Avalon

Quarter of nine.

Michelle is in quarantine with Covid for two weeks, I was told just today. Getting to market this morning was a bit tricky because of a work crew tearing up the sidewalk. The guys were quite unconcerned about a pedestrian like me going through; I felt invisible. The cars were beginning to back up all the way to the Maxwell overpass, awaiting directions from the men in lime green. When I got up today at eight o’clock, it was incredibly dark outside. Some days have a bizarre vibe to them. In general it feels like history can’t decide which way it wants to go. Even stranger to think that people are making history with every passing moment. Roger just fired up his old Ford and idled it for a minute. Before I left the house, an impulse made me pull out a book given to me by a friend in 1999. It is Journey to Avalon: The Final Discovery of King Arthur. At the time, I was surprised that anyone could take the legends historically, as if they were founded in fact. But a few years later, a counselor asked me if I understood the Bible as history. And the answer was no. Anne Sexton wrote that the need for belief is not the same as actually believing. I still wonder why I fished for that Avalon book this morning; what am I going to do with it? Now, Roger drives away in his gargling old truck. It’s breakfast time for my dog. 

Before the Ordeal

Wee hours of Friday.

Aesop, my cattle dog, has an appointment for an exam and a toenail trim this morning at ten o’clock. He is doing pretty well right now, since we tried his sedative yesterday. For my part, I’m trying to minimize my dread and superstitious fears of what could go wrong.

During the day yesterday I wrote quite a lot in my journal, ending up with some thoughts about the historical effects of intellectual movements. It seems that whatever the existentialists start, the flesh and bone religion of the common people finishes. I remembered a chapter from Les Miserables titled “After-Dinner Philosophy.” The Christianity of the poor and the working class was not good enough for the hedonistic nobles who rejected God and the afterlife. Apparently, society has been structured like this since at least the time of Victor Hugo. But what happens when a self styled “antichrist” like Nietzsche comes along and preaches the “superman?” Maybe George Bernard Shaw has an answer for me in one of his plays. Man and Superman is a work of literature I never got around to reading. I only know that Shaw was a Socialist born in Ireland and living in London, and self educated out of a museum. He lived over a hundred years ago and made his living mostly as a music critic.

But none of this argument is here or there to Aesop, who has to go through an ordeal today. 

Twenty Years

Six o’clock.

It’ll be good when we’ve distanced ourselves a little more from the Millennium and regained our sanity. The 00 decade was very uncomfortable for me, when people tortured each other over their religious ideas at all levels of society and across cultures. Was it all because of a prediction by Nostradamus that 1999 would see the advent of the Antichrist? I remember seeing editions of his books on display in bookshops and even in grocery stores up until the year my mother died, 2001. His prophecies were just the wormwood people needed for crazy stuff to start happening. But the fault was not that of Nostradamus, but of consumerist culture and whoever controls this and the media. I’m still not a fan of sociology, the study of society. There’s always more going on than meets the eye, and what we see is a puppet show. This is not the behavior of people in groups, but rather manipulation by our leaders, though it sounds fanatical to say it. Who was it that ordained the distribution of copies of Nostradamus everywhere for a span of ten years? Was it the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx?

Quarter after seven. The rain started as just a whisper and now it’s coming down in earnest. It’s a soothing sound like a lullaby. Because it’s still dark out, I’ll wait to go to the store. I want to have some visibility on the road, in both directions… The last book I bought of Nostradamus was at the Safeway store on River Road with my mother. I remember the flower bouquets they sold there, vaguely. Mom usually wore a little kerchief on her head when she went out, called a “doobie.” This store closed in September of 2007 for reasons of productivity. I especially recall Tiffany, a young checker with blonde curls who was always pleasant. But with the coming of dawn these memories fade like dreams. And the rain washes them down the gutters. 

Jesse Owens

Wee hours.

About four hours ago I found myself writing of WW2, or more specifically of Hitler and his intention of creating a super race of “Aryans,” a sort of elitism gone way wrong. I remembered his reactions to track athlete Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games, this Black man who embarrassed Hitler’s Aryan runners, leaving them in the dust. He was beside himself with rage. And the sick elitist thing he started, the Allies finished, though people today don’t remember this crucial historical fact. A few years ago I used to get junk emails saying what a genius Hitler was! And I shook my head, thinking how ignorant people can be. The truth is that he was the second Antichrist, after Napoleon was the first (if we can believe Nostradamus and his editors). But mysticism aside, we must review our history and beware of this kind of thing happening again. And truly, it already did occur very recently. Long live the memory of Jesse Owens and the evil force he went up against, and crushed the Aryan competition. 

As the Romans Do

Quarter of six.

The store will open shortly. I need my morning tea for a pick me up. I feel tired and sore from what I did yesterday. Think I’ll just go ahead and go now…

Quarter of seven. Michelle and the guy from the dairy were tallying items ordered against those received when I walked in. I headed straight for the dog treats, then got the usual stuff for me. Even as I write, Aesop has fallen back to sleep. It’s been an oddball week for us both, but on the other hand there’s no normal anymore. If we practice tomorrow, it’ll be earlier in the day due to the expected heat. The times today are very hard for everybody. Ron said a couple of times that he anticipates a revival of Roman decadence and hedonism to compensate for the pandemic. I wouldn’t mind that, actually. The world doesn’t get enough of the joy of living. Seize the day before the day seizes us. Somewhere, unpublished, a few people are probably doing audacious things, like having dangerous liaisons, staking everything and going for broke. According to smart writers like James Joyce, pursuing passion is the right thing to do. Right now, the world is in a state of paralysis little different from his Dublin a century ago… I think that people nowadays have spiritualized themselves out of living a fulfilling life in the here and now. What will it take to shake us awake?

Eight o’clock. So I hope Ron is right about the Roman revival. I didn’t read Edward Gibbon, but I know his thrust. Decadent morals brought about the collapse of the Roman Empire, therefore any civilization needs a measure of rational restraint to ensure its longevity. However, Shakespeare suggested that order is restored after people take a good holiday… 

More about the Green House

I rode with eCabs today and I liked the drivers going both ways. They had to double up on passengers but I didn’t mind sharing a taxi with someone else. This particular company has only eight drivers and does nothing but a Ridesource contract. The first guy is named Scott, with whom I’ve ridden a few times. I like him. Funny, he’s critical of Eugene for wanting to be like Portland, while preferring places like Springfield that are I guess more homey and down to earth; it has a personal vibe that Eugene is losing the more it grows. He said the Eugene City Council was “Communist,” and I understand what he means. It isn’t exactly that, but it’s definitely Marxist and Socialist, using a language that baffles people with its emptiness. I think it’s fair to say that Springfield is a time warp to a more romantic age, where people are franker with each other and not so deceptive or slippery; in a word, they’re honest… which is also like the people of Cottage Grove. So I can see why some people prefer the twin city to the sophistication of Eugene.

At one o’clock I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my stuff; but you know, afterwards I was pretty exhausted and felt rather lousy for a while. Two miles is kind of heavy duty walking for me. But on my way home I observed the same kind of thing as this morning, or maybe I was looking for it, and it provided a common theme for my day. You saw the post already, I know. It was that green house on Kourt Drive that defies the laws of time and space (to my mind), and takes you away in a magic Delorian to the Forties or Fifties, or rather transplants the past to the present day with a sprinkling of pixie dust. And this house just sits there, stark against the blue sky, an anachronism that doesn’t belong there and ought to be extinct, and yet there it stands like a shimmering vision out of an old yearbook, a page torn out of history…

So I imagine that my concern with anachronisms has to do with my own age, and maybe with everyone in my age category. Shoot: what was it I was saying the other day? It was on a topic very similar to this one. Oh yeah, it was about rewriting the history books to make people like us obsolete, and I made a post about it. But you know, it’s really true! And the older I get, the truer it becomes. The voices of seniors get lost in the shuffle and no one wants to hear us anymore. And it turns into a strange paradox of being and non being: just like the green house on Kourt Drive which ought not to be there, and yet, by God, it still stands like an ephemeral monument.

Erased

Quarter after five.

Aesop is going nuts because the opossum under the house is making noise. Outside the front room window it is gray twilight before the dawn. Maybe I’ll go back to bed, as it’s still very early.

Eight fifty. I was feeling nostalgic about my sophomore year in high school, particularly for the New Wave music I experienced on MTV when it was good. So I went on Amazon and bought a cd by INXS with a song called “The One Thing.” Memories from my boyhood are getting harder to retrieve for some reason, yet still I think they’re important. This is especially true because my old high school building might not exist someday soon… I researched the fate of the old building: it won’t be torn down, but will accommodate the middle school and Japanese immersion school. These big changes make me feel like a real dinosaur, a species that ought to be extinct, but even so, like an odd paradox my life keeps going on. People propose rewriting the history books, but what does that mean for those like me who remember what really happened, or the language that was used to describe it? It’s a strange process to be able to watch, being between ages, so to speak, and having memories that will be written away as null and void by popular demand. Though we exist as bodies in space, we’ll be told that our recollections do not. I hear a lot of seniors talk about the same thing. I am not quite a senior yet. I can identify with both generations of people, the older and the younger, and of course the younger ones will inherit the earth. But without a truthful history, the young people are doomed to repeat the mistakes already made by their elders. Maybe there’s no way to prevent this from happening.

Ten twenty five. I’ve paid my monthly bills. My utility costs were much lower than I expected. And, the ibuprofen I got yesterday is doing the trick, so I feel better now. 

Cycles

Quarter of four in the morning.

Since yesterday evening it’s been both warm and rainy, which makes an effect like a sauna or a watery hell. I got as much sleep as I could, with my mind on this ambivalence regarding a label such as schizophrenia: is it a useful thing or not? I could assume an attitude like Ayn Rand and be intrepid, saying no one gets a free ride in this society, no matter who you are. And maybe for a high functioning schizophrenic person this would be okay… but then I think of the others who aren’t so fortunate; the ones who don’t have insight into their symptoms, or are lower functioning— and I feel a profound sense of injustice rendered by the Ayn Rand policy. In this case, I want to fight the conservatives and advocate for the mentally ill people who don’t have a chance. But it’s hard to know what’s right in this situation. It may be all right to encourage people with mental illness to “better themselves,” but what if they can’t do that? The worst thing we could do is take away their safety net when they are incapable of working and supporting themselves… I think bitterly of my family that gives me the cold shoulder for being different from them. It’s a lucky thing that I don’t have to depend on them for anything. My parents were quite prescient of this scenario.

Quarter of five. Still the rain comes down like my thoughts from thought clouds. There’s a poem by Anne Sexton about a rain of dolls. And there’s a Grimm’s fairytale of money that falls from heaven. Also a newspaper article concerning a rain of fish in the book by Charles Fort. A plague of frogs in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes said there is no new thing under the sun, and to a great degree this is the changeless truth. 

Anticipation

Quarter of eight.

I think band practice is going to happen tomorrow, at four o’clock. Mike suggested having an easy jam oriented get together, and I added that we might record ourselves. My sister said she would call me this morning, so I’m kind of waiting for that. The weather is partly sunny and rather nice. I’ve been to the store and bought a green salad and two Snapples. I grunted somewhat under the cold and just old age as I ambled along the street. I observed my neighbor Steve getting in his car, but he didn’t see me… I had a series of dreams earlier about a possible moral decline from family values to selfish hedonism. But whatever happens, I’m involved in the American scene. It may be a ship of fools that’s out of control; or maybe just the contrary: every individual contributes to the direction humanity takes. It starts with one person going against the flow, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the grandfather of Romanticism… When I was a student, I didn’t do well in history courses. It would be wonderful if I had another opportunity at it. There is so much to know.

Quarter of nine. I also dreamed about my mother this morning: we were sharing this house together and not getting along. I don’t know if I’ll ever shake my memories of her. At least I know I’m doing music for myself and not to please someone else.

Ten thirty. Mostly I’m anticipating having a jam tomorrow. It isn’t much fun to live alone with no escapes, but I suppose I could read a good book later today for stimulation. The sunshine comes and goes. I reserved a dose of flea medication for Aesop, so I can pick it up tomorrow morning or maybe even this afternoon. My heart aches for happier times when I had a friend in Scotland and international borders were open. I hope it won’t be too long before communication is back to normal. 

Fear

Quarter after four in the morning.

I began to feel better once I identified the thoughts that were bothering me. I even got a decent sleep up to a point tonight. The past two weeks were very difficult emotionally, I don’t know why. Perhaps May will be a happier month. My band mate put me on the spot regarding vaccination last Saturday, so then I made an appointment with Bi Mart on Monday for next Thursday. Another church member also urged me to get the vaccine when we met up a week ago. My sister has been inoculated, but she didn’t put pressure on me to do the same… I hate feeling powerless over my life, but truly, no one else can rob me of my native freedom. This agency is inalienable, not by the Constitution, but rather by nature.

I just got a great email from my good friend. She is right that our worst enemy is fear, and it’s dividing us up more and more. It makes people do crazy things. The coronavirus today is like Communism in the 1950’s, with Joe McCarthy and his witch hunts. The fear escalates to a frenzy and people do things they regret. Maybe the saddest part about it is that people don’t know their history. Consequently we keep making the same mistakes again and again. Those who know what’s best for us must either take action or, like in the Ray Bradbury book, go off by themselves in a small band and wait for events to shake down… Is it hyperbole to say every individual for himself?