I figured out that my life is in a kind of limbo since I left the rock band two months ago. I need a new music project to keep me sane. Also my feelings are in a tangle concerning the church. Pastor’s ideas, especially on personal happiness and freedom, to me seem unnatural and smack of Christian stoicism. Again I remember the cousin of Jane Eyre in the book by Charlotte Bronte, whose stoicism is cerebral and whose love is entirely impersonal and dispassionate. Jane finds it odious and tells St. John she scorns his love. I think Pastor’s understanding of eudaemonia, or a collective happiness, is a mere feat of intellectual gymnastics bordering on inhumanity. Nobody with a heart will be satisfied with a “happiness” so located in the head. In this connection I also think of Dubliners by James Joyce, a collection of stories about the decline of passion in people’s lives. It’s a book that Pastor has not read… Before Christmas this year I want to be done with the church and doing something else, hopefully a new rock band project. I’d love to play my bass with somebody again, make people feel good.
I read the first two chapters of the Jung book. Not the best thing for a person with schizophrenia, but I found it interesting. I still object that belief in the unconscious is fatalistic. It would be desirable to make decisions from a free and conscious mind, not to drag along an archaic history process with us. I wonder how Sartre would argue with Jung on that score. I’d love to see such a confrontation, an intellectual boxing match. Who is your money on? I don’t believe that freedom is an illusion. We really do have freedom of choice, even to do extreme things, like breaking with your family or with a church in order to find your independent way. Jung calls this being a Judas Iscariot, again tying our actions to history and mythology: tradition, which is embedded in the layers of the psyche— if you accept his theory. The burden of proof is actually on him. And maybe my debate is really with the pastor of the church, and I assume the role of Sartre. It’s a symbolic boxing bout of theology and philosophy. I still need to understand why I’m fighting with the church, though it’s been going on for a very long time. I think I just want to be happy. If Christianity doesn’t make me feel good then I should definitely quit going to church. This will be the end of it, matter settled. Sartre and Jung shake hands and leave the ring.
Quarter of nine.
Having a hard time collecting my thoughts. I took a nap after eating something and, in a fitful sleep, had erotic dreams and old forgotten feelings of women’s bodies mingled with my mother and alcohol use. Then I awoke with an ache in my right side and after a minute I pronounced to myself that I’d been through hell ever since I quit drinking: and I wanted to know why. The only real improvement for me is my financial situation, but the sociological aspect of my existence gets worse and worse. So, like Blake, I will not cease from mental fight until my writing brings about a desirable change: so that people actually love one another again in the fullest and most intimate sense of love. Maybe then we can leave behind all this crazy machinery and go on holiday. Our obsession with numbers and technology has spelled our doom from the start, crowding out nature in ourselves and in the outside world. This impulse to industry proves to be our undoing, while the greed for it still grows. We think the more gadgets, the better, but we’ve lost our respect for humanity and everything natural and noble in this life. And the faster we go, the faster we’ll all be gone.
Tyranny is when an inferior part of the soul dominates the rational part, and this is injustice according to Plato. But it’s more difficult than that, because the problem could be with reason itself. The intellect runs amok like a huge mechanical brain that doesn’t know when to stop producing. What would happen if we pulled the plug on this gigantic brain? Life would go on as before, but maybe with a bigger heart.
I feel ambivalent, torn between an impulse to reality and one to freedom. I don’t want to be limited by a diagnostic label, for this is a form of determinism. My dearest wish is to be free and self determined, self driven. This was my experience early in college, but then I sold out my idealism to science. After that, the illness struck and I lost my faith in free will. I could never recover this faith until just recently… I begin to view my past as a seamless and continuous whole, not bifurcated into before and after schizophrenia.
Ten o’clock. The sunshine is nice to look at, but the high is supposed to be 93 degrees today. Heidi is scheduled to call me this afternoon. Another thing I did in college was to gradually shift from the conscious mind to the contents of the unconscious; yet even this distinction may not make much sense in practice. All of these theories are merely words in print. Now it boggles my mind knowing how people live by the ideas they’ve learned. Given the numerous paradigms to choose from, and supposing that one is as good as another, could it hurt to declare myself an existentialist of some kind?… If the belief works for you, then in some sense it is true… The old tv commercial asks, “What did you want to be?” It is so important not to get derailed in this life. I used to use my diagnosis to deny freedom and responsibility, but now I do just the reverse: I embrace free agency to reject the labels that make me a victim.
Eleven o’clock. The garbage trucks are making the rounds, and I didn’t put mine out. I lacked the strength, and after all, it was up to me.
Maybe I’m just full of hot air…
For some reason I didn’t go to church yesterday. I can’t figure out why. I had every reason and none. The only fact is that I simply didn’t go. It was sunny all day and the sky is clear right now. Over a long period of time I’ve been trying to debunk psychodynamic theory by going back to its classical sources, eg Plato, Sophocles, and much later, Goethe. If there had been no Freud or Jung, would someone else have discovered the unconscious and its properties? The whole issue makes me question why I bother with intellectual inquiries. I could just as easily get drunk and forget myself every day. Instead, I spend my time on useless speculation, probably with the aim of disabusing myself of all indoctrination to be free at last. I’m always looking for precedents for people’s ideas just to know who had the notion first, if it can be traced to an individual at all. It’s sort of like asking who is John Galt: the one genius operating all this machinery that we see. Maybe my relentless quest reflects an instinct for a reliance on God, which is a Jungian kind of thought. What is the original source for all of our ideas? It’s the sort of question Faust would ask. But it’s all merely a lot of psycho babble. The smart thing to do is get on with my life— and that means music as much as possible. The intellectual stuff is excessive, while the experience of music is very real and shared by most people. I feel like music is all I want to do.
It’s the twilight of dawn outside my window. I hear bird calls, mostly the cawing of crows. I am so tired of religion and even of philosophy and would like to just be literal for a while. Things are what they appear to be, and that’s good enough.
Three o’clock. Outside, the rain is heavy and constant. Aesop likes his ribeye steak treats; I bought more of them this morning, and battled with the cold and wet on my walk there and back again. The raspberry tea I brought home tasted great, but the caffeine and sugar made me feel woozy. I noodled about on my homemade bass for a while, satisfied with the lowest frequencies through my old GK amp head… I didn’t see much as I marched to the store. One car passed me on Fremont, cruising around the corner of N. Park. No other pedestrians. The neighborhood is a ghost town. And it was just another gray morning for a recovering alcoholic in the middle of the pandemic. Perhaps late this spring we’ll all be vaccinated and the music venues can open again. But nobody really knows what’s what. How effective are face coverings and vaccines against Covid? It’s the blind leading the blind… Something made me think of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. I have a nice omnibus volume of his novels. I left off in the middle of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
I’ll probably skip church again Sunday and gradually let them go. Pastor is leading them in a direction I don’t agree with. While they wait around for the Resurrection, I’m going to live my life more like a bohemian in quest of happiness. I was always a lousy Christian, having no faith in the possibility of a demigod or even a virgin birth. Mythology is full of immaculate conceptions, but these don’t make a pretense to reality. I gave Pastor that book of William Blake a while back because my own belief was very shaky. He didn’t seem to like it much. He told me he read the introduction by Harold Bloom, which was probably not Christian but rather secular humanist. But Blake is about as close to faith as I’ll ever get. So this was sort of my last offering before saying goodbye to the Lutherans. It couldn’t have happened any differently. In the blackness outside, the rain comes down with benign apathy to human affairs.
Ten ten. The dreams and magic of Walpurgis Night and throughout the play are entertaining for Faust, but the consequences in reality are severe. From a realistic perspective, the devilry isn’t worth it, yet I don’t know what Goethe intended to say with this story. I guess just trust the tale on its own merits. Maybe Part Two can illuminate what happened in the first part. Probably my own attitude leans toward realism today, so that’s how I will interpret the play. Faust is self indulgent and irresponsible, and his actions cause disaster for his friends. This is one way of looking at the tragedy, and I imagine there’s another way, more favorable to Faust. The joy of perfect wisdom always comes at enormous cost to someone, even if it isn’t yourself. I used to love a movie called Altered States, with William Hurt and Blair Brown. The protagonist is a Faust freak obsessed with the Absolute, the truth of everything, but this blinds him to the reality of love. Only when he sees the damage to his wife in the end does he come back down to earth. The Faust in the Goethe version never does return to reality, and Gretchen is the sacrifice, plus her family… Goethe was aware of different points of view, such as idealist, realist, supernaturalist, and skeptic. I really should read Part Two and then see what comes out as far as an interpretation, though it will reflect myself more than it will reveal anything objective. A book is a mirror of the reader, and reading is an active process. What, I wonder, is the benefit of dreams and magic of Walpurgis Night?
The only improvement on Ulysses I can think of is to make Poldy Bloom a Black man rather than a Jew; and yet Jews have had to live in ghettos in history as well as Blacks and Hispanics. I’m thinking aloud about the crucial problems facing the United States today. There’s a great deal of resentment by the uneducated for the educated, which could be solved by making university tuition free for everyone who wants to go. I don’t know how to implement this plan, but Scotland has already done it. We could take a clue from their example, if we were willing to convert to a benign socialist system and give up our broken capitalist American Dream. Some dreams need to be awakened from, and last Wednesday was our wake up call. Instead of the American Dream, we need to dream globally for the sake of our future. The time has come to take idealism seriously rather than cling to economic survival and the delusion of a prosperity that doesn’t exist. People need to become more philosophical and curious about more than their percentage. If we can overcome greed, we can learn to get along with each other through free education in a free and equal society.
I’ll be glad to get done reading The Farthest Shore. What I can’t understand is what magic has to do with the natural order of life and death. Very strange outlook. I should think that magic springs from an immortal place. But Le Guin denounces those who fear death and crave eternal life. In this case, what is the point in having magic at all? Maybe the book will explain this… I paid my utility bill just a moment ago: it was under two hundred dollars. I might be able to help my church out with another donation this month, but we still have a few weeks to go. Erin made me think about how useless my musical instruments are, assuming that things will never be the same again after the pandemic. But her opinions tend to look on the bleak side of everything. I’m getting quite tired of this perspective. It all reminds me of a rock band I played in over twenty years ago. The singer songwriter premised his whole philosophy on the fact that everyone is going to die. He concluded from this that we ought to let go the ego. I always thought that his ideas lacked common sense. I guess I’m just a Christian thinker at the heart of the matter… I’m going to try to call my sister at eight o’clock this morning. I notice how dark and depressed my mood is already today. Is it only me, or is it everywhere around me?
Three twenty five. I suddenly remembered my appointment with Todd for tomorrow afternoon. It will be a video call, sort of like Zoom or Skype. I asked about Heidi, and they said she hasn’t come back from furlough. Something smells fishy. It sounds like she’s not going to be my case manager after this. Miranda took over part of Heidi’s case load, but I haven’t heard from her since early summer… I hope L— H— doesn’t put pressure on me to be religious or something that goes against my personal beliefs. If they do, then I’ll have to figure out other options. I never did like the Christian character of the agency. It was too much like Serenity Lane: Jesus or nothing. I always will find it unconstitutional and unlawful to shove Jesus down our schizophrenic throats. If push really comes to shove, then I’ll emigrate to Canada or something drastic just to preserve my sanity.
Quarter of three in the morning. Yesterday evening I published a post whose sincerity was dubious from the start. A moment ago I went into my posts and trashed it. The writing of it was probably inspired by my trip to Sacred Heart yesterday morning, a phone conversation with L— H—, and finally a shotgun email from Pastor. I retired to bed at ten o’clock and slept four hours, dreaming strange dreams. At one point, I saw a white crockpot that was full of tube worms but which also yielded up old editions of Tarzan, one after the other. At another juncture, I was walking to the church at night and got hit by a car. Though it hurt, I kept walking. When I awoke, I reflected on the nature of heroes: how was Tarzan different from Jesus? Answer: Tarzan did not depend on supernatural powers to expedite his adventures. His strength was purely physical and mental, never spiritual. I considered that I grew up with heroes like everyone else, but they happened not to be Christ. Not even Luke Skywalker, who relied on the Force for his power. Nor Frodo Baggins, aided by the old wizard Gandalf. If anything, the heroes I read about pitted their wits and strength against the supernatural, in the form of nefarious cults with weird, soul devouring gods. Which type of hero was correct? I only know that Tarzan fueled my fortitude in my youth.