Barriers

Eight thirty five.

Life is hard. It might be easier if we could survive without a thinking brain. If necessities grew on trees. We could dream our lives away like the Lotus Eaters. Never have to worry about sailing home to face hard realities and responsibilities. Instead, for us there’s no escape… I got a lousy sleep last night, so then I was up early. Finished business at the store and spoke with Michelle. She vented to me about the cost of healthcare and things she can’t afford… I just fed Aesop and I received a text message from Ron: “Psyched for Saturday.” I agree, it should be a good time. I just hope my body holds out; I’m not a spring chicken anymore. For just one day I’d love to have peace of mind. The weather is dry at least, with skies of lavender gray. January is usually a strange kind of month. Hopefully some of the oddity will go away in time.

Nine thirty. What’s really weird is the way life’s events seem to converge around me. Everything I do is a response to pressures from without. I said goodbye to Kate four years ago as I conformed to the spirit of the age. Who knows what might happen after today? The phrase “spirit of the age” was first used by Percy Shelley and his friends during the early 19th Century. They didn’t know that their historical period would come to be called Romanticism… I hear a mourning dove hooting in my backyard. What is he saying in bird language? But my neighbors are eerily silent. This could be a long day… 

A Mini Lesson

The summer of 2020 was not just a fluke. We can expect summers to get a lot worse from year to year. I say this because I believe what scientists tell us about climate change. When we reject this information, it’s because people are too vain and selfish to accept the truth of modern science. We don’t want to believe that we belong to the animal kingdom and that Darwin was absolutely right. It may take forever for people to be disabused of their religious ideas and the fluff built into their languages. This stubbornness partly explains why some people still support the president in denial and delusion. Our policy on the ecology has always been that of the ostrich.

During Victorian times, Tennyson wrote a poem that grapples with the problem of being “descended from the brutes.” He had a hard time countenancing the implications of Darwin’s ideas. Unfortunately, we in the 21st Century are not much closer to acceptance than he was. We’ll never feel the full force of the ecology and our participation in it until we acknowledge what Darwin had to say a century and a half ago. And since his time, there’s been the whole field of biological anthropology and paleo anthropology, which deals with our hominid ancestors and the lines of the hominids that became extinct. But first we have to accept evolution for a fact in this country, and not just an idle theory. And yes, human beings are subject to evolution as well as every other species on earth. It’s time to stop exempting ourselves from nature and the biosphere on the pretext of flattering old traditions. 

Sunday Grunge

Six o’clock.

I just paid my disposal bill. Really looking forward to my morning Snapples. Aesop wants to go back to bed. Now he’s nudging his dry food. More than once since yesterday I’ve thought of Christina from physical therapy. The last time we spoke, she was very nice. Actually, the whole staff of that place was kind and encouraging. It was only two months ago, but it seems like two years. I wonder if my little prophecy regarding WordPress is coming true? Right now, people are keeping very quiet on the website. Outside, there’s a light pattering of raindrops on the roof over the patio, but my eyesight can descry nothing in the total darkness.

Eight twenty. Daylight, and the rain has stopped. When the hour is decent, I can hardly wait to play with my Rumble amp again. I’ll try to refrain from checking out the news; it only serves to depress me and make me feel jaded. America has a spiritual sickness, sort of like the sickness of Europe during the world wars. Evidently Trump is saying things that some people want to hear, just as Hitler spoke to a Germany that welcomed his words with enthusiasm. Fortunately he can’t say it on Twitter anymore.

Quarter of ten. The raspberry tea Snapple hit the spot. Things were pretty relaxed at the market this morning, low key and easygoing. The music in my head is “Black Hole Sun,” a grunge classic that feels appropriate for the times. When I think of it, I like to drop D on my bass and pound out “Spoonman” occasionally. The neighbors probably hate it, but I’m within my rights to express myself. I ought to try it with a little fuzz from the overdrive circuit. Maybe today. 

Skinner Butte

Quarter of one. The thought of religious ideals reminds me of a true story that happened here in Eugene about twenty three years ago. At the top of Skinner Butte there used to be a gigantic concrete cross erected as a memorial to Vietnam veterans. Somehow it was decided that the public monument violated the Constitution, and it would be taken down. As I recall, a group of protesters rallied to the cross. Some climbed up it and camped out on the crossbar, defying the City to tear the thing down. But ultimately the government got its way and the cross was moved to the grounds of a local Bible college. I guess it was reading Victor Hugo that jarred my memory of the event. He describes a conflict of the Church with the State with great conviction. Obviously this opposition is nothing new, since Les Miserables was published in 1862. 

Black Monday

Noon hour. November is packed with memories for me. Sobriety is hard to keep up, but I think about what my financial situation would be like if I drank daily. A 12 pack of good beer goes for about $15 or more. I don’t think my liver can metabolize alcohol anymore. It’s the worst thing for my health. Addiction is a steamroller, and it doesn’t care whom it crushes. This afternoon I might go buy my usual Snapples… Suzanne had to delay writing to me this morning. People are preparing for the holiday, everyone except me. But my book of Sophocles is coming tomorrow.

Quarter of two. I’m at physical therapy right now. My mind is a blank…

Quarter of four. The idea of sociology returns to tease my brain again. Maybe it’s a higher function of human minds to obey the unwritten rules, to conform and cooperate with the group. On the other hand, there are always square pegs and misfits, and these people help to make life a diverse experience. The unity of a given culture is one thing, but diversity from individual to individual is also inevitable. Rousseau: “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” The social contract is not something that comes naturally to us. And yet I put on a face mask in public like everybody else. I suppose the most antisocial behavior is substance abuse, when you isolate yourself and get high. You disconnect with culture and create your own reality, totally out of touch with people. Maybe people constitute the common denominator, the bottom line. Thus sociology has a point. But I think I’ll re-examine Rousseau’s political philosophy, though I know he concludes with the necessity of the general will. We sacrifice our native freedoms in order to have a civilization. We go at the green signal and stop on the red. Or perhaps we do something different when no one else is around? 

Blame the Winds

Quarter of three. On a whim, I looked up the consensus on the most popular Star Wars movie ever, and I would have guessed right: it was The Empire Strikes Back… I’m in a retro mood today, and maybe that’s okay for me. I found my copy of the Star Wars Trilogy and put it in a safe place. How many times did I get wasted and watch Empire? I had a job at the time, but I was very unhappy with my dead end life. I was coasting or treading water throughout that period. I didn’t realize what potential I had, but then again, I was on a different medication that didn’t work as well. Everywhere I looked I saw religion, no thanks to some of the healthcare professionals who shoved it down our throats. The system is just set up that way. It used to be a lot worse than today. By the time 2009 arrived, I was overdue to escape from it. I was a delusional wreck. I’d been surrounded by terribly racist right wing people who didn’t know the difference.

Quarter of five. I guess I would drink beer if I could get away with it. And yet I know I won’t do it. There are too many things in my life that drinking would screw up. Today has been kind of strange and solitary. I feel bad for the salon girls and I wonder why Karen is so grumpy lately. Perhaps business is not so good right now. Also her candidate for president lost the election. Maybe things aren’t going her way in general, but she’s taking it out on her friends, and she might regret that later. Overall it was a topsy turvy week. Some people aren’t very happy with current events. Derek had a sheepish look on his face when I walked by his house. His little girls seemed aloof to my presence. And in spite of everything, somebody keeps setting up my political lawn sign when it blows over. I don’t have to lift a finger. Attribute it to the winds of change… 

Still and Soundless

Quarter after nine. This morning is exceptionally beautiful, all decked out in autumn colors over a backdrop of clear blue sky. Fallen leaves litter the streets everywhere, soggy from recent rain. Vicki was in a good mood, and I was the only customer there at eight thirty. I had the whole neighborhood to myself. A couple of times I stopped and looked around me. The world may take a while to get its bearings after yesterday. Things will shift and change with the transfer of power. The blogging community will be different. The transition is comparable to the face that nature puts on, shifting colors and shapes like Proteus. The landscape feels like a vast place, illimitable even by the blue sky, the dust before black space takes over. Through it all, the silence roars. No one dares break the spell. I stood alone in the parking lot and took the measure of the universe. It was very still and soundless, waiting for something while I watched. And yet all is right with the world, today and every day henceforth… I spent over $13 on foodstuffs for Aesop and me. I bought two Snapple teas, against my better judgment. I know the caffeine interferes with my sleep, yet I crave it for some reason. My dog scarfed down his breakfast, even though it was nothing special. He was hungry. I should call Bi Mart about getting a night light for my outdoor walks… I just have the sensation of being able to breathe again, and soon the world will breathe with me. If it doesn’t, then maybe I’m in the wrong blogging place. It won’t be doomsday. Life is mutability. Everything passes like clouds across the moon, including ourselves, and the changes are unpredictable. This is the beautiful part of it. When we can accept it, we become true adepts at the process of living. 

“If I Had a Hammer”

I’ll be getting physical therapy twice a week from this Monday till the 9th of December. The receptionist called me this morning and we scheduled all these appointments in advance. I plan on walking to each appointment, weather permitting, since it’s only 1.3 miles away from home. And it may be rather a pleasant walk in the afternoon down Silver Lane to River Road and beyond Division Avenue. The leaves on the trees will be turning and dropping all this autumn, and hopefully the sights will restore my confidence that all is well with Nature. By the way, I looked up a weather prediction for 2021 in Oregon: typical La Niña, and we may get an early winter, and wetter than usual, which is okay since the drought we suffered this summer and into the fall. Another good reason to walk to physical therapy is because it discourages pollution from fuel emissions. Pedestrian power doesn’t contribute to climate change. The weather today was really beautiful in the afternoon, though I didn’t go outside and take advantage of it. The color of the sunlight was a deep and mellow orange, the sky cerulean as it ought to be. I know that the wildfires continue to burn, but they seem to be more under control by now.

I keep saying this, but being sober in 2020 is a very strange experience. I think most of my family has deserted me, and Polly is just testing the waters with me until further notice. I don’t really care, just on principle, because she and her whole family are terribly racist and show no signs of wanting to change. On Columbus Day, a citizen vandalized a public statue of Christopher Columbus and Polly didn’t understand why— being ignorant of the facts regarding him and Cortes, the way they treated the Natives, and how the way history is taught today is vastly different from what she learned in the 1950s. The truth about Columbus is that he and his crew wiped out six million Arawak Indians by bringing Caucasian diseases, plus he forced them into slave labor and often mutilated them as punishment for disobedience— all for the sake of discovering the gold that he was sure existed in the Americas. This is the truth! Cortes and Columbus were no kind of heroes at all. Only from a white supremacy perspective did they pave the way for civilization. But the new perspective on history is very difficult for older people to grasp, just because old dogs can’t learn new tricks as a general rule. I feel sorry for Polly, but her son who is my age has no excuse for his ridiculous bigotry. In their family, people who graduated from college are seen as the enemy. Their suspicion of new ideas is very conservative, but the genesis of conservative politics is, in my opinion, ignorance and fear of the unknown. I think Edmund Burke might make a fascinating study for me. He was a renowned conservative Englishman who reacted against the French Revolution, seeing the bloody and inevitable consequences and concluding that ideas are dangerous. Does that seem relevant to our time? I wonder if it makes me a political radical, along with all the other protesters for the sake of people of color… Whatever, I don’t have much sympathy for bigots. If I must defect from Polly’s clan, then so be it. I can’t reverse the knowledge that I have, nor can I teach those who don’t want to learn. To them, like to Burke, ideas really are dangerous, so maybe they are better off left alone.

Sorry this turned into a little rant on racism. It’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I hope you weren’t offended by it. But it’s something I feel very strongly about, and damn the torpedoes if people can’t handle it. Many truths are inconvenient and untimely, but on the contrary, they arise when the need is the greatest.

Generations of Music

Two o’clock. I could indulge in a bass guitar practice, but my wiser self doesn’t see the point in entertainment anymore. The aesthetic things I used to love have lost their charm. Religion is just another plaything for my intellect. The only truth is scientific, and this is serious work. I lack the mathematical ability to be a good scientist, yet there must be something I can do to promote the discipline… Something is happening to me. I feel much different, and my attitudes are changing. If science is the truth, then I should act accordingly and do something to help scientists.

Five o’clock. I did end up playing my white Fender for around a half hour, and glad I did, because the sound was quite inspiring. Such a wonder sometimes to plug in, touch the strings, and be unaware that it’s me making the sounds; to ponder where the music is coming from, where within my soul. My grandmother was a consummate pianist, left handed, hence heavy on the bass clef. Her father sang contrabass with the Gleemen. So that now, the instrument in my hands could virtually melt away and what you hear would be the sound of Moore family genetics; indeed, the voice of my great grandfather bellowing down three generations, breathing music to my hands on the big four string electric bass, myself just a vessel. All I have to do is let go and be in the zone to give articulation to history that stretches back indefinitely…

Six o’clock. My portable air conditioner just arrived after two months of waiting. I won’t need it until next May, probably. At least I got what I paid for. 

It Is a Time…





It is a time of contrariety

And even if you hold still like a tree,

Opposing tempests whip and scar your skin,

A hell and heaven smite you on the chin,

At war with one another and with you

If you display a color red or blue.

I often ponder on pedestrian tours

If I could quell the striving with a Coors

And thereby make the nation go away;

Yet anesthesia lasts for but a day

And then continued numbing would depend

On how far I could make my money spend.

In just another month the vote is done,

So maybe then again we’ll have some fun.