I think my own life is in a rut lately. The sociopolitical scene is evening out and settling down and my personal existence remains the same as it has been for a few years. And yet I still get a share of drama and foolishness to deal with occasionally, to process and put away. It can be something as simple as a conversation with a person. Sometimes disagreements really jar with me, like when T— from church is very moralistic etc: it goes against my grain so that later I’m still defending myself or my parents. Some people stake their lives on a religion or a philosophy as if a system of thought were more real than life itself; but truly, it is the experience of life firsthand that informs our ideas so we can revise our vision of reality. And the discoveries of life are inexhaustible if you don’t hide away and pickle yourself or try to dogmatize life like a stone statue. Emerson says this kind of stuff in his essays and it’s still the truth; at least I think so.
Thus I think some folks have it backwards, putting the traditions before the actual phenomena that shape them in the first place. In this case, is it okay to trust your own senses and logic and judge the truth for yourself? And I believe the answer is yes, of course.
As Kant said, Dare to know!
But anyway, my day has been pretty dull— which is actually kind of welcome for a change. This Friday I get a haircut with Karen as I said already, and then Saturday it’s Gloria again. I’ll call Polly tomorrow. All of it very ordinary stuff and quite boring anymore. It makes me want to rock the boat a little, do something different just to watch the ripple effect on the water. It can be like a Luis Borges story: see how reality responds when you tap it a certain way.
Eleven forty at night.
It was quite a day of thrashing out a worldview as far as freedom or fatalism are concerned. It grew more important when I felt myself wanting to drink alcohol as if it were an inevitability. So I worked out a little system sort of like Kant’s in his Prolegomena where free will and determinism both are valid at once in two realities. Also I again thought of Cervantes with the different levels of Quixote’s insanity, twofold as with Kant: with a real dimension plus an ideal dimension where he is totally free and sane. Meanwhile I rejected traditional psychology for its fatalistic point of view. And I embraced philosophy as an open ended debate that everyone can join in, while psychology tends to be dogmatic and locked with a key, like the closing statement of Revelation. So it was quite a busy time for my mind today. Is alcoholism an inevitable matter of fate, as in a Hardy novel? I sought to prove that free will is real and not illusory. Whatever the truth is, I got through the day without drinking. I also gained the motivation to do a couple of things around the house, so now the second smoke alarm has stopped nagging me to change its battery. With this new peace and quiet, my mind ought to find some tranquility for a while.
Quarter of three in the morning.
I can remember the first times when I experienced transcendence of mundane reality, or getting my landing gear off the ground. It was when I heard lectures on Kantian idealism in a philosophy survey course. I somehow escaped my temporal existence and sort of floated around as a severed rational head. But this mental state was not really rational, although it was very cerebral. I haven’t looked through Kant’s books in quite a while, but the effect would be intoxicating for me, and that’s the whole point of some philosophy; therefore is it really true? It joins you with the Ideal, or a certain state of mind suggesting an otherworld of perfect bliss, but I was told by a coworker that it was irresponsible and I should grow out of it. I was only 21 at the time. Now I think I can judge for myself how irresponsible I was to indulge in castles in the air. And would anybody else judge me for having found the secret to Eldorado?
Midnight. Finding it hard to sleep tonight… without thinking about Jesus? Whose savior is he? Thirty two years ago I worshiped a different savior, an abstract entity by the name of reason, probably best represented by Immanuel Kant, the great transcendental idealist. With the help of reason, I could be anything I wanted to be. And I really believed this. The noumenal realm saw me through a classic case of chickenpox without even feeling the itching. The transcendent property of reason was for me what samadhi is for yogis. And for a while, Kantian idealism worked for me. I remember driving past the smoking mint fields of Harrisburg at night, going home from Ken’s house, in August. But an important difference back then was that I drank alcohol, which ultimately helps nobody… A possible objection to my transcendence, as it were, is how self absorbed I was; even solipsistic, cut off from the world and existing all alone in the ether. It was like narcissism. I failed to see the reality around me and lived incommunicado. I dwelt in bliss while other people suffered the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Sweet reason, my personal samadhi, could not be shared with others— although I did record a lot of music while in that mental state. The electric guitar swam in oceans of ethereal reverb for a celestial effect. It was the style back in the late 1980s… It raises the question of how much we can share our subjective experience. If one person attains nirvana, then like a bodhisattva can she come back and assist you and me to the same enlightenment? Also, was my Kantian bliss the same experience as samadhi, the highest state of yogic awareness?