anymore.

Eleven o’clock. I guess I was just in a foul mood, and I waited a half hour past the time of my appointment, which lasted 15 minutes. My cab was there when I got back to the lobby. I didn’t want to keep him, so I hurried out to start our journey home. 

The Jovian Year

Quarter after eight.

My dental appointment is this morning, but for some reason it doesn’t worry me. During the small hours I did some speculation on how my life’s peaks go in cycles of 12 years. After some fumbling around with my search engine I discovered that Jupiter takes 12 Earth years to complete its orbit of the sun. It is also known that Jupiter brings happiness and prosperity, hence the word “jovial.” Is this information just a coincidence with my experience?… Aesop is staring me down regarding his breakfast at eight thirty… If my insight is right, then next year should be the next peak for me.

Or perhaps the time of jollity has already begun?

High Hopes

Eleven o’clock.

I found an old CD of Alan Parsons Project in my stuff so I’ll listen to it today or tonight. I haven’t heard the album in over fifteen years and I’ve forgotten what it sounds like except for “Games People Play.” I bought the disc at Fred Meyer when I had a clerical job with the agency, and during that time I really believed my job would lead me to something better eventually. But it turned out to be a dead end and actually an alcoholic trap that could have killed me. I started out with high hopes for my future at what ended up as drudgery.

Eleven thirty five. But if I hadn’t started drinking again, my future in that job might have panned out very differently. Right now I kind of miss having a businesslike occupation to do, something involved with money. The way it was, alcohol and money became synonymous with each other; and now I don’t even carry cash because it reminds me of my addiction and other illicit stuff that goes with the workplace. I used to know a few people who were dishonest and unethical, but I just grew accustomed to it until it was normal to me. One of them would chide me for being a “Boy Scout.” I guess I was really in the wrong place for a long time and it took its toll on me. Today I think I’m okay with being a sober person with a disability, who doesn’t worship money and the things that people kill for. So it’s quite interesting to examine what happened in my life and the phases I went through, the corrupt people I knew, and everything else. Maybe the guy was right to sneer at my Boy Scout policies, but I don’t think so. And this person happened to be my brother…

Two o’clock. All this time, the sunshine has been strong and very pretty, with the temperature nearly 60 degrees outside. I quaffed most of my Coke and then played the bass guitar with a view of the blue sky through the window. It’s like springtime except the deciduous trees are still bare. Later I’ll listen to the Alan Parsons and appreciate today and the opportunity I have to think about everything. 

Gusto

Quarter of eight.

While I was lying in bed having bad dreams, I remembered that these are begotten by masochism. This is when you take perverse pleasure in pain you inflict on yourself. I once had a therapist who believed that masochism was right, so I criticized her for it on the spot. I still think she was dead wrong. Pleasure is much better when it is pure and genuine. Rewarding yourself is good for the soul, and it’s closer to our natural state to be happy. Why punish ourselves when we can build ourselves a living paradise rather than a hell on earth? 

Flight

Quarter of three at night.

For the first time since I can remember, tonight I had a dream of flying. I even flapped my arms like a bird and didn’t seem to fall from my great height. Just now I went on Google and looked up the interpretation of flying dreams: the consensus is that they mean an internal desire for freedom— which comes as no surprise to me at all. In connection with my dream, I now recall reading a passage in Native Son a few weeks ago where Bigger observes a skywriter making an advertisement for Speed Gasoline, and he says he wishes he could fly. It was a perfect figure of speech and an instance of foreshadowing. So now I have to read the remainder of the book to see how it ends for Bigger Thomas.