Blake under Pressure

Two twenty five. I ordered a new copy of Blake’s poetry, thinking I could give it to Pastor as a belated Christmas present. To me, Blake is the epitome of English Romanticism, and to know his poetry is to understand what drove progressive rock such as Yes— especially Yes.

And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon Englands mountains green:

And was the holy Lamb of God,

On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here,

Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:

Bring me my arrows of desire:

Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:

Till we have built Jerusalem,

In Englands green & pleasant Land.

The edition by Erdman is still the definitive one. I’m not sure what more I can say. My faith is clouded by doubt of the efficacy of the imagination, our creative potential. There’s no doubt that Blake believed in the powers of the mind to create a meaningful reality, what he called the Poetic Genius. But I’m struggling to maintain such optimism. Rather than creative, I grow more analytical, no matter how I try to resist the change. Still I admire those who can keep that optimism going. Time will be the test of what is true. Perhaps the dreamers of big dreams will win the day? 

A to B…

One twenty five. I opened up The Magic Mountain and found approximately where I had left off. It may be more intellectual than I care to bother with. Yet I might learn something from it too. By a coincidence, the chapter I flipped to was set in October, or maybe subconsciously I remembered the fact and saw a relevance to life today… Roger has his garage door open while he tinkers with a little project. He’s been retired from the police force for many years and seems to struggle for activities. What do you do when you’ve been put out to pasture? The airplane he put together from a kit he flew a number of times and then sold. We don’t talk very much… I wasn’t very well over the summertime; rather crazy from the heat and non compos mentis. The fall season is a relief and a rejuvenation. Thankfully I have some money to work with. There’s a bit of a wind in the trees. In my head I keep hearing The Firebird ballet. I feel almost like going out someplace, but I have no destination. It’s Sunday and there’s nothing to do.

Two forty. The wind has picked up, invisible unmoved mover. You see and hear the shifting leaves, yet the primum mobile is imperceptible. It has no shape, color, or size and occupies no space. It is the engine of history, intangible spirit. Ezra Pound personifies history with the goddess Aphrodite, to suggest that desire makes events go. Love (not money) causes the world to go round. I chafe against the chains of an antipsychotic drug to produce beauty. An uphill battle with a molecule that cuts away the necessary angel— imagination. Which is worse, the illness or the treatment? Scylla and Charybdis, sea monster and the rocky maelstrom. Take my chances with the plesiosaur. Behind all outward show, the fourth dimension of Forms, a-causal catalysts: cookie cutters. The landscape is but a metaphorical face. To slash the screen and behold the other side of the known: and bring a moon rock back to humankind. Treasure behind the skirts of the witch, and traveling home rich to father. Unguessed wealth buried deep in the soul…

Quarter of four. And back again. 

From Rail to Rail

Quarter of six.

Black as ink outside, and it’s been raining again. I could hear it hit the rooftop last night. I hear a train barreling by, possibly an Amtrak full of sleepy passengers. There’s the horn, like the spouting of a whale. An aural beacon in the darkness before the dawn. One lesson I took home from The Prelude is the primacy of imagination. It is a belief that challenges the cognitive therapy I learned two years ago. Surely a great poet like Wordsworth couldn’t have it wrong?

Eight o’clock. Clouds outside like purple chalk as the sun ascends on a Sunday. Not a sound but the whir of my mother’s electric face clock. Three minutes behind. Now the furnace kicks on to keep it 72 in here. Squirrels scamper overhead, drumming with tiny hands. Moments ago I lay in bed dreaming of books I have yet to read, particularly by Thomas Mann and perhaps Marcel Proust. Until I do, the books sit there in mute limbo, letters awaiting a lector.

Nine o’clock. I don’t think cognitive therapy had creative people in mind. There’s such a de emphasis on imagination, which is very similar to the Vienna Circle. No one ever said I had to be a logical positivist. I feel a little like Wordsworth, living in the city for a while and losing his vision and his judgment. Fortunately, in Eugene there is still a faction of Jungians running around.

Ten ten. It looks like a true October in my backyard. Only a few of the oak’s leaves are red, bunched together in clumps, though already many have fallen. Oregon Lottery is up and running again at the store. Right inside of the checkout counter is a glass display of the different games offered. Strategic and subliminal. Vicki sold me two Snapples. I didn’t observe much on the way: the same bandaid on the concrete sidewalk, and the shards of a broken brown bottle next to Randy’s auto lot. Passing the stop sign at the intersection made me remember something from two years ago, a painful experience with my team at P—Health. Suffice it that I’m glad those days are over. The sea green espresso shack wasn’t very busy because it’s Sunday. And as I write, the railroad sounds still waft this way from the southwest. 

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. 

The Rain Is Gone

Quarter of ten.

I feel pretty good this morning. It helps that it’s raining here today. It’s a sign that Nature is not damaged beyond repair, and the seasons continue in spite of human abuse. I sent my poem to Pastor; he replied that he really liked it. I guess what I need to do is let go my memories of my Scottish friend and my psychiatrist, those unromantic people from the old country. Of course I miss them, but they happened years ago. Suddenly I remember Christmas Eve 2017, a big event in church because of the non regulars who came for mass. One of them was an exquisitely beautiful Croatian girl who sat in the pew behind me with her two boys. Her eyes were black and shining and the children were almost as big as she was. Also I remember how Pastor was really in his element for Christmas; he led us through the ritual without a bobble… I checked the forecast: rain for the next three days, thank goodness. The chance of rain goes down at around noon, so then I’ll go to the store.

Quarter after eleven. Well now I’m going to just be myself. I am not Wordsworth, let alone Shakespeare, so why pretend? And yet Romanticism is a lot of fun to play with. That’s just it: we’re being irresponsible, like children playing a game. Our job is to save the ecology before it’s too late. There’s only us and nature, so we’d better realize the fact and act responsibly.

Noon hour. The rain stopped, so I went and bought a loaf of bread and two Snapples. I saw Melissa there, who used to work in the deli. On the street I met Harry. He commented that there was no rain. Then he queried, “One day at a time?” I told him I wasn’t drinking anymore. Afterwards I smiled inwardly at his reference to AA practice. Now the sun comes out here and there in chinks between the clouds. In the home stretch on the return trip, it occurred to me how light everything was, how clear and plain. One home was modestly decorated for Halloween: skull and crossbones on the front door, and a row of gothic headstones before the house. As Harry had observed, there was no rain. 

What the Rain Said

The promised rain arrived tonight at last:
Rejoice and sing the rhythm of the rainfall,
Assuring us that everything’s all right,
Our trespasses forgiven as Nature sweet
Bathes all of us alike in equal grace.

If Nature of the godhead is the mask,
Then praise the Power invisible and true,
Sublime Supreme ineffable in prose,
Grand subject for the poet in the abstract.

The rain intensifies; the voice of God
Outside in blackest night is manifest
In simple feeling, nothing intricate
As logic splitting hairs, a blind man’s bluff.

And when the daylight dawns, I’ll go outside
And dust off my umbrella on the porch
Forgotten through the drought of longest summer
Now pierced, and pick my path into the day.

And as I walk, umbrella in my hand,
The drops of rain will beat a little cadence
Resolving in a mantra that will say
To always cultivate your intuition:
Imagination is the only way. 

What Trucks Really Are

Quarter of nine.

Outside it’s gray and gloomy. Aesop needs canned food, so at nine o’clock I’ll go get some. I had a few awful nightmares, paranoid and alcoholic, and Mom was in them. I have to shake the dreams somehow.

Nine thirty five. I thought of freedom on my way to the store, and this lifted my mood. A sanitation truck was parked in front of the blue house on Fremont. Later I saw it outside of the espresso shack. The market was not very busy. I found slim pickings for dog food, so it’s probably time for another run to Grocery Outlet. Vicki’s headache still persists, going on two years. Maybe she doesn’t ask the right questions of her doctor… The songs in my head are a jumble I won’t describe. I’m of half a mind to finish reading The Prelude— finally. I don’t know if I agree with Wordsworth that reality is what we create by the activity of our minds. Naive realists say that this is just backwards; perception is passive, not active. But if Wordsworth is right, then are we able to build Jerusalem on our green and pleasant land? How strong are the imagination and the words we use?

Ten forty. I feel somewhat under the weather. I feel an impulse to transcend the mundane and touch heaven. This would be thinking with my heart, not my head. So that the garbage truck that just went by is really a blue and gray behemoth… 


Four o’clock.

It’s been a very strange kind of day, with thick wildfire smoke choking the Valley, tinting the sky apricot and orange, the sun raspberry. I’ve gone out in this mess twice today, but they advise staying indoors. The residents of Marcola, which is the east side of Springfield, are preparing to evacuate. Before I had a nap this afternoon, I was imagining the worst for our future. It seemed like the tip of the iceberg, or perhaps even more advanced than that. But not everyone is thinking that way. I called my sister and she was quite levelheaded about the fires. And then, when I walked to the salon and the store, plenty of people were out and about. On my first excursion this morning, the traffic on the Interstate seemed rather normal. I observed that some streetlights were still on against the smoky obscurity. It feels like some idiot’s demented nightmare, but I wonder if the idiot is only me. I added together the fires, climate change, the pandemic, the protests and counter protests, and the election, and came up with apocalypse. Another factor in my deduction was the way some bloggers are leaving WordPress. Dear reader, will you become one of them? 

Back to Normal

Quarter after eight.

Been to the store already. I saw two fox squirrels on my street. One of them crossed right in front of me. I took my time, strolling along slowly. I was thinking about the violence in Portland, and how my sister might use the shooting for ammunition against me. It was a far right counter protester who was killed. When I got back home, I left her a message. I want to get this conversation over with. We’ve been on opposite sides of politics ever since I can remember.

Ten o’clock. The chat with my sister went pretty well. I disagreed with her perspective on homeless people, but I let it pass. It made a difference to avoid caffeine this morning. Last night I did a lot of sleeping. I was dog tired after a long, hectic week. Today is off to a good start, and now there’s nothing I really have to do. It’s interesting how imagination amplifies and distorts the facts. I caught myself doing that especially last Thursday. When I was certain I’d been stood up, I got a text from Tony in the late afternoon saying we were on. And yet imagination must serve a purpose in human life. What is the human experience without poetry? I like Jane Austen’s novels for their shrewd common sense and insight. I might pick up Sense and Sensibility again today and see how much headway I can make. I’m calm enough today to settle down with a book for a couple of hours. I may even learn something new.

Kourt Drive Houses

Nine fifty. Just back from the pharmacy. I took Kourt Drive to and Silver Lane from. Saw a big blue GMC truck for sale at $5500, but I don’t have that. The sun was already hot. Made the top of my head sweat. I remember thinking of how far it was to the horizon, where I saw a shimmering mirage, and then being surprised when I had closed the gap. Kourt Drive is a fascinating street, particularly on the north side. Some of the houses are beautiful, like something out of old movies. So well kept and clean, with tidy yards. They may be 70 or 80 years old, but they stand there to baffle the day, immaculate houses that time forgot. They make the blue sky seem prehistoric, something in old photographs, a permanent ghost. Walking by is to step out of a time machine and feel as if in someone else’s dream. You participate in the mind of Vishnu, who slumbers this world into existence. It is definitely a throwback to more romantic times… Finally as I neared my own home, I encountered Lenore mowing her lawn. She was wearing a gray Queen T-shirt. She stopped and I told her I was sorry for her loss. Then I went inside and fed Aesop his breakfast right on time.