I let Aesop out of his little prison down the hall after my zoom meeting was done and he barked at me to tell me he wanted his milk bones. The white light of day makes the room appear green, a greenness that reminds me of the cover to a book of Robert Frost I once had when I was a student. If it weren’t so cold out, I’d say it was kind of like the springtime with all the blooms and bird activity, and it stays lighter now for longer. The greens also are souvenirs of a serotonin buzz many years ago from taking Prozac. The drug made me feel impulsive and sociable, but also sleepless and finally suicidal, so I had to stop it. 1991 was very long ago and I can sense how much I’ve aged. It isn’t like Goethe anymore, a creed of seize the day. Rather, it’s a time for quiet reflection and study. Still, the green outdoors is a distraction from cerebral things. It is entirely possible to get too comfortable; security can be a trap that keeps you from pursuing happiness.
And then you ponder the difference between green pastures and ash gray pavements littered with cigarette butts. Where do we go from here?
Quarter of one.
It’s doable to be young at heart. Not to spit in the wind and give up your dream of paradise. They say poverty sucks, but poetry will never desert the pauper. It is there if you look for it, like the kingdom of God. It dwells within you.
Eleven twenty five.
I want to do something for pleasure… but I’m feeling stuck. If I just ride out this hour, the mood may pass. Always at eleven o’clock I get this sense of limbo. It’s a time when nothing happens, and the restlessness drives me crazy. I feel deserted by my old muse and my imagination has flown away. Casualties of staying sober. Though it’s 72 degrees in here I still feel cold. There’s only me and stark reality. Two poets suggest themselves to my mind: Cummings and Wordsworth. A mourning dove has landed to peck the ground for seeds. Even the most realistic people can doubt their skepticism of a Platonic heaven. Their doubts have doubts. Ravel’s little piece for harp tinkles in my memory, teasing me like sinking Avalon: a shimmering illusion there and not there again. I hear a raucous flock of crows. Can we trust our senses? They give you the appearance but maybe not the reality. Perception itself becomes a problem. To get rid of philosophy, you have to will to forget it.
I did just a little reading in philosophy for the afternoon and, among other things, I encountered the word “sobriety” associated with Enlightenment attitudes. I had also found “sober” in the book by Morton White. Naturally I came to ponder the definition of sobriety in a literal and figurative sense, and now I compare it to the beliefs and practices of certain organizations for alcoholism. How sober is it to think that a god will personally intervene and take over your life?
I once had a delusion during a psychotic drive to the coast. I actually stopped the car on my way to Florence, in the stretch with the railroad on the left, before you get to the Siuslaw River. I got out and went around to the passenger side, got in and sat down, and asked god to drive the rest of the way to the coast. So I sat there for a few minutes expectantly. But nothing happened, and the car remained where it stood. There was also a moment when I stood at the roadside and stared directly at the sun, waiting for it to turn to blood like the moon in Revelation. Again nothing happened. These are the things of madness. But it’s funny how, in describing them, I seem to be building a stronger case for the religious imagination. Where do the delusions come from and why do they so stubbornly persist? What is real and what is imaginary, and can they overlap?
Sanity and sobriety are the stuff of realism and rationality, but it’s unrealistic for a human being to be other than human.
I think it’s going to rain again very soon. I just played my new Jazz Bass; a lot of squirreling noises mostly but still fun for me. The tone of it is really awesome; a great sounding little instrument, but I should give myself credit for my technique also. For musical reasons I miss Blueface, my old rock band from twenty years in the past. But regarding culture I guess life today is safer. “Whether you walk the breadth of extremity or stick to some straighter line.” And yet I don’t think a person can do things like music all alone. I knew a friend who got sober and was able to make his music projects work out. But he had a totally different personality from mine and his AA “God” seems to have helped him on his way. Everyone is different and the niche I’ve found was actually something I carved for myself. And though the sound of music fills me with regret, still I feel satisfied in the world that my language has created. The theme of the power of language makes me want to read more by Borges; somewhere I’ve got his Labyrinths on the shelf. Even the most unlikely things can be made real or at least subsistent through verbal creativity, and nature will yield before imagination. Well, some people like Carnap have disagreed with this statement. I just enjoy the debate, and I think of Poe and Jules Verne inventing stuff like travel to the moon, the submarine, etc in their minds only but over time inspiring their fruition: their realization. These prophecies are now accomplished history. So that Borges is right. The human imagination is unstoppable. And from subsistence to real existence is not a long trip.
I realized something a minute ago. I don’t daydream very much anymore. That is, it’s nothing hypothetical, a pure fantasy that I weave out of nothing. I’ll have reveries from memories of the past or I’ll make guesses about the future, but I don’t dream up scenarios for the pleasure of it anymore. I suppose I don’t see the point or the relevance of this these days; my youth is used up, totally exhausted, and I’m left with my old age, a withered old fart.
I’d kind of like to get out of the house again today but there’s nothing I really need from the store. It’s quite beautiful out right now. I think it was yesterday morning when I saw the full moon 🌕 waning in the western sky on a backdrop of blue. In only a few minutes it dipped below the rim of the trees and rooftops, denying that it had ever been there: so you are left to doubt your own senses for having witnessed the spectacle. The moon was the only remarkable, otherworldly thing I saw that day. The rest was quite humdrum and drab and very ordinary, showing a poverty of imagination for beautiful things and possibilities because our minds are so fixed on grubbing for material satisfaction. All’s not gold that glitters; and precious gems as well could be so many worthless rocks that clot the streets like the ones in Voltaire’s El Dorado. But this little sermon will still fall upon senseless eyes and ears— at least until the next full moon comes around.
…while the marketplace keeps buzzing with business of people blind to the love that lies dormant someplace out of sight…
Quarter after seven.
Lisa of the little market is sad because her cat had to be euthanized earlier this week. I sometimes forget that the store’s location is not convenient for everybody; the people who work there come from sundry distances to their shift. Deb lives in Veneta, about an 11 mile drive from here. Lisa is on Green Acres Road. Only Cathy that I know of lives very close to the market. Occasionally I think back to jamming with my friends on Bushnell Lane over a year ago. This was pretty cool, and I often question if I did right by leaving the band. But everything is in a state of flux today, topsy turvy with the future unforeseen. My sleep last night was disturbed by guilty dreams of church attendance, or rather truancy. It isn’t just negligence on my part; I really don’t want to go to worship anymore. It’d be a nice auspicious thing if everything in the community together made coherent sense, but it doesn’t seem to. You’ve got three churches up and down Maxwell Road, and then the watering hole before the bridge, and a place to get your hair cut: but there’s not much consistency in the way people think. Maybe that’s just as well.
With the band, I played an interesting version of “The Mincer” by King Crimson, though it kind of decayed to prog rock on quaaludes. The other guys usually wanted to get stoned before doing that song. I wish we could have been more productive and done more Crimson stuff. But the imagination of this community is quite limited, so I couldn’t expect very much. Some people can travel many miles in physical geography but be mentally shackled. It’s sad but that’s what it’s like.
Quarter of nine at night.
There’s still twilight outside that I can see from my position. This afternoon I caught myself doing too much second guessing of other people’s thoughts on everything. The fact is that no one is clairvoyant enough to do that: telepathy doesn’t exist in real human experience. So I began to ponder what ever happened to cognitive therapy, since it was pretty big four years ago and very effective because it was realistic and based on evidence. People are less depressed when they are disabused of their distorted thinking. And, mind reading is an example of a cognitive distortion. First you catch yourself doing it, then you counter the distorted thought with a more rational one, one that is more realistic.
I hate to see a good method abandoned in favor of much older and less effective ones; yet this is the debate of reason versus romance that has gone on for more than three centuries. I’ve never seen a homeopathic remedy be very useful, especially against a disorder like schizophrenia: it makes no sense to fight delusions with more delusions. I guess it depends on the place of imagination, its meaning and its utility. I struggle when I pick up an author like Samuel Taylor Coleridge: I get vertigo from being lost in a misty fantasy of unnecessary abstraction, so I’m better off to avoid this stuff. The romance tends to sneak its way into even what we call science. It keeps us human and organic to use our imaginations, so probably the solution is a state of balance.
Schizophrenia is an extreme wherein imagination exceeds the boundaries of reality. But I don’t see much of that around me anymore. I remember when the streets at night were like rivers in hell, shrouded in fog that stank of brimstone. With age and with drug therapy, those things have sort of vanished in thin air. I’ve also grown callous to them over time.
Five o’clock evening.
The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the lot of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its sublime immaculate abode. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet the Garden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language. The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the spray of stars in the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can almost decipher the cooing of the dove just now.
The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the yard of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its immaculate sublime. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet Eden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language… The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the astral spray of the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can nearly decipher the coo of the dove just now.
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…
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?