Sanity

Quarter of eight.

We’ve got rain showers today. This is better than the lifeless weather of the last few days. I have to go to the pharmacy for my prescription tomorrow or Friday. Also I should go to the bank soon. For some reason I’ve had ideas that are more spiritual than realistic lately, but I want to shake them. I don’t know what drove me to read a few things out of my ordinary. Yesterday I thought about Dostoevsky all over again: Karamazov to me is the battleground for religion and materialism. It’s possible that I’m not doing so well with the schizophrenia. A lot of people exist in a half world between imagination and reality, not knowing their empirical science, hence the difference between fiction and fact. Today I just want to go out and direct my senses outward, appreciating the support of ordinary objects and natural things. In other words, be an anti poet for just a day. Ever since Christmas Eve my dreams have gone out of control. Part of me says why not let fantasy run amok, but I know it’s really not healthy to allow it to overgrow my logic… Yesterday I took a risk on the potato salad and it turned out great. The time before, the salad was inedible so I had to toss it out. Nobody will consider this of vast importance… 

Fantasy

Eleven twenty at night.

I got out of bed hearing an old song by The Pretenders, a ballad called “Brass in Pocket.” It takes me back to junior high school halls and the afternoons when I’d go to Safeway or Oregon Foods with my mother, perusing the paperback titles on the stands. Things were so different then, just the cultural attitudes and the protocols and rituals that people obeyed. I never had a girlfriend at that age or went to a dance at my school, probably because my mother dominated my life for her loneliness and her need for a friend. She needed to assert herself in a different way than by controlling me, but in hindsight I probably wouldn’t change a single day. The summer I read Tarzan of the Apes and A Princess of Mars and drew my own illustrations for them in the morning was the happiest time I ever spent. I would sit up in my twin bed and read on sunny mornings, hearing the soft breezes in the crabapple tree outside my window, filling my senses with romantic adventure by means of the written word. I could easily imagine a blue sky with not one moon, but two. Or any new combination of shapes and colors in flora and fauna, helped by some great illustrators like Michael Whelan… I learned to escape to worlds that my imagination could control, but someday my imagination came to control me. The ultimate goal is control over your life in the real world, which the use of language and imagination couldn’t hurt. But again, my mother should’ve asserted herself in her own life instead of dominating mine. Now maybe the fly knows the way out of the bottle of fantasy… but will he choose it? 

Nameless

Nine twenty five.

It is strange to be standing on the bridge between two contrary ways of processing information, the realistic and the romantic. Usually I’m dedicated to the first mode, but then something can happen to plunge me into the primitive, a place of considerable power if not light, like the plunge into Arthurian murk and legend. I had a friend once who gifted me a book that took a serious perspective on the island of Avalon where Arthur was supposedly buried. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed about that: how could anybody confuse a myth with factual history? It was similar to the efforts of some people to search for the remains of Noah’s Ark, the locus of something miraculous that happened. Conveniently, the miracles we hear about took place remotely in time or in place or both. It’s convenient because it makes the truth impossible to verify, to either prove or disprove, so our imagination is free to float in the haze. This condition is anathema to the logical positivists, who subject statements to logical analysis. If a statement refers to nothing empirical and realistic, it is empty of meaning and not worth consideration… When I was younger and more susceptible, I imagined that what the ancient Greeks believed was true: that poetry and music were inspired by the Muses, which in modern thought meant the Jungian unconscious, or for the Romantics, a nameless Power of creativity. Sometimes I still get a glimpse of that old style of thinking, though it makes me uncomfortable to go there anymore. It means surrendering control and letting myself be possessed— but by what? 

The Pot of Gold

Nine o’clock.

It’s only a little bit foggy, and I felt a few drops of moisture on my walk. The only thing like Halloween was the crows, but you can see them any time of year. I noticed a couple of cars that were electric by their hum and I half wished I could get one for myself. Inside the market was rather cosy and comfortable. I observe what a realist I’ve become in the last ten years; hardly any imagination, but I’d like to change back to how I used to be. Or maybe I’m okay as I am. I see squirrels everywhere on my street, and hear them even more, rustling in tree branches and drumming on the roof. I haven’t read Madame Bovary, though I understand it’s about a married woman’s fantasy life when she feels trapped by her circumstances. It may not be worth my time. I think it’s a desirable thing to cultivate consciousness and not stagnate with unconscious daydreams. It’s a puzzle for me to solve. Meanwhile Aesop is getting hungry, and mouths to feed will always be the reality.

Ten o’clock. It continues cloudy. I saw a bird with an elongated tail that I believe was a woodpecker fly across the street in front of me. Are we more entertained by a horse with wings or a man with the head of a bull?… Part of me wants to take Andersen’s fairytales off the shelf. The other side of me is curious about Thomas Paine’s writings. Somewhere at the rainbow’s end the two shall meet and mingle their wisdom like a great treasure. 

“So Much Depends Upon…”

Seven thirty.

I’m of half a mind to cancel my trip to the agency this morning. The more I think about it, the more it becomes a certainty… The dispatch office doesn’t open until eight o’clock… My walk to the market was uneventful, but I observed that Michelle was in a pretty good mood today. Very early this morning I ordered The Essential Plotinus, then went back to bed and dreamed about discussing it with Pastor and a few people from church. Supposedly Plotinus is the bridge between Plato and modern Christianity. I won’t know for sure until I read it myself, but the prospect sounds fascinating. Pastor has said that my thinking is similar to the Greeks, though I don’t know how much stock to put in that assessment… It’s going to be another day of cooler temperatures, continuing for the next week.

Eight forty. I guess I’m kind of torn on the existence of the Ideal. Is it really the truth that a trapdoor in the heavens could spring open and a red dragon come flying out, and so on? Is Christianity a “revealed” religion or did people just make it up? And is the imagination intuitive or rather merely creative? If I knew the answers then I wouldn’t be asking these questions. I can tell you what I wish was true, but I think the simplest explanations are the most accurate: and materialism is very simple. The origin of every art form is mimetic; it imitates nature and natural things. Cavemen made paintings of hunting wild beasts on the walls. The first musicians whacked a hollow tree trunk with a stick to emulate thunder. And then, language acquires abstractness with use over time, but the underpinnings are still the literal stuff. The very word “matter” is related to the Latin for “mother.” Everything depends on it, like the world on the red wheelbarrow. 

Educated Guesses

Nine ten. Besides Michelle, I was the only geek wearing a mask in public today. Everyone else ignored the mandate from Kate Brown, or maybe hadn’t heard the news about it. I met with more signs of life this time because I went out later than usual. People greeted me with a good-morning on Fremont Street, face mask or no. I saw Jessica in the store and said hi. She is shy and not very friendly, or perhaps it’s because I’m a guy… I left a voicemail for the PT people to cancel my appointment. My pretext was very reasonable: the heat is just too much for me…

I would like to do some more reading in Goethe today. I wonder if I should dig out the massive volume of him and pore over it? There’s always more to learn, even if people generally have discarded metaphysics and magic: mysticism in a word.

Ten o five. Across the street from my house, Roger keeps busy on a tinkering project, his head not in the clouds, but his mind on the matter. Of course I could be wrong about that. He might be wool gathering— or in his mind, inventing the greatest thing since the wheel. A perpetual motion machine will be reality even as I make guesses about Roger’s thinking. Somewhere, a mad scientist is creating life in a test tube, no zygote or cloning; just from the substance of life and a little electricity.

Eleven o’clock. The prospect of lunch calls me away. Reality bites. 

A Road Trip

Wee hours.

I wish I’d hear from my sister so my imagination would not be free to dream up silly scenarios. The only method for determining truth is ocular proof: evidence. And there’s no evidence for the existence of a faculty of intuition. Telepathy is a chimera, merely wishful thinking. Imagination leads people astray of reality like nothing else; and yet some people prefer the illusion of dreamland because it’s pleasing and poetic— like being drunk. Why is sobriety undesired by so many of us? But only when you are sober are you empowered, endowed with freedom and responsibility… I will try to call Polly again this morning when the hour is decent. My guesswork about her feelings will likely prove to be wrong, yet still the silence from her is deafening: what if I was right?

In the meantime I can read Nietzsche on his idea of “power.” I believe it bears a resemblance to Sartre’s “responsibility” notions. I’ve already decided against church today because we’re back to wearing a mask again for Sunday worship. A mask for a masquerade. I’m sick of this crap. I read a headline that says Canada is opening its borders to the United States on Monday. I wonder if things are any better to the north of us? I’d love to see Victoria again. Just like old times. Take a road trip through Washington to Port Angeles… if I had a car. 

Decisions & Dreams

Noon hour.

I wish I felt better than I do today. I’ve been reading a sci-fi short novel by Pohl and Kornbluth, full of wild action and adventure. It gives me interesting dreams at night sometimes of being kidnapped or shanghaied and left for dead by some enemies. Maybe I can finish it today or tomorrow. The novel is part of a set of volumes I bought last September for my sobriety birthday. The next birthday is just next month: four years clean and sober. I think I’m anticipating it… Mike is bringing my stuff back at one o’clock, and then the business is pretty much finished.

Four twenty five. I did a lot of reading in The Space Merchants. When I put the book down, it suddenly hit me: I quit the band! That’s a huge move for me, not without regrets. But then I remember that last practice that was such a disaster because of substance abuse. It wasn’t my fault; they sabotaged themselves and wasted my time a week ago.

Quarter of ten.

I slept or slumbered about four hours. It was an interesting kind of day today, and Sunday night is usually rather dead. One of the most memorable books I ever read was Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny when I was fifteen and a high school sophomore. My parents didn’t care what I read, and besides, I was old enough to choose my own reading material. It was weird how out of touch with reality my parents were; just thoughtlessly marking time with whiskey and cigarettes and apathetic about everything. I guess they weren’t very smart; but I can say one thing good for them. They bought this house and paid it off before dying so I wouldn’t have to worry about having shelter. And so I could go on dreaming little dreams and big dreams of faraway places and things like the perfect realm of Amber in the Zelazny book. And who’s to say who is out of touch with reality? We all need a good escape now and then: a dream to implement, which is the meaning of Blake’s Poetic Genius. Whatever proceeds from this is right. It builds Jerusalem on England’s green and pleasant land. It takes you on the long road trip with Corwin and Random to the forest where Julian hunts you down on the way to the palace of Amber. The perfect realm is a place inside your head. 

Lenore’s Rooftop

Eight o’clock.

Already it feels like I was never at the store this morning, yet I know it was only an hour ago. Roger is firing up his old Ford; now he has chugged away to the south to get on Maxwell Road. By the time he’s on the bridge he’ll be cruising along at fifty miles an hour, a streak of burnt orange and chrome. I saw him doing this once and I marveled a bit at the old machine’s horsepower that left me in its dust. For different boys it’s different toys: I’d rather collect more bass guitars and books… I brought home a peanut butter bone for Aesop which he politely munched on till it was gone. Heidi told me in an email she was going to call me today to schedule us a visit if I was interested, so of course I’ll accept her offer— because of her, not because of Laurel Hill. After nine o’clock I have to call Bi Mart to renew a $1463 prescription that I know they won’t refuse. They love to see us coming. The weather is predictably sunny as it has been every day for a few weeks.

Last night the gibbous moon, waning, shone on my pillow. The light from it looked somewhat smoky, making orange of pale yellow. I felt inclined to endow the orb with feminine qualities, but all the time I knew the moon is just the moon. In other words I was caught between poet and anti-poet. Somewhere, Shelley writes that poetic language is vitally metaphorical, comparing one thing to another. But this poetry breaks down when you see reality as it is. Most poets are pessimistic that accurate perception is even possible. Sometimes I guess I’m not very romantic…

Quarter after nine. As I was returning home today I encountered two crows perched on Lenore’s rooftop, exchanging croaks as if in conversation. It made me think of Hekyll and Jekyll, the old cartoon series. Yet everybody knows that a crow is only a crow… and a raven is just a raven. 

Sunday Driver

Nine twenty.

Aesop and I slept in for a while this morning. I think a good day is on the way. It is cloudy and cool right now and my mind is a blank. Music: an old James Taylor song about feeling great and blameless. And finally an idea comes to me. This is the one of immediacy of the senses, like the Paterson slogan: no ideas but in things. Sometimes it’s really nice to feel literal and realistic, to feel the earth under your feet, and leave imagination alone…

Eleven thirty. It sounds like Bill across the fence is mowing his lawn. His dog and mine occasionally get into scuffles through the fence, but they don’t last very long… It occurs to me to wonder how long it’s been since I had a burrito from Burrito Boy to take home. It’s been years, because the last time was when I still owned a vehicle. I used to drive to the restaurant, following N. Park around the bend to another street where I’d hang a right. A short jog, then a left turn on Hilliard Street and from there out to River Road. The cool thing about this little community is how the trees flourish, like being in a shaded miniature wood, and the houses are mostly very old, built probably in the forties. The drive was pleasant because I didn’t have to go very fast. There is a hook on N. Park to the left where the Northwest Expressway is visible just on the right, with the railroad tracks also in view… I don’t remember the last time I went to River Road Park, but it might be kind of fun to check it out. On the other hand I think I’d rather take a trip downtown to the vicinity of Fifth Street and visit the shops.