Pure Gold

One AM.

The music I hear mentally is “Duchess” from an old Genesis album. The introduction to it is exquisite, in E flat I believe, with a lot of keyboard by Tony Banks… I’ve been reflecting on what my job in life must be; it seems to me that it’s to remind people of the importance of a holiday: to be happy and to spread the happiness around. The school of Epicureanism goes back to Greek antiquity, one of the Hellenistic philosophies that succeeded the golden age of Aristotle. I just think that everyone deserves some joy. My PCA Gloria started out quite Republican, though now she looks forward to a break with a Snapple tea while we have a little chat. I suppose that Stoicism has its place in daily life as well as the other school, yet I think that Epicureanism is oddly underrepresented today. People work their fannies off, taking little time to simply breathe and appreciate being alive and human. We are extremely fortunate to be born human beings, as a professor of Japanese religions told the class a long time ago. It’s always good to pause and be contemplative and enjoy the fruits of human thought. It was actually Aristotle who said the highest aim of ethics is pure reflection: it’s something that modern people wouldn’t consider on a bet. I wonder why this is. Why are we so different from the ideals of the Greeks? Can nothing that is golden ever stay?

We always leave El Dorado for fool’s gold in the outside world… 



Seven thirty.

If it’s like yesterday, the sun will be pretty intense today, though they forecast a few degrees lower. Right now the silence in the neighborhood is deafening. The previous day, I sat with a little book by Freud on Civilization / Discontents. The take home for me so far is the contrast between happiness and peace. There’s a big difference. The first can involve the experience of intense pleasure. But the second has more to do with quenching desires, as in the practice of certain major religions. It hits me as odd how people tend to demonize the instinctive drives, the way that Robert Louis Stevenson associates Mr Hyde with Satan and evil… A friend I used to know remarked on the people living in a Buddhist monastery. She said they’d been gutted and seemed to lack something vitally human, like a kind of living death. Her observation scared me a little, but I believe she was right. It’s probably undesirable to snuff out the flame of passion forever. Whether or not passion is evil I’m not qualified to say. But I think I pick happiness over peace because peace is too easy.

Faire Plaisir!

Quarter after seven.

It’s going to be very warm later today and the sky is cloudless this morning. I hear the sparrows in a frenzy just outside my door. The maple in my front yard has been budding new leaves for a week now; you can see the green deepening with time. I will go anon to the market around the corner on Maxwell Road. I sometimes wish the zodiac was true, to help us along and guide us to our destinies. And the idea of fate in Greek tragedy still fills me with awe. I had a therapist who tried a reverse Dr Moreau with me; tried to turn me into an animal with no defenses: not even reason. I don’t know what she hoped to achieve, but I terminated sessions and went somewhere else. Frankly I don’t think she knew what she was doing. It was a tough time, yet when is not a tough time? I remind myself to endure; to grin and bear it like a stoic. The frustrating thing is knowing that humans could do a lot better towards the general happiness.

Mm, mm, I’m telling you now

The greatest thing you ever can do now

Is treat a smile to someone who’s blue now

It’s really easy


It’s another day peppered with stress and some anxiety since I talked with Polly this morning. The conversation went okay but I’m glad it’s done for the week. Feeling tense, I finally picked up my Jazz Bass and banged on that for maybe 90 minutes. It sounded pretty good to me and it was a good release for a while. It felt good. Meanwhile, Aesop is mad at me because I lectured him about his behavior when I’m on the phone, and he’ll hold a grudge probably until late tonight or even tomorrow sometime. If I say, Oh well, it’s an expression a lot of us resonate with nowadays. Because, so much of life is out of our hands and beyond our power. The balance between the people and the government keeps sliding more toward the latter and everyone is a peon, pawn, and a pauper. I really used to believe in the power of words, but today, those with money rather brutally prove a different reality. And the ones without money do everything they can to make money. No one cares about being a good person. They don’t even care about feeling happy. And maybe power and money don’t promote happiness anyway, so what’s the point? I operate from the assumption that happiness is the highest good, along with freedom. I think people ought to make time to humanize themselves.
A cute song on an album by Stewart Copeland has it like this.
…I could not refuse, you gave me money
But now you eat your money and be fool
Anyway, today I go back to liberte…
The songwriter was a Congolese guy, I think, who collaborated with Copeland, and the latter played most of the instruments. But I’d have to research it to be sure.

Affirm or Deny

Wee hours again.

People seem to believe that it’s their duty to suffer and be miserable. For some, the definition of life is pain and suffering, and the solution to this is to deny this existence and aim at another one that may not be real. One of the truest expressions is that misery loves company. Personally, I’m very tired of feeling dragged down by others who insist on depression for a way of life. I want to be happy and satisfied with my life. I’ve heard people make jokes of seizing the day and dress rehearsals, but it’s the truth, and the process of living is a creative one. Why can’t we learn to feel happy and to spread happiness around?

The church has got its hooks in me, so I know it was a mistake to ever join up. When in doubt, go with the convictions of your heart. The only reality we know is here and now, for us to either affirm or deny. It’s a sad and ignorant waste to defer all fulfillment to the shadows. This is the only dogma I acknowledge. We can make a problem out of reality. Which one is true, the object or the shadow of the object? I throw in with Aristotle and eschew metaphors and illusions of a heaven…

Maybe it’s a big gamble after all?



I was just thinking about how I celebrated Christmas Eve this last year. Instead of going to church, I stayed home with my dog and daydreamed about my late parents: I made it a secular Christmas that my parents would have understood. And I had a good time in my little reverie, with a lighted ceramic tree and a red stocking by the fireplace, the lights dimmed, and so on. I played Santa Claus with my dog, giving him treats out of the stocking as if we’d had a visit from St Nicholas. That evening, the mail carrier brought a belated package, arriving on time for the holiday. When I stepped outside to get it, I found a little ladybug clinging to it like a sign of good fortune. Perhaps it was all in my imagination, and yet I felt happy, for the spirit of Christmas in some form had stopped by my home, unlike a lot of previous holidays when I felt merely hollow and sad.


Eight thirty five.

A mellow start to the last Sunday of the month. There’s just a light rain that sprinkled me when I walked to the store. I saw a stout man in the checkout line buy two cannabis drinks: big marijuana leaves on the label. His face was familiar to me from being in the same place. Thomas watched him a while as he got into his car. Aesop needed dry food and I only wanted my Snapples for today.

I anticipate the springtime, when it comes. On March 9, it will be a year that Gloria has been my PCA. We joked that we should celebrate with champagne or something. Thinking now, I have no real enemies, or at least it seems that way. The most toxic influence on me was my brother. I lack the discipline to be a true Christian. All I wanted was to stop drinking alcohol, and to begin with I needed some support. But my basic values have remained the same after a lot of indoctrination. What could be more obvious than happiness and freedom? What is more counterintuitive than barring the way to these things? I’ll leave misery to those who like to suffer, and misery loves company.

Nine twenty.

It isn’t always true that when you laugh, the world laughs with you. Sometimes joy is experienced in solitude. I wonder what Bertrand Russell would say if he were resurrected to give his thoughts.

My dog barks for a snack. Blue Dog peanut butter softies. Who said anything about being alone?

Monster Cookie

Nine o’clock.

I’m cutting back on caffeine because I had a bad reaction to it recently. So today I bought just one Snapple tea. It’s funny how substance abuse can run away with you if you’re not paying attention. Too much of anything is toxic. Leaving the store this morning, I walked past a van for Monster Cookie Company and I asked myself if they still had the same location on Fifth Street downtown. I’m the kind of person that dwells on the past a lot. I often recall happy times with my parents and a few friends, and by comparison, the times today seem rather empty and insignificant to me. I am thankful only for a few things. It was interesting last Saturday to go to the vet with my dog and be reminded of ten years ago and Aesop’s puppyhood. He has turned out to be such a great dog!

Nine forty.

The mail just brought my book, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, a little green Loeb classic. Reading the introduction should be fun.

If church was about just socialization, then I might be interested in going again. But instead, there’s the element of indoctrination that I can’t accept. And honestly, I don’t care for moralism. People ought to help each other to their joys and happiness rather than carp at their faults. I’m not interested in “being a better person.” I believe the world is right when everyone is happy.

On a Box Chain

Nine ten AM.

The low temperature last night was 28 degrees and it still is below freezing. The Oregon race for governor has not been decided yet. It seemed like a big deal yesterday but today, nobody appears concerned about it. The sun is out in a mostly cloudy sky. Yesterday I did some thinking about the job I used to do, about meaningless work versus something worthwhile to do. I didn’t like being a data slave, with all those indifferent numbers and letters I had to index for future retrieval. Every day I’d wear a box chain like a collar around my neck with a sterling tag engraved with Reason to remind me of my industrial commitment. Everyone probably knows the feeling of being a robot in a worthless job, but I felt I had more poetry and beauty in me to share with the world. I didn’t want to waste my life away as a work turtle. Again I’m singing to the choir of a billion people who feel just the same way I do. I guess my point is, if you have other options, then you probably ought to take them and run the risk of rejection. It’s better to do this than let your life be controlled by feelings of guilt or shame, so you end up stuck in a bad situation while time passes you by. That’s been my experience. You can ask yourself if it’s better to be assigned a job like street sweeper and live with the burden, or instead strive for what you were born to be. The ideal place is one where everybody can be what they want to be, but it’s probably a long time coming. But I don’t think the answer is like Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The nature of our work really does matter, not just the quality with which we do the job. After a while, something snaps and it’s necessary to throw off the slave collar. 

First Mover

Seven forty AM.

I just canceled with the veterinarian for Aesop. The receptionist was a little bitchy about it but I did what I needed to do. And now the day is more or less free, though I have Gloria at ten o’clock. It’s a foggy morning and I’ve been to the market already. I was only half awake when I made the trip. Lisa told me that Jeremiah had quit. I hadn’t met him, but apparently he worked the night shifts. The staff consists of maybe five people now. I wonder why keeping employees is difficult these days? But I might as well ask why I didn’t take Aesop to the vet today. Who is John Galt? What motivates the world? Maybe it isn’t capitalistic greed after all. If people are apathetic, there must be something else going on. We’ve gone off the rails since Covid came. I used to go to church before the pandemic and everyone seemed happy. Whereas nobody is ecstatic today. We take our material playthings and mess around, but we don’t have fun anymore.

I was a lonely teenage broncing buck

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck

But I knew that I was out of luck

The day the music died

I think happiness itself makes the world go round, so somebody has to break the spell and spread a little joy. Without music and fun, it’s all for nothing.